Archive for January, 2008

31st

(Next week I’m at ICMG and then directly to PIMA. I’ll try to post some sound bites and pics.)

Last week at the Medicare Congress, I saw the best presentation I’ve seen in many years. Sherman Rogers with Fine Light gave an incredibly insightful look at the boomer market and what they are going to expect from insurance company and agency Web sites. “…way more demanding…” “…today’s seniors do what they’re told; not so with boomers…” “…new individualism…” “…they feel empowered and want to be in control…” “reimbursements are going down [i.e. Medicare payments, etc.] … won’t be able to support agent commissions…” “…brand loyalty will erode…” Doesn’t it seem to be pointing toward sophisticated Web sites, multi-carrier quotes, self-directed enrollments, etc.????

I hope the insurance companies in that space were taking notes. I further hope that they don’t make the same tired mistake of turning to the internal IT department for help. I hope they look to peers that are engaged and figuring it out, pick their brain, and ask for Web marketing and Web development experts who have at least some experience in the insurance space and the Web. IT’S CRITICAL! I hope they won’t be the last one standing when the music stops. I hope they won’t think what works today will work tomorrow…

Some pics: (click on the image to enlarge)

Shot of the Phoenix Open, sorry the IBR, the week before play…

I hiked up Camelback Mountain to get some sunrise pictures. Another guy from Atlanta had the same idea… Thanks, Dave.

Another cool picture from the climb.
See more here.

18th

Call me crazy, but I’m starting to get the power of Social Networks. I’ve been watching my kids use MySpace and now Facebook for the last year or so – posting pictures, poking friends, coordinating events, staying in touch with friends that have moved, even making posts from the car when we were on trips! Very cool.

Then over the holidays, an old friend from High School clued me into LinkedIn and the genius of it. Web-enabling the concept of 6 Degrees of Separation. OK, now I get it and I’m pursuing it with my usual vigor when I get excited about something. The thing is, “Yes, I want to enlarge my network for professional reasons (bizdev, future job-ops, etc.), but equally important is the chance to learn first hand about Social Networks.”

So browse around see my “public profile” and when you’re there, search for people, search for companies, search for keywords, locations, schools, etc. It’s amazing what’s going on. Like I said, call me crazy, but I think there’s something going on here.

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Have you ever gone to a site like Google, Amazon, and all of the sudden you see content that is specific to your region of the country? Click on this Google search. Notice that some of the paid-search Ad’s on the right will have a geographic term like Ohio. I found out recently that you can buy an open-source widget that facilitates geo-targeting. Now that’s really cool. So one of my clients sells life insurance to army guys – OK, good target market, motivated buyers! (Hey, my son is Army ROTC, so I’m buying some.) Idea: Let’s run a paid search on “life insurance” and target geographies with heavy army populations. DC, NC, TX, etc. You can get even more narrow than that. Good stuff. Gotta love the Web.

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Couple favorite pictures from shooting this week. Here’s more.

11th

This week I was referred to a well-attended conference on Medicare trends, etc. Medicare Congress sounds like a great event to network with Medicare Insurance marketing folks. Looking forward to it.

Lindsay Resnick sent me an article this morning that I think hits on some things that have been building in the industry for that last several years, now finally coming to a head. His “Smackdown for Healthcare Marketing” article for Brokerworld speaks plainly about what’s ahead in 2008. His Blog restates essentially the same thing.

I must say, I feel like the Vietnam vet guy in “Independence Day” when the feds finally reveal the truth about the aliens in A51 (sorry, I’d spell it out, but I rather not come up in a search on that topic.) :-) “…I’ve been saying it for ten damn years!” LOL The volume is getting louder: Search Marketing, Web Marketing, New Media, and now Social Networks. (Of course, Social Networks have been around since the beginning, but we’re starting to figure out how to Web-enable them – LinkedIn, MySpace, FaceBook, and a host of others.)

It mentions Agility. I like the term “Nimbility”. Look, here’s the thing, if you’re not in the game, get in. And don’t wait for your IT department to help you with it — 9 out of 10 are hopelessly mired in “higher priorities.” Forget excuses, re-prioritize your efforts, get on Amazon and order a couple books, start a Blog even if you don’t tell anyone about it. It’s NOT that difficult, but you have to get your hands dirty to really understand it. From personal experience, while Yes it’s like learning a new language, after a couple years of steady work, you’ll look back and be extremely glad you made the effort. It’s a heck of lot better than being the last one standing when the music stops, if you know what I mean.

PIMA & ICMG

Really looking forward to PIMA and ICMG. First ICMG: Scottsdale, first week of February, a record-number of registrations, sold out hotel, full exhibit hall. Should be a electric. Hope I can draw these savvy marketers attention to Web marketing concepts – lead engines for the agents, automated cross-sell (gotta be in the game first, tho), multi-purpose quote engines (agent-driven, call-center, direct-to-consumer, …), electronic applications, agent portals, so much to do for these guys.

PIMA also looks to be great. Coming off a kickin MarkeTTech conference, I’m hopeful that the buzz around new media and Web marketing, e-signature, social networks, and so forth will still be going. I’m concerned for these direct marketing veterans – savvy, but many are not really in the game yet. But some are, and tell you what, they’re not going to be the ones standing without the chair.

4th

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Question: What kinds of things come to mind when you think of a disposable camera?

Most people have said things like… “You can throw it away…. cheap…. easy to use…. gets the job done.” Precisely.

So how does that relate to an insurance Web site? Think about it: In the insurance marketing space, many insurance products come and go, right? Certainly, the life-span of an insurance marketing campaign is short. So maybe there’s something to the concept of a disposable Web site for marketing insurance??? It’s got to be:

  1. quick to set-up (few weeks),
  2. easy to use (suitable for a non-technical marketing staffer),
  3. and needs to fit inside the marketing budget

However, unlike a boxy disposable camera where there is little premium on the look-and-feel, the design of the Web site is CRITICAL to its conversion ratio’s. Perhaps there’s the rub?? And perhaps that’s why so many insurance marketers generally stay away from Web sites for fulfillment: takes too long to get the site up, too hard to make changes, costs too much, and in the end doesn’t look good (and thus perform well).

Well, we may have a solution to all this. I’ll be sharing the idea around at the upcoming ICMG and PIMA Annual Meetings in February. We’ll see if it yields some fruit in 2008.

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By the way, I made the trip to Blythe O’Sullivan’s memorial (see the post from a few weeks ago). I’m so glad I did. I have been inspired in a life-changing and unforgettable way by her life and how she lived in the few years she had. Truly amazing….

A few articles that tell more:

Peace Corpsnational
Chicago Tribune — regional
Daily Herald — local

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