Suzanne is the Marketing Director at AimcoR Group, a national marketing organization for insurance and financial brokerage agencies. They help brokerage general agencies (BGAs) and their agents find the best solutions (like long-term care, life or disability insurance, and annuities) for their customers, and teach them how to market those solutions. She was kind enough to let me steal some time from her so that I could learn a little bit more about how her organization works and how Emma plays a part in it all.
Can you start off by telling me about your role at AimCoR group? From my experience working with you, it seems like you wear several hats there.
I'm kind of like the "girl Friday" from one of my favorite movies with Rosalind Russell and Carey Grant, His Girl Friday. My primary focus is marketing. We're a very small company, with 40 BGAs around the country, but there are only four of us in our corporate office — we all do a lot of different things. My title is Marketing Director, but then I also do a lot with member services, getting them up and running. I help plan a lot of the events, too. We have three events throughout the country each year.
What is one of the most interesting things you see evolving in the insurance and financial industry? Are there any trends you're seeing this year?
I think the number one thing we're seeing has to do with recent legislation passed in December, which began on January 1, 2011 and ends on December 31, 2012, and deals with changes in estate taxes. There's a lot of changes in opportunities within that two-year window for estate planning. We are helping to provide advanced marketing solutions to the agents and the financial planners for when they go out to their customers and try to get them to take advantage of this short window of time.
The second biggest thing we're seeing is the tremendous amount of change within the life insurance industry. There has been so much competition among providers with what they offer due to the medical and technical advances. People are living longer. The recent census shows that women are living into their mid-eighties and men into their lower-eighties, so that really affects the type of risk class a person can fall into. And with all of the advances in health care, it's making it easier for people to qualify for a better risk class. You can't just buy a life insurance policy from twenty years ago and be set. People should be constantly evaluating either on a yearly or bi-yearly basis their financial needs, especially their insurance needs. I think that's the key point in what I'm trying to say: Life evolves, and insurance has to keep up.
How do you use Emma to communicate those needs and trends in the industry?
We've got close to 40 or 50 members with accounts set up in Emma. What we do on a monthly basis for each member is set up a four-part communication series (with one campaign each week).
We've got two Carrier Connections each month, where we highlight what's going on with our core carriers. The first Carrier Connection goes out the first week of every month, and we highlight six of our core carriers there along with a feature on our monthly agent webinar. The second week we send out the Underwriting Connection, where we highlight underwriting trends. On the third week, we're back to Carrier Connections, and we use this campaign to highlight the other half of our core carriers. And then the last week is the Sales Connection. That's where we feature new sales and marketing techniques and the new ideas we have.
These mailings that we set up for members are just a starting point for them. They go in to edit and customize the campaign, then send them out to their agents. Ideally, we should be reaching close to 50,000 people a week through this monthly series.
Obviously, you spend a lot of time in Emma. What is the one Emma feature you or your clients couldn't live without?
The very best part of Emma is the audience component and the audience maintenance. I think it's one of the best in the industry. We really take advantage of the ability to easily group our members, and we've started experimenting with audience searches. The signup forms are also very powerful so that you can have links on your website for new additions.
I noticed that you all are located in Maple Grove, Minnesota, which by name is very similar to Walnut Grove (also in Minnesota), the former stomping grounds of Laura Ingalls-Wilder. Do folks ever show up there looking to re-live the prairie days?
That's actually south of where we are, so we've yet to see anybody get lost and end up here. Maple Grove is a nice, family-oriented suburb of Minneapolis. We are big fans of Laura and Little House of Prairie, though.