Life insurance

life insuranceAt this stage in building your financial marketing strategy, you have isolated your key consume!’ groups and you know how to best deliver the financial products and services they want. The next question is how do you let these good people know that you’re here and that you’ve got something valuable to offer them? In other words, how do you promote your firm and your products?

There are three aspects to consider in this final part of a financial company’s marketing plan: message, media, and image. Your promotional message conveys the essence of what you are trying to say to your audiences. Compare the message put forward by John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company offering clients real answers to their real-life financial problems with First Nationwide Bank’s assurances that customers can look forward to courteous and respectful treatment. Each message reflected the product being marketed.

The second feature of your promotional program concerns the selection of media for transmitting your marketing communiques. There are multiple options here, including: the mass media newspapers, magazines, radio and television; point-of-purchase materials; personal contact through your firm’s sales force; direct mailers; trade shows; seminars; and the use of the telephone in telemarketing campaigns.

Finally, the combination of your promotional message and the choice of media forms the image you present to your publics. This combination must be kept focused to provide one corporate image or “personality” for your firm. Just as we are more comfortable with a consistent personality for an individual, so it goes for corporate image. An Arizona bank, MeraBank, for example, took this concept to heart in its development of a new company image. “All company materials were redesigned with our new logo,” stresses Rohha Benjamin, executive vice president and chief” administrative officer, “including print and TV ads, company signage. billboards, brochures, credit cards and checks.”

To send the message that your customers want to hear rather than what your firm thinks it should be saying requires an innovative understanding of customers and a consistent promotional message, as illustrated below.

To break through today’s communications clutter, a company’s message has to gel to the heart of what customers really want to hear. John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company’s award-winning advertising campaign, “Real life, real answers” does just that. Nearly lour years ago, this large Boston-based insurance firm set out to modernize its image. The firm’s target audiences had expressed a preference for an institution offering a broad range of financial services and they clearly did not see Hancock in this light. More importantly though, customers wanted a firm that understood and respected them and their needs.

Hancock studied the image of its competitors and a pattern emerged. All were; shouting that they were big and wonderful, and had products galore. But this offered little solace to consumers, who expressed difficulty in deciphering which of these intangible offerings provided the best answers to their financial needs. Hancock was determined to offer a better alternative.

Market research on Hancock’s customers revealed specific financial concerns, and from this information, the firm’s advertising agency identified life situations that would be linked to these needs. A series of ads was developed, offering a snapshot-view of life events, the financial concerns arising from these circumstances and appropriate Hancock product answers. The advertising was slow, soft sell, and unique. No product pushing, no chest thumping.

The $7-millioM project was launched in early December 19S5, in a concentrated live-week period. Random telephone tracking surveys on 1,100 representatives of Hancock’s middle-scale audience before and after each advertising wave confirmed that the campaign was right on track in achieving company objectives. The old life insurance image had been supplanted by an increased awareness of Hancock as a full-service financial company that had real answers to customer concerns, exactly in line with what consumers had said they wanted. Summarizes Patricia Bond, general director of Corporate Advertising, “A perception of John Hancock as a company that was concerned and had customized solutions was coming across.” f’urUiermore, awareness increased of specific company products, including mutual funds and credit cards, as well as banking and investment services – all nontraditional insurance products. Customer awareness of certain other company attributes, such as innovatrveness, accessibility, honesty, and the availability of a lull range of quality financial products, was also tested and showed significantly enhanced ratings. These attributes were related to John Hancock’s research into what its customers felt to be of importance.

Royal Trustco Limited also hit a consumer nerve with its campaign for a guaranteed product with that little bit extra. ‘the firm’s advertising message for its “Guaranteed Market Index Investment” (GMII) appealed directly to those wary Canadians who fancy a clip in the stock market pool, but are only willing to wet one toe. Company ads, concentrated in the print media, touted the message that higher returns were available on GMII funds with no fees, no loans, and no risk to principal.

It was a message much to the liking of the target group. During the campaign, they deposited several million dollars into Royal Trust’s coffers. And there was very little raiding of Peter to pay Paul. “Most of this money came from our existing guaranteed certificate customers who had deposits elsewhere or from new clients altogether,” details Paul Bales, then vice president for Royal Trust’s Personal Advisory Services department.

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