I often get asked to speak at local events. A popular topic is giving advisers marketing ideas about how to grow their businesses. One recent invite was from an old colleague who I have probably not seen in over 10 years. I was also delighted to see on the guest list another couple of names I recognised from my very early days in the industry – from the 1990s. It’s very interesting to be asked to go and speak about how we can grow the protection market in the current post recessionary world, and be talking to people with whom I had similar conversations with two decades ago.
When I thought about what I would say to them, I realised that some things have not changed at all.
1) People still do not think that they need protection and even those that do, think of it as a grudge purchase.
2) They think that it is too expensive
3) They believe that insurance companies will try very hard to find a way to decline claims.
On top of that, apart from a surge of critical illness sales in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the protection market has been relatively flat.
However, the way we do business has changed completely. Back when I started, individual telephones were appearing on desks for the first time (and of course HR departments were as worried that people would spend their time making personal calls as they are now worried employees will spend their time on Facebook). There were no individual PCs, no internet and no mobile phones. We had to fax hand calculated and typed quotations (from rate books) to advisers. Sales consultants travelled the country with sacks full of 2p pieces with which to phone the office from public call boxes. We advertised in the trade press but unless you were in London you didn’t get your copy of the trade papers until the following week.
Now we have information overload on the internet. Communication by mobile, skype, iMessage, Facetime and video conference. We can get quotations instantaneously. There are more channels for marketing communications across hundreds of TV stations, social media, electronic bill boards and ads within apps. All of this has happened in less than 20 years. As a marketing person it has been fascinating to see these new methods of communication develop. And I believe that social media and inbound (or content) marketing offer us great opportunities, though we are still in an experimental stage.
However, despite technological developments, that were beyond the dreams of most science fiction writers when I started in the industry such a short space of time ago, the three basic reasons why people don’t buy protection are still the same now as they were back then.
Ultimately I think that the key to growing the protection market then and now is simply to talk to more people who are not our customers. We need to talk to them, preferably face to face (but maybe facetime to facetime), in order to overcome the same objections we have always received about protection. With all the wonderful technology at our finger tips it is very easy to set up a very powerful content based website.
How does it work? Well it differs from the way we usually “interrupt” people with mailshots, phone calls or adverts. We ensure that when potential customers come looking for information – it is our content that they find when they search.
Let’s think about how people actually use the internet to access information and how they might find you. Say for example someone was looking to buy the best barbeque chicken in Liverpool. They are not going to type ‘chicken’ into Google. They would get billions of results. They won’t type ‘barbeque chicken’ either because it would still create too many results. ‘Best barbeque chicken’ – still not good – if the best is in New York. ‘Best barbeque chicken in Liverpool’ might narrow it down to a few local outlets. Now substitute ‘chicken’ with ‘life cover’.
In this new world we need to be there when people come looking. Making sure that all links lead to you is one of the key ways of getting to see more people face to face.
Over to you: Do you think technology can help us to grow the protection market? Are you interested in finding out more about protection insurance and content marketing? Please leave a comment below.
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