For his latest podcast, Alan Hart interviews Assurance’s Chief Marketing Officer and Brand strategist, Steven Handmaker. Assurance is among the largest and most awarded independent insurance brokerages in the U.S. A “Top 50” broker and repeated national “Best Place to Work” winner. What makes assurance special and unique relative to other companies in the field is the level of engagement and commitment of its employees.
Listen to the full interview with Steve Handmaker – Episode 18 on the Avid Impact Podcast
Currently in the United States most companies have an unengaged workforce; in general there is an engagement level of 34% compared to 98% Assurance holds. For Handmaker, company culture is important; he explains that engagement is more than just happiness; it requires real investment, knowledge and for people to understand how their role helps the company succeed. You want to have brand ambassadors that go the extra mile.
At Assurance all communications (internal and external) fall into the marketing category. Handmaker describes this approach as “flavoring” meaning that they spend the same amount of time communicating and marketing to their employees as much as they do externally, which allows them to control the company message. The marketing team plays a critical role within the company when it comes to driving engagement to the brand; they need to be aware of everything inside and out and they need to be energetic.
“Creative doesn’t cut it anymore,” according to Handmaker; a strong marketer needs to be comfortable with technology and be able to wear many hats within the company.
“A lot of CMOs I talked to are kind of baffled by technology and trying to figure out how to stitch systems together,” says interviewer Alan Hart, Handmaker acknowledges that the days of guessing what people want to hear about are in the past; for Assurance, technology has played a big role in understanding and tracking the interest of consumers or as he called it “the buyer’s journey” and you don’t need to invest a fortune from the beginning to start seeing results was the advice he gave.
Assurance has a few very specific audiences they are focused on, so the idea of the buyer’s journey is really important to be able to marry marketing efforts with the right time and people. For Handmaker the future of marketing is very much intertwined with the use of technology and it comes down to personalization: companies getting closer to reaching audiences in extremely personal ways. But also, part of that future; which is something that is true today, is that there’s always room for a great simple story to tell.