Archive for the ‘blog’ Category

14th

Top 100 Insurance Blogs, Nov 2014

Of course lists like these are always incomplete (e.g. the GenRe Perspective blog, one of my favorites, is not included), but here’s a list that might be helpful to browse and perhaps scan for inclusions in your River of Information. Read the rest of this entry »

25th

The more I watch, study, learn, and interact with others on the Social Web, the more convinced I am that Social Technology is a Game-Changer in business. Now I know that some of you will say, “Well, of course you do, Mike. That’s your business. You’ve got a vested interest in saying that…” Yes, that’s a true statement. I AM driving revenue for my little enterprise. But a statement like that is yet another example of very simplistic and dismissive brush-off’s that executives and business leaders at all levels are making – one that completely misses the point of emphasis. A few more:

  1. “Why would I use Twitter? What do I care what Charlie Sheen had for breakfast?!?!”
  2. “I don’t want my people using Facebook at work – it’s a waste of time.”
  3. “YouTube is nothing but a bandwidth problem on our network. We shut it down.”
  4. “I’m on Linkedin, but I’m just connecting with people. I have no idea what the value is.”

    Pick your Social Network

    Pick your Social Network

  5. “Show me the ROI of Social Media and I’ll be more than happy to use it.”
  6. “I can see using Social Media if you sell consumer products. But we’re B2B.”
  7. “I can’t keep up with email. I can’t imagine keeping up with Social networks, too!”
  8. “I just don’t have time for all that nonsense.”

Let me get right to the point of how I’m seeing Social Tech accomplish business goals. The following is a VERY brief list of 12 undeniable ways smart companies are leveraging Social Tech. Remember that, as I say in Boot Camps and Keynotes, Social Tech boils down to this statement: “The goal is to 1. build your Social Networks through which you can 2. share Social Media and thereby 3. amplify your Social Relevance and influence.” In other words, build your connections, develop and share helpful stuff, and drive your business objectives, whatever they may be. Just like you can’t mail people stuff without mailing addresses, you can’t call people without phone numbers, you can’t email without email addresses, you can’t reach people via the Social web until you make the connections. And with ALL of them you have to have a solid , meaningful, and compelling message. And the holy grail is word-of-mouth referrals and recommendations that amplify your efforts. Pretty basic stuff. Social Tech is just making it a whole lot easier – and trackable.

1. Recruiting – Linkedin is so incredibly powerful, even the novice is finding utility with it. If you know how to get up to 4th and 5th gear in the system, holy cow! And that’s just one tool, not to mention others like Twitter and hashtags, Online Reputation Management, Viral Video’s, e-Word of Mouth, and more.

Laptop or Smartphone?

Laptop or Smartphone?

2. Information Gathering and Education – Who hasn’t used Google to feed their brain on some topic? Well, the same concepts apply to Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, RSS, and a host of other tools that can be positioned to feed your brain on any topic you want – on an automated basis. In my humble opinion, this is one of the best kept secrets of Social Tech savants – and will be the key differentiating skill for employees in the years ahead.

3. Customer Service – Many, many smart companies are using Twitter and Facebook as customer service channels. Why? The vast majority of Americans are using Social Tech at some level. And they often use it to solve routine problems – as efficiently as possible. That’s a big reason why they are following their brands and business partners across the Social web. FAQ’s?? OK. But at the same time as your customer service rep sees the tweet, the crowd also sees it, and maybe has had the same question and already has the answer. And this concept will only grow.

4. Relationship Management and Nurturing – Man, once you get someone on board, don’t you want to keep them there? Of course. So how do you do that while at the same time getting more people on board – all as efficiently as possible while keeping overhead low? Create reusable, sharable content and make it easy for your fans to share it with their networks. Create useful content – stuff that answers questions, expands the utility of your gear or services – blog posts like this, video tutorials and aids, in-depth e-Books, real-time and archived Webinars, Tweet-ups, infographics that educate, inspire, and otherwise communicate. People want to business with people that help them, not just sell them.

