The 32nd Annual Meeting of PIMA (Professional Insurance Marketing Association) last week in Naples, FL was a great success. There was a lot of networking going on, and the speakers were fantastic.

I led a breakfast discussion about search engine marketing, and its importance to online insurance sales.

But at least one speaker had me ready to jump on the table and yell! He was talking about the future of insurance distribution — how insurance will be sold in the future. He started out by stating the Internet hasn’t lived up to its expectations in insurance sales. But, then he proceeded to feature the use of the Internet in the rest of his talk! Geesh!

It’s not that the Internet hasn’t lived up to expectations. It’s that insurance companies haven’t figured out how to use it. They keep trying to do it themselves in-house. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, “in-house” has not proven successful. The IT department is not the marketing department. Yes, the Web is a ‘technology’, but first and foremost, it’s marketing.

The speaker went on to say that only 4 percent of life insurance has been sold over the Internet. OK… that means there are a whole lot of people out there who would buy if the Internet environment was suitable. Further, the speaker said that 60 percent of Americans want to buy products face-to-face. I guess my counter-point is that there are thus 40% who don’t. I would also think the 60 percent group is shrinking, and the 40 percent is rising. Take Progressive auto-insurance as an example. After 5+ years, their online sales are crushing it. Also of note – they do Web development in-house. Of course, their Web-dev team could fill a small arena!

The speaker also said there will be a greater opportunity for “going direct” because the number of insurance agents is in decline. All the more reason to get moving today, correct?

I got to watch my hometown Cleveland Indians defeat the Twins, 7-3, during spring training (how ’bout that picture I took — a Grady Sizemore triple!)

Quite clearly, even based on the speaker’s points, the Internet offers a huge opportunity for insurance companies. They need to move quickly to figure out the best way to use it. IdeaStar can help with that. We’ve done a gazillion successful insurance sites. We know what works. So give us a call!

Nice hat at the baseball game

A few other notes:

  • IdeaStar and its client Union Secure (www.unionsecure.com) tied for a second place finish for the Best of PIMA Award. The winner was a direct mailing campaign.
  • I was roped into helping chair the 2006 MarkeTTech Symposium, Oct. 1 through 3 in Chicago. If anybody can suggest a good speaker relative to insurance marketing technologies, I’m all ears.
  • Nobody told me we had to dress up for the awards dinner. Doh!