“Can you slap some lipstick on this?”
“Marketing – oh, you plan parties and order trophies, right?”
“It must be fun working in the arts and crafts department.”
“I’m assuming numbers aren’t your thing?”
Marketing and communications professionals in the insurance industry are used to hearing comments like this. They know that their creative and strategic efforts make a difference to the company’s bottom line but feel they do not receive sufficient respect and recognition from their colleagues.
According to the Insurance Marketing & Communications Association (IMCA) leadership, there is a simple reason for this disconnect: there are not enough marketers in insurance C-suites.
IMCA is working to highlight the importance of marketing and communications through the formation of the CMO Council. The Council engages industry-leading chief marketing/communications officers and their team members, offering a go-to, efficient source of must-have insurance industry trends, practical advice, and networking.
The Council’s first order of business was commissioning an industrywide research project, “The State of Insurance Marketing 2021.” Sponsored by Applied Systems, the quantitative research project is polling marketers – from entry level to CMO – at independent agencies, program administrators, wholesalers, MGAs and MGUs, carriers, and reinsurers.
The Council will use the survey results for webcast and conference discussion, to develop solutions, and share best practices to help insurance marketers, according to Peter van Aartrijk, IMCA board member and acting CMO Council chair.
Topics the study is exploring include:
- How do you market to, and listen to, your primary audience?
- What are the skills gaps in insurance marketing talent today? What skills will your next hire have?
- What are the barriers to marketing and communications success that you are trying to overcome? Where do you go to solve those challenges?
- Where have you increased or reduced your spending in the last two years?
- What marketing technologies are you using?
- How has the pandemic changed your strategy and tactics?
- How do you evaluate your marketing success?
“We know that marketing is the engine that moves brands,” van Aartrijk said. “When done well, it drives relationships, business development, sales, and renewals. Our issue in the insurance industry is that even the word ‘marketing’ can get tangled. We see ‘marketing directors’ who position a piece of new or renewal business with underwriters. That’s a necessary and noble task. But prospect and customer marketing, led by well-designed strategy, is a whole different kettle of fish. The CMO Council seeks to highlight and elevate the critical role of these marketers.”
The results of the research will be presented at the IMCA’s 2021 Virtual Conference, June 22-24. Members of the CMO Council will provide insights and interpretation of the results in sessions including, “Crisis Communications: Effects and Changes to Marketing Operations,” “ROI: Legitimizing the Role of Marketing within the C-Suite,” “Barriers to Success: Where are the CMOs,” and “Finding and Retaining Talent and How to Address Skill Gaps.”
Coincidentally, the Insurance Marketers Group, an organization of insurance marketing professionals in England (“Our vision is to see a marketing professional on the board of every UK insurance business. Let’s make it happen.”), recently launched a similar survey. IMG leaders will share their results at the IMCA conference, with insights into the similarities and differences between the industry in North America and Europe.
Ultimately, both groups plan to use their survey results to help insurance company leadership understand that marketing departments do more than “pretty things up” – effective, innovative, and strategic marketing and communication is vital to company success.
IMCA is the oldest association for insurance marketing and communications professionals in North America with roots tracing back to 1921. Membership includes leading international and domestic multiline insurance companies and brokerage firms, regional and specialty companies, general agencies, and prominent industry suppliers. The organization represents over 130 companies, including the industry’s top five property/casualty writers. Members include senior level management and professional staff working in the areas of corporate communications, advertising, public relations, marketing communications, marketing and sales promotion, marketing research and technology. Visit IMCA at: imcanet.com.