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Reporting from LOMA Distribution Technology Conference

February 19, 2009

I’m down here in sunny (but cold) San Diego attending the LOMA Distribution Technology Conference.  There have been some very interesting presentations so far.  Most of the sessions I’ve seen so far are looking at the power of using new internet technologies to drive marketing.

There’s a lot of buzz during the breaks about the sessions on how to use social networking tools, when to use aggregators, and which web marketing techniques are best for driving production.  One session focused on techniques for implementing new technology to agents, and another focused on generational differences in preferred methods for interacting with insurance carriers.

Whether it’s utilizing web 2.0 to design new products, or using straight through processing on the web to expand your distribution channel, it’s clear that carriers are doing more than just thinking about emerging distribution technologies.

The key is making sure that an appropriate ROI is being generated from moving into these new areas.  That means setting appropriate goals for new marketing initiatives, choosing the right technologies to enable initiatives, and implementing the initiatives appropriately.

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Manage Your Reputation Online

February 10, 2009

With looming layoffs and a declining economy,  reputation management is an area that is getting more attention by Marketing VP’s.  It used to be commonly thought that a person who has had an unpleasant experience with a business would tell 9 or 10 other people.  But with the rise of social networking, that can quickly become thousands who hear a negative message.  And if that message rises to the top of a search request, it can spread like a virus, quickly escalating into a brand marketer’s nightmare.  Launching a solid reputation management strategy may utilize a variety of techniques.

Blogging or utilizing social networking through forums such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace are clearly tools that can be used to build an online reputation.  But other tools such as community building, link strategies, search engine optimization, online publicity, online editorials, and even product reviews are all tools that can be used to help manage a company’s online reputation.

We’re seeing increased interest from insurance carriers in utilizing these techniques. Look for Twitter accounts with insurance in their name and you’ll find 105 Tweeters.  Check out Facebook and you’ll find over 500 profiles.

Marketers will come to IT for advice on how to get started in these areas.   Check out some of the research that we’ve done on Web 2.0, Website Optimization, and Tips for Tweeting.   Got a question about Web 2.0?  Ask it through the comment field or send me an email at

Improving Agency Relationships with Technology

February 4, 2009

The Winter 2008 IIABNY Report on Carrier Performance is out.  You can read the Executive Summary here.   The IIABNY Index is composed entirely of ratings from agency principals or leaders responsible for carrier relations in New York.  While it’s a small sample, it is an interesting study.

The study surveys agents across six dimensions of their carrier relationships.  The second dimension measured is   Technology and documentation are easy to use. It’s notable that this factor increased for all carrier types except regionals where it dropped slightly.

Now of course, technology didn’t get worse for regionals.  They didn’t withdraw or decommission critical technology for their agents.  What changed is agent expectations. As the marketplace continues to improve their capabilities, those who stand still are penalized.  That’s probably why we’re seeing a continuing interest in technologies that help carriers improve their ease of doing business with agents.

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Offshoring – Risks and Security

January 27, 2009

If you utilize offshore outsourcing, you may be interested in the report called 2009 – The Year of Outsourcing Dangerously. Scott Wilson and Doug Brown have put together an interesting study that looks at the safety and security of outsourced operations. The recent terrorist events in India have caused many to look at their overseas outsource partners with a cautious eye. Their report includes a ranking of different metropolitan hubs of outsourcing, and includes a Top Trends of 2009 as well as 15 Key Steps to Mitigating Current Global Business Threats. If you’re considering moving to offshoring, or currently offshore any functions, this report will provide you with some interesting insights into the downstream risks of both established and emerging offshore destinations.

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Five Tips for Tweeting

January 23, 2009

Mashable had an interesting article out this week on Twittering for corporations. 40 of the Best Twitter Brands and the People Behind Them

Interesting that no insurance carriers showed up as one of the best Twitter brands. But it is still early days. How would an insurance company use Twitter? Think of it as PR or advertising.It’s a great way to build loyalty and shape your brand.Think of tweeting safety tips, commentary on current events, or use as a customer service tool. If someone tweets with a problem, Twitter provides a great tool for demonstrating fast response in a very public way.

Here’s some tips for getting started:

  • Secure your Twitter name – remember the lessons of the early days of dotcom – don’t let your company twitter handle be swiped up by someone else.

  • Delegate a full time ambassador. Being able to communicate directly with someone who has a face and a name in the company can be very powerful.

  • Be sure your Tweeter is someone who understands your corporate brand. Don’t let your Twitter usage conflict with your current brand identity.

  • Remember to keep it light. “Tweeple” like Twitter to be fun and engaging And keep it personal. People bond with companies whose tweets feel like they came from a real person rather than simply a restatement of the corporate line.

  • Respond quickly to Tweets. Remember that it’s public so when a customer posts a complain or asks a question, the entire twitter community can virtually see it. Response time is critical for building brands.

Going Green…

January 5, 2009

I ran across an interesting study this week that came out in December by TNS entitled Our Green World. This was a survey of over 13,000 people across the world studying green attitudes, perceptions and behaviors. Part of the survey focused on whether people are willing to pay more to purchase products from ‘green’ companies, and whether they are willing to choose ‘green’ companies over those that are perceived as non-green.

Some interesting statistics show that in the US, 53% say they’re willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products. 56% say that a 5% price premium is acceptable – and 44% are willing to pay even more. It’s unclear whether these specific numbers translate to insurance purchases. But over half of the respondents say that our views of how green a company is influences their decision to purchase from that company Here’s another interesting data point. By 2010 IDC expects that for every dollar of new server spending, an additional $0.70 will be needed for power and cooling. This is a dramatic increase from the mere $0.21 needed in 2000.

So why go green? Certainly there are environmental reasons, but moving towards a greener operation can result in significant savings – and can potentially increase business.