Washing our dirty linen in public

At a recent conference one of the guest speakers was from an advertising agency, not connected to Financial Services. He had some very interesting views on the way we position our products with the general public and he was fairly critical of the lack of promotion Protection, in particular, is given.

As an example, he told us about a well known washing powder manufacturer which radically changed its consumer message and reported an immediate increase in sales.

Instead of showing people how difficult stains can be to remove, which food stuffs create the most stubborn messes, and portraying stereotypical mothers worrying about their offspring getting muddy and grass stained, as it had always done in the past; the new creative focused on the positives their product offered.

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So, no more worried mums and repentant spillers of juice. Instead, joyful images of families playing in the park, getting a bit messy and generally having fun, safe in the knowledge that the good old washing powder would take care of the resultant splashes, splodges and smears.

What they realised is that most people respond better to a promise than they do to a threat.

The presenter’s assertion was that the same lesson needs to be learnt by advertisers (and advisers) in the Protection market. Our customers are mostly aware that they face risks in life from serious illness, injury and even untimely death.

Ok, they might not know the specific statistics and the role of the industry in highlighting precisely what those risks are is crucial, but in terms of encouraging those in need of Protection to buy from us, images and warnings of the potential consequences of not taking cover will never be as effective as a positive message about the things and people that need protecting.

This is one reason why the publishing of claims statistics by insurers is so important. It reassures people that the industry is fair (a perception which most do not have) and focuses on a positive – people getting the money they need, at the time which they need it most.

Almost every major player in the Protection space has now made public their claims paid percentages and we were proud to announce our own for the first time just recently, showing that PruProtect paid over 92% of Serious Illness cover, 97% of Life cover and 94% of Income Protection cover claims in 2012.

I believe that there is still more that we can do to demonstrate the positives of Protection to our target audience and, by doing so, grow the market to the benefit of one and all.

As the washing powder purveyor demonstrates; we are selling the solution, not the problem.