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Bill of Writes

If I said marketing what would come to mind? Glossy brochures? Cross sell leaflets? Websites? Immeasurable expense?

There’s plenty of different ways to execute it but in essence marketing is often about the impression conveyed. People are adept at developing an opinion about you from how you present yourself, not necessarily from how you are.

An example I think. It’s a private motor one but the underlying principles are the same for any class of business.

Recently, I received my motor renewal notice from my broker. Apart from accommodating compliance it’s the same letter I’ve had for fourteen years.

He argues that it’s a bill and no one reads a bill: they just look at the price. It’s an argument I suppose, but not a very compelling one. Why do I stay with him? Because he gives a great service – second to none. But, it’s not the impression most people would get from his renewal notice.

My road tax renewal came around the same time. There are some striking similarities. Both are compulsory, both are unwelcome and both have no days of grace: action is needed.

Their letter used simple techniques to display important points like highlighting text and boxing important information. They provided me with a handy leaflet explaining the key points I needed to consider and the different ways I could pay. There was a competition encouraging me to renew early. However much I dislike paying my road tax, the impression I was left with was one of clarity and efficiency.

The point I’m trying to make is they could have hand written it on a piece of cardboard: I would still have had to pay it. If a state run monopoly can put in that sort of thought anyone can.

Insurance brokers are lucky to have a reason to write to customers every year. Large retailers spend billions on loyalty programmes just to have the same opportunity. Brokers’ should make the most of their renewal letters. Providing some thought is put into it. Stuffing leaflets into the envelope can be the marketing equivalent of throwing mud at a wall. Renewal letters can incorporate a wider context.

Car insurance is ultra competitive so play to your strengths. Remind customers that well trained professionals answer your phones, not complicated menu systems. Feed off wider media stories to retain freshness. The AA recently declared that insurance premiums would rise by 11% minimum – it was all over the mainstream news – why not highlight where yours didn’t?

Remind people why they purchased from you – spell out your qualities. Do you have a leaflet extolling your virtues and a three-step path to renewing?

Finally, think about the words you are using. Less is always more when you communicate by the written word so make every one count. Making renewal notices work for you makes sense because no one likes receiving a bill.

This article was written by Lloyd Hanks, one of our Directors, and originally appeared in Brokers’ Monthly in 2009.