If Traditional Marketing Doesnt Work, Try The Six Ps

By Timothy K. Traynor

Is there a simple but effective tool to help insurance marketers approach their mission? And does the very nature of insurance products demand a different approach to marketing?

Some answers follow. If you implement them, they should help you improve the focus and effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Ask a group of marketing people for a quick explanation of how product marketing works. They will often respond by invoking the well-known “Five Ps of Marketing”–Product, Price, Place, Packaging and Promotion (see sidebar).

Marketers of every type of product and service have used the Five Ps as a reliable mnemonic outline for years.

When considering insurance products, however, the traditional thinking falls apart.

The insurance product is an intangible. If clients do need it, they might not know it–or want it.

The price of insurance is highly visible, but it can be a misleading value indicator.

The place where insurance is sold today can be anywhere and everywhere, from bank counters to TV and radio ads.

The packaging, at least in traditional terms, seems irrelevant.

And the promotion is often ignored because, as the veterans in the business like to say, “insurance is sold and not bought.”

In short, when it comes to marketing, intangibles like insurance are clearly a far cry from consumer packaged goods and automobiles.

If the traditional Five Ps dont lend themselves well to insurance marketing, what guideposts can the insurance marketer use? My suggestion is to rebuild the framework into what I call the “Six Ps of Insurance Marketing.” Here they are:

1. Plan and purpose are where it starts.

The marketer perceives that the consumer has a need and then thinks about how an insurance solution can address that need. Those thoughts coalesce into a plan and a purpose. The elements of that plan and purpose will become the major features of the product that is developed and marketed.

2. Personality and profile are the places, as the kids say, “where were coming from.”

To solve an intangible need, the insurance marketer must offer an intangible solution. Also, however, each insurance provider must ensure that it is seen as qualified and prepared to help consumers address the identified need.

3. Product is the solution that is marketed, sold and delivered.

Essentially, but intangibly, the product is the security or independence that the insurance policy makes possible. More tangibly, the product is the death or disability benefit, or the retirement income, expressed in dollars. Most tangibly, it is an insurance contract and a corresponding premium.

Caution: If the marketer focuses primarily on the policy and the premium, and ignores the relief-providing and need-fulfilling aspects, the offering will be incomplete, and the marketing effort will underachieve.

4. Producers who become partners in the way that auto dealerships or grocery stores might be.

Insurance producers should not be viewed only as the delivery mechanism. They are intermediaries who “buy into” the carriers plan and purpose. They recognize the need, help consumers understand it and then demonstrate that their carrier and its product are highly qualified to address it.

5. Promotion and packaging are the ways in which the various marketing messages (Plan, Personality, Product) are transmitted to producers and to consumers.

These are, by no means, last steps or ones that can be undertaken casually. Good promotion will rarely salvage a bad insurance product, but bad promotion will certainly cripple a good one.

6. Performance and profitability determine whether a carrier is admitted into the marketplace and then whether that carrier can stay and compete there.

Performance is comprised of financial ratings, track record in the marketplace, strategic focus, organizational dynamism and more. Performance can persuade agents and consumers that the company is a viable candidate to address a specific problem.

One aspect of performance that addresses a different question, and from the carriers perspective, is Profitability. That is: “Should we continue to market this solution to these consumers?”

If you apply the Six Ps of Insurance Marketing to your practice or company, your business will see clear benefits. The marketing plan will be grounded in the industry it targets, and you will be able to execute it more effectively than if using the more traditional strategies.

The Six Ps encourage you to identify and integrate all of the essential ingredients of insurance marketing to ensure your success.

Timothy K. Traynor, CLU, ChFC, principal of si4.consulting, Chicago, Ill., specializes in marketing and sales initiatives for the insurance industry. His e-mail is tim@si4consulting.com.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, June 9, 2003. Copyright 2003 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved. Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.