Archive for January, 2009

29th

ICMG just keeps getting better.  2009 was the 25th anniversary and set a new record for attendance, the highest since 2001 in Miami – Wow.  The next 25 begins at Westin La Paloma in Tucson – great location.  (I was there in 1985 for one of my best friend’s wedding.)  Lot of interest in the Web and getting it right.  One conversation in particular was telling – an insurance company that has really struggled with the IT department.  The CMO told me about recent successes in developing sorely needed agent-facing tools for lead and customer management as well as quoting and enrollment functionality – after SEVERAL costly and unsuccessful attempts by the IT department over the last 5 years.  They key to success?  NO IT!

Had conversations on tremendous new opportunities all across the map.  Seems industry folks are sensing the crucial nature of Web sites – agent contracting and appointment, agent portal, matrix-driven, content-managed distribution portals, and corporate blogs (interactive Web sites).  VERY encouraging.

Some great alliances with other marketing, licensing, and ancillary support vendors like IdeaStar.  Looking forward to working at those maturing relationships.

The Rest of the Story – found out what really happened with QQLink.  Someday I’ll write a short-story about it – very interesting microcosm of industry dynamics on a number of levels.

Nice podcast with Raymond Richard due out later next week.  Thoughts on a Web presence for a large IMO…

Thanks to all who made the conference a tremendously positive experience; and all the industry veterans who created the concept 25 years ago.  GREAT WORK!

Got some pictures along the way – all posted to smugmug.  ICMG even used some of the pictures as a montage on the last morning of the conference – pretty neat.  Good to see so many attendees took the chance to get a picture with Terry Bowden.

As I said in my 30-second commercial when I banged the microphone on my forehead, “I’ve seen your Web sites.  You need to give me a call.”  Ask me about my free offer!

Blue Herron taking off (click to enlarge)

Good look at a croc

Not sure what the heck this guy is

Held the camera up facing backward from my seat

With Jonathan Yee and player to be named later

Cool pic coming down the escalator…

People checking the photo and product boards

Relaxing during the hole-in-one contest photo shoot

Lucky shot.  Any guesses on the wildlife?

A favorite from the golf contest –

Rhett Chenevert, Lifeline Screening – a Cleveland company

See more pictures from the conference here.

20th

In spite of, or perhaps because of, the economic environment, things are starting to go into hyper-drive – at least for me anyway.  A few notes while I have a couple seconds to come up for air…

ICMG next week!  Went to my first in 2004 at Aventura.  So this is my 5th and it’s the 25th Anniversary Meeting.  Yes!  Orlando is looking mighty nice right about now.  (Been snowy and cold here in Cleveland for what seems like weeks.)  Got a bunch of people to see, some people I’ve connected in and invited, bringing along new IdeaStar associate Jamey Polak who has a bunch of his own connections, my boss is going, a raft of clients will be there, and I’m hoping my evangelizing of all things Web these past five years will bear even greater fruit beyond what we’ve done for some of these clients.

Oh yeah, I’m also taking pictures as I have the last two years.  This year I’ll be camped out on the Hole-in-One 11th Tee to see if I can get the swing of the attendee that aces the hole and wins $20,000.  Might be VERY exciting!

I’m also giving away a free service to the first 15 people who raise their hand – a free analysis of a Web site….  Why it stinks – uh…suffers, how to improve it, and current best practices that would really super-charge it.

Lastly, I ran a non-scientific survey of some ICMG members a couple months ago.  Not sure if I ever called attention to it on the blog.  Here it is.  Some very interesting data-points.  Especially like the reference to “table stakes” – right on, whoever wrote that…

One more thing – ask me about my first “Mobile” quote engine – term life.  I’ll show it to you on my Treo.  Wayne, you guys kick-it!  My worthy competitors – better get one.  In-house IT guys: Got one of those???!

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I read on Twitter today that the White House has a new BLOG!!! It’s a start, but it’s not set up right.  Seriously!  Everyone knows that President Obama used Facebook, Linkedin, and his own campaign site very effectively during the campaign.  Looks like he’s sticking with technology for the presidency as well.  So insurance companies and agencies… perhaps follow suit and get your own Blog up to speed.  I’ve got an awesome solution: $4,995 and 4 weeks, state-of-the-art team blog, or call it “an interactive Web site built on blog technology”.  It doesn’t even have to say ‘blog’ anywhere.  Here’s a couple examples:    spinfield insuranti Another one launching in 4 weeks as a matter of fact!

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Speaking of Twitter, highly recommend that anyone involved in marketing and sales of anything, get on Twitter and start tweeting.  I’m just getting rolling, so you can follow me here – happy to snowplow the road in front.  But get started – at least grab your name before someone else does.  Certainly reserve your company name before you have to buy it from someone.  It’s amazing to see the names that are still available… Book I’m reading on it all: Twitter Revolution.  I’ll be talking about it at the ACT Conference as well as the PIMA Annual Meeting (hey that’s my picture!) in the panel discussion on marketing trends.

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Does Linkedin Rock! or what?  Tell you what – If you’re not in there everyday doing something, you’re missing the boat.  And spare us the inane line, “I don’t have time for that.”  Yeah, no kidding – but you MAKE the time for the important things, right?  Linkedin is definitely one of those.  Did you know they just added polling?  I started using Tripit, of course the Blog feature, the ICMG and PIMA groups are rocking, I’ve got my sights set on 400 connections (and yes, these are people I know, not just random connections), and there’s cool new stuff on the horizon.

