Insurance and Innovation: Are you In or Out?

Sheryl Brown headshot resized

Guest Contributor: Sheryl Brown, Social Media Coordinator, Ash Brokerage

So when you say “financial services” or “insurance” do you immediately think of the word “innovation”? Um … likely not. (Hint: We are not the cool kids on the bus. I hate to break it to you this way.) Why is that? Why, as a group of professionals, are we so far behind in being radically different? What are we scared will happen?

I recently polled all of my friends on Facebook (Hey, I have 500 friends on Facebook, so the poll has a little depth to it … #TongueInCheek). I simply asked them what came to mind when they heard “financial services” and “insurance.” Some of the responses were:

– Medical needs
– Death
– Pushy sales people

Oh my. That’s not very innovative stuff, is it? But wait … there’s more.

How do we describe what we do? What kinds of words SHOULD we be using with our family, friends, clients and businesses so we can change these thoughts? Who should we be talking to about these things?

I believe we need to create a fundamental shift by using the term “community” instead of “industry.” Industries produce widgets. What exactly are we producing? Yeah, yeah … you could say the policy is the widget, but it’s not the same.

Jean Vanier is quoted as saying, “Every human activity can be put at the service of the divine and of love. We should all exercise our gift to build community.” Think about that for a moment. We are a relationship-based business. That’s what communities are built on … relationships. As a community of financial professionals, we provide peace of mind to our family, friends, clients and businesses. I don’t think I remember anyone saying this about coffee, tennis rackets or pallets, do you? Those are widgets from industries … we are a community.

When you sit down with someone, are you still using outdated words like protection (blech), policy (you mean there are rules?) and premium (I get the best!)? Well stop that now! If you think our family, friends, clients and businesses are hearing these words in the way we THINK we are describing them, you’re dead wrong. I challenge you to read Maria Ferrante-Schepis’ book, “Flirting with the Uninterested” from Maddock Douglas and see what you think. WARNING: After reading this book you, might start thinking about your business very differently. I cannot be held responsible for the increase in business you may start to experience.

Who you are talking to is a big deal too … a really big deal! Are you talking to everyone about what you do? Specific people? How do they hear what you are saying? Start considering this today because it matters. If you’re talking about IRR, COI and WOP, they may be thinking OMG!

Encourage your clients to stop you when you go into jargon mode. We are all guilty of this in the financial services community. I’ve done it and you are doing it today. Instead, challenge yourself to talk to everyone differently. Lose all the lingo and listen from your clients’ perspective. Better yet, find someone who knows NOTHING about what you do and start describing things to them. You’ll be amazed at how many times they raise their hand and say, “I dunno what you’re talking about right now.”

Sure, I can give you all the social media advice to help you ramp up and start exploring a new world and way of doing business, but none of this will work unless you’re innovating and doing business differently. Can you commit to getting comfortable with being uncomfortable?

Are you innovative or out?

Hear more from Sheryl and other social media directors at FTF’s annual SMAC Conference in New York on September 18th, 2014! Check out the agenda and speaker line-up at FTF News.

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