Lombardi was huge on football fundamentals and in his day, he and his Packers dominated the game, winning the first two Super Bowls. At the chalkboard and on the practice field, he was keen on X's and O's and blocking and tackling, in essence the "three yards and a cloud of dust," philosophy.
Sound hopelessly old fashioned? Guess what, it worked. The result was one of the most successful organizations in the history of sport.
Come to think of it, Lombardi's tenets would be a pretty good approach to the insurance marketing game too, because unless your agencies and brokerages build on the sound foundation of marketing fundamentals, you'll always fall short of the goal line. What are those fundamentals? Here's a refresher:
Invest. Set aside some serious dollars to find new markets and mine existing ones. If you don't spend the dollars, you simply can't sustain, much less grow, your business.
Forecast. Once you commit those dollars, spend them prudently. You should know before you invest what the response will be. And this holds for every advertising program you initiate.
Monitor. In these days of skyrocketing costs, perhaps it's unnecessary to remind you of this one. Still, I think it bears repeating that an eagle's eye on marketing costs can save thousands in the long run.
Test. Do it one piece at a time. Measure scientifically and compare the results. You won't be sorry. The cost versus the benefits should be in your favor.
Brand. Pick a color. UPS made brown, of all things, sexy. Pick a logo. Who knew what a swoosh was pre-Nike? Pick a story. Avis made one out of being No. 2 and it put them out there.
Build Retention. Profits come from the repeat business of loyal customers. They buy more, buy higher-priced options, buy more often, and are less price sensitive and less costly to serve. Learn their habits. Stay close to them.
Disclose. In an age of close corporate governance scrutiny, of Sarbanes-Oxley, of Enron and Worldcom and Tyco, not to mention Marsh and AIG, the mantra has to be "disclose, disclose, disclose."
Network. Join your local agent-broker trade association. Be active in the leadership. Take advantage of cooperative efforts with your colleagues. Partner with them wherever possible in ventures of mutual and complementary benefit.
Be Visible. Don't hide your light behind the proverbial bushel basket. Get out and speak before groups of your colleagues and customers. Advance your image in your areas of expertise by writing frequently in the business press, and hold yourself open to interviews in the media.
Outsource. Don't leave all of the above to chance or to amateurs. If you don't have in-house capability, and the odds are you don't, outsource these tasks to a professional and proven marketing communications firm. This will save you time and money in the long run.
The simple point here is that before you move on to the more sophisticated marketing stuff, tear a page from Coach Lombardi's playbook.
TOM SLATTERY, a veteran editor and writer on industry affairs for more than 40 years, is Managing Director of Slattery-Esterkamp Communications in Baldwin, N.Y.
April 1, 2008
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