Interesting stuff this week….

First, AIG Small Business® named IdeaStar client McGowan & Company, Inc. as its Community Associations Program Administrator. I view this as a pleasure/pain situation. On the pleasure side, very cool that McGowan has been selected. It’s quite an honor for them to be working with AIG, one of the largest insurance providers in the world (and a sponsor of World Cup Soccer!). On the pain side, this is one more thing to throw up my hands at, because on the health and life side, this insurance provider seems to be hamstrung by internal IT security.

Second, a recent Wall Street Journal article really caught my attention. It states that health insurers are targeting the two groups of people least likely to be covered by insurance at work — young people in their 20s and 30s, and early retirees who don’t yet qualify for Medicare. The article references Wellpoint and Tonik products geared toward the younger set. Note that they are advertising where those customers are: on social networking sites such as MySpace and affinity groups such as the US Open of Surfing. Tonik has three health plans to choose from: Thrill-seeker, Part-time Daredevil, and Calculated Risk-taker.

Now there’s some fresh innovation. They’ve developed products to suit a particular market, and they are marketing through channels that particular market uses. And by-the-way, their products are selling like crazy!

Third, the Wall Street Journal’s recent article, “Why Most Web Sites Receive Failing Grades” rang a bell, since IdeaStar designs Web sites. I agree the following can bring a Web site down:

  • Worthless bells and whistles
  • Cute instead of clear
  • Over crowed
  • Lack of trust

It was interesting to read that if a site is slow, users conclude it is less secure. And, to get a huge pay-off, often all you need is to change your conversion rate a little.

Here’s what I’ve observed. The vast majority of insurance Web sites are developed by IT programmers. As soon as they are finished with the front page, they are off patting themselves on the back, and never thinking to include marketing. What’s wrong with this picture? What IT departments don’t realize is that an insurance Web site is a marketing tool. If done correctly, it can have a big impact on sales and service.

My fourth and final observation of the week. Four years ago, IdeaStar earned its first AM Best honorable mention award, followed by finalists status in 2004 and 2006. I just learned I will be serving as a judge this year. IdeaStar does not have an entry. Our new projects are just launching, so we’ll have to wait until next year. It will be fun to see what all the other companies are doing.

Oh yeah… favorite picture from the new soccer season… so far!

See the ball compressing? Click to enlarge… See more…