5. Sales – The Social Web was practically MADE for sales people. Man, if you’re in sales and you don’t know how to leverage Linkedin yet for warm referrals, just like you might at an industry conference or networking event, get on Google and start feeding your brain. Social Tech can feed the pipeline, shrink sales cycles, improve close ratios and competitive advantage, and of course generate referrals to feed the pipeline. If you do it right, it’s Revenue on Demand, no matter what business you’re in.

6. Marketing – Inbound marketing to drive leads is where it’s at. I’ve got one word on that – HubSpot. Beyond that, Social Tech helps enterprise marketers with Reputation Management, Organizational Voice, Advertising, Public Relations. How many times have you Google’d an unfamiliar person, brand, or product that you needed to know more about? Every day is a common answer? So what makes you think that people aren’t doing it WITH YOU??? Don’t you think it’s thus kind of important to have a powerful presence across the various Social Channels?

A Socially-enabled Conference

A Socially-enabled Conference

7. Getting things done – Crowdsourcing is simply a huge, largely unknown and untapped opportunity in American business, especially in the insurance space. Sites like LogoTournament, PopTent, TopCoder, and Chaordix are huge opportunities to help companies increase their velocity. One insurance company I’ve mentioned before leveraged PopTent for video content – and accomplished something in a fraction of the time, at a fraction of the cost, and with a terrific end result. You know the dreaded IT Project Priority List? Use TopCoder for the bottom third that will likely never get done, or be too late, off-target, and hastily made. How about product innovation, creative writing, adjudication, the list goes on and on. Yet sadly, most executives are at 0 or 1 on a scale of 10 relative to Crowdsourcing. Yikes. Huge opportunity for the competition, eh?

Well, that’s all the time I have for right now. I’ll get back to this list later.

The Next Five:

8. Reputation Management

9. Environmental Influence

10. Work Spaces

11. Efficiencies

12. Cost of Doing Business

How is Social impacting your day-in-day-out activities?

What’s the next big thing?

What are your comments and questions, barriers and obstacle?

Perhaps I, or another reader, can help answer them.

What d’ya say?

20th

At dinner last night, I had the pleasant opportunity to dine with James Obregon and his wife Alessandra. James runs a niche insurance agency, Trinity Risk, that specializes in protecting independent truckers with various types of insurance products. As we spoke about the event sponsor, Fairmont Specialty, that brought us together, James gave them kudo’s for their wisdom in orchestrating the event. He said, “I appreciate rounds of golf and rides on boats – I really do. But this is the gift that keeps on giving. I hope to walk away from here with knowledge that I can immediately apply to my business and ultimately write more business.”

Fairmont Specialty Boot Camp

Fairmont Specialty Boot Camp

I couldn’t agree more with James! The perplexing thing about this is that I’ve literally been talking to insurance companies about doing something like this for almost three years now. A private Social Tech Boot Camp for Insurance Executives, sponsored by the insurance company, exclusively for their top distribution partners. Congrats to the team at Fairmont Specialty, led by Gary McGeddy, encouraged by Lauren Woods, and endorsed by the managing underwriters. They caught the vision.

So the purpose of this post is to demonstrate the effectiveness and reach of a Blog. I am crafting this content from 6:30-7:30am this morning and will publish this afternoon, Live, in the Boot Camp.

Here’s what you, the reader, can do. If you were at the Fairmont Boot Camp (or other previous ones), what are your Comments about the Boot Camp? What was your favorite part? Would you recommend the concept of a private Boot Camp to other insurance companies? Would you encourage other agencies to attend? Why?

And then share the post across your network. Post it to your Linkedin status update, your Linkedin company page, your favorite Linkedin Groups, all the while asking for readers to Like, Comment, and Share. Same thing with Facebook and Twitter. Let’s just see how far it goes, with that little amount of effort, and people’s good will.

