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Episode 12 –
Timing in Customer-Centric Marketing is Critical with Jeff Piotrowski

RESOURCES   ❯   The Marketing Rapport Podcast 7-19-23

Episode Summary

In this episode of The Marketing Rapport, host Tim Finnigan chats with Jeff Piotrowski, VP of Insurance at Verisk Marketing Solutions. They dive into the challenges and opportunities in the insurance industry, with a focus on marketing strategies.

Jeff shares insights on how marketers can navigate the current landscape. He emphasizes the importance of focusing on profitable channels and building capabilities for omnichannel customer interactions. He also discusses the need for insurers to get smarter about assessing risk at the point of first interaction, using data to understand customers better.

The conversation also covers the future of the insurance industry. Jeff envisions a future where insurers are empowered with a uniform set of metrics across all channels, enabling them to serve their customers better. He also shares his thoughts on how data and technology can be used to target customers effectively, making the conversation a must-listen for anyone interested in the intersection of marketing and insurance.



Guest-at-a-Glance

Jeff Piotrowski, VP, Insurance, Verisk Marketing Solutions
  • Name: Jeff Piotrowski
  • What they do: Jeff is the Vice President of Insurance
  • Company: Verisk | Marketing Solutions
  • Noteworthy: Vice President at Verisk Marketing Solutions, heading up the insurance category and commercial efforts.
  • Where to find them: LinkedIn

Key Insights

  • The Power of Timing in Insurance Marketing Jeff emphasizes the importance of timing in insurance marketing. He believes that it is crucial to use data and technology to determine who to target, what to say to them, and when to reach out. This approach allows marketers to attach their offerings to a need at the point of sale, increasing the likelihood of a successful transaction.
  • The Importance of Focusing on Profitable Channels Jeff advises marketers to double down on the most profitable channels during challenging times. He suggests marketers should focus on the channels that yield the most profit instead of completely turning off a new business. He also highlights the importance of building capabilities for omnichannel customer interactions, allowing for a seamless customer data transition across different platforms.
  • The Future of the Insurance Industry Looking towards the future, Jeff envisions an insurance industry where marketers are empowered with uniform metrics across all channels. This would allow them to serve their customers better, regardless of the medium through which the customers choose to interact. He also sees a future where insurers are more innovative about assessing risk at the point of first interaction, using data to understand their customers better.

Episode Highlights

Jeff’s Role in Verisk Marketing Solutions

In the opening segment, host Tim Finnigan introduces himself and his guest, Jeff Piotrowski. They share a bit about his role at Verisk Marketing Solutions. The friendly banter sets the tone for the rest of the podcast.

“I head up our insurance category, specifically commercial efforts and go-to-market strategy for our marketing solutions business units. So that’s inclusive of auto, homeowners, life, and health. Anything with the insurance moniker attached to it I’m typically involved with.”

Addressing Marketing Challenges

Jeff discusses how marketers can address challenges in the current landscape. He talks about focusing on profitable channels and building capabilities for omnichannel customer interactions. He also mentions the importance of better-assessing risk at the point of first interaction.

“I’ve seen a few things happening. So, first, marketers are doubling down on areas where they’re getting the most profitable new business. So they’re not completely turning off every, turning off the ignition to new business but really just focusing on the channels that work.”

Are We Better Together?

GJeff and Tim discuss the mission of Verisk Marketing Solutions, which emerged from the merger of Infutor and Jornaya. They touch on the theme of being “better together” and share a light-hearted moment about their dynamic.

Tim: “I think you said to me in front of 400 people – Although Jornaya and Infutor are better together, Tim and Jeff are not better together. Is that correct? Jeff: I think you said it, and then I tried to glaze over it. ”

Future Trends in Insurance

In the closing segment, Jeff shares his thoughts on future trends in the insurance industry. He envisions a future where marketers are empowered with uniform metrics across all channels, allowing them to serve their customers better.

“In insurance and more broadly in a lot of these major life purchase categories, we just need to empower the channels that our consumers are coming to us with and interacting with us within, with a uniform set of metrics that is the same and can be carried across whatever channel a consumer wants to interact with us in throughout their purchase sales journey.”


