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"You Talking to Me?” A POV on crafting financial services communications

Crafting financial services communications that speak to the entire channel
A point-of-view submission by Mintz + Hoke for the Worldwide Partners Inc. B2B Network.

Harried plan sponsors. What's-in-it-for-me intermediaries. Anxious participants. Eager, but untrained, salespeople and employees. Over 20 years' experience in the insurance category has taught us one irrefutable fact – in order to be successful, your communications must resonate with all who come in contact with your brand.

But really connecting with these diverse audiences isn’t a given. This industry has a steep learning curve, one that can only be overcome by a deep-seated drive to learn its ins and outs. You have to live it and learn in the trenches.

The success stories shared here illustrate how we’ve forged strong connections with audiences throughout the insurance sales channel. Meeting a multitude of goals, while overcoming complex challenges for CIGNA HealthCare, Prudential Retirement, Aetna Medicare and MassMutual Life Insurance.

Plan Sponsors Are Participants Too!
Across plan sponsor audiences - from the CFO to director of HR to the benefits manager, the perception is that it's all about plan costs and benefit programs. About rational decisions with little to no emotion.

So it may be a surprise to consider that plan sponsors think like participants too. Yes, they’re extremely analytical when evaluating benefits and costs, and they want to use benefits to attract quality employees. But they're also emotionally engage as users of the plans they design and purchase. It's a highly charged buying dynamic for them.

With cost pressures coming from many different directions, plan sponsors struggle to satisfy many stakeholders, including themselves. Communications therefore need to reach plan sponsors on many levels – both professionally and personally. It is a delicate balance to play out.

Wooing plan sponsors isn't for the faint-hearted. This savvy but time-pressed audience spends their day juggling their day-to-day duties as head of HR or as CFO. Getting their attention is hard, and the sales process is long – up to 24 months. You have to be prepared to nurture the relationship every step of the way with intelligent materials targeted to each plan sponsor's particular needs and concerns. Engaging their minds while assuaging their concerns.

  • Engaging the one person everyone wants to talk to.
    Prudential Retirement needed an engagement tool that allowed its sales team to reach out to plan sponsors in a way that was both customizable and easy to use. Our solution? Experience Prudential Retirement (EPR), a dynamic online sales tool team members can easily customize and personalize for each plan sponsor and their company. Allowing them to stay in constant touch, right up to delivering the RFP response!

Independent Producers: “What’s in it for me?”
Intermediaries – aka independent producers – are living, breathing sales machines. With little loyalty and zero tolerance for anything that takes time away from selling, they need a compelling reason to include you in their sales inventory arsenal. One that's quick, concise and clearly articulates what's in it for them.

  • Convincing a sales-focused audience to consider something new.
    To encourage producers to get appointed to sell its new products, CIGNA HealthCare set up a series of "Momentum" events. Our challenge was to convince them to stop selling long enough to attend.

    A goal we achieved through a series of personalized emails and direct communications resulted in an average actual registration vs. goal reaching 146%. And a unique click-through rate of 11.3%.

Participants: “Explain it to me in a way that doesn’t hurt my head.”
The success of any company-sponsored insurance plan – retirement, health care or life – is gauged by the number of participants enrolled. Something easier said than done in inherently complex categories that elicit so many strong emotions.

That's why experience has taught us that communications to participants need to be clear, simple and direct. With a minimum of jargon. And an emphasis on gaining trust.

  • Turning complex into compelling.
    Not only is Medicare highly complex, seniors have grown increasingly distrustful of providers. Creating quite a challenge for Aetna when it came to its Medicare open enrollment program.

    Our answer? The "My World" direct mail campaign. A series of postcards, letters and collateral that spoke to seniors in a direct, jargon-free tone, while leveraging an endorsement from their former employer to build trust. The result was a 7% response rate that represented a 1110% increase over the previous year.

Sales: “What’s our message again?”
Can your salespeople deliver the right product messages? Do they understand the essence of your brand? Have you motivated them to sell your brand strategy and not just the latest offering?

Up to 70% of final customer brand image is created by your own internal sales organization.* Yet too often, brand communications strategies to this vital audience consist of endless PowerPoint presentations with minimal follow-up. Leaving little reason for them to buy into the branding strategy. A recipe for disaster in a category as sales-intensive as insurance.

  • Revitalizing a brand by energizing its sales force.
    In need of a dramatic brand revitalization, MassMutual's life insurance division called on us to take a moribund training program for career agents and transform it into a powerful new selling tool.

    Starting with a rename - "Life Academy" - we completely overhauled the program to engage agents and inspire a deeper involvement with the MassMutual brand. Doubling attendance the first year (over prior sessions) and increasing sales by 10% by those who attended.

*Aberdeen Group study

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