Missed opportunity for providers

Marketing and communications strategies have expanded with technology. Where once there was a letter or a brochure, we now have websites doing many of the things letters and brochures once did and, of course, offering downloads of letters and brochures too. Now increasingly you have much more interaction, particularly with video and webcasts on these websites. Yet in many ways, we still view this pretty much as doing the same things just in a more sophisticated and slightly more efficient way.

Yet in the business to business world that is to miss a massive opportunity to use an overlooked resource.

We all know that providers’ main motive in their interactions with IFAs is to sell products. But if providers can become more like consultancies, they can cement the relationship with advisers and turn themselves into genuine strategic partners.

Most IFA firms have limited marketing budgets. They don’t have access to the marketing capability of the big provider brands, nor the ability to create need within their customer base. Advisers often don’t have the resources in time or money to hone their sales processes in this way. Providers do. Their knowledge of marketing to end customers, their observations about customer behaviour that drives their product strategies, all of that intellectual property exists within their businesses. But often it remains unused or at least underused and could be shared with IFAs.

Of course, the people that have these ideas are not necessarily the most flambouyant. Sometimes, it is as if they are hidden within the business, hidden gems, as it were. Sometimes even the sales and marketing team get stuck constantly looking at product, instead of looking deeper within the business in their own departments and in other departments too. Who knows who you might find if you looked – another Peter Le Beau perhaps? But if providers identify who these people are, then there is now a huge opportunity to share their views to the benefit of providers and intermediaries alike without having to haul them round the country on a road show tour.

The solution is simple, maybe after a little media training, put them in front of the camera and ask them their views using the skills humans have employed for millennia but that, in media terms, were once the preserve of the big media organisations – things like narrative and story telling and simple interview techniques. If their knowledge and views are interesting enough, if they have years of experience in the protection market to share, then advisers will watch and the relationship will be strengthened. It will also be a much more powerful message to send, as in “We know what we are talking about. We can work with you to help you service your clients and customers more effectively”, rather than simply saying “buy my product” though as a result they will probably do that too.

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