October 11, 2022
Insurance Marketers: It’s Time to Humanize Your Comms Strategy
As premiums rise and the economy slows, producers with sales responsibilities at commercial insurance companies face an uphill battle to acquire and retain high-value clients. Increasingly, these rainmakers are navigating difficult conversations and answering challenging questions from concerned business leaders whose insurance costs have skyrocketed in recent months.
To overcome these hurdles, producers may need something different from their corporate marketing teams – an approach that goes beyond marketing collateral promoting the latest product. Based on the informal conversations we’ve had with producers across a wide segment of the market, what they really need is help communicating with clients in a clear, transparent, and person-centered way.
This likely requires you as a communications director to move away from business as usual and into uncharted — and admittedly uncomfortable — terrain. In order to meet your internal and external stakeholders where they are, you should consider adapting your marketing and communication strategies in several key ways.
1. Shift the Focus from Your Products to Your Customers
Your prospects and existing clients don’t want to be sold to — especially in economically turbulent times. They want guidance and support from trusted providers, advisors, and authorities. For your company to have a fighting chance at filling this elevated role, you’ll need to get inside your clients’ heads and understand what makes them tick.
Conduct Market Research to Understand Clients’ Insurance Needs
Clients trust people with whom they have a relationship. And the key to building strong relationships often comes down to listening more and talking (or, in this case, marketing) less.
It can be hard to resist the temptation to center your communications strategies around billing cycles, renewal periods, and new product offerings. After all, these are the milestones that can drive topline revenue growth. But this approach results in messaging that is transactional, not relational.
That’s why it’s so important for you to make an intentional shift and help your producers connect with current and prospective clients on a deeper level. Conducting “voice of the client research” is one way to gain insight into your audience’s perspectives and craft communications that speak directly to their needs. This type of research enables you to understand:
- The specific pain points clients and prospects are experiencing
- Risks and opportunities their businesses face as a result of current economic conditions
- Questions customers have about their current policies (e.g. pricing; coverage)
Producers only know the clients and prospects in their own portfolios. But as a marketer, you have a bird’s-eye view of your industry — and access to your company’s clientele as a whole. Use that access to create person-centered communications that drive your business relationships forward.
Tap Into the Emotions that Drive B2B Decision Making
As much as we like to think of ourselves as rational, practical creatures, human beings remain emotionally driven. This is particularly true in B2B settings when the stakes are high and important decisions are made in groups.
The dry, highly technical, and jargon-rich language of insurance policies may belie this fact, but insurance is also an inherently emotional product. Risk aversion, fear, and the desire to protect against the unknown are powerful driving forces. To that end, your company doesn’t just sell policies — it plays a unique role in managing and reducing the concerns that keep your clients up at night. This isn’t about fear-mongering. It’s about acknowledging and validating your clients’ very real needs.
Yes, your company continues to develop innovative and relevant products in D&O, cybersecurity, and other areas — and you want to sell them. But rather than explicitly pushing these products, you need to connect the dots in an empathetic and human-centered way. Doing so enables you to position your company as the solution to your clients’ larger problems.
Demonstrating empathy and meeting your audience’s emotional needs are powerful ways to build trust and cultivate loyalty. This, in turn, plays a key role in enabling producers to retain clients during difficult economic times.
2. Be Transparent About Premium Hikes and Changes in Coverage
Difficult economic times lead many of us to tighten our belts and eliminate unnecessary expenditures. Your clients are no different. When their profit margins shrink, you can be sure they will scrutinize every possible expense to identify potential areas to cut.
To prove your continued value to clients, you’ll need to consider getting radically transparent about everything from pricing to profits.
This is typically where many marketing leaders start to get uncomfortable. But transparency leads to empathy, and right now you need your clients to feel some empathy for your company. This means proactively helping your producers explain the “why” behind the difficult decisions your organization has to make.
For example, you might:
- Outline the reasons why health insurance premiums have risen dramatically as a result of the pandemic. If you had to dip into your claim reserves at an unsustainable rate due to higher-than-normal payouts, be open about that.
- Explain the impact of climate change on various insurance needs. If you had to raise premiums or cease coverage altogether for businesses that operate in wildfire-prone states, communicate your rationale.
- Show your recent profits and losses compared to previous years. After all, your company can’t keep its promises to clients unless you make wise, fiscally responsible decisions.
Again, this may feel deeply uncomfortable. If it does, it usually means you’re doing it right.
Just remember: being transparent about your challenges and your decision-making process inspires confidence. It shows you’re able to make the hard decisions required to weather the storm.
3. Tailor Collateral to Meet Producers’ Needs By Inviting Their Feedback
Shifting long-held corporate communication tactics can be challenging. And to make sure you hit the right mark, it’s crucial to craft your approach with your producers’ needs firmly in mind.
To that end, even before you begin surveying clients or developing transparent talking points, take time to ask producers how you can best serve them.
Explore questions like:
- How have your clients’ priorities shifted in these economic times?
- What complaints and concerns have you heard from current customers?
- Are you receiving more objections than usual from prospective clients? What is the nature of the objections you’re hearing?
- What types of communications would be most helpful to you right now?
Rather than developing a one-size-fits-all strategy, engage producers directly so you can create customized resources and personalized messaging that speak to their clients’ pain points.
Address Insurance Industry Challenges Head-On
As industry pressures intensify, you can’t afford to stay the course and continue to communicate using the same strategies you’ve used in the past. To move your insurance company beyond a vendor orientation and into a trusted advisor role, you need to embrace a new way of doing business.
Focus on your clients, not your products. Embrace the human side of your industry. And be transparent about the pressures your company is facing. Then, arm your producers with the marketing resources that will help them strengthen and maintain the relationships that directly impact your company’s bottom line.