Archive for April, 2008

18th

We are in the middle of a conversation on Social Networks and insurance marketing. Again, I could be all crossed up, but from an affinity marketing point of view, Social Networks seem to show promise as insurance direct mail response rates decline and keyword inflation enters stage-left on the search engine marketing scene.

  • Last week – Part One: General Ideas
  • Now – Part Two: Public Networks

Someone asked me yesterday, “What’s a social network, anyway?” My answer… Have you ever been to an industry conference? Sure. There’s people you want to meet there, right? Do some business, make some contacts, get some ideas, share stories. That’s a social network… on the professional side.

But how do you keep the relationship going in between the face-to-face events? Phone calls, now emails, newsletters, etc. Well, now we have online social networks — same thing, just a different medium, a little easier to keep people in your network connected to you.

Just to kind of lay the foundation, here are what seem to be the most visible social networks. (Btw, if anyone has a contact at anyone of these companies, I’m looking for a speaker for PIMA MarkeTTech next November. Need to lock them in by the end of May.)

  1. MySpace – got to be a member to be in the game, to search, to post
  2. Facebook – started out as a college network (so create a group for your classmates while you’re in college), then expanded to high school, now opening up to adults. But definitely more of a personal space. But isn’t insurance often… personal???
  3. Linkedin – brilliant! These guys have web-enabled the old concept of Six Degrees of Separation, aka the game of Makin’ Bacon. Want to get connected to someone? Isn’t it better to get a referral from a friend of a friend? Absolutely.

Here’s a link to my Profile in Linkedin. Linkedin provided this widget. Cool. If you’re not on, do. The sooner you get started, the better. Seriously.

View Mike Wise's profile on LinkedIn

Some general common-sense stuff:

  • Content or comments must add value, be transparent and real,
  • Must be persistence relative to the natural flow of a lifestyle. Pick a network and stick with it for the long haul. Like anything in life, you get out of it what you put into it.
  • Need to be extremely careful not to see everyone as a prospect, not to be selling 24/7, use guerrilla selling tactics, invading friends’ personal spaces with your work.
  • Since Linkedin is more of a professional network, it definitely seems suitable for professional and trade insurance approaches, but remember…
  • Hard sell is dead. Got to PULL them along. Takes longer to fill the pipeline of business, but if you do it right, it should open the door to referrals, and as we all know, one referral is better than 10 cold calls.
  • SN’s are a perfect place to be educational, provide tips and tools, links to the best sources of information, the best deals, products with the richest benefits, companies that are the easiest to do business, even how to handle claim events. What better source of information than the actual policy holders who already went through the process. Powerful stuff..

That’s it for now. Next week: Private Networks. Careful now, especially with independent agents.

Hey, I’m in Omaha right now. I felt the earthquake in the midwest last night/this morning. It also sounded like thunder. Man, all I gotta’ say is… Glad I know where I’m going when the you-know-what hits the fan.

Check out the shot of the week from last Sunday. My weekend gig – Cleveland City Stars pro soccer photog. Got lucky on this one….click to enlarge.

Columbus Crew backup keeper just missed the save…
Which made for a sweet goal picture!

Click here to see more….

11th

Over the next couple weeks, let’s consider Social Networks and insurance marketing. I could be way out in left field, but from an affinity marketing point of view, as I’ve said in the past, I think Social Networks show promise as insurance direct mail response rates decline. There’s a lot to cover, so I’m going to break it up into a few parts.

  • Part One: General Ideas
  • Part Two: Public Networks
  • Part Three: Private Networks
  • Part Four: Viral Marketing and Referrals

Part One: I’m catching a similarity to Affinity Groups and Associations. The concept first caught my attention when I saw my son’s Facebook page. As a graduating senior from High School, he had joined a group for his high school class year — CVCA2007. He had then joined a group for his college class year – before he had even started!!! (By the way, this was at the promotion of the college orientation team.) So apparently while the school will continue to support the traditional Alumni Association, his class has an informal Alumni Association that might have even more relevance over time. Then there’s the phenomenon of Classmates.com…

Next… We all know the power of search engines like Google, but what about networking? However, keyword inflation is rampant, it’s impossible to compete against mega-branding budgets, and rising in the natural listing for competitive keywords like health insurance is played out, literally. And yet Networking has been around forever and will always be around as long as we continue to do business the way we do. no doubt Affinity groups are a significant force in networking – trusted sources of information to help overcome “stranger danger” (something that is programmed deep into our cultural make-up). I go to conferences every year to connect with peers, share ideas, find experts in areas I’m not, etc. Works great!

Now it seems that online networks are forming not to replace but to add value, to keep the conversation going between events, etc… But we still want face time –- reunions, gatherings, meetings, conferences, symposiums. And once we are embedded in the conversation, as insurance marketers, the point is to be at the right place with the right message at the right time. The concepts in play seem to be:

  • Pull versus Push
  • Engaging in the conversation
  • Real-time current contact with on-the-scene subject matter experts (SME’s)
  • Helping educate on more topics then just the main thing
  • Sponsorship of conversations and tools, new thoughts and approaches
  • Branding

Here’s a novel idea perhaps: What about leveraging home office employees, creating informal advocates, generating and directing subsequent leads, perhaps sharing commissions and bonuses — call ‘em TIPS, and staying in touch with new clients more locally. hmmmm.

Some pictures from vacation (click to enlarge): Click here to see more…

Pictures from a business trip this week: Click here to see more….

Life is good!

Archives to 2005