Thoughts, real-world observations, and anonymous examples – good and bad – regarding the use of Web/Social/Mobile technology in the insurance industry. Follow Mike Wise, President WebWisedom LLC, for the latest in Social Technologies.
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I’m publishing this post from inside the all-day Executive Management Session at the DAIAB Conference at Rehoboth Beach, DE. The session lays out like this:
Morning – Baseline understanding on Social Technologies
Afternoon – Tactical How-to’s on Primary Business Social Tech
Bonus, time-permitting: RSS, Alerts, Analytics
This group is focused on the Property & Casualty side of the insurance space. The Association members are regional and local agencies selling both commercial and personal lines products. Several niche insurance companies provide the products. And of course several business partners support the environment with various business operation and marketing services. Good people working hard to provide valuable risk-management services to the business community. An example: insurance products specifically designed for the coastal environment – flood, hurricane, that kind of thing. Always fun meeting new people, learning about new applications and products, and seeing how Social fits in.
A few learnings to share from a recent all-day Social Media Marketing strategy session with an insurance company and two pilot participants:
Next week: Another all-day Social Media Marketing strategy session with a large insurance agency.
I’m also attending Scott Klososky’s Social Tech Bootcamp in Chicago. Can’t wait to see all the new Social Tech stuff he’s been working on.
Btw, if you’d like to collaborate on a Social Tech Bootcamp for your company or for your clients or prospects, reach out to me. I can guarantee it to be an extremely effective use of time any way you skin it.
A few recent pics:
Sunrise at the Gifford Pinchot State Park after visiting Gettysburg
A coiled-up Delaware Black Snake glaring back from the marsh
My golfing partner grabbed the thing – amazing to see.
Coming right at the camera! Yikes!
I just have a few minutes this morning as I rush off to a presentation on SocialTech and Compliance at an insurance company.
It’s an honor to be asked to lead a Webinar on Social for PIMA, a 30-year old association I’ve been involved in. Without going into too much detail, I hope it suffices to say that I deeply appreciate the opportunity to snowplow the road a bit for the group. But I know that the group will quickly catch up to me once they see the potential of all this. It’s a group of VERY bright people that I am very pleased to associate with. And much of what I will be discussing I’ve chewed on with some of the members over the past couple year at meetings and on phone calls. So I definitely can’t lay claim to much original thought. I guess that make me a Content Curator!
A word on logistics:
Twitter Hashtag for the group – #PIMAAssn
It’s impossible to cover everything on Social in about 60-70 minutes – of course. So my goal is share some of the things I’ve learned about the magnitude of Social as well as a few practical examples of how sales and marketing organizations are using SocialTech. Understandably, and IMHO unfortunately, the nature of the health and life insurance business means there are not a lot of examples on the insurance side. The business is highly regulated with the threat of losing your license always looming over you. It’s also a conservative business by nature, so wary of hype and new stuff. And in general, compensation up and down the org chart is tied to sales results – and rightfully so. More industries should be that way (especially education, but that’s another story).
That said, I’ve been calling around and started a discussion (and Poll – please take it) on Linkedin. I’m trying to get a sense about where people are with SocialTech and what people would most like to hear. I definitely want to debunk some myths about SocialTech as well as the scope and scale of Social. But I’m hearing that people would really like to get information on two big issues.
What would you like to know? What do you know you’d like to share? Please Comment here or on the Linkedin thread.
I would most like people to take away the concept of using SocialTech to build a powerful river of information. In my mind, this is the biggest secret right now. I’m personally using SocialTech to feed my brain in a way unlike ever before. And that’s something that we can all do regardless of Compliance because it’s all inbound consumption. To be sure, they all already know this – in general. The difference now is how to use SocialTech to make the stream even more powerful – and efficient given all our time constraints.
Looking forward to it. Please Comment on the Linkedin Group if you are a PIMA Member.
Meantime, next week is also the Aartrijk Brand Camp in Austin. Really looking forward to that. Some of the smartest people in Social in insurance. Can’t wait. Doing a viral video after!
A couple poignant pictures from my son’s last year as a soccer player before he graduates as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army.
Getting ready to launch on of his trademark throw-ins. Special pic because Mom is in the background.
Lifting his fellow defender Mitch carefully into the truck after he got a concussion. Somehow I think of the Army and the future….