To wrap it up, in a week or two, I’ll share various stats from the effort. In the meantime, I’ll moderate the Comments. Oh and by the way, the Comments don’t necessarily have to be good. Like any conference evaluation, there’s always room for improvement. That’s a great takeaway for me! So thanks for being candid.

6th

Last week, following the Boston Social Tech Boot Camp for Insurance Executives, I invested the time to stay in Boston and participate in one of the most amazing and well-run conferences I have EVER been a part of – HubSpot Inbound12!!! Man am I glad I went and dug in, even though I only knew two people going in. Check it out: I gathered 46GIG worth of content – pictures, video clips, and most importantly, audio clips from other participants about their favorite parts of InBound12. (Yup, I will do a video next week. Meantime, see raw pictures and video clips here, especially the @GaryVee video.)

I’ll be Blogging about HubSpot Inbound12 in Boston on and off for the next several months as it was packed with useful marketing strategies and data-points that really need to be heard across the insurance landscape. Suffice to say that #Inbound12 was trending on Twitter US through-out the conference. What that means is that literally millions of Americans saw tweets mentioning #Inbound12, and certainly additional millions all over the world saw it.

On a personal/professional level, you can see my stats from the 3-day conference in the below graphic. This bump was generated by over 200 of my own tweets. There’s a fascinating blog post all around that…

HootSuite Report Inbound12

My HootSuite Report, Inbound12

Back to the subject at hand, among many fantastic people I met at Inbound12, I ran into Kipp Bodnar. Kipp is a HubSpot SocialTech Strategist. Kipp spoke earlier this year at the PIMA Annual Meeting (see pictures). PIMA is an Association of insurance marketing professionals whose focus is on selling insurance through associations like Alumni groups, trade associations, etc. I’m involved in PIMA as a member and former Board Member.

As I spoke with Kipp about what I had seen and heard over the last two days at Inbound12, and connecting the dots to his preso at PIMA, I had a sudden flash that I should capture the convo and share as a podcast. Kipp graciously agreed.


6 minutes that should give you at least ONE SOLID action item – or 5 or 6 if you listen closely.

Please Comment. Please Tweet. What did you hear?

7 things I heard:

  1. PIMA folks are really great at marketing and data-centric marketing.
  2. Shift from direct mail to ______(what)?
  3. What makes your business economics a lot stronger?
  4. Interesting points about Video…
  5. Best performing types of content. What’s #1?
  6. Customer-centric Content, Mapping to Buying Cycles – brilliant.
  7. Visual Content – quick, simple, but will get a lot of reach spread

Follow Kipp on Twitter; Connect on Linkedin

Please Leave a Comment. Drop in your back link. It will be good for both of us.

Thanks, Kipp! Appreciate the open sharing and free insights.

PS. Speaking of video, check out the video of Santa Fe I made!!
..

24th

Busy professionals often want to know how to make the Social Web more useful for them. But there are barriers. Some comments I hear, especially from boomers in upper or senior management:

  1. “Well, I’m on Linkedin and I accept people’s invitations, but I’m not really doing anything with it.”
  2. “Why should I Blog? And I definitely don’t get Twitter….”
  3. “My company has a policy against Social Media. So I can’t even read blogs, much less write one.”
  4. “Most of my interactions with clients are confidential or proprietary. Great content, but I can’t share it on the internet.”
  5. “How can blogging, Twitter, and Linkedin advance my career?”
  6. “Mike, I’m not keeping up with email as it is. If I get active on Social, won’t that add more email and put me even further behind?”

All legit and common questions and comments. No doubt they all stem from ‘busy-ness’. But the question is, “Can we ignore Social media vis-a-vis our professional presence and online reputation?”

Perhaps TOGETHER we can collaborate on some real-deal answers. Tell you what: I’ll share some of my writings on “How to Become a Recognized Expert”. Please add your Comments to the discussion below.

