Beauty and the Beast & Insurance
What on earth could Beauty and the Beast have to do with insurance?
In my last article, How To Win Clients Online, I discussed at length why social media and other online mediums are important for insurance. With this post, I’d like to focus more on the how. With this article, I’m going to talk strategy.
In our day, the art and science of marketing seems to become more and more complicated almost daily. To illustrate this, I’ll use a quick analogy. With the recent release of the live-action remake of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, let’s look back to one of the opening scenes from the original animated film: “Little Town, it’s a Quiet Village.” (Here’s a link to watch for those of you who “don’t remember”…right…) As Belle walks and sings through the streets of her “poor provincial town,” we meet the baker (“…with his tray, like always, the same old bread and rolls to sell…”), a farmer selling pumpkins, the barber, the merchant, the butcher, and even a woman frantically trying to buy some eggs from a grocer. The point is that each business we see is thriving. And why? Because they know that their products or services are absolutely necessary for the town’s survival. They don’t need to do much advertising or prospecting. Wouldn’t that be nice? There was no competition, no Google search algorithms to watch, and no Yelp.com. But these were simpler times. Today, business thrives on competition, and once mastered, search algorithms and customer reviews can take your business to heights that were unimaginable in these “simpler times.”
Interestingly, it seems we might have to go back in time a bit further than expected to find these “simpler times.” On January 20, 1759, Samuel Johnson published in his magazine The Idler, “Advertisements are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused, and it is therefore become necessary to gain attention by magnificence of promises, and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic.” (By Derrick Daye, Published: November 1, 2007)
The advertising clutter we see today is certainly nothing new. Even before the revolutionary “Dot-com Bubble,” The New York Times published, “Studies show that the typical consumer is bombarded by 5,000 advertising messages a day.” (By Alison Leigh Cowan, Published: February 18, 1988) And that was in the 80s!
So, if consumers are hounded with thousands of ads each day, how can we build marketing and advertising strategies to cut through the clutter with our messages?
First, let’s distinguish between marketing and advertising (they are NOT the same). After rummaging through my college notes, I found these definitions:
Marketing: creates, communicates, and delivers value to the firm’s chosen customers. If a firm attracts and retains good customers, this leads to profitability.
Advertising: paid, non-personal presentation of goods and services.
For the purposes of this post, we’ll say marketing is all about driving value for the company and its customers, and advertising is a means of driving this value.
So, what market strategies effectively drive value? Well sadly, there’s no “quick-fix” or “cure-all.” But we can follow some guiding principles. Here are two that have been proven to be highly impactful:
1- It’s not about what you are selling.
Sure, your product is a vital part of your business, but it is rarely the actual product that pulls a campaign through the clutter. Todd Ewing, Founder and President of InsuranceMinded, published a short, but great article about this on his LinkedIn page called “News Flash: Apple doesn’t sell phones.” He said, “They are creating an experience, manifesting a projected self image, generating a desired emotion and fulfilling a desire.” In other words, they are focusing on the value that their product will bring to their consumers. In insurance, a great rate only goes so far. Great insurance salespeople sell the peace of mind, security, comfort, and lifestyle that a policy will bring to a client.
2- It’s about how you are buying.
By “buying” I don’t mean expensive PPC, SEO, or ad publication campaigns (though these can be highly effective). Instead, let’s think of your marketing campaigns as real estate. With your campaigns, you are buying a space in the minds of your consumers. You want that space to be well-connected to other stimuli in their minds. This way your consumers and potential consumers will return to that space more often. But remember, you don’t own that space. You are simply renting it. You make “rental payments” with a continual stream of content.
Take Google, for example. What is Google selling? Gmail services? Its search engine or browser? Obviously not, since these are both free. But when you think about email services, who do you usually think of? I’d be willing to bet that Gmail is at least one of the top 3 names that come to mind. And then, Google is probably one of the first things that you think of when you need the answer to a research question, when you need directions to your dinner reservation, or when you are just strapped for a joke. It’s even an official verb, to “Google” something. Google has effectively bought the space in all of our minds by creating a usage situation for its product. Google is selling an experience for its users.
So where’s the correlation between Beauty and the Beast and selling insurance?
Those were simpler times, and our times, well, aren’t!
But recall the lady in that opening scene of the movie that is frantically trying to buy eggs, and how the survival of the town depended on each individual business. As I said before, great insurance salespeople don’t sell policies—they sell the peace of mind, security, comfort, and lifestyle that a policy will bring to a client.
For your clients and potential clients, that peace of mind, security, comfort, and lifestyle is a matter of survival—not unlike the characters in the opening scene of Beauty and the Beast.
Remember these two points—it’s not about what you are selling, it’s about how you are buying. You are, of course, invested heavily in the product that you are selling (As you should be!). But you should try to detach from your feelings in order to understand your consumers. What are they looking for? How will your product help them achieve it?
Your feelings can be powerfully persuasive tools, but don’t allow them to get in the way of understanding your consumers’ needs. With this focus in mind, you’ll be able to ensure that the resources you spend to reach your consumers are spent effectively.