I had a moment of epiphany recently during a talk to a group of advisers where I was giving them marketing ideas about how to grow their businesses.
We were debating the reasons why people just do not see it as a priority to buy protection insurance. I went through the main reasons which I am constantly reminded of in consumer focus groups.
The usual reasons put forward by people when they say they do not need protection include, It won’t happen to me, I am young, I don’t need it, I have savings I’ll be ok, the state will provide, or my family and friends will chip in to help me.
Many people think it is too expensive and some believe that insurance companies will try very hard to find a way to decline claims.
One adviser put his hand up and said that this was all true. He had been in the business for 25 years and these were still the same reasons he had to overcome.
That was when I realised that the excuses have remained the same while the way we do business has changed completely.
Back when that adviser started, individual telephones were appearing on desks for the first time. Office workers did not have their own PCs and there was no internet and no mobile phones.
Life offices had to fax hand calculated and typed quotations (from rate books) to advisers. Sales consultants travelled the country with sacks full of 2p pieces with which to phone the office from public call boxes.
There was the odd dalliance with TV advertising but most marketing communications were via mail-shot, trade press advertising and seminars.
Now, of course, we have information overload thanks to the internet. Communication is by mobile, skype, iMessage, Facetime and video conference. We can get quotations instantaneously.
There are more channels for marketing and communications across hundreds of TV stations, social media, electronic bill boards and ads within apps.
All of this has happened in less than 20 years. However, despite technological developments, the basic reasons why people don’t buy protection are still the same now as they were back then. Just look at what happened a few years ago when a high profile adviser advocated a generic TV campaign for the protection industry. It never took off but a few companies tried their own TV ads. While these were great adverts and probably succeeded in building overall awareness, the size of the market still has not grown to any large extent.
The reality is that if the objections people have are the same over several decades, the best way to overcome those objections is to talk to them, preferably face to face, or maybe facetime to facetime.
With all the wonderful technology at our fingertips and given how easy it is now to set up a very powerful content based website, perhaps this is a way that more advisers can use technology to get more clients through their doors so that they can have conversations.
But let’s think about how people actually use the internet to access information and how they would find you. Say for example someone was looking to buy the best barbeque chicken in Liverpool. They are not going to type chicken into Google. They would get billions of results. They won’t type barbeque chicken either because it would still create too many results. Best barbeque chicken – still not good – if the best is in New York. Best barbeque chicken in Liverpool might narrow it down to a few local outlets. Now substitute ‘chicken’ with ‘life cover’.
In this new world we need to be there when people come looking. Making sure that all links lead to you is one of the key ways of getting to see more people face to face.
Roger Edwards is proposition director at Bright Grey