Creative destruction at work

Duncan Grieve writes about the media situation in New Zealand after the incredible news of Stuff being sold for $1 to management. The article is well worth a read. In an economic sense I felt it was awesome advocacy for Schumpeter's creative destruction - a celebration of how new ideas emerge in surprising places, and times. Innovation does occur in large companies, but not usually in very comfortable and monopolistic ones. Disturbance, challenge, and necessity - these drive change. What changes shall we see in the insurance sector as a result of the great shove that 202 has given everything? Well, finally digital moved to the top of the queue for many companies, after languishing for a long time. Product design is definitely under pressure. FSLAA and COFI are going to deliver additional shocks - on top of the economic ones to distribution. 

Risk is real

A great tension affects the world of insurance. The first part of the tension is the recognition that risk is real, and the world is a dangerous place. That was felt immediately after the Canterbury earthquakes and again after Kaikoura. We are reminded of the importance of planning for disasters. Briefly, insurance becomes talked about: over the last few weeks stories about travel insurance were quickly followed by stories about life and health insurers. This is a moment when we can reassure those with cover that this is what we are here for. For those without the message is more complicated and must be nuanced: people need cover, and we are allowed to talk about that idea, but it is vital to get that tone right. Here is a link to my latest piece in Asset magazine, now available online, which covers some of this territory. 

Difference between marketing and sales

Marketing is declarative while sales is interrogative.

That means I have to stand up and say something. There's the courage to do that and the content of what is said. 

What we have to say, why it is important - my experience is that the better these things are, the less I have to worry about the courage. In fact, when I find something interesting or exciting enough, I can't keep away from the keyboard, or the whiteboard, and just have to share it in the meeting. The excitement and the energy take care of the whole process. 

But then when someone is interested enough to pay attention, the change of gear is needed. I need to be curious about them. Why are they interested? What is the point of connection between what they are trying to achieve and what I am trying to achieve? What would they like to do next? And so on. 

Thanks to Fred Dodds for the first line of this piece. 

Why a life and health adviser likes providing travel insurance advice - for free

Talking with an adviser the other day I was told why they like to offer travel insurance advice - even though they make no money from doing so. What they do is maintain a one page guide to travel insurance, and on the back, provide a comparison of the major travel insurer's policies, including the key sub-limits and exclusions. They update it quarterly and mail it out. Apparently its a hit. The reasons they give are: 

  1. Their best clients travel overseas every year, so they are always interested, and grateful for the input into the decision-making process
  2. It's added value, and completely independent because the adviser doesn't sell it, so its a great trust-builder
  3. It demonstrates expertise, showing the kind of thinking the adviser puts into their other work
  4. It reminds the client that the market is always more complicated than it first appears - underlining the need for advice
  5. It is a simple way to introduce wider concepts - such as excess levels, how much self-insurance one is comfortable with, and what service levels you are looking for from an insurer


"All kinds of insurance" and other marketing fails

If you are one of those insurance advisers that has written on the back of their card that you "specialise in all kinds of insurance" then I'm sorry, but I think you need some new business cards. You aren't specialising if you do everything.

It's easy to get caught up with the idea of being attractive to large numbers of people. There are about 2.7 million kiwis that can afford and probably need some insurance. Perhaps you feel that you don't want your business card to turn any of them away. But that isn't your big problem. Largely, these people are apathetic about insurance as recent FSC research painfully underlines. Besides, you don't need that many - you need just a few to really want to deal with you.

That's your big problem. In fact it's our big problem - the industry, insurers, advisers, group providers, HR departments, and more.

While we spend our time obsessed with being attractive to as many people as possible, we become mediocre, and fail to stand out enough to get the attention of even a few motivated souls that would see something that makes them think "that's the one, I think I'd actually like to talk to them."

Diversity vs homogeneity

Seth’s blog discusses the potential difference upbringing and perspective between an author of a piece of work and a reader. Regardless of differences, we can still learn from one another. There is business being left undone because of a lack of focus - the world has changed around us yet if we keep looking with the same eyes, the business will not get done.