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Insurance Marketing Word of the Year

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Oxford Dictionaries has just announced its word of the year.  We would like to nominate this for the Insurance Marketing Word of the year as well.  We invite your thoughts.

And the word is …

Selfie. For those who didn’t know, the definition of Selfie is: “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website”.

We confess that we didn’t know there was a word for the practice, but we have noticed that the cell phone has precipitated a plethora of self portraits.  You’d have to have industrial strength blinders to miss this activity. Some of the consequences are legend; we won’t go further than saying “Anthony Weiner”…

What does word of the year mean?

Judy Pearsall, editorial director for Oxford Dictionaries, explained the decision to choose ‘Selfie‘ as follows: “Using the Oxford Dictionaries language research programme, which collects around 150 million words of current English in use each month, we can see a phenomenal upward trend in the use of selfie in 2013, and this helped to cement its selection as Word of the Year.”

A large part of the phenomenal growth is that #selfie has been a common tag for self portraits on social sites.

Katy Steinmetz, reporter in TIME’s Washington bureau, makes the point in her blog:

A good “word of the year” will sum up our culture as it was during that particular orbit around the sun. Given that more and more tools are created every day that encourage us to focus on ourselves—to publicly share our opinions, our whereabouts, our calorie intakes, our playlists and our dogs’ mistakes—Oxford Dictionaries’ choice certainly seems to capture the zeitgeist: 2013 was a selfie year.

But what does this mean for insurance marketing?

The short answer is this: we believe that successful insurers and brokers will continue to focus on being client-centric.  The news about the word of the year tells us that the client not only wants to be the focus, they want to go further.

Back in January, when we were looking at trends for 2013, we felt that data and analytics would be increasingly used to increase customer engagement.  To help define engagement, we quoted Richard Sedley, Director of Design at Seren, who defined engagement as “Repeated interactions that strengthen the emotional, psychological or physical investment a customer has in a brand”.

The popularity of ‘Selfie‘ – as a word and as an action –  demonstrates, to our satisfaction, that  insurance clients not only want to be in the picture, they want control over how the picture is taken.  We need to take heed.

What can we do?

This shift in view point can frame specific actions.  Back in our 2013 predictions blog, we  quoted David Bidmead, CEO of Marsh U.S.: “The first opportunity for 2013 I would say lies in analytics. There is a consistent request from our clients to help them make more informed decisions about the structure and cost of their insurance programs.”

Rather than treating analytics as proprietary information that inform our own decision, we can turn the control over to the client to help her create her own portrait.

In commenting on the post, Blair Currie, vice president of marketing at IMS, noted similar opportunities with telematics:

If an insurance company shares the data with its policyholders in a refined form of Key Driving Indicators (KDI’s) and ratings against their peer group, then they can change the paradigm and add a service component to their offering. These scores and tips can be shared weekly and policy holders can track their progress.

What do you think?

It’s possible that that Selfie will have the shelf-life of ‘eight-track‘  (ask someone with grey hair if you don’t know), but we think the principles of Selfie-ness have strong staying power.  Do you agree?

What are some of the things you are doing to appeal to the inner Selfie in your client base?  If you’ve had success, we’d like to hear those stories.

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