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We could learn a thing or two from the Apple marketing machine and adapt our approach to selling protection

Whether you like their products or not, you have to admire the Apple marketing machine and its ability to create a burning desire among its customers.

Take the recent launch of the iPhone 4 accompanied by the marketing tagline, “This changes everything. Again.” The previous version of the iPhone is still an awesome piece of kit but, thanks to the genius of the Apple marketing spin, the new phone became its best-selling product yet.

The success of this annual refresh of Apple’s products and the obsessive desire it generates among their customers is beyond the dreams of most of us in the protection industry. At best, we can hope that with the advice of a financial adviser, our customers may grudgingly accept that they should buy some life insurance or some critical-illness cover. But we know that there is no way that we can have people slavering with the same anticipation that accompanies the appearance of Steve Jobs at a product launch.

Ironically, in addition to creating the desire to purchase or upgrade, Apple is also nurturing the desire to protect as well. Having paid up to £500 for an iPhone 4 handset, people are choosing to insure their phones and are paying up to £5.99 a month.

Such is the appeal of this multi-tasking device that some will buy insurance for it even though they are likely to be very critical of insurance in general. In fact, while they place so much value on a £500 phone that is likely to be obsolete in a year’s time, they often fail to consider insuring themselves.

When you think about it, £5.99 is quite expensive to cover a device that itself costs a few hundred pounds. Someone well into their late thirties could buy up to £100,000 of life cover for that same monthly premium, enough to buy 200 iPhones.

Perhaps we should learn from the Apple marketing machine. Perhaps our whole marketing approach to protec-tion is not pressing the right buttons. We talk about life insurance and how it can repay debts if you die or provide for your family if you die. This is not a very exciting concept and, of course, the subject of dying is not one that can be easily broached.

We talk about income protection and how it can replace income if you cannot work due to accident or disability. Again, a dry and not particularly exciting subject.

How could we reposition our products to capitalise on the desire generated by the fruits of our consumer society? The starting point could be to get our customers not to focus on how much they earn but how much they spend each month on their consumer goods.

The client may spend £60 a month on a mobile phone, £300 on a car lease, £400 each month socialising, £300 on clothes and maybe £60 on their daily branded cafè latte, totalling £1,120 a month.

Now reposition protection insurance (income protection and life insurance) as the means of continuing to allow you and your family to afford these consumer goods whatever happens.

Just 5 to 10 per cent of that monthly budget could provide enough protection to ensure that whatever happens there would be enough money coming in to allow them to spend the remaining 90 per cent on the goods that they desire.

That could be as easy as ditching the daily coffee from a branded coffee chain in favour of a tin of Nescafe and using the saving to put the product in place.

Now all we need to think about is how we can upgrade that protection every year to get people to spend even more when it comes round to renewal.

Roger Edwards is proposition director at Bright Grey

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