Sunday, January 1, 2012

INSANITY – TRADITIONAL INSURANCE and BENEFITS MARKETING STRATEGIES! and want to wish everyone a Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

Insanity in the Marketing of Insurance and Benefits - While their is nothing wrong with continually spending on "Tried-and-True" marketing strategies when they provide verifiable positive results. It is foolishness to consistently do the same things over-and-over again when they have limited or no ROI!  This is the case with most of the Insurance and Benefits Industry's traditional "Outbound" marketing strategies!  Albert Einstein observed - “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
The Norm - Many, if not most, Agents, Brokers, Insurance Companies, and Industry related Organizations continue to expend the vast majority of their Marketing and Advertising time and money:
  • Focusing on expensive paid advertising in trade related and other media
  • Purchasing leads
  • Sending out Mailers
  • Utilizing Call Centers
  • Making endless Cold Calls - "Pounding the Pavement"
  • Exhibiting at Trade Shows
  • Visiting Trade Shows
  • Buying Expensive Meals
  • Sponsoring Seminars 
  • Churning New Agents
In a lighter but observant vein Guy Kawasaki (Former Chief Evangelist Of Apple) noted: If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing, If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing”. 
I would suggest that until recently the lack of alternatives was the problem. As John Wanamaker pointed out in the early1900s, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half”. The Power of the Internet, Social Media, Search Engines, SEO and Analytics has changed all of this! We now have an alternative to traditional “Outbound” Marketing. This is called Inbound Marketing.
Strategies for the Future!  John Battelle, Media Entrepreneur, has observed: “Search, [that encompasses the Internet, SEO, and Social Media] is a marketing method that didn't exist a decade ago, provides the most efficient and inexpensive way for businesses to find leads”.  Quite simply, Inbound Marketing turns the Insurance & Benefits traditional marketing and advertising models around! As HubSot, a software company focused on marketing, points out, “Instead of driving their message into a crowd over and over again like a sledgehammer, they attract highly qualified customers to their business like a magnet”. HubSpot further notes that there are three major attractions to Inbound Marketing:
  1. It Costs Less
  2. It Better Targets
  3. It's an Investment, Not an Ongoing Expense.
Inbound Marketing has qualified potential clients knocking at your door! As with all forms of marketing and advertising in the past, this new strategy requires that you:
  • Understand and Penetrate Your Target Markets
  • Add Value
  • Build Trust
  • Consistently Deliver Valuable “Content” Appropriate to Your Markets
  • Build Relationships
  • Provide a Clear “Call-to Action
  • Allow the Qualified Potential Client a “Convenient Platform” for Reaching You
  • Solicit and Promote “Feedback” and related “Discussion
  • Utilize “Analytics” for “Tracking” Your Success!
The CEO of HubSpot, Brian Halligan, noted that as the economy slows down, companies are turning to Inbound Marketing because it is a more efficient way of allocating marketing resources than traditional, outbound marketing – with “inbound marketing, the thickness of your brain matters a lot more than the thickness of your wallet!”.
Making an Industry Shift!  I believe the problem in getting the Insurance and Benefits Industries to begin a shift to Inbound Strategies is the difficult task of embracing “Change”! After many decades of business as usual, acceptance of an entirely new marketing model is not easily implemented. New technologies, a new vocabulary, and a broader marketplace requiring a different relationship building paradigm generate confusion and sometimes fear!
We at and BP consistently get emails and calls from those in the Insurance and Benefits Industries requesting the following:
Proof that Inbound Marketing works? We generally respond that by most estimates 75% of all Insurance and Benefits related decisions in 2012 and beyond will be initiated on the Internet. Search Engines, Social Media, and SEO will deliver those starting the search to those providing the Plans ,Programs and/or Services the Organizations and Individuals need – bringing Buyers and Sellers together! 
  1. How long does it take to implement an Inbound Strategy? Unlike traditional “Outbound” marketing where ads run for a specific period of time or a data base has a specific number of mailers to send or calls to make, Inbound Marketing is an ongoing process and strategy!  Building Trust, Adding Value, and Establishing Relationships takes time and a consistency.  Gaining brand recognition in these new forms of media requires developing a ranking and The money spendexposure on the Search Engines, ie. Google, Bing, etc. and through Social Media outlets like Linkedin, Twittter, Facebook, ProducersWeb, Insurance Campus and AgentNavigator. The sooner you begin – the sooner you will see results!
  2. How much will it Cost and What is the ROI? Compared to traditional Outbound Marketing, Inbound Marketing requires a much smaller expenditure of capital. Money and time spent is an investment rather tahn an expense!  The Internet is essentially free. To get results it does require an ongoing commitment of time!  The functions required can be built internally or outsourced.   Given a consistent effort the ROI can be far greater and more measurable than with traditional Outbound Strategies. HubSpot provides a Free University for studying Inbound Marketing Strategies!
  3. What Companies provide Inbound Marketing Services? There are a growing number of qualified and experienced companies in the marketplace. and are aggressively building a Directory of these entities and the services they provide. This Section should be available within the next several weeks!
  4. Does and/or provide an Inbound Marketing Service for the Insurance and Benefits Marketplace?  Yes, (BP) and BPTS) deliver self-qualified prospects to the Insurance and Benefits Marketplace efficiently and inexpensively utilizing the power of the internet, search engines, SEO, and Inbound Marketing. If you desire to utilize Inbound Marketing in 2012 and Beyond to convert self-qualified internet users  into qualified prospects/clients, BP and BPTS are your Insurance and Benefits clearinghouse.  Get started today with a Gold or Platinum Level Company Directory Listing and let internet users find you today!
The Goal of BP is to  be the Google of the Insurance and Benefits Industries providing potential Buyers a portal for gaining the Information they need to make informed decisions. 
The Goal of BPTS is to become the virtual marketplace for the Insurance and benefits Industries.     
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BenefitPlace hopes you will use this forum to respond to posted comments and share your ideas, questions and expertise related to the overall Employee Benefits and Individual insurance marketplace. Thanks for joining us!