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Practice Management > Building Your Business

Putting the customer first

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Peter Drucker was an academic and marketing luminary whose writings have greatly influenced the thinking of marketing practitioners. Over 50 years ago, Drucker developed the concept of a customer-centric marketing approach and coined the term “customer defined value.” This concept has since become an integral part of marketing literature and the guiding principle of modern marketing. The following statements, paraphrased from Drucker’s extensive writings, reflect his fundamental mandate that “the customer’s interests must come first:”

  • The only valid definition of business purpose is to create a customer.
  • What the business thinks it is producing is not as important as what customers think they are buying; what customers consider to be of value is decisive.
  • Marketing is your whole business as seen from the customer’s point of view.

While this concept is straight-forward, easily articulated and one that every successful agent can relate to, most insurance organizations have found it difficult to implement meaningful customer-centric practices. Some of the most common obstacles have included a product-push mentality, a focus on short-term profitability, under-investment in marketing activities, and the lack of solid market intelligence about the needs and wants of target markets.

However, insurance marketing is changing. Competition within the industry has intensified and customers are becoming increasingly empowered by the information available on the Internet and elsewhere. In this new environment, the most successful agents will be those that make Drucker’s principles their own through client-centric and creative applications.

This article is adapted from The Professional’s Guide to Financial Services Marketing: Bite-Sized Insights for Creating Effective Approaches (Wiley Publishing), by Jay Nagdeman. For more information, visit