[TIP: Click the "Subscribe" right next to the Submit button, especially the choice about getting an email for follow-up comments. That way you can see if someone comments on your comment. I know more email. But this is good email, email where you have a stake in the discussion and want to know what others are saying. If you have a couple minutes and really want to do it right, set up a Google profile, add your headshot and points of contact, web site, etc. Be logged-in when you Comment to 1. save time and 2. give people a name with a face.]

Vignette. See if you agree…

To ignore or not to ignore. Let’s use a real-life example. Is this True or False in your experience?

I have a great friend who is a Partner with a Big Four audit firm, we’ll call him Doug. Doug is a relationship manager for a handful of F100 enterprises. He has a team of “supply chain financial management” specialists, again at the F100 level, that know “supply chain financial management”about as well as anyone on the planet, with a great track record of meaningful successes in solving client problems. But if you look up “supply chain financial management”, his firm is invisible, not to mention Doug.

If you were a large enterprise finance professional in “supply chain financial management” looking for a new source of information or a new business partner/advisor/audit firm, wouldn’t you be interested in hearing from a Big Four contact, better yet, a Big Four contact in your network? Or vice-versa – If you were a Big Four sales exec, would you want your company and/or someone on your team to be “found” in the “supply chain financial management” category on Linkedin or Google?

Let’s continue with the vignette.

Here we have Doug, a Big Four “supply chain financial management” expert with no Web properties to his credit, no blog, no or minimal Linkedin, no Twitter presence.

Now let’s say one of Doug’s happy clients, Joe Jones (fictitious name), has a conversation with Chris Mann (fictitious name), a colleague from another F100 company, and a Big Four prospect, at an annual industry conference at a plush resort. Over a beverage and friendly dinner, together they chew on a common challenge relative to “supply chain financial management”.

Is this a common scenario? I think so, but sometimes I’m an idiot, too.

Joe, the happy Big Four client, references a few recent “supply chain financial management” innovations originated and orchestrated by Doug’s Big Four team, with a special emphasis on the wisdom and leadership of Doug, again the “supply chain financial management” relationship manager.

However, unfortunately, due to compliance, regulatory, and intellectual property issues, Joe the happy client can’t go into details or email/share any documentation on the innovation with Chris.

Chris says, “Gee, I’d like to talk to Doug.” Joe writes down Doug’s name on a napkin, digs his cell phone number out of his Droid, and says, “Give Doug a call. You’ll get his voice mail. Tell him I referred you. He’ll call you back within 24 hours. He’s got the answers…”

End of vignette.

First Question: Is this a desirable situation for the Big Four Sales Exec? Sure it is. SO…

Do you think Chris, the Big Four prospect, will do a little searching online, perhaps hit Linkedin, perhaps Google, search on Doug’s name at least? How will Chris start her search? Here’s a likely scenario…
Google – “Doug Smith” “Big Four name”
Chris thinks to herself, “Well, here’s a Linkedin profile, but it’s pretty thin. Wow, zero content on “supply chain financial management” – no blog link, no Twitter feed, no Recommendations… Well, maybe he doesn’t understand Linkedin… Oh well. Let me add “supply chain financial management”
Click the <Back> button a couple times to the search page..
Doug Smith” “Big Four name“supply chain financial management”
“Hmmm. Still nothing. Wow. Doug’s not publishing anything; neither is Big Four. Odd. Well, perhaps it’s the compliance department throwing down their gauntlet on Social Media and Web sites, etc. Well, I’ll give Doug a call, but in the meantime, let me see what I can find on ["supply chain financial management" blog]. Hmmmm. This is interesting….” Off Chris goes in other directions, potentially finding other sources.

Second Question: How is this scenario going to impact Chris’s first encounter and first impression of Doug when Doug returns the phone call?

Remember what’s at stake here. Think about the potential collateral damage to the relationship between Joe Jones, the Happy Client and Chris…and by extension the relationship between Joe and Doug.

Part 2 will be the flip side of the story. What do you think of the vignette? True or False and Why?

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