Archive for February, 2007

28th

Timeout from insurance technologies. Something happened on a personal level that I just have to share.

Read the press release here.

Diane and I and Kelle are so proud of Zach.

Here’s the picture of Zach signing. In the back, l to r is the President of the current school, his current HS coach, and his future college coach. Very very cool! ;-)

While I’m at it, here is a favorite pictures of him playing the beautiful game…click through the reaction shots after the goal!

Scoring a header goal to preserve the unbeaten-at-home streak

23rd

I chanced upon this article the other day in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A sketch-on-a-napkin startup, by Frank Benayou, outlines the success of insurance.com.

The Cleveland-area-based company focuses on the online sales of automobile insurance. Company founder Dave Roush created a technology-driven auto-insurance agency, accessible through the Internet, supported by an in-bound call center.

For those of you who STILL hold fast to the notion that insurance sales should be kept off line –or that the Internet cannot be incorporated successfully — take note. The article states the 6-year-old company expects $500 million sold this year in annual premium. That sounds pretty successful to me. And, I think that success can apply across the board for all areas of insurance.

What does that mean for the many small insurance shops scattered through-out the United States? The article states there is a lot of uncertainty about how consumers will continue to shop for insurance. Those agents could lose clients to lower prices found online. The flipside is the cost involved in developing an online system. Will the major expense of launching a company “be sufficient to buy enough eyeballs focused on the Web site to make the business pay?”

One thing is for certain though. Use of the Internet is revolutionizing the insurance industry. If not a sea of change, it’s an evolution, as the article states.

IdeaStar has been successfully Web-enabling insurance products and services for forward-looking carriers and brokers for the past seven years. Most people understands the importance of the technology involved. But our clients understand the importance of adding marketing into that mix.

Give me a call at 800-766-2635 ext. 116 to discuss Internet solutions for your business, including online application, electronic signature, agent enrollment, individual and group health enrollment, lead generation, and more.

13th

An associate sent me this marketing article the other day, Top 10 Online Marketing Predictions for 2007 by Ryan Buchanan. It highlights a lot about what I said earlier about Web 2.0.

In the predictions, the writer mentions the importance of social media and forming niches, viral campaigns, user-generated content, refined e-mail strategies, becoming a media company, greater integration of video into Web sites, and the need for thoughtful, cause-related marketing online.

The insurance industry, naturally sensitive to risk and thus conservative in its practices, tends to cling to the old, tried-and-true methods of marketing, especially for health insurance. But I’m really excited by the sounds of change I’ve heard recently. As insurance companies learn more and more about the new online ways of marketing, how it promotes cost saving, time savings, and decreases enrollment errors, and (when done with skill and experience) DECREASES the risk of adverse selection, they are starting to get more and more of their products and services online.

So take a few minutes to read the article. Start thinking about the many new ways insurance companies can drive traffic, quotes, and enrollments. We really do live in exciting times for insurance marketing! But only if you embrace change and technology. No fear, no regrets.

PS. New favorite picture I shot at a recent HS basketball game. Click on it for a larger image. My son is in the second row on the left with the blue shirt. Great fun!

Favorite wildlife picture from Florida and the ICMG conference.

7th

IdeaStar’s Major Award Leg Lamp Give-Away was a huge hit last week at the Inter-Company Marketing Group Annual Meeting in Florida. Jay Manifold Jr. (pictured below) of Woodman Insurance Agency in Omaha won the drawing. We’ll be shipping him a 45″ leg lamp. Hmmmm. Remind me next year to ask him what he did with it.

We hit on the idea of giving away a leg lamp to draw attention to IdeaStar’s major awards in Web development for online insurance processes. Check them out.

The conference itself was great. I went down with IdeaStar president Jim Fisher, Project Manager Jane Hudeck, and VP of Development Services Wayne Largent. The meeting was jam packed with networking, resulting in a lot of hot leads. What an excellent kick-off for 2007.

This is our fourth year at ICMG. We even received a special award for being an exhibitor three years in a row. It’s now prominently displayed in our office. We really do appreciate it.

It seems each year we have better and better conversations, and more and more interest, in the Internet and turning Web development over to outside companies. There are still a few insurance companies relentlessly favoring their IT departments. And some not even considering using the Internet!

The thought occurred to me: It’s like going to college and majoring in Psychology. If you take the 101, 102, 103 courses freshman year, that’s a start. But what if you don’t take the 200 and 300 level courses before taking the 400 level courses? You would be lost! We’re now moving into Web 2.0 – RSS feeds, AJAX Web pages, cascading style sheets, consumer-driven content, social networks, etc. The in-house IT department may have mastered programming, but how are they at marketing your product our services online? Probably a bit like the 400-level student who skipped the 200 and 300 courses. But that’s good for IdeaStar. Insurance companies can lean on us as things get even more complex online.

The closing day’s talks were especially good. One speaker in particular spoke about how his distribution company is leveraging the Web and trying to make a go of it – and succeeding. While I disagreed with some of his conclusions, especially about seniors not being willing to sign-up for insurance online, he helped the cause significantly with much of his content. To the people in the audience: If you want to do the things he was talking about, give me a call!

Steve Gilliland served as an excellent closing keynote speaker. If you look at the pictures, you’ll see that he was hilarious, and yet made some great points about life-work balance, something many in the audience apparently needed to hear. I’m not sure if they were wiping away tears of joy or tears of regret.

My only regret was that I didn’t act fast enough to capture some great conversations for the podcast. Perhaps I’ll be able to recreate a few of those comments over the phone in the coming weeks. The good news is that I’ve got some very cool projects tee’d up for 2007 and 2008. So looking forward to that….

4th

Todd Ruopp ((left)

Todd Ruopp, Director of Sales for Wholesale Distribution, ARAG North America

Listen in to one more excellent conversation about the situation with health and life carriers and e-signature. Todd has some very interesting comments…

  • Insurance companies seem like the Rip Van Winkle of Financial Services.
  • Reasons – wet signature requirements, technology issues, regulatory issues.
  • But it comes down to what people know.
  • Direct mail response-rates continue to drop.
  • What about simply having the guts to try something different?
  • Custom URL’s — here’s a novel idea!
  • We want to know more about you so that we can better serve you.

My comment — But you need flexible products. (See http://tonik.com/ for a great example.)

What’s at stake?

  • Tech-savvy brokers and agents will handle the innovation.
  • Carriers could have got there sooner…
  • …which could have driven competitive advantage.
  • Direct mail is dead.

Click here to listen to Todd Ruopp

Thanks Todd! Great working with you on MarkeTTech!

Archives to 2005