Lowering the bar

Insurance Man - Med

Selling protection... And I don't mean condoms!

Just about the time you come to grips with the fact that there is a great chance that you're responsible for marketing one of the most unremarkable and uninteresting product categories on the face of the planet, something comes along to make you think twice.

Now don't get me wrong, insurance isn't the only product that people wish they didn't have to buy that I've promoted in my career. There were the do-it-yourself auto parts like carburetors, starters, and alternators. I still smile when I think about the fact that sales of those replacement parts went up when the price went down by putting them on sale. Who stocks up on starters and alternators anyway?

The elevator speech.

Insurance is the only product I can think of that people buy for hundreds of dollars and then pray that they will never have to use it. We market a product consumers don't understand, don't want to buy, and don't want to use after they own it. The prevailing consumer sentiment about insurance is that you can only win by losing. 

A real marketers dream, right? 


Well we've found a way to make an unglamorous, non sexy, insurance brand both relevant and takable in our little northwest corner of the world. It's pretty amazing - and the formula seems obvious now that it's been discovered. The edge is this. We've simply turned the focus away from the product that people don't want to use and put it squarely on the quirkiness of people that we all love to talk about... the neighbors. And it works!

But I digress.

There's something that might be considered even less interesting than insurance that is currently being promoted on television and via social networks like YouTube. And it really blows! Literally,


That's right. It's the wind.

And, Heidi, a former colleague and friend of mine, is right in the middle of marketing it. She has worked on a newly launched campaign that has caught the attention of New Zealanders.

So how big is that!?!

She's taken a product that you can't see, can't smell, can't touch, and can't wrap up as a gift and made it interesting, valuable and talkable. The press actually called it "sexy." And here I am writing about it, all the way on the the other side of the earth.

So the bar has been lowered. Who will market a product or service that's less compelling than insurance or wind? What will the the edge be?

By the way, I wonder if people stock up on wind power when it goes on sale?

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The Fine Print

Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

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