Top Quotes

Jeff Piotrowski [00:10:29]: “It’s all about timing. So utilizing data and technology to figure out not only who to target and what to say to them, but when to say it to them is absolutely critical.””

Jeff Piotrowski [00:11:50]: “I submit that we just need to focus on the most profitable individuals and households in the markets that we serve.”

Jeff Piotrowski [00:24:10]: “We just need to empower the channels that our consumers are coming to us with and interacting with us with a uniform set of metrics that is the same and can be carried across whatever channel a consumer wants to interact with us in throughout their purchase sales journey.”


Full Transcript

[00:00:00] Tim Finnigan: All right. Welcome everybody to the Marketing Rapport Podcast. I’m Tim Finnigan, and I lead the product marketing role at Verisk Marketing Solutions. And like I say, the beginning of every podcast, my objective is to bring thought leaders and subject matter experts to this podcast so they can relay their industry expertise and their marketing expertise and give us some

[00:00:28] tidbits and some ideas and how we can better do our job. Um, unfortunately, um, my next guest has none of that. Actually opposite. Jeff Piotrowski, we go way back. He is actually the vice president industry, uh, market leader, um, at various marketing solutions. Welcome to the podcast, Jeff.

[00:00:50] Jeff Piotrowski: Yeah. Thanks Tim. That might be the worst introduction I’ve ever gotten, I greatly appreciate it, um, as you said. Yeah, I, I head up our, uh, insurance category, um, specifically commercial efforts and go to market strategy for. Our marketing solutions business units. So, um, uh, that’s inclusive of auto, homeowners, life, health.

[00:01:13] Anything with the, uh, insurance moniker attached to it? Uh, I’m typically involved with,

[00:01:19] Tim Finnigan: Thanks, Jeff. So I think we, we should make everyone aware that Jeff and I, um, he calls us frenemies. I don’t even know where the friend part came. I just think we’re, we’re coworkers is really this is all about.

[00:01:32] Jeff Piotrowski: Yeah, at most.

[00:01:36] Tim Finnigan: I think last time we were together in person was, uh, the VIA Conference that, uh, Verisk Marketing Solutions puts on for thought leaders once a year. And it’s gonna be this September in Chicago, but we were on stage together, introduced, we had a great dais that day. I had, I think I interviewed people from Snowflake, AWS Nielsen, who you had some great people up there too, didn’t you?

[00:02:00] Jeff Piotrowski: Yeah, we, um, we have a number of different brands across insurance, but also mortgage lending. Banking, uh, to your point, it was a, a phenomenal day. Um, and. I dare I say we’re investing further and I think that this year’s is going to be even better than last year’s. So, um, I’m pretty excited for it.

[00:02:22] Tim Finnigan: Yes. So if anybody’s interested, please reach out to me. It’s in Chicago this year. It’s in September. So there’s not only gonna be great people speaking, but there’s gonna, it’s gonna be a great event. Like if anybody from the Chicago area is like, there’s this restaurant called abba, it’s got this great rooftop, it overlooks downtown Chicago.

[00:02:40] It’ll be great. But speaking of via, Jeff, what, and I wanna get right into the sort of your insurance expertise. Um, Since via last year, so that was last spring. Fast forward to right now, what’s the change like what, what, what do you see has been happening over the last year in sort of the insurance and financial services industries?

[00:03:05] Jeff Piotrowski: Oh, uh, what a loaded question. It, um, a, a lot has changed, so, um, rate increases have continued to try and combat inflation. Inflation has created sensitivity in consumer’s wallets. Um, Uh, the inflation, uh, and prices of parts to repair cars, to replace parts of homes has driven up replacement costs, all of which are really impacting not only things like housing inventory in, uh, in the mortgage lending space and, um, the prices of homes in that space, but in insurance, the amount of premium that insurers are taking in.

[00:03:49] To offset the risks of paying out a claim whenever I become a new customer at a carrier. They’re, they’re, they’re upside down. So for every dollar that they’re taking in, they are losing money on a policy. And therefore many carriers and distributors are sort of sitting on their hands from a new business acquisition standpoint and focusing on mining.

[00:04:15] Their existing customer base, uh, elongating retention windows and increasing policy life expectancy, uh, cross-selling into their existing customer bases. More really just trying to wait out the storm and, uh, and get rate at adequate as, as the industry would put it. Um, And by that I mean get rates, uh, and premiums approved, uh, nationwide and, and across, uh, certain, you know, difficult states to get rate filings approved in, uh, in order to resume the, the engines of new business growth.

