I attended the PIMA Annual Meeting last week (January 23-26), and once again, PIMA delivered a great line-up of speakers with industry perspectives and important considerations.  As I listened to the trending information from Ellen Carney from Forrester Research and technical strategist Scott Klososky, I found strong correlations with the overarching marketing themes for 2014, which were shared in a collaborative whitepaper between PIMA and SourceLink.

Overarching Theme 1:  Consumer Centricity.

Consumers expect more from their interactions.  They don’t care that insurance companies deal with legacy data systems or major legal regulations –consumers simply want an easy experience.  As Scott Klososky said:  “they aren’t comparing you to another insurance company but to their last digital experience.”   Ellen Carney from Forrester re-iterated:  “consumers are leaving digital breadcrumbs and it is our job to put those together.”  We need to help our customers feel as important as they already believe they are through onboarding and engagement.  The funnel has shifted, and the customer’s needs should be at the center of every marketing touchpoint.

Overarching Theme 2:  “SOLOMO” needs to be part of the recipe for marketing plans. 

There isn’t a single channel that will be the main entrée; it’s all about “omnichannel” efforts.  Just because old ways are working, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be challenging ourselves to look ahead.   Ellen Carney said:  “la Vida Mobile! Over 30% of 18-34 year olds want to manage all financial data via their mobile device.  And 15 percent of 35-44 year olds want to manage on their phones.”  What are we doing to make this happen?  Using SOLOMO technology (merging social media, location-based services and mobile technology) brings us in closer balance to offering reality-based instantaneous information combined with technical automation.  As Klososky said:  “Humalogy is the perfect blending of humans vs technology interaction.” 

Overarching Theme 3:  Relevancy

It’s no longer as creepy to receive a personal message from a company, as consumers expect us to know their existing status, but marketers are tasked in 2014 with moving from “creepy to credible.”.  If we aren’t using the information we know about the customers, we are not going to get their permission to be marketing to them.  As Ellen Carney pointed out: “Big data is porn and we need to harness it aggressively.  It's predicted that the CMO will spend more money on technology than the CIO.  It is our job to use data to identify niche segments that can receive highly personalized, relevant communications.” Once a marketer is using data responsibly, customers will WANT to opt in to your messaging.

If I were to judge the key quote of the conference by tweets (led by our social media superstar Mike Wise), it would be Klososky’s quote of “don’t be a dead leader walking.” I think that is a great reminder for us to not dismiss the challenges of introducing new channels, finding ways to get permission and actually using data the way we talk about using it.