Deep-sixing the horizontal approach and going vertical

Marketing has run amok! In case you haven't noticed, you're being bombarded night and day-at work, at home, in your car, everywhere-with overt and subliminal marketing messages, all in an effort to shape your pre-purchase mentality so that when you're in a buying frame of mind, you'll favor a specific brand.

So, here's a question. What do AOL, Safety-Kleen Systems, Wal-Mart, Checkers Drive-ins, Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, Goodyear Tires, Pepsi Cola, Visa, and a wealth of other companies have in common? Well, they're all sponsors of NASCAR as are many other of America's best-known, and some not-so-well-known companies. Now the second most popular spectator sport in America (behind the NFL), NASCAR reaches hundreds of millions of fans annually, holds 17 of the 20 most highly attended events in the United States, broadcasts in more than 150 countries, creates more than $5 billion of television exposure for its sponsors, and has 75 million loyal followers who buy in excess of $2 billion annually of NASCAR licensed products.

Wow! That, my friends, is a marketing juggernaut (one sportswriter calls it "marketing on steroids") and a NASCAR vehicle that's covered bumper to bumper with sponsor messages and advertisements conveys the perfect metaphor for how difficult it is to get your agency's voice heard in a world that's totally saturated with marketing messages. That's the playing field on which your agency, with its modest advertising budget, is competing for visibility.


Add to this scenario the fact that, in many cases, insurance is perceived as an unwanted evil but necessary expenditure, and the plethora of mass marketing efforts to sell insurance only serve to cheapen its value proposition. They largely create a commodity image, leading agents to low-potential, nonqualified, high-turnover, and pricesensitive customers. Another major entrapment of mass marketing is that, because of time and resource constraints, the agent is by default reduced to the role of transaction completer rather than professional counselor and advisor.

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