The game seems to have changed. The art, process, career – call it what you want – of selling is being changed by Social Technology, even in the lagging industry of insurance. Skeptical of this? You have only to look at your most recent sales – or losses. Whether B2B or B2C, do you have a sense that the buyers, BEFORE they decided whether or not to buy, engaged in an effort to “check you out online”? In this due-diligence process, what did they find out about YOU (B2B) or your product reputation and/or brand reputation (B2C)? Was this act on behalf of the consumer as common just two years ago (2008)? How about 2005? Even if it was common in those days, did it carry as much weight in the purchase decision? I think if you really look at the trends, you’d have to admit that the selling process has changed.
Think about it. How would you characterize the most recent selling paradigms we’ve seen over the past few decades. As a B2B sales guy since 1988, I’d say I’ve seen three distinct era’s in 20+ years, certainly with convergence and overlap. Generally speaking…
What do you remember about the pro’s and con’s of these earlier phases? What struggles did you have adapting to the changing paradigms? Any funny anecdotes that come to mind relative to this? How would you characterize what we’re seeing now with Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs and their impact on sales? Consumer/Client rating? Retweets, ShareThis, Recommendations? Email marketing? Podcasting? Viral video? Content syndication?
My own funny story… I remember when I was selling for ADP in Phoenix around ’91/92, a couple years into it, I got my first laptop and bought a copy of ACT! That year I made President’s Club for the first time – a really big deal for me just starting out trying to establish myself as a capable sales guy. Relative to my small patch in east Mesa on the rural areas to the east (Globe, Payson, Show Low) the tools definitely helped me get to the next level. But I now had a new challenge. “Where the frickin’ OUTLET around here???? I need a POWER SUPPLY for my laptop!!!” :-) So much for McDonalds – not outlets!
Selling from a hotel room at a conference.
December started out in a whirlwind followed by an almost complete 2-week vacation from work, something I desperately needed. Thus the quiet period relative to blogging.
On the Agent-driven side of the house (versus association and affinity)… MyAgencyCenter focus…
Based on my travels and discussions in the early part of December, I remain convinced that local insurance agents can create a self-generating lead system – cheaply and sustainable. Those seem to be the two keys in this market. The solution needs to be an affordable, pay-as-you-go subscription model and easy to support with a simple weekly schedule of agent activity. However, the tricky part is the agent Web site. With the compliance requirements of insurance companies and regulators, and the complexities of insurance quote engines, agent Web sites that are meaningful lead engines for the agents are a real conundrum. They have to be professional, up to date, useful for the prospect, and thus able to move the visitor from the cloud to the funnel. At a bare minimum, the site needs to reinforce the agent’s reputation in the marketplace as a committed insurance professional. MyAgencyCenter, in combination with social media strategies, seems to be the solution. For now, my focus is on MGA’s, IMO’s, career and captive agencies, insurance companies with W-2 agents, and other similar large organizations. (Sorry, MyAgencyCenter is not quite ready to serve individual agents or small agencies.)
So I finally got my first paid consulting gig helping another insurance marketing organization get started with a blog strategy! I’m pretty excited about it. Of course, it’s a covert op at this point, but I’m hoping it will become overt later in the year as the blogs mature and the client becomes more comfortable with the environment. Let me know if you feel motivated to start your own. I can’t recommend it highly enough…
Sidebar – Priceline.com rocks. Might be ‘old news’, but I’ve developed an affinity for it with all the budget cuts. Just gotta say that I’ve saved a ton on air and car rentals – without much adverse impact on convenience, I must say. Let me know if you’d like some tips. What about you? How do you save money with travel expenses? Any neat ideas? Please comment.
PIMA 2010 Annual Meeting in three weeks in the Florida Keys
In collaboration with Bill Tyson and Sherri Lagana, as well as pointers from Rick Jones, conference tri-chair and Mona Buckley, PIMA CEO, I’m working hard on the panel discussion “Demystifying Social Media”. It’s a tall order for a 45-minute session, but I’m working with some really smart and savvy people. The interesting thing that we’re netting out to is that, once you get into the social media game, it’s really not that mysterious. I’d be interested in your comments.
And the other really neat thing is that each Social Media program within each organization will likely be, by very nature, unique and different based on the people and products of the organization. And lastly, unlike Web sites and the tendency for CIO’s and IT departments to hijack what should be primarily simple marketing projects, Social Media strategies and the execution there-of are clearly destined to be managed by sales and marketing (of course, in collaboration with IT and Compliance as appropriate).
Look for a Social Media survey in the next week or so. And yes, I’ll be taking interesting pictures. Smile… but don’t look at the camera if you don’t have to!
