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When the CMO becomes the CEO

This might sound like madness to the boomer generation, but it reflects changing times.

The insurance market is renowned for tradition and conservatism. That’s tended to make it a window on the past rather than a portal to the future. But that’s beginning to change, and marketing skills are moving rapidly towards its centre.

The profile of marketing inside and outside of insurance organisations is changing. Brokers, MGAs and carriers will become increasingly focused on demonstrating the purpose and value of their brand, driven by new customers, new employees and transformative technology.

Institutions like Lloyd’s are embracing a blueprint for the future. The London market and the industry as a whole is investing exponentially in insurtech solutions to digitalise and transform broking, underwriting, claims, risk selection, new product design and distribution models.

Not only that, but the baby-boomer generation is retiring, to be replaced by a generation of newly-minted millennial professionals. This new class of workers not only work and communicate in new ways; they are also motivated and driven differently to their parents.

First, one thing that hasn’t altered. The value proposition of insurance hasn’t changed. It’s still about a promise to pay, even if its products are served up differently in the decades to come. It’s still about transferring and spreading risk through underwriting expertise and discipline to allow individuals and organisations to grow more sustainably. That’s a powerful proposition for idealistic millennials keen to make a difference in society. Brand is core to this.

Online giants since the Millennium tend to have a strongly communicated core ethos. Insurance has typically relied on more traditional ways in the past, but this is unsustainable as we look to the future. Relationships remain vital but how people engage, communicate and do business together is changing.

Customers and employees alike are increasingly attracted to organisations that reflect their lifestyle and align with their own sense of purpose, ethics and values. Marketing is the vehicle to communicate such a vision effectively.

This is a challenge for the marketers of today and tomorrow. No longer at the organisational periphery, we need to think strategically at the C-suite level, as well as become more business savvy to intellectually engage with the technical questions at the core of insurance business.

That’s the challenge facing marketing professionals working in an insurance industry in tremendous flux. But if chief marketing officers get it right, who knows, some of us will be the next generation of CEOs and influencers.

Nick Grazier is a distribution and marketing expert having spent over 25 years working in the insurance industry in commercial and marketing roles more recently at C-suite level.  

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