Marketers love the F word. Some even over use it. Too much of the F word can affect your professional credibility. At best you could sound like an idiot. There’s no question it evokes a strong emotional response. Of course I’m not referring to the F word Father Ted helped export and popularise. The F word marketers love is…free.
No payment required In the protection industry, we’re starting to become accustomed to offering things for free. Or as we prefer to say in this industry, ‘at no extra cost’. In a largely commoditised market where one provider’s product is very much like another, brands are seeking ways to differentiate their proposition. At AIG Life, we chose to innovate across all 32 of our products to provide value-added services to the 1.2m people we look after. The services, branded Smart Health, are provided as a non-contractual benefit to all of our customers, and are delivered by our partner, Teledoc Health. They add every day benefits to our customers’ protection policies, without taking any more money out of their pocket or adding cost to their premium. They are – you guessed it – free.
Why offer something for nothing?
Protection insurance has negative connotations and a much-maligned reputation. Consumers begrudge buying it and advisers are frustrated keeping up with constant changes.
Smart Health is our way of showing the caring side of the industry and provide services that really do add value. We all know that the NHS is under pressure, and never more so than when we are trying to seek an urgent GP appointment for ourselves or our families. This insight led us to unlimited, 24/7, 365 days of the year, virtual GP appointments and the expectation that the combined Smart Health service had the power to be transformative.
What’s the catch?
There isn’t one. But here’s the bottom line. Free is one of those words that sets off our internal psychological alarm bell. People ask, ‘Why? What’s the catch?’ It’s only natural.
We don’t have any plans to charge our customers to use the services – my marketing budget is committed not to pass this cost on. So how do we help consumers understand the value of their Smart Health benefits and why it really is free?
Adding value to free
We surveyed a nationally representative sample of UK consumers, anonymously, to gain a better picture of the perceived value of the six Smart Health services.
On average people stated that they’d pay over £30 per month just for the GP service. They’d even be happy to pay over £500 a year for the combined benefits the service brings. And yet, there’s still consumer scepticism and, dare I say it, adviser inertia, linked to talking about something that is free.
It may be free to use but it isn’t cheap. Six integrated services, available anywhere in the world is a significant investment from AIG Life in the health of your client and their family. What’s not to like?
It can’t hurt to explain
Now more than six months on from launch, I see the value Smart Health brings to our customers day in, day out. Thousands of cases, backed up with testimonials, show that the services save time, provide reassurance and ultimately lead to better health and wellbeing.
It’s free because we want more advisers recommending AIG Life to their clients. It’s free because we want new customers to have a good reason to choose us and existing customer to have an even better reason to stay.
And now I’m telling you why it’s free. Because if you want people to believe you’re an insurance company that cares, then there’s no better place to start building trust than being honest about why your brand is offering something for free.
My ask of advisers is this: give a little thought to the actual value of free services. Understand the quality of the proposition being offered and the potential benefits to your client. Know that people value added services and take time to explain how much they’re really worth. Because what we’re offering your client is so much more than a freebie.