It’s one of the fundamental keystones of marketing.
Companies need to listen to their customers to understand what they want from their products and services.
Big corporates can afford to do qualitative and quantitative research, including focus groups, to tease from customers their likes and dislikes. They ‘ll employ insight analysts who can spot the trends that lead to opportunities for product developments or service improvements.
For smaller businesses insight comes from one to one meetings, phone calls and possibly a post-sale questionnaire, and genuinely knowing their client base intimately.
But for everyone, in any industry, there is another way to hear what people are saying.
We all have access to social media and this is where our customers shout loudest. This is where they will unload their thoughts without mincing their words. They’ll be candid, critical, and scathing. But often they’ll be constructive, complimentary and supportive. And we can learn so much from what they are saying.
It’s like being in the pub with a million people.
Just try going on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ and type in a financial services or a protection term – and stick a “hashtag” in front of it. For example, #LifeInsurance.
You’ll certainly see results where some companies advertise their products. But you’ll also see what people actually think about life insurance. Happily, there are many who realise that they should have some but they haven’t got round to doing anything about it yet. This proves some people want it, albeit grudgingly.
Others have already decided they need it. One great Facebook post said:
Then, of course, there are those who are not fans. Some think that it is too expensive, that life insurance companies will try to weasel out of paying claims or that it is just too complicated to apply for.
None of these objections will be new to anyone who works in the protection industry, but it does show how word of mouth, or is that word of screens, can perpetuate perceptions.
I came across a tweet recently which described life insurance as follows:
“A contract that keeps you poor all your life so that you can die rich”
Again here is someone who thinks that life insurance is expensive. But is £20 to £30 a month for a couple of hundred grand’s worth of cover really going to bankrupt someone? They probably have gym membership of around £80, a SkyTV subscription of around £60, a mobile phone contract for £50 and many other outgoings.
Of course, the person is correct that he can’t benefit from the payout. But his family can and will if he dies. They will be the ones left having to find the money to pay all those monthly bills mentioned above and more.
Listening to all this deafening noise in the social sphere tells us what content we need to produce to over come these objections and perceptions. The more positive content (marketing material, blogs, videos, podcasts, case studies) the industry puts out the more chance that it will also be heard.
And perhaps the next big innovation will come, not from an insight in a focus group, but from a comment on a blog, Facebook or other social media platform.
Now it’s your turn: What have you heard about life insurance from the social sphere? What are the best one liners? What are the worst perceptions that we need to address? Please share your thoughts and links.