[00:04:48] But until then, it’s been a, uh, a really interesting quiet, but a lot going on beneath the surface sort of time in insurance and, and, and, you know, frankly in, in banking and mortgage as well.

[00:05:02] Tim Finnigan: So Jeff, when you think of like that quiet time and there’s a lot going on, think of like a marketer, what can they be doing to address these challenges? And, and actually when you think about it in the current landscape that we’re sitting in, it doesn’t have to be just that insurances got some issues.

[00:05:21] You know, other marketers have issues too, but maybe talk a little bit about, um, How marketers can address that challenge.

[00:05:29] Jeff Piotrowski: Yeah, so I’ve seen, uh, a few things happening. So, so first, marketers are doubling down on areas where they’re getting the most profitable new business. So they’re not completely turning off every, you know, turning off the ignition to, to new business. Um, but really just focusing in on the channels that, that work.

[00:05:52] Uh, and by work I mean our most profitable. Um, the second thing that I see folks doing is what I’ll, I’ll coin as capability building. Um, in fact, one of my, my colleagues who works at a, a carrier said, uh, If we get through this time and emerge when budgets come back and when our ability to market at scale comes back and our capabilities and our platforms and our ability to touch, uh, uh, you know, any given consumer that we interact with.

[00:06:22] If we haven’t gotten smarter during this time, we have failed. So a lot of carriers and their distributors are, um, taking this time to really get smarter and build platforms for omnichannel, uh, interactions with customers. So by that I mean if I start a quote online, transferring that data to the phone, if I call in from there, Uh, the agent has everything that they need from me.

[00:06:52] Um, better assessing risk at point of first interaction. So we’re working with a lot of folks to, uh, better understand when Jeff Petroski comes knocking on your door as a consumer, what do you need to know about Jeff without even asking him or, or asking for very little information from him to assess whether Jeff meets your underwriting appetite.

[00:07:15] So what’s going on in Jeff’s household? What are Jeff’s individual demographic characteristics? Financial snapshot. Um, what about his insurable assets? How many cars does he have in the driveway? What’s the condition of his home? Uh, things like that are enabling and insurers to get a lot smarter about who they let in the door in the first place.

[00:07:36] And I feel like that’s the future that we’re marching towards. Where gone are these broad based marketing campaigns Where come one, come all, you I’m thinking like 20 20, 20 21, where there was so much money being poured into advertising. Hey, we offer a better premium, give back, or a better rate credit since nobody’s driving come and do our books.

[00:07:59] Right. That’s actually burned insurers in late 2020, you know, 2 20, 23. And we’re, we’re reaping what we’ve sowed at at this point. So I think the future state looks a lot more like, help me understand with very little information from the consumer still optimizing and, and presenting a great consumer experience.

[00:08:21] Do I actually want this consumer in my business? And if not, maybe I point them in other directions, still be a good gateway of advice and still offer them a great customer experience. But, but I’m gonna offload, um, you know, that shopper or that traffic to another party that can help them better. And by the way, I’m going to offset my acquisition costs of bringing that consumer to my website or into my call center by monetizing that consumer to another party.

[00:08:49] So those types of things are where I’m seeing, uh, the most. Uh, momentum during, you know what we’ll call this, this quiet period where new business growth is slowing.

[00:09:00] Tim Finnigan: Great point, Jeff and I, and I hear about it not on the. Other side, or, or the non-insurance side too, is that marketers are just, they keep on talking about we need to get smarter on how we market. Right. And it’s, and you, and I’ve heard you talk about it, you, cuz you’re up on stage a lot at conferences, is that right person, right message, right place.

[00:09:19] The, the holy grail of marketing. And it’s even, um, it’s a better proposition when you, when you are. Marketing to the, the person that you have a good idea that’s gonna use you, buy you, you know, keep on going with you, and then you can be smarter about what’s the next best product or what’s the next best X or service.

[00:09:41] So I totally get that with it.