While I’m on the Social Media topic, here’s a very useful aside. Do you have a Social Media ‘Policy’ for your organization? A couple months ago, I collaborated with a very savvy group of insurance marketers on the P&C side of the business. Let by Jeff Yates and the IIABA ACT subgroup, we developed a helpful guide for establishing a Social Media Policy for an organization. Again, Social Media Strategies will vary by organization (let me know if you need help with that), so it’s not a cookie-cutter thing. SM Policies will vary. But the guide will help you cover most if not all of the must-haves for an effective policy. Also find it HERE, another great blog. I’d be interested in any feedback as it’s by nature a ‘living’ document.
ICMG 2010 Annual Meeting in Tucson
Looking a little further out, ICMG is coming up on the heels of PIMA. (Btw, I’m glad Mona and Audrey make the effort to collaborate on the scheduling of these two very important events as there is significant overlap, especially on the vendor side of the equation.) Last year’s meeting was a record-breaker. It will be interesting to see if this year will surpass. I know I’ve seen a lot of new members signing up over the course of 2009. But 2009 was a rough year as well, so we’ll see. I’m looking forward to connecting with folks about MyAgencyCenter as well as about Web sites, insurance technologies like quote engines, e-applications, agent portals, and single or multi-carrier agent contracting solutions. As always, there will be ample things to talk about and great opportunities to connect needs and solutions, whether they are mine or not. And oh yeah, I’ll be taking cool pictures. Might even do a vid-cast.
Next: Final Reflections on 2009 and Forecasts for 2010 – A podcast with the legendary Mark M. Hill
A few final pictures from 2009
I had a pro-shooter take a picture of me at the NCAA College Cup, the Men’s Division 1 soccer equivalent of the basketball Final Four. Thought it came out well. My team lost a heart-breaker though. Very long trip back to CLE, lemme tell ya.
A picture of a pricelsss gift I made for my buddy Dave Recchion that moved to North Carolina in 2008.
A picture of Kelle with her favorite Christmas present.
And a pic of me and Zach at the Hudson Chapel Saturday morning Men’s Bible Study. (Btw, speaking of technology, check out what my church is doing with a .TV site… simple and creative, and very cool use of Social Media. And it’s a great church group if you’re looking for one.) I also made a short and sweet music vid over the holidays trying to capture my year in the study…
PIMA MarkeTTech 2009 at the Loews Philadelphia hotel this week – definitely worth the trip. Several neat stories:
1. Best of PIMA award went to Marsh. More on that in a future podcast (I hope).
2. IdeaStar’s client, Forrest T. Jones, won the top Gold Award for E-Commerce Web sites, surpassing some great sites by AON and others.
Ftj.com is absolutely a ground-breaking site. See the White Paper I helped write here. Phenomenal site. Kudo’s to the entire team that worked on. From the early e-business readiness consulting work that Mark Seghers did, through the diligent, competent, and persevering efforts of the FTJ team (Fred & Debbie and others), including the IdeaStar team (Mary, Brent, Phil, Wayne and others), all the way to winning the award and beyond. Simply outstanding efforts and results. Matrix-driven architecture with content management is a great solution for multi-carrier, multi-product, multi-association, multi-state education, quoting, and enrollment. Only way to go circa 2009.
3. A long-time attendee approached me and said, “Mike, I’m finally ready to do a blog. And I want my CEO to do one also…” Cool.
An amazing event on several levels. I found it remarkable that something I brought up at the Stoweflake resort in the summer of 2007 finally yielded some fruit. And I’m flattered and gratified that he came to me. Very very cool.
The decision is not ‘whether or not’ to participate in social media. It’s HOW to participate.
Social Media is a marathon not a sprint. – good quip for the book I’m writing.
Great story about customer service and addressing the customer through social media, turning the relationship around, finding out about a service issue with the rep and a management issue with the rep’s boss – all because they were monitoring social media and then addressed the issue that was raised by the customer. Great story.
Anything more than 2 minutes is boring.
5. Sound bites for a music video to open a panel discussion at the next PIMA Annual Meeting called “Demystifying Social Media”
The audience at the annual meeting will be the executives, so in general the bosses of the folks at MarkeTTech. With notable exceptions, the exec’s are generally crossing their arms and rejecting social media and social networks. But their people are using the tools and definitely see opportunity for insurance marketing. So my hope is that with sound bites and corresponding images, we’ll arrive at a short (<2min!), punchy opener that grabs the execs.
Any comments on this post are welcome. Do you think Social Networks (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin) and Social Media (Blogs, YouTube, etc.) are relevant to the distribution of insurance in the affinity and association markets?