ACG - Agency Consulting Group

The PIPELINE

A national monthly newsletter for agency principals dedicated to agency management topic

Advertising and Marketing Insurance In The "Tivo" Age

THE ADVENT OF CONSUMER-CENTRIC MARKETING AND ADVERTISING

Just in case anyone reading this has been living in a cave watching a black and white television with “rabbit ears” (ask your parents if you don’t know what that is) with only three channels on their dial, TiVo is the trademarked name of the primary Digital Video Recorder (DVR) that is forever changing how we look at television programming. Many people refer to any form of DVR as a TiVo, just as many refer to all tissues as “Kleenex.”

My grandchildren no longer pay attention to television program schedules. When they identify programs in which they are interested they “TiVo” it for viewing when their schedules permit. When I found myself rushing home to watch a particular interesting program, one of my sons showed me how I could “TiVo” anything remotely, even though I hadn’t remembered to set up the TiVo for recording before I left home.

I predict that within a few short years our entertainment will be completely “on demand.” I predict that networks and production companies will premier a show on television just as movies release in the theaters. We’ll pay to view these programs on a sliding scale during their first, second and third runs. The reason we will do this is because the advertisers who have been supporting the television industry for almost six decades will realize that they are throwing money away in their advertising. Why? People will record all programming and fast forward through the advertisements to permit the programming to “flow” properly. The final transition will occur when advertising money slows sufficiently to allow the “ad-blocking TiVo” device.

Imagine a DVR that will identify all programming breaks and stops recording until the programming returns to the air. That will be the death knell of advertising as we know it today.

The “TiVo” phenomenon is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to consumer-centric product and service marketing. This change, most noticeable in television advertising, is, in itself a remarkable change in the way we spend and manage our recreational and spare time. But, more importantly, the “TiVo phenomenon” in all of its forms will doom media advertising and marketing as we have known it and learned it for our own industry.

BUT WHAT’S THE ALTERNATIVE?

Customer-Centric marketing and advertising means that the customers decide when they want to purchase a specific product or service and they seek out those products and services. If you provide them with a way of contacting you to get that product or service when they specifically need it, they will buy from you.

How does this work? Look at the Yellow Pages, another trademarked name describing the generic telephone book advertising media. Not so long ago the Yellow Pages was the preferred product and service reference book in everyone’s home and business. Need a plumber? Get out the Yellow Pages. Need a printer? Get out the Yellow Pages. Need insurance? Get out the Yellow Pages. Anything generic in nature from accountants to zoos could be found in the Yellow Pages.

Do you read the Yellow Pages when you have a few moments? Only if you also spend spare time reading the dictionary. You once looked at the dictionary when you need to spell a word. You looked at the Yellow Pages when you needed to find where you could locate a specific product or service.

The operative word in the last sentenced is “looked”. That’s because, whether using a word search, synonyms, products or services the Internet has become the preferred reference source. Spell-check and word-search (for synonyms) have generally eliminated the need for printed dictionaries and thesauruses

Similarly, more people every year search the Internet for products and services instead of the printed Yellow Pages. Many telephone books are scurrying to marry their print versions with on-line versions and generating powerful search engine mechanisms to find their results.

Unfortunately for the Yellow Pages publishers, that is much like buggy manufacturers mounting motors on horse collars to compete with the horseless carriage a hundred years ago. It may be novel, but we don’t need the buggy at all any more.

A truly informative website with continuously updated search engine positioning combined with banner ads linked to the major search engines can put you on top of the delivery list for consumers who are searching for insurance at this very moment.

People who need insurance services will look for them when they need them. “Googling,” a third example of a trade-marked name for a generic function (internet searching), is a preferred way of searching for a service such as insurance that is generic enough to warrant customer interest.

WEBSITES

I cannot sufficiently stress the importance of an informative, interactive and changing website, not just a billboard-type site that may as well be a Yellow Pages ad. The more information you provide on your services and products THAT ARE DIFFERENT FROM THOSE OF YOUR COMPETITORS the more likely a response to your ads from the public searching for your services.

I’ll use Agency Consulting Group, Inc. as an example. Our website is just O.K. It is a work in progress. We are negotiating now to add Flash video that will allow our searchers to either read information on their own or to see me talking about the service or product that interests them. The viewer can also view an entire Webinar (an informative seminar on the topic). If you are interested in an agency valuation, in compensation programs for producers or for non-producer staff, in the Asset Protection Model of sales, in strategic planning, in automation, in website development, in mergers, acquisitions or sale of agency, or in perpetuation plans and clusters and Virtual Insurance Agencies, you will be able to get as little or as much information as you want. All of this is available to you 24 hours/day, 7 days/week, 365 days/year. And this is available to you when you need these services and products.

We already know that we are different from our competitors because most of them rehash the same programs that they used for your parents’ agencies. So if we have the information in a presentable fashion WHEN YOU WANT IT, we will attract all of the consulting clients that we can manage.

Now look at your own website. How deep is it? Ours has approximately 1200 pages of information before we begin linking to webinars and streaming video. We don’t fear competitors because they can read what we do, but cannot do what we do without our specialized knowledge. Can you say the same?

If you don’t have product or service differentiation yet, begin looking for the cutting-edge add-ons to the traditional personal and commercial lines products. Without adding new products and services to differentiate yourself, you may as well say “We’re as good as most anyone else.” If you need help differentiating your products and services, call us at (800) 779-2430.

But this article is not about Add-On products and services. It is about effective advertising and marketing when your customers are specifically seeking insurance products and services. Your website look and content is a key element in attracting clients to you when they need you. But how do they know how to get to you?

SEARCH POSITIONING

There are many service providers who will keep your agency name at or near the top of the major Search Engines by refreshing the keywords that form the primary search words used by your prospects and clients. Agency Consulting Group, Inc. offers this service, and you can enroll your agency with us (the cost is low, the keywords are tailored to your agency and we are in the insurance industry, not just in the IT arena) or with any of the other services available to you if you have a working website now. The benefits are growing every year and respond to both the growth of searches for your services and the expansion of your site with more and better content.

BANNER AD PLACEMENT

There was a time just a decade ago that banner ads cost as much as $1 each. Now they cost mere fractions of one cent. And the Search Engines are getting much better at ad placement related to the recent searches that are done by a user. In other words if you Google “insurance” as your search topic, Google Ads will give you insurance based banner ads to match your search in addition to the generated results.

This intuitive banner ad placement combined with additionally refined target advertising will eventually pinpoint your particular clients instead of providing you unqualified placement for inquiries from around the world.

We can no longer “shotgun” advertising through print, radio and television expecting to build positive response. Even our targeted marketing to specific sectors that could use our services are so diluted that most of our marketing pieces never get opened. The customer is deciding if and when he needs our products and services. When he does, we only get one chance to “be there” for him. The best way for us to get our message to him is to be in a marketing position exactly when he is interested in our products and services. Search engine placement gives us that chance of being the prospect’s choice when he does his internet research. A well constructed website will have definitive points of service and product that separates you from your competition.

Agency Consulting Group, Inc. can help you evolve your marketing program to respond to the Customer-Centric form of product and service search that is fast becoming the customers’ preferred method of identifying his suppliers, including insurance suppliers. Call us at (800) 779-2430 to arrange a consultation to maximize your marketing efforts and grow your customer base.