PolicyGenius and Coverhound are building platforms for the insurance consumer who doesn’t want or even appreciate the need to talk to an insurance agent. Their target audience, in particular, is millennials who already handle their other financial transactions, such as banking and investing, online.
Insurance companies have long been accommodating this preference by offering online quote engines, either as standalone landing pages or as a feature of an insurance agent’s website.
Content Marketing is a Key Part of the Strategy
But start-ups like PolicyGenius and Coverhound are not just pimped-out quote engines. These companies use quotes as part of a comprehensive user experience that is highly customer focused.
For one thing, both companies provide content-rich websites. Coverhound has blogs, articles, scores of infographics and a Learning Center. When PolicyGenius explains rental insurance, long-term disability, pet insurance and other products, it drills down and explains product benefits in terms of individual profiles. For example, they explain how renters insurance “makes sense” for college students, people in the military, roommate situations, people with children and pet owners.
This approach is fresh and in-tune, just as fast-food franchise restaurants seemed to be when they started appearing. In contrast to the local greasy spoons, diners, grills and cafes you had been going to for years, these new restaurants were well-lighted, all the employees wore the same sharp uniforms and service was “fast and friendly.”
The food was maybe not that much different, or not even as good. But the overall experience was such an impressive contrast. It felt good to go there. “Food, folks and fun,” was one of McDonald’s slogans in the 90’s. Where else could you get a Happy Meal?
What’s happened in the restaurant business since the 90’s? From 1990 until 2001, fast food sales grew about 85%, while overall restaurant sales grew only about 58%. Since 2002, though, fast food sales have grown about 45%, while overall restaurant sales have grown over 200%. (Sources: Statista, the National Restaurant Association and USDA)
That’s a dramatic change. People don’t like fast food as much anymore. Restaurant owners began to wake up. They started to understand that they needed to focus on the customer’s experience. The food got better. The overall experience got a lot better. Restaurants with distinctive menus, fresh ingredients, celebrity chefs, great servers and more started appearing.
Fast food restaurants began losing market share as consumer tastes became more discriminating and demanding. Burgers and fries in a clean, well-lighted place with plastic furniture got to be kind of a let-down after a while. The chef at John’s makes a great steak and you know the servers. And what about their melted chocolate pudding cake? They have trivia night and sometimes you watch a ball game in the bar. People you know go there, too.
Suddenly food and fun is not just at McDonald’s.
What happened is that restaurants started having personalities, and they capitalized on their strongest assets: their ties to the community, distinctive selections and personalized service.
Sound familiar? What are the independent agent’s strongest assets? Ties to the community, customized products for those who need them and personalized service.
There’s probably always going to be a segment of the population that doesn’t ever want to talk to an insurance agent. That doesn’t mean people don’t appreciate the benefits of having an insurance advisor they trust and respect. Independent agents are not, like taxes, a necessary evil. They perform a valuable service. The challenge for the independent agent is to help the consumer understand this.
Working to improve the customer experience would go a long way toward addressing the challenge. Explain your insurance products in language customers understand. Simplify the application and underwriting process as much as possible. Provide helpful educational content on your website and in your other marketing content.
Independent agents can learn from the competition. The restaurant industry did.
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