Just-in-time manufacturing offers a model that insurance marketing can—and should—follow. Welcome to the world of just-in-time marketing.

As I argued last time, insurance marketers are spending lots of money and not really achieving the results they are after. One further piece of proof: the finance sector has a keyword-advertising click-through rate of under 4 percent, and of those only 6.12 percent actually take up the offer. These figures may be higher than some other industries,[1] but they are still very low.

My colleagues at the Accenture Institute for High Performance make a good case for applying three techniques painstakingly developed in manufacturing to improve marketing performance.

First a bit of history to remind us of how, after World War II, factory managers focused on achieving economies of scale through mass manufacturing. Success hinged on long-term planning, overproducing and designing products that had the broadest appeal. Then under the influence of Toyota, manufacturing began to adopt a just-in-time process that minimized waste by producing only what customers wanted. Japanese companies began to produce goods of a higher quality while reducing costs—and became the envy of the world.

Three key tactics from just-in-time manufacturing can be used to transform marketing: Kanban, Kaizen and Total Quality Management. The concept of just-in-time marketing, I should add, is particularly relevant for insurers because their value chains are quite complex. This means that many of the targets their marketing efforts are reaching are business partners, like agents and brokerages, as well as end-customers. Reducing waste and increasing accuracy of marketing efforts is highly desirable in this type of environment.

Just-in-time marketing: How insurers can cut costs while boosting effectiveness
Read the report.

Kanban refers to a set of procedures in which every stage of the production process is calibrated to the previous stage, and everything is “pulled” from customer demand. Applied to marketing, Kanban asks executives to “reverse the funnel”: to pull the target customers to the brand, rather than push the brand to the many, most of whom won’t take notice.

A good example of this approach would be India’s Max Life Insurance, which uses its iGenius website to provide resources such as articles and games that are attractive to its target customers—parents with young children. According to the company’s CMO, it’s all about moving beyond selling products to win trust.

Next time, I’ll look a little more closely at Kaizen and Total Quality Management and how they apply to insurance marketing.

For more information, download Just-in-time marketing: How insurers can cut costs while boosting effectiveness.

[1] For example, travel has a click-through rate of 4.88 percent and conversion rate of 1.45 percent, while the figures for shopping are 5.23 percent and 3.58 percent respectively—see Google Adwords conversion rate average by industry, available at http://www.smartinsights.com/paid-search-marketing-ppc/paid-search-display-network/google-adwords-conversion-rate-averages-by-industry-infographic/.

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