Andy Couchman on Protection Review and the launch of the I Mark – MAF197

On the show this week, I talk to Andy Couchman, co-founder of Protection Review.

We chat about how the Protection Review Conference, Dinner and Awards has grown to become one of the premiere financial services events of the year and the new “I Mark” which seeks to recognise true innovation.

Welcome to episode 197 of the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

Andy Couchman on Protection Review and the launch of the I Mark - MAF197

What you’ll hear about in this episode

  • How Andy started Protection Review with another financial services luminary, Peter Le Beau
  • The process Andy goes through to write product reviews and how he scores them
  • What innovation really means in financial services
  • The reasoning behind the launch of the I Mark
  • What companies will have to do to receive the I Mark.

Who is Andy Couchman?

Andy started his career in product marketing roles in various large UK financial services companies.

After leaving corporate life he made a success writing about financial services topics. Together with Peter Le Beau he started Protection Review back in 2003. What started as a paper publication and an annual dinner has turned into a prestigious annual Conference, Dinner and Awards event and a popular website.

Although he has retired from the day to day running of Protection Review, Andy still writes the reviews published each month.

Summary of our chat

In his reviews Andy always remembers that teams of people will have worked hard on launching the product or service he is reviewing. They’ll be looking for the highest score possible. But over the years he’s developed a method of setting a benchmark for the products and services he’s reviewing.

He rarely gives a 10 out of 10. In fact this may only have happened a couple of times.

Until now, Andy has always acknowledged innovation in his reviews. Thinking back to the launch of Critical Illness Cover in 1986 he acknowledges that it was real innovation back then. However the current practice of adding new illnesses and conditions, whilst a good thing because it improves the product, is more evolution than innovation.

That’s why he’s please Protection Review is launching the “I Mark”. It will recognise and promote true innovation in the protection segment of UK financial services.

He’ll still mark his reviews on a scale of 1 to 10, but from now on he’ll also award the I Mark to products and services that offer something different.

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Recommended business book

Andy likes Damon Hill’s Autobiography. The racing driver faced many mental health challenges over the years and Andy thinks this is sobering reading and reiterates how important it is for insurance companies to take care of people with similar issues rather than simply rejecting them for cover.

He also recommends Lucian Camp’s book about financial services marketing. Lucian was my first ever guest on the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

Links and contact details

They have a limited number of $500 dollar vouchers available to listeners in America and Canada to spend with the company – either mention the Marketing and Finance Podcast in the chat facility or contact Natalie directly.

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Review of 2018 and the future of the MAF Podcast – MAF196

In this episode I look back at what’s been happening in 2018.

And have a little think about the future of this podcast.

Welcome to episode 196 of the Marketing and Finance podcast.

What you’ll hear about in this episode

  • The talks I’ve given in 2018 across the UK and Europe
  • The Fighting Complexity in Marketing (aka “The Cat Sat on the Mat”) talk
  • The Engage Don’t Enrage (aka “The John the Wineman”) talk
  • My favourite episodes of the year
  • Looking for your feedback on the future direction of the Marketing and Finance Podcast

Links

Here are the 2018 episodes I talked about – please do go and check them out.

If you enjoyed – Review of 2018 and the future of the MAF Podcast – please leave a comment or a review on iTunes.

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Shane Closser on the truth about digital technology in financial services – MAF194

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This week I chat to Shane Closser, and expert in strategy and digital technology in financial services.

Shane shares some home truths about how we use digital technology to engage with our customers and why we might need to go back to basics.

Welcome to episode 194 of the Marketing and Finance Podcast

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What you’ll hear about in this episode

  • Why not having a strategy can be a problem
  • Why marketers should go back to basics
  • The impact technology will have on financial services
  • Why marketers should understand the online customer journey
  • The changing face of local financial services branches
  • Why organisations need to change their marketing focus

Who is Shane Closser?

Shane has worked as either a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) or CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) throughout his career in IT and software. He worked at Ascenture and many other large companies. He now works as General Manager for Yext, focusing on product and strategy for financial services.Yext is a digital knowledge management platform, which looks at the questions people have around a business brand. This includes where the company is located, information about the products and services advisers provide, and monitoring search results for individual businesses

They manage the overall online presence of a company, including via apps, and recently added voice search support.

Summary of our chat

Shane says that marketers haven’t adapted their processes to the changes taking place with customers’ demographics and how they do business. They think in terms of campaigns which focus on only one channel and don’t create engagement. Marketing budgets are wasted by not communicating effectively and efficiently.

Marketers need to get the basics right and using technology doesn’t solve the problem. Shane says instead they need to understand their customer and identifying their traits. Looking at customer data and knowing who spends the most money with the business is a great way to understand the customer journey.

Shane says the role of humans in marketing has changed, but financial advisers aren’t going to be replaced by robots. Customers want to talk to real people. However, advisers who use technology will put those who don’t out of business. It’s important to know what role AI and automation plays the industry.

Marketers need to think differently about how they approach things. We have connected cars and homes, and people use voice interface to talk to them. Buyers have less time than ever and millennials particularly have more of their customer journey online. We have to leverage technology to improve processes and the customer experience.

While many local outlets have closed, there has been an increase in micro-branches providing fewer, more specific services and using digital technology. There are also lifestyle branches offering refreshments as well as financial support. Local, physical venues are a differentiator for large organisations trying to take a share of the market.

The biggest challenge to change in the industry comes from compliance concerns within organisations. Marketing departments don’t think about the customer experience enough and need to communicate better with other teams. They should also focus on improving internal processes to help the customer more and make them the priority.

One big take away

Shane would recommend marketers go back to basics and think in terms of ‘crawl, walk, run.’ Marketers need to start to map out what they can do to drive a higher bottom line and increase revenue.

Come up with a long list of potential projects and assess which ones are doable and will give quick wins. Tasks that will take longer can be done in smaller sprints. Give consideration to new technologies too, such as using voice search.

When you’re making big investments, think about where the market will be in a few years’ time, rather than where it is now. Otherwise, you won’t get the ROI you hoped for. Break big projects into smaller pieces and leverage your digital knowledge.

A marketing campaign or product which grabbed Shane’s attention

Progressive Insurance created a parody advert, making fun of the challenges of raising a child in the digital age. However, it also highlights all the places financial services could be, such as virtual reality and games. It uses humour and empathises around quite a sensitive topic.

Recommended business book

Shane says he’s reading a lot around technology, and would recommend Unscaled by Hemant Taneja and Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

He says if you’re not thinking about AI these days, you should be. In the US, and especially in Silicon Valley, it’s one of the fastest-growing industries with a lot of job opportunities. Reading The Master Algorithm by Pedro Domingos will help.

Links and contact details

If you enjoyed – Shane Closser on the truth about digital technology in financial services – please leave a comment or a review on iTunes.

And if you know anyone who would enjoy the show – please share it with them. You can use the buttons below to share on social media.

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