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Broker Marketing: Feed the Lizard

In the Polynesian culture, the gecko feeds on insects and carries the spirit of mo’o,  a mythological being which is considered to be a  protector of houses and villages.  In the insurance culture, the gecko feeds on Big Data and carries the brand of Geico, which is considered the destroyer of independent agents.  Maybe the lesson is all in the food.  We’d like to know what you feed the protector of your business.

Why Independents Don’t Like Lizards

Independent insurance agents and brokers don’t like geckos because they are ubiquitous in the world of personal insurance due to effective and persistent marketing and advertising using the Geico Gecko.  Geico only writes automobile insurance i the US.  However, as we noted in this space last October, the company has one of the highest brand recognition scores among Canadian consumers due to advertising bleed across the border.

Agents in the US and Brokers in Canada reference Geico and the Gecko in their marketing. Some US agents have approached this with humour (see “How One Independent Agent Tried to Off the GEICO Gecko.” in the December 2011 Insurance Journal, e.g.)  Several Canadian brokers and quote consolidators have taken out paid Google listings using terms such as Geico Canada “What it is and what it ain’t!”

The reality is that competing against the advertising/marketing budget of direct writers is not possible for most Canadian insurers, much less independent brokers.  There needs to be a different way, perhaps taking a page from the lizards own handbook.

Geiko’s Gecko was Born In a ‘Petri Dish of Data’

Advertising Age recently interviewed Geico’s Chief Marketing Officer, Ted Ward.  According to Ward, the gecko character was not the product of intense market research to design a long running campaign.  Rather, Ward says,

… we analyzed results from running the first set of Gecko TV spots and liked the bump in business volume. We were able to attribute the increased business to the campaign and decided to move forward with additional Gecko executions. From that point on we have incorporated more traditional market research to track and monitor consumer sentiment related to the little green guy.

 In other words, Geico used data to find out what worked and leveraged the results. What happens if our little green friend looses his slimy glint with consumers over a couple of quarters?  Our bet is that the Gecko will be back to foraging for insects.

 What Can Brokers Do?

Data and analysis costs are less daunting than they used to  be.  In our mind, that isn’t the hurdle facing brokers, however.

Ward notes that the cost of storing and processing data has dropped “so substantially that it is now possible to ‘crunch’ a myriad of internal and external data elements through complex algorithms”.  He adds   “Most of the core direct-marketing techniques of targeting remain unchanged, but the ability to more intelligently execute them is vastly different.”

Intelligent, consistent, evidenced-based execution is key.  Earlier this year, we noted examples of initiatives that insurers in the US and Canada are taking to support their agents and brokers.  We expect to see more of this and also expect that third parties will offer new and innovative tools to access and mine data.

What is required is discipline and consistency in the broker’s office to ensure the data are sufficient and correct, that marketing initiatives are undertaken and that follow up is taking place in a timely, consistent fashion.

What Do You Think?

We’d like to hear from you.  If you know of methods and techniques that work, we’d love to hear from you.  If you have seen things fall flat, those lessons are good to know too.

Help us all feed our inner gecko.