Archive for June, 2009


Curious on your comments….

Let’s use a fictional example.  Let’s say a niche agency, national, is expanding their lines to include some new products.  The products have been market tested by a handful of agents and seem good to go.  Now they want to recruit more agents and scale the new lines up. Thus the interest in a broker portal.  Should we buy or build?  Here’s a sample budget and timeline if outsourced to IdeaStar: $160k over about 12 months.

  • Phase One: Portal design and architecture, laying the foundation.  Recruited agents first complete a simple on-boarding process, an admin login facilitates the new-agent approval and continuing portal access.  The admin can also manage sales and marketing materials.
  • Phase Two: First product.  Most revenue, biggest perceived market.  Agent-driven Indication workflow, mapped PDF, data stored and accessible to both the agent and the H.O. admin.  Off-line quoting by the H.O. (or online quote engine), upload to the portal for agent review and presentation.  Binding Quote workflow, mapped PDF, data stored, etc.  Renewal workflow.
  • Phase Three: Second product, same functionalities modified to suit 2nd market.
  • Phase Four: 3rd Product, same functionalities modified to suit 3rd market.
  • Intentional Exclusions: Inbound and outbound data feeds, quote engines, state variations of mapped PDF’s.

So pretty straight forward in concept, but a LOT of work and a tremendous amount of potential portal development landmines every step of the way: 

  • design
  • architecture
  • usability
  • functionality
  • hosting
  • security
  • integration
  • maintenance
  • enhancements
  • marketing…


  • how many agents they will be able to recruit
  • how many of those will adopt the portal
  • and how well the product will sell.

If you do it in-house, perhaps you can test the waters at a lower cost, even understanding that this investment might be a throw-away if they then decide to outsource the full-blown portal.  However, by building it in-house with little experience, and thus potentially a less than optimal agent experience in the pilot, they would be risking making a critical long-term business decision based on imperfect decision (something I have seen over and over in our business).

Based on either your personal experience, your industry observations, and/or your understanding of agent-driven insurance sales and marketing, any advise or guidance?  Comment anonymously is fine, but it would be better if you’d give a little transparent background.  Our industry desperately needs transparency.

Thanks for your input.  GREATLY appreciated.  Happy to answer follow-up questions.

Btw, I tweeted this article from Forresters yesterday.  I think it’s not only relevant to this post, but it seems extremely relevant to the Life and Health insurance industry.  I know a few CEO’s get it, but the vast majority don’t seem to.

Oh yeah, on a lighter note, my son was on ESPN again!  Too funny.  Daughter Kelle made the sign.


Oh, and the mission trips to Peru and the D.R. were fantastic…







Saw this article from AHIP and found some encouragement by it.  Seniors are happy with Medigap.  Not sure the same can be said with Medicare Advantage.  There’s a link in there for the source documentation.  Might be interesting for those in the senior life and health insurance…

Took a business trip to Boston last week.  Great conversations with folks out there.  I could be wrong, but it seems like there’s a renewed vigor around direct-to-consumer, Web-based insurance distribution, agent portals, and agent-driven quote engines.  There’s also some interesting dialog around ‘sponsored-by’ communities, especially as a way of reaching an audience with your brand without being obligated to the whole compliance routine and requirements.  Have you read Groundswell yet?  Great discussion in there about Communities.  Vovici seems to be a useful technology for Community building.

After Boston, I took an adventure into my past, 30 years past to be specific.  I went to Northfield Mt. Hermon School back in the late 70′s and was able to return for my 30th reunion.  Great time.  Brought back fond memories, and of course regrets.  Not sure which one this is:  I remember asking 8 girls to senior prom.  They all said no.  :-)  So I ended up on the campus frisbee golf course instead.  It’s OK.  I got the best bride in the end!!!


Grabbed this pic before a lunch at Fanueil Hall… guys are from Peru where my son happened to be at the time on a Houghton College Mens Soccer mission trip.  Interesting coincidence.  Great sound.  Very popular on the mall.


Classmate Jim Louderback, CEO of Rev3.  Obsessed with the cheese! Check out his HS Senior Pic on the nametag! :-)


Went down to the river for the 7am morning row.  I used to be the coxswain (when I was a LOT smaller). Guy in the bow is James Philcox.  See his B&B here.  Looks nice.


With my class (I’m bottom right).  See more pictures here.  I did the Memorial video for fallen classmates.

Btw, we organized our class through Facebook – an interesting use of the Social Network.


OK, I know this may sound obvious to some, but I just ran across yet another prospective client who does not have analytics (or at least access to analytics) on his Web site.  Just want to post a quick solution to that incredibly critical issue.  Not going to rant about why it’s so critical, just going to say three things:

  1. It’s free.
  2. It’s comprehensive.
  3. It takes 5 minutes to install.

Yes, it takes a few more minutes to set up a funnel for e-commerce (a necessity if you are trying to get someone through an enrollment process).  But the main thing is knowing

  • where your traffic is coming from,
  • where they are going on the site,
  • where they are leaving,
  • how long are they staying,
  • and what are the month-to-month trends

on those data-points.

Click here to get Google Analytics and follow the prompts.

Check your analytics often, especially as you try new marketing campaigns, add new pages, new content, etc.

Oh yeah, also add ShareThis to your site and test viral marketing – very interesting.

Tell you what:  If you want to do this right, cover ALL your bases, and maximize the Web channel, reach out to me.  Happy to help.  I can almost guarantee positive ROI no matter what state your Web presence is currently in.

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