by Carolyn EllisEditor’s Note: As we further examine how the industry is identifying and reaching out to Millennials, we’ve pulled the Profile Interview from November 2016, Features Editor Carolyn Ellis’ conversation with Denim Labs’ Greg Bailey.
Describing what Denim Labs does requires some careful distinction. First, they do not make clothing… they make connections between carriers and their prospects, especially the millennial demographic. Beyond that, their own marketing description probably describes them best: Denim is an intuitive social media advertising platform for insurance and financial services companies.
Denim is transforming financial services marketing and distribution by improving ROI, so you can focus on what matters most: brand awareness, consumer engagement, lead conversions and sales growth.Denim Labs launched its “Insurance-Smart” social media advertising platform at the InsureTech Connect conference in Las Vegas in October.
We talked with co-founder and CEO Gregory Bailey about how this proprietary approach will help home offices drive prospects, especially Millennials, to local advisors at a time of need, triggering much-needed growth for the industry.
L&HA: What’s Denim Labs?
GB: At a pivotal time for the industry, Denim Labs is re-imagining marketing and distribution for insurance and financial services. Denim’s first product which we launched on October 5 is a social media advertising platform we call Insurance-Smart. It allows corporate marketing teams at insurers or financial services companies to scale, launch and manage all their social media advertising or tap all their agents, brokers, advisors all from a central dashboard.
L&HA: That’s intriguing; tell us more.
GB: Rather than expecting agents and advisors to do this on their own day to day, it’s high time that home office corporate marketers have the opportunity to log into a central dashboard and literally in two minutes time, build and launch Facebook ad campaigns on behalf of thousands of their agents or advisors.
When those ad campaigns present themselves in Facebook or in a consumer’s news feed on a mobile device, that ad will be highly relevant to that consumer in what we call an insurance-smart way. It’s going to be specifically for the agent or advisor who is the representative in that market where the consumer resides.
L&HA: Why your team?
GB: I’m the former chief marketing officer (CMO) of Athene (formerly Aviva); prior to that I was VP of marketing at Pacific Life in Orange County, California. My 21 years in the insurance and financial services industry places me in a unique position to know exactly where CMOs and other marketing and distribution leaders in the industry need to go. Our team consists of technologists having over 20 years’ experience of launching B2B or enterprise software as a service platforms at various companies throughout the U.S.
L&HA: And why now?
GB: Insurance tech has become the latest hot area of tech start-ups. (Formerly it was fin tech in the banking industry.) Insurers are seeking any means of growth because we’ve been a relatively flat industry for many years.
Millennials are becoming the predominant means of new customer acquisition, and the mobile and social channel allows insurers and financial services companies to be relevant and present in the most preferred digital channel. American National Insurance Company is already using our platform. Without going into specifics, the early results are extremely positive.
L&HA: What will trigger these ads or messages to prospective purchasers?
GB: We’ve built the platform in a proprietary way, and we are patent-pending on some of this technology. LIMRA data suggest that approximately one out of every two insurance-buying decisions by Americans results from a major life event — when we buy a new home, get a new job, get married, or have kids. Rather than bombard people with ads that don’t mean anything to them, it’s time for insurers to be contextually relevant to younger consumers. We’re talking about insurance-smart micro-targeting. If the ad appears from the agent in their local market, they may have heard of that agent. Or if the context or content of the ad is relevant to what’s happening in their life they will notice.
L&HA: I’m picturing the just-married, happy couple coming down the steps of City Hall; the phone buzzes and there’s a message that it’s time to buy life insurance.
GB: Right on! I started in the industry in 1995 as an insurance agent with Northwestern Mutual Life. Back then they taught us to search our weekend newspapers for prospecting announcements like who just got married or who’s having a child.
However, things have changed. We now have the opportunity for carriers to take back demand generation, a function the industry has delegated over several decades to agents and brokers. Join the local Rotary Club or chamber of commerce and create your own demand, for example. That’s not so relevant for this younger generation, and it’s not an effective means for an insurance company to measure what they’re achieving. By giving this ability back to the CMOs and corporate marketing and distribution, we can really improve the ROI picture around their marketing and advertising spend.
L&HA: What will it take for an agent or broker to participate?
GB: It’s up to each carrier to engage with Denim and to determine if and how they want to charge their agents or advisors. Many insurance companies already have a co-op marketing program.
The key thing with Denim is that the agent doesn’t have to log in or do anything. They just say, “Yeah, run the campaign on my behalf,” and the home office then executes it. With an independent brokerage model of distribution, agents will need to be licensed with the carrier. If it’s a captive or multi-line exclusive distribution then there’s a little less concern.
L&HA: Why the name Denim?
GB: All the great brands I love in the tech industry have names that are not specific to any function they actually do. Think of Apple, Google, or Amazon. I wanted a name we could grow into. I believed we could create powerful software that users would find to be the most intuitive, enjoyable software ever. Denim is the brand name we have trademarked. Using the Denim platform is like putting on your favorite pair of jeans; they’re comfortable and they work.
L&HA: How can agents learn more?
GB: Our website went live on October 5. Go to www.denimlabs.com for Denim Rivet podcasts and interviews that tell our story.
L&HA: What’s the biggest take away for our readers?
GB: Social media has become a pay-to-play platform for businesses, meaning if agents really want to be successful on social media, it’s a paid advertising space. Invest a little money and we’ve provided a tool where the carriers that they represent can do lead generation and advertising on their behalf. Agents and advisors only have to follow up on the leads that are generated. ◊