Why Companies Need to Get the Basics Right Before Launching New Marketing Initiatives

While discussing the impact of social media, online marketing and corporate blogs with a group of marketing executives, I made this passing comment.

"I think insurance companies need to get the basics right before experimenting with time intensive activities like social marketing."

One of the marketers in the group happened to work for a large insurance carrier and took offense at my comment that the industry was not doing the basics right.

The insurance marketer's retort included a long list of marketing initiatives demonstrating the use of the latest marketing techniques. But the response included no information about quantified effectiveness, sales tracking or solid results. This same marketer also wanted to know what I meant by "doing the basics right."

You might be interested in my response.

Dear marketer,

You asked a fair question for expansion of my comment about "doing the basics first."

You are certainly correct in blaming compliance and other issues as major challenges for marketers in the insurance industry. It's a battle to expand offers and create innovative programs with legal constraints.

That's why some insurance companies do not allow the legal silo to control all marketing decisions.

Marketing executives within some of these companies can challenge legal decisions by asking the legal group for an analysis of the risk involved in not following their interpretion of given state regulations. Then the marketing executive has a lot of power in participating in the decision to countermand excessively defensive legal decisions.

As for not doing the basics, insurance companies often do not have relational databases that tie leads to actual policy sales. So insurance companies cannot evaluate their programs on a cost per sale or cost per customer basis.

In some insurance companies, database marketing, file segmentation and basic results analysis resemble 1950 marketing programs.

Without strong databases, insurance companies cannot attribute sales by channel, test messages, or even test new products with any degree of reliability.

The worst part about the absence of a robust relational database is that entire marketing programs are subject to deep cuts or even elimination. Management has no accountable results from marketing in the absence of the tracking you get from a relational database.

I could continue, but I think you see my point.

Posted on July 21, 2009 .