Keeping promises & earning trust – the revised marketing rules

Guest Column: Aalok Bhan, Director & Chief Marketing Officer, Max Life Insurance, says brands must be empathetic, agile and revise the rules to win customers

e4m by Aalok Bhan
Updated: May 18, 2020 9:34 AM
Aalok Bhan

Amidst new times, new experiences and new expectations, the future of marketing is set to evolve. Marketers, both within and outside of life insurance, can lead this change on the back of four distinct strategies.

The Inverted Hierarchy Of Needs: Who would have ever imagined that the most familiar framework of consumer needs would turn upside down? That people would disproportionately worry about basic necessities such as food, safety and health over everything else. For long, several marketers have positioned brands as those which fulfill needs related to status, recognition, esteem and to an extent, self-actualization. It is now time to re-focus on providing for the lower and middle cohorts of the hierarchy, even after the threat of the pandemic diminishes. The playbook of a life insurance marketer would certainly account for that. The unprecedented situation has given life insurers an opportunity to align and strengthen their positioning with current affairs to build trust and reassurance. It is important to anchor communication around fundamental themes such as financial protection, health and safety to create value and reassure customers amidst a life altering crisis.

Digital For Everything: From connecting with customers quickly, to making their discover-to-purchase journey seamless, to increasing brand preference, to bringing a brand’s positioning alive, to creating enriching experiences, to simplifying complex products and manuals – the answer lies in digital. The increase in digital adoption amongst consumers makes it time for ALL of us to now leap and accelerate at a pace that is multifold.

This is especially relevant for the life insurance sector. Right from on-boarding to policy issuance to servicing, life insurers are reimaging the entire value chain to deliver a seamless customer journey through digitalization. While e-commerce has shaped up well in over the last few years, the role of the agent remains crucial even today. With constraints on physical travel and meetings, the life insurance agents are learning new ways of working i.e. the digital way, which will open new distribution possibilities and also help in improving efficiency. Post the crisis, agents must continue using digital platforms to connect, inform, educate, and guide consumers in choosing the right insurance plans and brands must consistently invest in becoming digital ready.

The Thin Line: When people pass through times of high uncertainty, they seek for brands which can provide direction, emotional comfort and stability, along with solutions for their here and now challenges. Brands must be cautious of the thin line between helping consumers and being opportunistic. Consumers may disassociate with brands which leverage this crisis to forward their own agenda. The key is to become a trusted partner by introducing responsible yet empathetic messaging. After the crisis ends, consumers will continue to relate and be loyal to brands which avoided exploiting them during their vulnerable moments.

What’s Your Role: Which brand went silent and which brand proactively reached out? What did the brand do for its customers? For its employees? For its partners? For its city, society, country or the world? Consumers will look out for answers to these questions and judge brands accordingly. It is therefore imperative for brand marketers to ally with the leadership team and figure out their company’s role and purpose in this world. Only then would their brands be able to withstand the harsh test of customer’s evaluation well

As brands slowly overcome the challenges that lie ahead of them, they must learn to come face to face with the new reality that has dawned upon us. To thrive in a transformed environment, companies must act with care and empathy, lead with agility, and lead up to revise the rules, in order to win with the consumers.

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