Competition, regulatory requirements, an intangible product, and a distributed field organization of agency partners – these are among the top challenges insurance brand marketers face.
Technology can help tackle some of these challenges, however insurers have historically resisted innovation. A report by McKinsey on digital disruption in insurance stated bluntly, “Insurance has been relatively slow to feel the digital effect… But the industry is not impregnable. Companies that fail to adapt will weaken under the pressure exerted by those that use digital technology to slash costs and get better returns on their investments.”
Based on our experience with insurance marketers, the industry is making progress in digital transformation. Recently, we saw evidence of transformation at the Mutual Insurance Communications + Marketing Workshop, hosted by the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC). At this event, we also could see that not all insurance businesses are reaping the benefits that come with digital transformation.
One area in particular that is still ripe for transformation is marketing systems and processes used to support local marketing operations. With the right marketing resource management system, insurance marketers can help their agency partners break through the competition, navigate regulatory requirements, and provide the right offer to the right customer at the right time.
Align Business and Marketing Strategies to Achieve Company-Wide Impact
Good marketing is essential for driving sales in the insurance business. But marketing isn’t only about lead generation. At the NAMIC marketing workshop, Dani Kimble, founder and CEO of Azelie Marketing, suggested thinking about marketing as a way of solving business problems. For example, how can marketing solve client retention? One way is to focus on the client onboarding process.
When it comes to agency partner retention, look to your marketing capabilities. Your marketing portal system sets the foundation for attracting and retaining new agency partners.
A marketing portal system can also enable cross-departmental engagement which can strengthen a company’s operational effectiveness. Think beyond the sales lead to things like attracting and retaining top talent, enhancing workplace culture, deepening stakeholder relationships and building a stronger presence in your community.
The right marketing system and processes can also make it easier to maintain compliance by enabling corporate to update critical information in one place and push it out to all relevant marketing materials. A marketing portal can also provide workflow management that includes legal and compliance approval.
Focus on What Agency Partners Need to Be Successful
When it comes to supporting agency partners, your marketing system can help fulfill fundamental needs by delivering in several key areas: easy access to marketing materials, audience targeting, customizable branded content and materials, as well as co-op budget management and engagement.
1. Make it easy for agency partners to promote your brand and products.
Empower your local agents to reach local audiences with a centralized, online storefront for marketing campaigns and materials. Make it easy for agents to customize direct mail pieces, email campaigns, agency signage, ads, sales brochures and more. Easily manage and execute automated local marketing campaigns including customer acquisition, nurture, onboarding, retention, cross-sell/upsell, referrals, winbacks and more. For example, Insurance Journal’s recent Special Report on Sales and Marketing suggests sending out thank you cards to clients well before their renewal date. Automated campaigns make it easy to get those all-important thank yous out at the just the right time. Be sure to provide exceptional support for users of your marketing system to avoid frustration that could lead agency partners to opt not to use the system.
2. Provide audience targeting capabilities that help agency partners connect the right offer with the right customer, at the right time.
According to Rachel Fisher, Executive Consultant at Lively Institute, “The best compass is your current audience.” At the NAMIC marketing workshop she encouraged insurance marketers to use surveys, feedback, events, mailings and focus groups to provide a sense of which marketing channels your customers use or where they are along their purchase journey.
Agency partners appreciate having access to audience targeting capabilities, like targeted customization of templated materials (e.g., a postcard that can be configured with customization options, like headlines, copy and images that are specific to an agency partner’s pre-defined customer profiles).
Rather than allowing local markets to use a patchwork of customer feedback tools, a centralized solution allows corporate marketing and regional field staff to easily review the data collected in local markets. Some systems enable agency partners to customize approved templates for invitations to local events or customer surveys making it easy to gather and track responses from customers and prospects. Analysis can uncover opportunities for targeted coaching and performance improvement in individual markets. Additionally, the data gathered can reveal best practices that can be shared across markets to create cascading success.
3. Customizable content and materials that are compelling, informative and consistent with your brand.
As mentioned earlier, one of the fundamental challenges for insurance marketers is that their product is intangible. It requires compelling marketing materials that stand out from the competition to connect with customers and prospects. Enabling agency partners to customize marketing materials can make them more relevant to their local markets. But corporate also needs to maintain the integrity of the brand. A marketing portal helps improve brand consistency by making it easier for agents to access and use approved, branded marketing materials that ultimately drive greater marketing and business impact.
4. Streamline co-op budget management for efficiency, clarity and to boost agency engagement.
At the NAMIC marketing workshop, practitioners said co-op budgets are an effective way to encourage marketing spend. But many admitted that they are still using Excel spreadsheets and email to manage co-op budgets. This method requires reminder communications be sent to those who haven’t used their full fund. A marketing portal with budget management capabilities can effectively streamline the process while also increasing agency engagement.
A marketing resource management system equipped with budget management capabilities can provide partner agencies with access to local marketing and co-op dollars that help drive sales and raise brand awareness. At the same time, it gives corporate marketers a view of where and how budgets are being spent, with the ability to track, assign and review multiple types of budgeted and co-op funds – all right in the marketing portal system.
Insurance marketing is complex. Insurance marketers are tasked with supporting and entrusting their brands to many agency partners, in many regions, with many demands. Marketing systems and processes give insurance marketers ways to reduce the complexity while also driving field marketing success. Implementing a marketing system that aligns with business objectives enables insurance marketers to have strategic impact while also developing stronger relationships with the agency partners they rely on to promote their brands and products, solve business challenges and achieve overall business objectives.