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Annual Rant: Insurance Marketers Should Stop Being Funny

Before that headline receives a collective groan from everyone out there who loves insurance ads, let’s start here: Geico, State Farm, Liberty Mutual and Progressive (to name a few) are really funny advertisers. Like, legitimately funny. To the point that you actually enjoy their ads when they come on television. 

That’s saying a lot, considering barely anyone likes when an advertisement interrupts whatever they’re watching. And it’s saying even more because barely anyone likes insurance companies.

So, let’s reframe that headline: If you’re an insurer who isn’t Geico, State Farm, Liberty Mutual or Progressive, you should definitely not pursue humor as your marketing approach. Why? Let us list the ways:

  1. You will never be as funny as them (sorry, but it’s true)
  2. You will never have as much money to spend on advertising as them
  3. You will never have the celebrity sponsorships that they’ve accrued
  4. Even if you were funnier than them (which, if you refer back to point 1 is not going to happen), the chances are slim at best that your humor would actually offer a truly compelling reason to buy from you instead of them

So, now that we’ve clarified (and proved!) that point, the natural next question is: What should insurance companies do if they want to win?

The answer is all about focus. As an example, have a look at PURE Insurance. Haven’t heard of PURE? That’s because unless you’re a high net worth individual, they don’t really want you on their books. PURE is an insurance company that delivers a unique offering, customer experience and value proposition specifically designed for high net worth individuals. 

Some unique aspects of PURE:

  • They don’t call their customers policyholders – they call them members
  • They deliver premium surpluses back to their members
  • They offer unique insurance policies for luxury homes, jewelry and art, luxury vehicles and more
  • They offer concierge-level services via their Member Advocates
  • They deliver a regular annual report to all their members featuring full financial transparency
  • They reward 10-year members with “Gold” membership – featuring unique financial benefits

The results are clear. Take a look at the end of the annual report linked above, and you’ll see steady year-over-year growth in financials. A strong, ongoing growth of their membership base. And a 94% member-retention rate. 

PURE isn’t funny – what they are is focused. And that’s what other insurance companies have to learn. The trick isn’t to try to out-funny the funny guys, but instead it’s to choose a niche and lean into it really, really hard.

This is not a wholly unique playbook – Lemonade went after millennials and USAA is built for military members and their families – but it is an approach that is completely under-utilized. By having a focus, insurers can design an offering, customer experience, messaging and marketing around a single audience’s unique needs. And once insurers do that, they suddenly are no longer a commoditized player in a shouting-match-turned-comedy-show – they have something truly valuable that they can offer.

So insurance marketers: The next time you see a funny insurance ad, please don’t say, “how can we be more like them?” – instead, ask, “how can we be different from them?” The answer is all about focus.

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