The insurance industry has never been so dynamic in terms of the new players and products coming on stream on what seems like a daily basis. Marketing Eye CEO Neil Edwards offers his advice on how to stay ahead of these developments while managing to do the day job.
New players and new products are coming to the insurance market faster than ever before and it’s now a full-time job for any executive team to keep on top of the developments. OK, it might not quite need Special Forces, but keeping on top of the market is a must.
There are four main components to market monitoring:
- Your competitors - looking out for new product launches, new marketing campaigns, the opening of new divisions or the expansion into new markets
- Your industry - knowing the trends that are impacting your industry: new technology; increased competition; pressure on margins; government and regulator interventions that could affect your license to operate
- Your geography - keeping tabs on what’s going on in the regions that you sell to, be they local, national or international
- Your demographic market - keeping up to date with the trends that are affecting your target customers
As well as the obvious need to keep your finger on the pulse and remain ‘in the know’, monitoring your competitors and other developments in your industry provides a wealth of information that can be used in really practical ways.
Informing strategy and product development
Good strategy and proposition development rely on business leaders being able to sense the market. You can keep ahead of the competition by responding to the environmental changes in your industry, but equally you can keep up with your competitors by seeing and assessing what they are doing - sometimes there are considerable advantages in being first follower and not first mover.
Being relevant to your customers and prospects
By having a close understanding of the issues and challenges that are prevalent in your market, you will quickly show your customers that you are relevant to them. With a clear perspective on the problems that customers are trying to solve, you will be able to present your own solutions in a more considered and empathetic way. On this premise, a whole Insurtech industry has been born.
Creating better content
Understanding what is going on in your industry, what people are interested in and, to a degree, what your competitors are writing about is the start of your content plan.
New legislation, the impact of the economy on your target market, new technologies and new entrants are just some of the things that are going to be reported in the news or in industry blogs. Being aware of these will allow you to contribute to the conversation and advance the thought leadership status of your business leaders.
Closely aligned to content is PR. A quick and relevant comment on an industry trend or new economic data can be snapped up by a journalist looking to complete an article. By anticipating when the data is to be released, you can have your comment in a journalist’s in-box before anybody else and achieve coverage even for the biggest events. Unique research data on demographic and geographic trends also makes good copy for a journalist.
The greatest weighting in all the search engines’ algorithms is given to fresh and relevant content. The clue here is ‘relevant’. You need to be creating content that answers the questions your target audience is seeking answers for online. By monitoring industry news you will quickly identify the recurring themes which, of course, will evolve and change over time.
Combining market monitoring with keyword analysis tools allows you to craft your content in such a way that it can be optimised for search intent.
The big question is ‘how?’
While most people will agree with the logic of why they should monitor their market, in a busy working environment it is easy for a business to become focused on itself.
National and international economic trends can be found in a plethora of places. The Bank of England issues statistics on a regular basis and it is worth selecting those of most interest and making a diary note for the updates.
You can find demographic trends by conducting your own market research. Secondary research is available from surveys conducted by other businesses and organisations, and you can often get a lot of the outputs for free by finding press-releases or blog posts from the company. You can also learn about your audience by following the same media that it reads, watches or listens to.
The insurance industry has no shortage of industry events, conferences and seminars, which you can learn a lot from. Then there are the industry publications. You should also follow influential bloggers and journalists on Linked In and Twitter.
Rather than having to go looking for information, however, market insight needs serving up to decision makers so it can become part of their daily routine. As ever, technology comes to our aid and an intelligent online tool like Market Monitor cuts through the noise to deliver relevant information into a user’s inbox every morning. A quick glance at the headlines is then all that is needed to choose the reading that is most interesting.
Other alternatives include Google Alerts albeit the outputs can become overwhelming and dominated by false positives. LinkedIn can also be a valuable source of market information if you build your network of contacts carefully. Like most social networks, LinkedIn suffers with a degree of noise so rapid scrolling is needed to find the interesting updates.
Whichever system you use, the bottom line is that for insurance leaders to continue to lead, they must stay connected to their environment. Choose your weapons wisely.