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The Rough Notes Company Inc.



July 13
10:17 2021

Today, with smartphones, society carries the world’s latest incarnation of the department store show window—and cash register—with them everywhere, all the time. What does that mean for you and your agency?


How to avoid falling victim to what arguably is today’s dominating business model

By Michael Wayne

Odds are, you aren’t familiar with William Leach. His research specialty is modern American cultural history and in 1993 he published Land of Desire. In attempting an immersive assessment of the “culture of consumer capitalism” in America, Leach used the evolution of department stores to show how the nation created a new economy and established a new culture.

By the dawn of the twentieth century, merchants had greatly employed posters, billboards, electrical signs and, with increasingly great effect, show windows. Art had long since ceased to be art for art’s sake. Art belonged to commerce and was linked with everyday essentials and luxury. These mediums had changed how people saw and understood not only the goods but also their own place in society.

Show windows made everything accessible to everyone… at least visually. Seeing it didn’t mean you could have it. You could obtain it, however, by either shattering the glass or going in and paying.

Today, in the form of smartphones, a large portion of society carries the world’s latest incarnation of the show window with them everywhere all the time. Never before have consumers had the ability to take stores with them wherever they wanted, as opposed to having to make a special trip to buy a coveted product. Of greater note, the modern checkout is right at society’s fingertips, as well.

“Approximately 1.6 million packages were shipped via Amazon today, more than 66,000 an hour. The process to buy and get recommendations on Amazon is simple. If everything can be bought this easily, why not insurance coverage?”

You are likely familiar with at least one of the countless stories, articles, or case studies that have dissected how a dominating business model went from top of heap to on the scrap heap—think Blockbuster or Sears. In the case of the latter, Walmart and Amazon are regularly cited as primary downfall factors. It’s no secret that both are continuing to expand their reach and portfolios. In late March, Amazon announced it would be offering business insurance via a new partnership with Next Insurance. Eight months prior, Amazon and Mumbai-based Acko General Insurance joined forces to offer car and motor-bike insurance in India.

In a press release, Next Insurance CEO Guy Goldstein stated, “We believe the future of the insurance buying experience involves meeting customers where they already are and making it easy to purchase customized and affordable policies. We are proud to continue to be chosen by top companies, like Amazon, who understand the best way to serve small businesses is through digital solutions. With Amazon Business Prime, we are taking a large step toward providing greater access to seamless insurance coverage.”

Amazon also has various healthcare initiatives under way.

On average, it will take readers about three seconds to finish this sentence. In that miniscule grain of time, Amazon received 55.5 orders—18.5 orders per second.

Approximately 1.6 million packages were shipped via Amazon today, more than 66,000 an hour. The process to buy and get recommendations on Amazon is simple. If everything can be bought this easily, why not insurance coverage? Why not in this modern Land of Desire? Maybe more to the point, how are you going to out-Amazon Amazon?

Here are the 5 tips for you to stay ahead of the Bezos behemoth.

Make sure your brand is “Insurance Expert and Provider.” Amazon’s reach is great. We have gotten to the point where, if a consumer is thinking of buying, well, nearly anything, they will likely be inclined to at least search Amazon to see if it is available there… and with free, two-day shipping. You have to work to establish yourself as the go-to or even default insurance source, and there most certainly are many facets to doing that. Along with that, you have to be a highly trusted expert.

Warranted or not, Amazon has brand equity, and people will perceive any product it has available as having been vetted and appropriately meeting their needs, including a policy that they buy simply by clicking a few checkboxes.

Keep them coming back. Gaining new clients is more difficult than retaining clients. Losing clients is typically a horrible feeling, regardless of the reason. That’s why it’s vital that the reason cannot be because you provided subpar service. You can’t necessarily control what happens when there is an acquisition of your client or a client goes bankrupt, but you are absolutely where the buck stops when it comes to the attention you pay them. Make your service memorable and valuable.

Get to the top of the search. Prospects are likely to click the top results that they see when they research for their insurance needs online. Is your website’s verbiage search engine optimized? Is your content fresh and updated? Are you giving prospects a reason to choose you and current clients value with information that you can point them to and use as a touchpoint? Your competition—at least the competition you need to worry about—is absolutely doing what it can to rise to the top.

Make your website and mobile site intuitive experiences. You may have the greatest content ever written. But if that content is buried on a clunky, user-unfriendly site it may as well not exist. Your website—desktop and mobile version—should serve as an easy roadmap that prospects and clients follow to the ultimate destination of doing business with you. It’s up to you whether that means having to contact you for insurance, having the option of purchasing coverage without even speaking to you, or some combination of the two. Either way, make the road as obstruction-free as possible.

Take advantage of being a human being. Yes, people are diverse, and diversity takes shape in many ways. Over the last year-plus, workers who wanted a flexible schedule to work from home may have gotten their wish granted. Many introverts rejoiced at the thought of mandated remote access to keep the wheels of their respective organizations rolling. Of course, the flipside has been true. Many thrive on being together… and not in a video-conferencing sort of way.

Repeatedly we are told that people are social creatures. Perceptually, average screen times seem to refute that, but I actually wonder whether we eschew interactions, or have in the past at least, because we took for granted that they were there if we really want to engage in them. When it comes to times of distress or when we absolutely need an issue resolved, I am ecstatic when the voice on the other end of the conversation belongs to a live human and I’m not just pushing buttons, hoping the automated response will get things fixed.

Admittedly, I have ordered products from Amazon in the past. Amazon is terrific at logistics, and the proof of that is obvious. They don’t know me though. I’ve never spoken to anyone from that organization. Aside from algorithms that try to predict what I may like or when it may be time to for me to reorder a consumable, they don’t know me. This really is an area where you can beat Amazon. The secret, and it may not be an easy thing for you to master, is that you have to be a better human than Amazon is a machine.

The author

Michael Wayne is an insurance freelance writer.

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