Back when Mad Men stalked Madison Avenue, marketing was something you did last. You came to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce with your finished product and Don (after some heavy drinking, womanising and general misogyny) would think up a way to sell it.
Things have changed. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed three new inclusions to the consumer price index shopping basket that rather captured the zeitgeist – probiotic drinks, dating agency fees and soft continental cheese…not standard Draper fare. Marketing ain’t what it used to be but research we recently carried out exploring appetite for relevant life policies highlighted how the power of the brand is still very much alive and kicking.
When we asked advisers which firms they regarded as key providers of RLP, three stood out, with Zurich and Bright Grey achieving the highest level of spontaneous recall. What is fascinating, though, is that Aegon (without an RLP at the time of interviewing) ranked third, ahead of L&G, Prudential and Scottish Provident, each of which launched contracts last year. Just being there isn’t good enough, even if you were there first.
As the amount of marketing inputs go up and the number of providers and platforms that clamour for advisers’ attention continue to increase, we do what people always do – we rely on the familiar, the trusted and the personal. Yet much of what is produced has become in many ways more remote, less personalised and, as such, more difficult to trust.
There are exceptions and exceptional rewards for those prepared to take them. While not holding them up as paragons of perfection, advisers did frequently assume that Aegon (along with Zurich and Bright Grey) were the most serious and experienced players in the RLP market owing to their perceived proactivity. This is less a reflection of their above-the-line messaging (that is, the stuff they are saying) but rather the indirect consequence of some consistently delivered support (that is, the things they are doing). Actions speak louder than words, no? We are way beyond the age of telling and selling but you wouldn’t always know it from the daily deluge of collateral dumped in advisers’ in-trays.
Building a successful business today requires us to do something more than just being there and letting people know about it.
So do something that matters and build it into the very fabric of your organisation, right before the first actuary has got out of bed and certainly before Don gets the brief.
Phil Wickenden is founder of So Here’s The Plan