Pity the poor consumer. That phrase keeps running through my head when I see complicated insurance marketing materials cross my desk. The terminology and detail is pretty opaque, especially for people who have a hard time figuring out how insurance differs from, say, securities.
Consumers are not the only ones in the insurance food chain who need a little compassion on this score. Another group is the cadre of people who put all those daunting materials togetherthe marketing and public relations (PR) folks.
The marketing people perform not only market research and segmenting but also the product positioning, promoting, sales campaigns, etc. The PR folks zero in on promotion, media outreach and image development. Sometimes, professionals wear both hats. And both work (or try to work) with sales, advertising, legal, tech, management, public interest groups and a host of others who have a stake in the product.
Based on my experience, most marketing/PR people are bright, upbeat individuals endowed with innate ability to paint the big picture of a product and its landscape. They can talk endlessly on just about any topic, and they are always very busy “pulling things together,” as they like to say.
Why reserve a little compassion for these behind-the-scenes toilers in the field of product promotion? Because they, not unlike the end consumers, must continually translate technical, regulatory and legal nomenclature into something comprehensibleand its darned hard to do.
Sadly, the proof of the “hard to do” statement is in the pudding: Many people are baffled by the product brochures, bullet points and bar charts the companies put out. Not that the marketing/PR people intend to obfuscate. The problem is, they actually may be too successfuli.e., their materials communicate exactly what is there, which is a very complicated financial contract with lots of moving parts, legal terminology and compliance-approved language.
That is why they deserve compassion: They are tasked to turn dry dust into crystal clear water. They can use every jingle and tagline imaginable, but considering what they are working with, its a very tall order. Insurance products are a bear to simplify for comprehension by ordinary folk.
Ordinary folk, did I say? How about executives at major corporations or doctors in private practice? They scratch their heads right along with the moms shopping for school supplies at the local discount store. Huh? What does it say? How do I make a withdrawal? Where do I call to make a claim? Do I have to use the Internet for this?