Talking to a hard to reach audience

6 minute read

The London insurance market has established an outdated image – going back to the early stages of human society, insurance provides a sense of comfort and security for the inevitable risks of life. But in a world of algorithms, portable data and machine learning, the London market has continued to cling on to its paper-based operations and traditional processes which have seen it risk its relevancy. Times have changed however, and the London Market is definitely feeling increasingly more vulnerable, as in recent years they have faced major challenges, seen numerous attempts to transform come and go and have witnessed a loss in reinsurance market share to the Far East.

There are multiple and complex reasons the London Market experiences resistance to transformation. Implementing new technologies into legacy systems can be expensive and there is no guarantee they will work. Adopting new technology, the correct way, through business process redesign, is costly and not for the faint hearted. There is a balance to be struck though and it’s the clever combination of ‘old and new’- if we combine the traditions, and history with the speciality knowledge and experience with today’s technological capabilities, it would create a whole new dimension for the market. It would also foster greater diversity, inclusion and ultimately define a new narrative for a new identity.

Today’s insurance customers expect a personalised service delivered through a customised approach with specific, tailored details as their experiences and expectations are being shaped from outside the insurance industry. This means that dynamics and behaviours are changing. Standards are higher, and people expect the best and quickly and they want it how they want it. This is a reasonable expectation – given the availability of capital and speed of delivery in Asian markets customers will expect the same in London. Unfortunately, the central shifts in the insurance industry are occurring so rapidly that some may wonder what happened when it is already too late. So where do we go from here? For us, as communicators to a complex and partly resistant audience we must frequently ask ourselves how we can better communicate and in turn help our clients communicate transformation benefits to their customers and peers.

In an industry built on face-to-face dealing and personal relationships, communicating an argument through technology may seem like a questionable choice. We recognise that whilst the industry has resisted technological transformation for decades, its people have not. It is a certainty that everyone in the London Market will have adapted their lives and homes to work better with technology, whether it be wireless home computing, using music streaming services, apps to track our fitness or ordering the weekly shop for delivery from a phone on the evening commute – we have seamlessly integrated technology into our every day. Just as in our daily lives, we too have changed our business from the ground up through process redesign. Accepting that our audiences spend time each day surfing between a variety of channels we can recognise this as an opportunity to interact with them more often than we’ve ever been able to before. Video is key to communication and will engage with a large audience quickly, effectively and on a human level. It has proven to be an exceptional form of publishing – 2017 for example saw a 40% rise in the use of video content delivered in mobile phone specific vertical aspect ratios across a multitude of social media platforms. 2018 should then see a steady increase in that trend – we expect a further 70%. We also know that people are more likely to share a video than a written article, so it stands to reason that our insurance audiences will be reachable and engaged via the same methods.

No form of communication will be successful unless considerable research and learning has gone into either the subject or audience first. Put simply; do you know what you’re talking about and do you know who you’re talking to? Particularly with the London Market it’s vital to have a full understanding of what drives such great differences in mindset and opinion. When delivering argument and content for our clients in the London Market our teams needed to take an active interest in global insurance and an innovative approach. We embedded ourselves into the London Market and sought to get under the skin of the London Market machine. This learning defined our strategy and video content approach, particularly in how it should be produced and published. With 75% of the internet being made up of video content, it seems logical to proceed with a campaign heavy with video elements to communicate the arguments for the industry’s transition into modernisation. Communication with clients should be at the heart of any successful communications strategy, irrespective of business scale – particularly when video content can be tailored to specific and varied audience types.

Understanding that today’s audience dart back and forth between varying channels, platforms and devices every day reminds us that the key to engaging effectively in the modern world, is through clarity, simplicity and a compelling story. But having said this, it’s not always going to be as simple as assuming that any content produced with that in mind will resonate with any audience. It is entirely dependent on how a narrative and concept has been crafted to suit the multiple audiences within the industry. In the case of the London Market we have one message, multiple voices.

With multiple voices we must always anticipate negative comment and the circulation of malaise to a message. We already see it. You only have to watch some conference audience eyebrows at the mention of blockchain, Ai and digital transformation. These are uncertain times we live in – there is need for speed and quick responses and the insurance industry is expected to make such quick changes that it can be understandably overwhelming. We can’t please everybody, but it’s important to take on criticisms and particularly helpful feedback for a company to succeed. This acceptance that a message can evolve and improve is important when receiving negative responses to communication. This is an important part of measuring your own communication performance. In our company we make a point of studying analytics of every campaign on a weekly basis to check it’s reaching the right audience and being seen or watched. The data doesn’t lie. Where failings are observed we take them as evolutionary points. We make adjustments, tweaks and improvements until we see the response rates where we want them to be. Positivity is the key in these situations and the willingness to adapt and change – if one can’t see new opportunities in how things have changed, then there is a bigger issue at hand. But assuming one can see these opportunities, then they must set about effectively designing new methods and approaches to capitalise on them.

Success will not happen over-night and as important as it is to be up for continuous change and alteration, it’s just as important to stay patient in the entire process – good things come to those who wait, after all.

With a strong focus on the future ahead, clear positive narrative communication will assist in bringing bring about a cultural and digital revolution for the London Market. There are quick fixes and many different ways to put a plaster on it, but the London Market needs to remember it’s proud and inspiring past, the high levels of extraordinary talent and the ground-breaking work it’s doing to transform not just the London Market but the global insurance industry.