[00:09:44] Jeff Piotrowski: And, and, and when do I approach the person? Right? You can have the best messaging in the world. You can know that it’s going to resonate with me. But if you hit me at the wrong time of day or the wrong day of week or the wrong period in my life, it, it’s gonna fall on deaf ears. So, um, it’s, it’s the same promises we’re seeing with things like embedded insurance offerings, right?

[00:10:07] Everybody wants to attach to a need at point of sale for another product. Hey, would you like fries with that? So travel insurance is a great example of that, right? I’m buying a flight. At that point when I’m thinking about purchasing the flight, they’re also thinking about, Hey, do you want to ensure this large purchase?

[00:10:29] Same goes, uh, for, for other, um, partnerships and other, uh, insurance offerings that we’re seeing, like embedded. Um, it’s all about timing. It’s all about timing. So utilizing data and technology to figure out not only who to target and what to say to them, but when to say it to them is absolutely critical.

[00:10:49] Tim Finnigan: So on that point, Jeff, I, you were at a conference. Which I pretty much help with the presentation, Jeff, you know, honestly is the looks behind him, the brains behind this operation. Uh, just could you tell this, like, give the audience your message when you were up on stage, it was at Vic, about sort of how you related your personal story, your situation and, and how insurers should really look at you as a person.

[00:11:19] Jeff Piotrowski: Yeah. So, um, so I appreciate you, uh, stealing all the thunder for the, uh, the Verisk insurance conference presentation that I did. Uh, but, but yes. So again, my, my theory that is bearing out in the market is that we should not be turning things off. Broadly in terms of like, um, uh, new business growth. Um, like again, you, you’ll see there are carriers that are in the news right now that are shutting down new business operations in California.

[00:11:50] Right. Um, I, I submit that we don’t need to necessarily do that. Um, I submit that we just need to focus on the most profitable individuals and households in the markets that we serve. So, as you enumerated, uh, at, at the Verisk Insurance Conference, I, um, I presented and unveiled, uh, some findings that our team did to better, uh, demonstrate how this theory works in action.

[00:12:20] So, um, if you think about it, there are 266 million. Adult US consumers, um, in our country, uh, 161 million or so are homeowners. Now, all of those, that’s inclusive of. Single family homes, condos, townhouses, anywhere where you’re sharing walls with one another, um, insurers look at as, as a higher risk, right?

[00:12:48] Because you, you cannot control the risk that your neighbor brings to your shared wall. So, um, from an insurance standpoint, for the purposes of that, this exercise, let’s focus in on single family homeowners, and there’s 147 and a half million of those. For the purposes of thinking through what other products I could sell them, as well as rating factors for like driving behaviors as an example, and the risks associated with that.

[00:13:15] Let’s hone in on, uh, any single family homeowners who are aged 30 to 50. Because they’ll be good. Uh, they’re, they’re homeowners. They’re probably less risky drivers. They’re probably better fits for things like life insurance. So let’s focus in on, on those. That brings us into and zoomed into a a 41 and a half million, uh, person population.

[00:13:41] Now married individuals tend to be less risky, tend to have more insurable assets. So if we zoom in on those, that’s 19.6 million married, uh, individuals who are single family homeowners aged 30 to 50. of that cohort, how many have a house that was built after 1980? Because that seems to be a line of demarcation where we’ve seen in our research with carriers, uh, a lot of, uh, a lot of problems emerge and a lot more claims happen when built.

[00:14:17] Uh, houses are built, uh, before 1980 and even improved upon, right? So, Let’s look at houses that are built after 1980. That’s nine and a half million. Single family homeowners, age 30 to 50 that are married and have a house that’s built after 1980 5.7 million of them have multiple cars in the driveway and 4.1 million have a household in income above 75 K a year.

[00:14:46] Again, making them better fits for things like life insurance Now, 17,000 of that 4.1 million were in market. For auto insurance. The week prior to that conference, 54,000 were in market for home insurance. The prior year, five and a half percent of them had been shopping for life insurance, and they weren’t just shopping for insurance products.

[00:15:13] You and I and others are in market for major life purchases all the time. So two and half percent were considering a new purchase loan. Uh, three and half percent were considering moving. 9%. Were considering a new job, 5% were considering going back to school. Having this data at your fingertips and being able to apply this can help insurers and just major life purchase marketers everywhere.

