Archive for December, 2008

15th

Interesting dialog about the future of PIMA and the future of insurance marketing through associations and affinity.  Frank Fimmano is SVP with AON Consulting and the incoming President of PIMA having been involved for many, many years within the organization and on the Board the last several years.

I especially find interesting Frank’s take on Term Life insurance and the problem of Term versus Permanent Life insurance.  It would be interesting for listeners to comment on that subject or something else.

Click here to play the podcast.  Frank, thanks so much for the time.

Frank with son Frankie at 2008 PIMA Summer Conference, Newport, RI
(photo Sam Bode)
9th

This is a GREAT time to kick-off a Blog strategy for the marketing department. From a morale standpoint, if you do it right, a significant and meaningful up-tick in morale is guaranteed, not to mention reinforcing your longer-term marketing strategy…. and for SURE from an ROI standpoint. Given the start-up cost, it’s hard to think of a higher ROI project. Before you read on, perhaps click around in a few examples:

Tangible and intangible wins:

1. Staff can “audition” for a spot on the blog-writing team. You also have roles in blog design, post editing and proofing, multi-media stuff, and marketing (posting comments and track-back links on similar blogs or industry news sites that offer commenting, getting trade mags and sites to host a link, etc.). Thus, many staff members can get involved. Yes, specific education with media tools helps, but most of the tools are easy to learn. If you learned Excel and PPT, you can learn this stuff. Staff engaging in cool new stuff – great for morale.

2. The actual posting process forces the blogger and support team to think about things in new and interesting ways, and how to creatively communicate new thoughts – very energizing and uplifting for morale.

3. Audio and Video is possible as well. A mic for an iPod is cheap and has great results. Audacity is simple for creating good quality MP3′s. Sony Vegas is easy to use for creating multi-media. Podcasts and Vlogs are popular, informational, acceptably informal if necessary, and oh yeah, almost free to publish (not including staff production time of course). Learning is always good for morale.

4. You can also show the human side of the organization to the audience – pictures are very popular, engaging, and people love to see themselves working – guaranteed they’ll send links to posts to associates if they’ve been involved. Feeling valued as Kathie Kinde and others said in the PIMA Linkedin Group is good for morale.

5. Shows the team you’re will to try new things, think out-of-the-box, show thought-leadership – however you want to phrase it. I think you’ll find that it provides a lot of fresh ideas. There’s something about writing and publishing that really clarifies thoughts and stimulates new ideas. Sam Fleet’s (also in the PIMA Group) thoughts as always are right on point – and what better way to communicate early and often – and in a searchable, archivable way.

6. Publicly recognize the efforts of the team or individual accomplishments. Absolutely. Do a blog post when some major event happens – someone wins a personal or professional award, has a life-event, goes on a mission trip, serves in the community, etc. All great blog post opportunities. To Marcia Moore‘s point about leveraging e-newsletters, a blog is a substantial upgrade. Use the e-newsletter to promote the blog.

And oh, btw, from a corporate stand-point, you’ll then be positioned to capitalize on opportunity when the economy turns around…

  • Promote new product launches
  • Respond to economic events
  • Respond to corporate events
  • React to positive or negative customer comments
  • Understand the technology – RSS, Analytics, Search and Social marketing, etc.

Some resources:

Yes, you WILL have to overcome internal obstacles – compliance pushback, corporate branding and marketing, yada-yada-yada. But it’s all do-able.

Happy to help. I’ve got a nice, affordable design, technology, and professional coaching package. Call or write and I’ll send it to you.

Some pictures from last summer… in the Studio creating Vlog #1 with Fred Hron of Forrest T. Jones. Fun!

3rd

Today the 2009 EFusion Recipient was announced. Congrats to American Family for their TeenSafe initiative. (Ohio rules once again!!!) What I found most compelling about TeenSafe:

  1. The technology vendor brought the original idea to the insurance company.
  2. The insurance company caught the vision and foresight – and persevered through internal obstacles.
  3. The Web site and infrastructure was outsourced to a been-there-done-that Web development team.
  4. A clear focus was the intrinsic and intangible value of helping teens with driving skills, not necessarily selling insurance.
  5. But oh by the way, a LOT of insurance has been sold. And one of the keys is the referral focus. Viral marketing, developing customers into hard-core fans, things I’ve been talking about recently. So professionally affirming to me personally.

Great work American Family!

John Pogas and Jamie Pickles – highly recommend the great talk on Value-Centric E-Commerce. Some CRITICAL points made in that talk that marketing folks in the Life and Health insurance business really need to embrace in order to be successful in the marketing landscape ahead. But I think what is most memorable was the technical jolt that happened and how John Pogas did an on-stage jig and pressed on with his show even though Lee and Paul had been knocked off-line. That was just classic John Pogas! LOL.

The Progressive F3 application – outstanding use of technology to make quoting and application process easier for the prospective customers. So much data is publicly available. Why not leverage that for the benefit of the customer to save time, increase accuracy, and improve the overall experience? Yes, there might be a big-brother initial reaction to the process, but everyone should know by now that there’s really no private information out there – really it’s all out there – don’t be fooled. One thing I would suggest is save-and-come-back-later functionality and viral marketing components. Why not leverage the site visitors into referral agents? Seems like a great opportunity to leverage a positive user experience.

Information Dashboard

  • Business Intelligence embedded in the actual workflow – I’ve been doing this kind of thing on Web sites for some time now. Extremely valuable.
  • Actionable metrics – sort of an obvious thing, but nonetheless often overlooked. Love to be a fly-on-the-wall during one of the workshops that were referenced.

mySocrates – This seemed to be an incredible effort for a broker – so standing ovation there. I also was engaged by the use of the wiki’s both internal and external. Love to see how those wiki’s mature over time. Seem like some really smart guys working on that one – all of them really.

Comment on the Virtual conference versus In-person – I was looking forward to the in-person opportunity, but the virtual concept is starting to grow on me. I found that it’s easier to digest the information. It also must be a whole lot easier to record sessions for Webinar playback. A.M. Best seems to be starting to do better with the human aspect with audio, video, and visual/text. The gotowebinar worked well and made it easy to ask questions of the presenters. But I still like the in-person connections – that’s just me. I get a feeling though that many insurance and technology folks are not necessarily extroverts and so a virtual conference is perhaps even better for them. I’d be interested in the analytics – How many people attended real-time? How many people viewed the Webinars later? How many people asked questions and engaged in some way? One suggestion: perhaps use a standard PPT template for the presenters so the visuals are more consistent.

All-in-all, I love EFusion and highly recommend it. I’ve been attending since 2003 and have perhaps learned more about insurance and technology through the EFusion Conference than any other conference – and possibly through any other single channel of information. Strongly recommend it. Thanks to Lee McDonald and Paul Tinnirello for putting up with my out-of-the-box participation! :-) See you next cheer!

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