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Eye on video

Video is a hot marketing "power tool" for agents, wholesalers, and insurers

By Gary Kimball

The adage that a picture is worth a thousand words is more than a cliché to David Bresnahan, president of Lexington Insurance Company. "Video may be worth a million words in its effectiveness. In an age when people are streaming more than reading, and with all the information they receive, if you can grab their attention with video, then you have an advantage."

Lexington looked for that advantage in January when it launched LexTV, an online video news series designed to provide brokers with timely information and analysis of risks relevant to businesses worldwide. Bresnahan says LexTV focuses its content on the company's commitment to innovation, sharing insights on emerging exposures and the "innovative risk management and insurance solutions that can help mitigate them."

So far, it's working. LexTV episodes, which have included topics from the uncharted risks of nanotechnology to hurricane season forecasts, attract some 4,000 monthly visitors who click through to the Lexington Web site.

The value of video in the marketing and public relations mix is widely recognized today. According to eMarketer, video marketing is the fastest growing advertising format in 2012 and has become more prevalent than blogging, with 82% of U.S. brands stating that they use video as part of their content marketing efforts.

In the insurance industry, video is increasingly used not just by large carriers like Lexington, but also by agents, brokers and program managers. One innovative endeavor is EyeOnInsurance. This new weekly video news service of Rough Notes TV highlights specialty insurance programs.

The EyeOnInsurance "Featured Video of the Week" was launched on June 11 with an impressive 21 weeks booked in advance. The first segment was produced for Glatfelter Program Managers' VFIS program, the largest provider of insurance, education and consulting services to emergency service organizations.

"We saw it as a great opportunity to raise awareness and improve brand recognition with a personal touch," says Nicole Bagley, marketing and communications director at Glatfelter. "We can provide clients with new information delivered fast, and we have videos planned for our other programs."

The brainchild of Richard Look, president of Vertibrands, a marketing firm that specializes in program administrators, EyeOnInsurance reviews insurance programs and products to identify an industry solution that has proved to be beneficial for a particular class of business. The program manager is then invited to participate in a video segment. In addition to airing on Rough Notes TV, the video is owned by the program administrator and can be used on its Web site, for e-mail blasts and other purposes.

"Most of our clients are specialists, so it's a format that highlights their expertise in specific issues that industry may be facing," Look says. "Agents and brokers need tools to explain these issues to their customer, and the quickest and most effective way to educate them is through video."

But it didn't make sense to limit the videos to Vertibrands clients, Look says, so he approached Rough Notes with the idea of using the video concept to complement its Marketing Agency of the Month magazine feature. Rough Notes seized the opportunity.

"Traditional insurance coverage is tough enough for most of us to understand, let alone the explanations of features and benefits that many of the specialty programs provide," says Walt Gdowski, president and CEO of The Rough Notes Company, Inc. "EyeOnInsurance caters to the industry by giving it an affordable vehicle to deliver a better understanding of the true value of insurance products and services."

Bresnahan agrees. "Video allows you to personalize the message a bit," he says. "And when you have complicated products and services, video allows you to explain a complex subject more easily than with a written format."

The educational value of video is key, says Jennifer Brownyard, marketing manager for Brownyard Group, which is producing several videos. Brownyard is beginning with its security guard program, BrownGuard and later will produce videos for its PCOpro pest control and SASSI salon and spa programs.

"We want to inform and educate brokers and agents, so we really embraced the concept of providing news coverage about security guard insurance overall," Brownyard says. "Yes, it also promotes our program, but the focus is on providing information agents and brokers can use."

Russell Program Managers, which took its regional community pool program national on April 17 with the launch of PoolPro, also signed on with EyeOnInsurance. "We saw tremendous value in having a video that we could share with agents and brokers, and they could share with their insureds," says Daniel Coughlin, CPCU, vice president and general manager. "It's a very professional news format that gives us the ability to explain the risks and insurance solutions for the community pools, private swim clubs and pool management companies we insure."

Video today is key to communicating overall brand value, Look asserts. "I think video has become the number one tool to establish a brand right now," he says "Quite simply, if you do a video, people are more apt to click and view it compared to the written word."

That was exactly the experience of MidAtlantic Insurance, a Richmond, Virginia-based wholesale broker, when it embedded video in its June 4 e-mail blast about CompuCare, a workers compensation program for charitable and welfare organizations.

"We had used video on our Web site, but EyeOnInsurance took it to a whole new level, more professional and effective than anything we had done before," says Todd Kurz, marketing manager at MidAtlantic. "Since this is a specialized class of business, when we do an e-mail blast there are limitations to the response we expect, but this was clearly our best result on this program to date."

Video also fits in well with social media and mobile marketing efforts, Look says. "Whether you're using Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or other social media channels to promote your business, content is king. You need to have content that will engage others, and video can provide the most engaging content. In turn, you boost your social media efforts and drive more traffic to your Web site and products."

When Lexington launched LexTV, it linked the channel to its social media accounts. "The real value of social media is who you are able to connect with and how well you can push out valuable content like LexTV in a very targeted way," Bresnahan says.

"For Rough Notes, video combined with the simultaneous development of mobile technology is simply capitalizing on our tradition of providing the tools, techniques, and technology for the industry to better market and sell its products and services," Gdowski says.

RoughNotesTV, EyeOnInsurance and LexTV are just some of the initiatives that show how video can reach well beyond the consumer appeal of YouTube. Other media companies and insurance entities of all sizes are seizing the opportunity to tell their story in a more personal, engaging way than ever before.

As Gdowski says, "Video is an affordable vehicle to deliver a better understanding of the true value of insurance products and services."


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