Next post: ICMG2009, Omni Orlando Resort  YES!

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Pictures… My cousin sent me a few shots from the family archives.  Too funny!

A video skit I did with my brother and his best friend… they killed me twice!

I’m the one on the left – 1968 maybe?!?

That’s an awesome hat, man.  Ear flaps for the Jaffrey, NH winter!

Cool use of double exposure on film.  Scott Brown, you rocked!

16th

…then the Browns would win the Super Bowl!  Right Kathie!?!?!  LOL  Another post about insurance technology later…

Frozen window w icicles

Yep.  14 below.  What else do you notice?

Man, am I glad I work inside today!

8th

“…insurers are likely to be opportunistic in their technology investments.”

My opinion, this article really lays out the industry’s marching orders with respect to the Web and marketing Web sites given the current state of the economy (bad), the current state of Web-based insurance marketing technology (“woefully behind the times” -SW, AIG), and the current utilization of the Web for almost any and everything (high and increasing).   Having been writing on these subjects for 4 years now (yep, 02/01/05 was my first post to this blog), I feel a little like Randy Quaid in Independence Day when the aliens finally showed up… “Good God! I’ve been sayin’ it. I’ve been sayin’ it for ten damn years. Ain’t I been sayin’ it, Miguel? Yeah, I’ve been sayin’ it.”  LOL :-)

“Insurance technology organizations will likely curtail many “nice to have” initiatives, but they will move with greater focus on core initiatives and customer-facing capabilities, and they will drive forward with increasing urgency neglected areas…”

Can I just add one thing?  There’s no room for mistakes.  There’s no room for guessing, for on-the-job-training with un-proven IT resources having limited experience with Web usability, user experience, etc.  If there is a high-profile job that needs to be done, especially one that is geared to drive top-line revenue gains, insurance enrollments, association member applications, agent adoption, agent recruiting, etc., etc., it’s critical to engage people that have – as much as possible – “been there, done that, take a look at this.”  If your potential resource for design and development of the new technology can’t pull up a Web site that has similar functionality or structure or purpose, then KEEP LOOKING – or keep your Linkedin profile updated for when the project crashes and burns and your picture goes up on the boardroom dartboard.

Comments???

Cool picture I had to grab – lucky I had my camera.  Extremely rare sight for this time of year in Northeast Ohio…

Sunrise on the way to HCC Sat am Bible Study

Sunrise on the way to HCC Sat am Bible Study
1st

Click through on the links.  They make an interesting tapestry of events past and future…

Favorite Work-related Events 2008

ICMG Golf Outingtwice!  Thanks to Raymond Richard for the first, and Paul Andres with FTJ for the second.  And that’s where I met new client Kevin Leys with Meridian, who later won the PIMA MMC Award for eCommerce Web sites.  Very very cool.

PIMA MarkeTTech – Esurance and the Social Web.  Thanks to Kristin Brewe, Sara Holoubek, Danielle Knopf, and Eric Tisch once again.  MarkeTTech 2008 rocked! (If I may say so myself!)

AMBest EFusion Virtual Conference – got to see close-up some great new insurance technologies on display, got to talk about insurance and the social Web with Charles Wasilewski, reinforced some relationships, favorite learning conference of the year for me.

PIMA NewportGolf at NCC with Kevin Leys (with Zach Wise spotting and shooting pics), AHIP Preso (especially the reference to LTCi), some great new connections including new client Insurance Specialists Inc.

Coffee(s) in NYC with Sara Holoubek and Al Drowne – outstanding conversations (and location) in preparation for MarkeTTech 2008, some great pictures, and terrific networking.

PIMA Cancun – enjoyed playing the George Bode attaboy video at the end of the conference, met future client Rick Leonard with LTCR, and had a great time with Diane and Kelle.

Favorite Work-related Stories 2008

Groundbreaking Launch of FTJ.com

Social Networks – Linkedin, Facebook

Social Media – Blog Development, Podcasts, Vidcasts

Favorite Work-related Pictures 2008

Medicare Advantage Conference Moon shot

Cancun shot

Sara Holoubek shot

Kristin Brewe shot

Favorite Movies 2008

  • Dark Knight … in Newport at PIMA
  • Ironman – very very kool
  • Incredible Hulk – reminded me of watching the TV show with my dad
  • Fireproof – great flick about marriage
  • Four Christmases – almost fell out of my seat laughing
  • Marley – reminded me of my Irish Wolfhound growing up
  • YES MAN! – just saw this… something personally impacting about this.

Looking ahead to 2009

Deeper into Social Networks – understanding and using Linkedin, Facebook and MySpace

Expanding into new markets- sorry (to my worthy competitors), this is going to be a covert op

IIABA ACT preso – looking to the future on the social Web, agents, and insurance marketing – should be interesting.

PIMA Board of Directors – Watch out!  Here I come.  3-year term starts after the 09 Annual Meeting.

Jesse Slome MedSupp Conference

Jump-start a few Blogs – Here’s one that rolling…attaboy Chris Jones.  Ton of potential there.

A great new initiative with a major LTCi player.

More pictures for sure.  Starting to learn music videos.  See first attempt here.

A big thanks to readers.  Can I encourage you to comment more often – and perhaps start your own blogs?  Improve the richness of the conversation.  Think of your blog as a newspaper column or a newsletter.  It’s fun, a great learning environment, and oh so useful in so many ways.  A team blog is an extremely effective tool on many levels.  Happy to help in any way.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

A favorite ornament

THE favorite ornament - thanks to mother-in-law!

Archives to 2005