Finding the Right Angle
AS THE PUNCHLINE of more than its fair share of boring-job jokes, selling insurance has gotten a bad rap for years. Yet it’s no easy undertaking. Doing so successfully requires the salesperson not only to bring up the stuff of people’s worst nightmares—natural disasters, fire, death—but to place each in the context of certain reality. They’re the universal bearers of bad news. And by default, the sector’s promotional products have about as much symbolism as the hooded cape and scythe.
Thankfully, however, this downer of an image has started to fade away in favor of more useful, lighthearted product offerings. Mark Yokoyama, director of marketing and merchandising at
ePromos Promotional Products, New York, and Keene, New Hampshire-based Ready4 Kits’ marketing manager Paul Dubois discussed two new themes to consider when handling insurance promotions.
A little levity goes a long way to help branding, said Yokoyama. “Serious is a must as far as being trustworthy and professional, but being human and having some personality is also crucial from a marketing standpoint.” And while conveying “seriousness” often has meant turning to umbrellas, pens and the like to support branding efforts, he added, giving a company a more personal, human side has been working for traditionally stuffed-shirt sectors, such as insurance or financial. “At the end of the day, insurance is an intangible product and if you’re a faceless company you’ll have trouble creating brand loyalty,” Yokoyama affirmed.
Items worth giving a shot: He mentioned
mascot-centric items, such as the stuffed Aflac duck or Geico’s gecko bobblehead; health-related products, like water bottles and pedometers; and fashion pieces, including scarves and caps, as a few choices that convey both support and coverage. “Insurance companies are expected to be an active part of the communities they serve and I think that’s an important part of their branding and marketing,” Yokoyama maintained.
Although Ready4 Kits’ Dubois agreed that a
promotional product doesn’t necessarily have to mimic an offer’s level of solemnity, spinning the negativity of insurance into a positive is a tactic of which Ready4 Kits makes the most.
“Yes, most of our products are serious in nature—disaster preparedness, first aid, automotive—but you need a product that people are going to use every day and will leave a big impact upon receipt,” he said. Capitalizing on items of utility is a growing trend, and it works especially well for insurance providers because “being prepared” is the reason the industry exists in the first place.
“The most effective products are the ones that the consumer would go out and consider buying if they saw it on the shelf of a store,” Dubois asserted.
Items worth giving a shot: Automotive and disaster essentials are mainstays for Ready4 Kits and both lend themselves well to an insurance promotion. However, there is some room for creativity. Dubois recalled an insurance company purchasing large disaster kits for each of its employees in which they placed T-shirts and shoes that the recipient could use in an emergency situation. He also discussed a company that gave customers a kit that included outdoor essentials as motivation to stay active and healthy.