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Getting your marketing plan to the top of the insurance C-Suite’s agenda

It’s getting tougher for companies of all types to grow, and we all know that the marketing budget is often the first to go if the insurance market turns challenging or we face difficult economic times.

Enter the revolutionary concept that if your business kept spending on effective marketing while others faltered, then it might be the only one left standing after the waters of change have receded.

Marketing people know that what they do is as important to the success of an insurance business as underwriting or risk management. However, how many of our managers or the C-Suite understand how important marketing is or even what is involved in a successful marketing campaign?

Those of us working in marketing will be familiar with the traditional insurance industry view of us as part of the fluffy ‘colouring in department’, or ‘brollies and brochures’ if you’re in the London Market

As a discipline, insurance marketers are constantly having to justify their existence, and I have to admit I’m guilty of this too.  Having attended many networking events with marketing managers from some of the market’s biggest insurance companies, I have learned that most of us face the same issues, albeit on differing scales.

We need to change the view of our profession within the insurance industry, not least because, the modern insurance marketer is a tech savvy, commercially minded, omni-channel expert that knows how to increase demand for insurance products, in a quantifiable way.

We need to practice what we preach and find a way to communicate the value of our discipline to our senior management teams. Here are the four key things I believe we need to do to gain the ear of the senior decision makers.


Learn their language

Income, GWP, GEP, loss ratios, premium…the insurance industry has many more financial metrics than other sectors. Nail those metrics and you’ll get their attention; you need to demonstrate commercial understanding in the boardroom.
Even the most brilliant marketing plan will fail if the C-Suite is able to pick holes in the investment strategy or highlight where outcomes are unclear or not supported with relevant financial projections
Understandably the C-Suite are risk adverse. Marketers are frequently creative, risk takers, ill-aligned with the granularity of the day-to-day realities of sitting on the board. So, put yourself in their shoes, would you spend your own money on the big marketing project you are proposing?
Remember, other teams are also competing for management airtime and extra budget, you have to deliver a plan that shows it is worth investing in above everyone else’s.


Find out what their break-even point is for investment return and stick to it!

This is an obvious one, but one not enough marketers take note of. Don’t present a plan with a 2-year return on it if your business needs all investments to see a return within 9 months.


Demonstrate that you have insights that will inform smart investments

Insurance companies are goldmines of data, but utilising it is not our strong point. Amazon or Google’s understanding of their customers is significantly better than insurers despite the massive amounts of data that claims and underwriting, to say nothing of marketing, hold. If the business doesn’t have a data/ insights capability then marketing is probably the only team in a position to analyse the information on market trends, competitors and your own customers and present it in a dashboard that can inform investment opportunities and forecasting.


Say it succinctly

Present a short business case for your marketing plan that outlines the business opportunity, why it’s important and what you are asking management to agree to. Also include the time frame, why you expect it to be successful and, if you can, the risk of failure.

Consider all your stakeholders and their viewpoints and demonstrate where your strategy adds value – the end insured, brokers, insurers, MGA’s, capacity, investors, the people sitting in the boardroom.

Be clear, be concise, and avoid marketing jargon.

The insurance C-Suite has a big job to do and a lot of competing demands for their attention. Do what you can to connect with them as people, talk in terms that they understand and appreciate that being a marketer in financial services requires a certain level of resilience if you are to succeed.

Cara is Geo’s Strategic Marketing Manager and has over 8 years of experience within the Insurance Industry working on high-level campaigns in both the UK and internationally.

Further reading:

Marketing resources are available to you in abundance but if you really want to have an impact in insurance it’s worth finding someone in the office that has completed their CII Level 3 Certificate and ask to borrow their IF1 / IF2 / IF3 textbooks.

Or try:
Key Management Ratios (Financial Times Series), Ciaran Walsh, Financial Times/ Prentice Hall; 4th  edition (9 Oct. 2008)

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