Insurance people, listen up. If you’re going to write or even curate content about insurance for your blog or on social media — and I hope you will — there is an elephant in the room we have to talk about.
To be brutally honest, insurance is pretty boring to most people. Still, people need to be informed. Insurance can protect them, save them money and make their lives better.
Right now the only reason people aren’t buying these products — at least not from you — is because they don’t know about them or understand them. But you have the information they need.
How to get it to them? There must be a way!
But insurance is so boring. And only Flo and the Aflac duck and a few other fictional characters have the power to reach out and get an insurance message across to people, right?
Wrong. I have four strategies to help insurance writers get people’s attention without making them feel like they’d rather be reading the fine print in their cell phone contract or trying to get Gorilla Glue off their fingers.
First of all, there are no boring subjects, just boring ways to present them. A lot of things are boring per se. People have written bestselling books about storms, salt, cotton and cod. Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, gave a Ted Talk about spaghetti sauce.
So what’s the secret sauce that transforms a subject from mundane to must-read? Think about it. The penal code is boring but a criminal trial can be fascinating. Astrophysics is boring unless you’re an astrophysicist, but who doesn’t think space travel is cool? Which leads me to stragety #1:
- Write about the risks, not the insurance. Why do people think insurance is boring? Because the language is hard to understand, it’s too technical and, unlike automobiles or maybe even spaghetti sauce, most people do not find it inherently interesting. Solution: don’t write about insurance.
What kind of conundrum is this, you ask? How can I write about insurance without writing about insurance?
Well, you can mention insurance but focus on the risks. Here are two examples. The first one relates to workers’ comp insurance and employee benefits. The second one is a problem that general liability or employment practices liability policies might address:
Are You Hiring Temporary Employees or Acquiring Full-Time Risks?
Using contingent workers can relieve your organization of some human resource functions, but it can create liability exposures.
Is Your Website Discriminatory?
Poorly designed websites can create unnecessary barriers for people with disabilities, just as poorly designed buildings prevent some people from entering. And that could constitute discrimination and a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its amendments
- Look at something in a surprising way or explain something people probably haven’t thought of. The headlines in the two examples I just gave are also examples of this strategy. You would think having part-time workers reduces risk, not increases it, right? How can a website be discriminatory?
But you can take surprise even further. For example, write an article about “Four Crazy Things Your Homeowners Policy Covers.” People are curious and like to know obscure, oddball things.
“What kind of crazy things? What’s crazy about Insurance?” If you take this approach, you might lead off your blog post like this:Before I became an insurance agent, I always thought homeowners insurance was just a fancy word for fire insurance. I had no idea it could protect me if my kid hits someone at school and our family gets sued, for example. Not that my kids would ever do that. They are perfect angels. Well, anyway…
You get the idea. Then, go on to explain obscure homeowner policy features like coverage for trees and shrubs, advertising liability, liability for dog bites, etc.
- Use fear. Let’s not be coy about it, fear is one of the two great motivators, whether it’s advertising or anything else (the other one is greed). In one of its ads, the World Wildlife Fund uses a picture of a man with a fish head and a caption that says “Stop Climate Change Before It Stops You.” That’s how ugly fear can be.
But fear is such a powerful and primitive motivator that you don’t need to notch it up that high to make your point. Again, consider the two articles I first mentioned in strategy #1:Are You Hiring Temporary Employees or Acquiring Full-Time Risks?
Is Your Website Discriminatory?
Plus these:Can You Afford to Retire?
Do You Really Need That Car Rental Insurance?
Fear works every time because as humans, we’re hardwired to monitor our environment for things that could jeopardize our security. This primal instinct works on a purely emotional level. We feel long before we think. Back in the day when we were all knuckle draggers, Orck the spear maker could always get Lothar the spear chucker’s attention when he asked him, “Was that a saber tooth tiger I saw pacing outside your cave this morning?”
- Tell a story. Lead your article with a personal story. Find a way to relate something that you saw or that happened to you to your insurance message and lead with it.Have you ever noticed yourself zoned out at a boring presentation, but as soon as the speaker starts to tell a story you’re all ears again? People love stories. Like fear, it’s hardwired in us.
Almost everyone has a story about getting pulled over by a cop. See if you can use a story like that to set the stage for the point you want to make.When I was teenager, a cop pulled me over one day. I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. Back then I was driving a 69 Plymouth Roadrunner, one of the original muscle cars, my first car. Maybe one of my tail lights had gone out or something. He came around to the driver’s window and asked me to get out of the car. “Would you please open the hood, sir,” he asked. I opened the hood. He put his hands on his hips and smiled at the engine. “I love these cars. I had one myself a few years ago. Before I got married. You can close the hood.” He started to walk back to his car then turned around and said. “Thanks for stopping. Have a good day, son.”
The next time you get stopped I hope your encounter is as anti-climactic. But I hope you don’t get stopped at all.
A story like this is a natural opener if you sell auto insurance.
Cultivate stories, either from your own experience, readings or observations. Use them to set up whatever you want to write about. Or just tell them. If you’ve got good stories you don’t need to apologize for telling them even if they’re not about insurance. You’ll still amuse people or make them ponder as you build your credibility. And people will want to buy insurance from you.
Will these strategies eradicate every trace of boring from your insurance writing? Not necessarily. You’ll still need to use vivid language, interesting metaphors and toss in a little humor and empathy, if you can. But don’t be too hard on yourself. You are writing about insurance after all, not something as captivating as spaghetti sauce.
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