[00:15:38] Better identify your ideal customer out there in the wild whenever you’re interacting with them. And across any channel that you may come in contact with them. So this type of data enables your ability to hone in on and, and expand and collapse your, your appetite for new business without completely shutting everything down.

[00:16:03] Tim Finnigan: I will not ever get tired of hearing you tell that story. It’s, it’s perfect. Um, and what, what, what I want people to understand too is that we had talked about. Right person, right message, right time. And you said, well make sure it’s the right time. And you displayed that beautifully. But what I wanna sort of hone in on is when you talked about, uh, they were in market or they were shopping something, can you just briefly explain how you understood that or how you knew that?

[00:16:38] Jeff Piotrowski: Yeah. So we’ve got, uh, I like to think of, uh, our business in two pillars. Uh, we have, we have two pillars of assets, right? The first is this patented eyewitness view of consumers comparison shopping online that we’ve been building, uh, in partnership with, you know, over 2000 different, uh, owners of websites and comparison shopping, uh, uh, and lead generation websites for 13 plus years, right?

[00:17:05] So, As a result of, of our technology being on 55,000 different websites where you and I go to research prices and request quotes, we see about a half a billion online shopping events every single month in every industry that we serve, right? So how that translates to insurance is millions and millions of insurance shopping events every single day.

[00:17:29] And our clients, eight outta the top 10 P&C carriers, you know, life insurance distributors, health insurance, uh, carriers leverage that data to monitor their own customers, to monitor prospects and better understand when somebody is returning to market, if I’ve already quoted them, or if somebody’s a former customer that I wanna win back.

[00:17:53] Or if they’re a current customer that now is shopping for something, I already sold them and they’re a retention risk. That’s how we’re helping and putting that data to action. But more broadly into your question, um, our eyewitness view in this privilege that we have, that we, that we don’t take lightly, um, of, of better understanding when people are shopping for the goods and services that our clients can, can provide them, that’s, uh, how we get to.

[00:18:21] The insights that we have around when, uh, that that consumer is most, uh, likely to, to be receptive to your messaging, how we do the what and the who is more alongside the other pillar and the other asset that we have that you’re very familiar with, Tim. So, 30 years of identity assets, uh, that, uh, that have historically fueled all of.

[00:18:44] The large data brokers and name brands that we, uh, that we know well in the data ecosystem, we are now bringing those identity assets directly to marketers in this purest form. Um, and, and dare I say, at the lowest cost, uh, as a result of, of this new Verusk Marketing Solutions mission that we’re on. So,

[00:19:04] Tim Finnigan: And, and thank you for teeing that up with this Verisk Marketing Solutions. So for those of you who don’t know, Verisk Marketing Solutions came out of Infutor, which I came from, and Jornaya, which Jeff came from. And when, last year at this time at Via I. I. That seems like the common theme. We were on stage together the first time that Jornaya and Infutor were coming together and our theme was better together.

[00:19:28] And I think you said to me in front of, I think there’s three, 400 people there. Although Jornaya and Infutor are better together, Tim and Jeff are not better together. Is that correct? Did you say that? Because

[00:19:41] Jeff Piotrowski: think you, I think you said it and then I there awkwardly and tried to, tried to glaze over it. Um, but yeah,

[00:19:50] Tim Finnigan: most of the things that I say you glaze over. I, I think another common theme.

[00:19:56] Jeff Piotrowski: as, as usual, it was a long and sweaty walk to get to that punchline, but I, uh, I appreciate the, at that in the swing. So.

[00:20:08] Tim Finnigan: Jeff, Jeff, Jeff, as we prepare to let you go. And, and in case anybody’s coming to the middle, we’re talking to Jeff Petrowski, who is our Vice President, uh, market leader for the insurance industry. Um, and I, I’m, I’m gonna brag about you a little here. Talks at many conferences. Um, there’s many articles. Um, you just did a great, um, was it Beat Report, beat tv.

[00:20:33] You did a great, uh, interview there.

[00:20:37] Jeff Piotrowski: Yeah.

[00:20:37] Tim Finnigan: Yeah, that’s it. So, great job. Uh, so my last question to you is, so you, you know, all the, so all the things we’ve talked about, Like what’s the silver lining or what, maybe talk about some trends that you see, not of what happened in the past, but maybe what we’ll see in the future.

