Saturday, May 07, 2011

Selling Insurance to 20 Somethings

When I bought my first car or opened my first bank account, I did what most teenagers do, I used the same bank and insurance agent that my parents used.

But then in my 20's when I left town and started my own family, I needed to find a new bank and a new insurance agent.

30 years later, my kids are doing the same. Here's some tips on how to reach them from Mediapost:

Business Success Moves Beyond Marketing
I recently had the pleasure of judging the Effie's and it was clear that many marketers have been reworking their marketing to appeal to Millennials. We all understand they are the next big bubble in the snake of population. From travel to health and beauty, some brands are making great strides.

I think a good current example is the State Farm marketing program. I intentionally use the word "program" because it goes way beyond an ad campaign. Becoming relevant to a socially driven audience in a regulated and compliance driven world like insurance is no easy task but State Farm knew that, to be successful, it had to become part of the conversation. And that it did.

New TV (some of which even makes this Boomer laugh out loud) brought it into the lexicon of popular youth culture while building on a key brand asset, its longtime "State Farm is there" jingle. Millennials seek authenticity, and one of the great things about this program is that it's authentic to the State Farm brand and to the social and participatory nature this audience loves. State Farm lets viewers choose different endings to itd spots on Facebook and, eventually, it incorporated other pop culture icons from video blogger Philip DeFranco to LeBron James and music group Wilco; each in its own authentic way.

It knew it was successful when Millennials made it their own. Commercial parodies appeared on You Tube, and t-shirts emerged saying, "Can I get a hot tub?' a key line from one of the commercials.

While this reinvention is reportedly driving business growth, I think brands are missing an opportunity if they don't go a step farther. In addition to reinventing its brand to be more social and relevant, ultimate success will come when a brand can actually change the way it does business to better fit a Millennial's life.

Chase is a good example. You may have seen the commercials depicting a young couple on their wedding night using their mobile Chase app to deposit checks directly into their bank account by taking a picture of the check. Or a more recent spot showing a Millennial guy doing the same thing from the comfort of his designer chair. At first glance, I dismissed the commercials, especially the wedding one. Are bank deposits really what people think about on their wedding night? But upon further thought, that ability is really smart. It's the perfect marriage (no pun intended) of technology and the immediacy this generation craves. Obviously, Millennials were raised with both online banking and a phone in their hand, so it's no surprise that it fits their world. But even better, it's good for the bank.

According to a Javelin Strategy & Research Study, financial institutions can expect to spend $60 less in operational costs annually for each Gen Y customer than for other customers because Gen Y's are more likely to bank online and pay bills electronically. Additionally, banks can save over $13 per Gen Y customer if 50% of them ask customer service representative questions through online banking rather than through branches and call centers.

I have to assume Chase was not just concerned with cutting costs or it could have stopped where Bank of America did. Right after the Chase commercial, I saw a Bank of America spot touting the ability to deposit checks directly into an ATM. Having to stop at an ATM misses the opportunity to leverage technology Millennials are comfortable with in a way that saves time and satisfies their need for immediacy. It would be interesting to see how State Farm could take its newfound connection with Millennials to the next level. Perhaps quotes from the State Farm Nation Facebook page or discounts for friend referrals?

Both banking and insurance are old regulated industries, and both State Farm and Chase have found different ways to reinvent for Millennials. Finding the perfect marriage of your business drivers and the needs of Millennials isn't easy. But, ultimately, if you can go beyond just reinventing your marketing to also reimagine the way you do business with this group, the impact can be huge and long lasting.

Mike Doherty is president of Cole & Weber United. He is a marketer with more than 25 years of experience creating effective growth strategies for a diverse group of clients. Working on both the agency and client sides of the business, Mike's passion lies in helping clients find new ways to go beyond the boundaries of traditional advertising to effectively engage customers in branded experiences.

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