Insurance Industry Survival Requires Switch From Products to Customers

June 10, 2008

To survive and prosper in today’s market, you must shift your attention from “products” to “customers” and add “innovation.” That was the main theme during the June 2008 session of the Women’s Network Group.

The Women’s Network Group recently held its June 2008 session in Sacramento, Calif. Among the participants in the meeting were women from various industry sectors, including insurance and financial services.

Many insurance agencies, brokerage firms and carriers are focused on “products” and are structured to cut costs instead of innovate during tough times. Few are designed to segment their customers more creatively, deliver value propositions or innovate new products and services.

Julie Davis, founder and executive vice president of Aon’sWired for Growth program, presented comments about taking risks to outmaneuver competitors and abandon the “me too” strategies and become leaders rather than followers. Many firms have difficultly moving from “the way things have always been done” to trying new approaches to manage their business. In addition, there can be a career stigma associated with innovation if you aren’t in the right role.

With the continued challenge of a soft market, one must ask if they are going to play “offense” or “defense.” The group discussed opportunities for growth in the insurance industry. They included:

-Know your market, primary customers, customer needs, solution partners and channel alliances.
-Shift your focus from product-driven to customer-driven.
-Creatively segment your customers and prospects.
-Create your segments, clusters and value propositions with an industry knowledge foundation.
-Develop a value proposition that places the customer at the center of
your strategy.
-Create new markets and needs that address your clients’ problems.
-Think about which of the three ways you’d like to compete — marketing advantage, cost advantage or differentiation of your products and services.
-Don’t overlook the importance of an integrated marketing plan — one
that includes your strategic vision, product attributes, customer
behavior, industry and product knowledge and knowledge of your channel dynamics.
-Lastly, turn to acquisitions for growth.

Each of the strategies must be well thought out and you must evaluate the return on investment, the speakers said. The market will improve and when it does you want to be capitalizing on the foundation you put in place today. Those firms that have solid plans in place will have a stronger competitive position and higher valuation.

The Women’s Network has approximately 120 participants. The group is a women’s association designed for leaders of new or rapidly growing companies with less than 1,000 employees and leaders of autonomous business units in larger organizations.

Source: Women’s Network Group

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