[00:20:55] I think you’ve touched a little bit about that, but sort of just to, to get your thoughts. As you know, you’ve been talking to numerous. Customers, numerous insurance carriers, conferences. Not you only, you not only hear what’s going on stage, but what’s happening in, you know, the audience. What are, what are some things that you’re looking forward to over the next, um, quarters?

[00:21:18] Jeff Piotrowski: Yeah, sure. Um, so, so first and foremost, the, uh, consumer demand is there. It’s, it’s higher than it’s ever been for particularly property and casualty, so auto and homeowners products. So, Um, and, and I’d probably throw light, uh, health, uh, insurance into that category as well. So consumers are out there shopping and, and ironically, supply is just not there to meet the demand right now.

[00:21:45] So we’ve seen a 63% increase in auto insurance shopping since 2019 in a, in a, in a market where historically you’re looking at 5% year over year growth. Right. And I’m also hearing from carriers that they’ve got more inbound volume coming into their call centers and online than they know what to do with.

[00:22:05] So the demand is there and it is there to seize for the, uh, the marketers who are leveraging data and technology to better, uh, better assess. What business is gonna be most profitable for them. So that, that would be one. The, the second, and forgive me, I’m a little bit old school in this, is, I’d say ironically, despite us being in this new frontier, unprecedented times, all this technology being thrown about, right, the, the promise.

[00:22:41] Of value that insurance brings and the peace of mind that it brings, and the guidance and, and advice of a trusted agent for that insurance. Still as strong a value proposition as it’s ever been. So, and, and again, my, my personal experience on this is, um, so my wife is pregnant with our third baby, and as a result, I’ve been reviewing my life insurance options.

[00:23:11] And despite being in this industry, despite liking to think that I know a, a little bit about insurance here and there, um, I still want a, a, a trusted expert in life insurance to be walking me through that process. So I, I think that despite the industry’s, um, the industry’s intention to make these quote forms as short as possible or get you a simplified issue product within 15 minutes, like I, I, I hesitate.

[00:23:45] Those are great things and great advancements, but, I feel like it’s taking the problem and addressing the symptoms of it rather than addressing the root cause, which is let’s use data and technology to improve engagement, improve meaningful. Engagement with our customers, both current and future. That is where I believe the future is going to be.

[00:24:10] Uh, in insurance and, and more broadly in a lot of these major life purchase categories. Uh, we just need to empower the channels that our consumers are coming to us with and interacting with us within, um, with a uniform set of metrics that is the same and can be carried across. Whatever channel a consumer wants to interact with us in throughout their, their, uh, purchase sales journey.

[00:24:34] So, um, that’s my, my view of the future and, and I think there’s a lot to look forward to.

[00:24:40] Tim Finnigan: Thanks, Jeff and I, I feel like we could talk for another seven hours just on this. You’ve got so much knowledge to share, but where can people find you more about you? Uh, LinkedIn, I’m assuming, I mean, I track you there, like I can’t help but look at your, your profile.

[00:25:00] Jeff Piotrowski: Yeah. Uh, so the fact that you wanna spend seven more hours with me and that you’re, uh, you’re stalking me on LinkedIn is, uh, is news to

[00:25:08] Tim Finnigan: It is, you know what, as I’m saying it, like it came out super creepy, but I will tell you in this 20 minutes, 25 minutes that we’ve talked, I feel like uh, we’ve gotten a masterclass on the insurance industry. So thank you for sharing your, um, information and can I contact you on any insurance questions I have, like, cuz I think we’ve got open enrollment coming up.

[00:25:30] Is that, can I

[00:25:32] Jeff Piotrowski: Yes, you can. You can contact me, uh, and I’ll answer whatever I can. Um, and yeah, as far as, um, I post a lot of, of the thought leadership that I do on LinkedIn and I’m, I’m always posting about where I’ll be from a conference standpoint, so absolutely reach out to me there, uh, except if your name is Tim Finnegan.

[00:25:52] Tim Finnigan: Thanks, Jeff. Uh, thanks again and, uh, I, I think we, we should make this weekly, so we’ll just leave it there. You don’t even have to answer me now. All right. Thank, thanks again, Jeff. Bye.