There is an old saying which suggests that trying to set strategy while dealing with a crisis is akin to trying to rake leaves in a windstorm while herding cats. If a leading analyst is correct, the state of social media strategy and insurance may be close to this. But help may be coming, from the felines themselves.
In a recent post in this space, Greg Purdy of Pathway Partners suggested that Social Media was creating a perfect storm for the insurance industry which, in Greg’s words, “will change the landscape and influence every aspect of the industry.”
Greg quotes recent data which suggest that the new customer segment – Millennials – have grown up in a state of constant connectivity. To reach these consumers requires a marketing strategy which effectively incorporates social media. However, the leaders in the industry are not of this generation, and the rule book for social media is being written in real time.
So, if we accept Purdy’s analysis that the storm is upon us (and many do), the money question is: How can we develop a strategy in a timely fashion? A recent article offers shortcuts to the thinking of millennials on the topic of insurance sales.
The back story of the article is informative. Independent Agent Magazine recently published a piece entitled “Marketing to Millennials, which offered the views of Michael Fleischner, an Internet marketing expert and founder of MarketingScoop.com on how to market to this community.
To validate some of the article’s suggestions, Independent Agent Mike Foy asked his daughter Lauren Foy, currently in college, to comment, and the reply became a second article - A Millennial’s Take on Social Media – published on the ACT Website (ACT is the technology division of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America). It should be required reading for anyone developing insurance marketing strategies and tactics; not so much because of the major elements (Lauren agrees with most of Fleischner’s expert opinions), but because of the unique insights Lauren provides from her personal experiences.
For example, Flieschner recommends: “be genuine and let your prospective market understand what you’re really about and what you stand for.” To which Lauren responds:
“While I am not sure how you can be insincere regarding matters of insurance, I think that the author makes a good point to be sure your target really understands what you are marketing. One example would be to not make a company look like a friendly personal environment when chances are a customer would have to get through many automated messages or new employees each time they try to contact the company.”
Get this: Millennials don’t classify insurance people as sleezy sales types, but they do ask us to deliver on whatever service promise we give. Why is this important? Lauren says: “Finding a company on the Internet is a lot more of a guessing game …. If you are trying to attract people through this medium, it is much easier to do so when the message and the reality are matching.”
Same with Flieschner’s recommendation for engagement on a personal level. Lauren says: “This is an easy thing to do with blogs or Facebook, etc. I have become a ‘fan’ or ‘liked’ a few companies that I never see again. I have done the same to others, which now seem to haunt my Facebook. I think a medium level of posts is good.”
Lauren gets into recommendations on style: “One company usually posts a fact, story or comment relevant to their product and ends the post in a question. This gets a lot of feedback and then is likely to show up on more people’s home screens. … My generation feeds on being ‘heard’ and finds it so appealing that we give more attention to the social media sites that try to engage us. ”
There are a number of gems in the piece, including a discussion on the importance of personal contact. One that is not stated, but implied might the most important. If we want to know how to market to millennials, perhaps we should ask them how they want to be marketed to.
They just might tell us.