Subtlety In Marketing: What Insurance Agents Can Learn From Kia

America has a real problem with participation trophies. This is something that came to mind recently while I was watching the latest Kia commercial. In it, a father is walking his son to their car and discussing the trophy that his kid just “won” at the end of his football season. When his son hands him the trophy for him to look at, he notices the word “participant” on the base. As the boy gets into the car — a Kia — the dad’s voiceover is heard:

“Participant? But we won every game. Oh no.”

From there, the proud pop removes the participant plaque and writes “CHAMPS” across the bottom before handing it back to his son, who promptly says, “Thank you.”

It’s a powerful ad and one that many insurance professionals could learn a lesson from. Often times, it is easy to feel like you are being too obvious with your marketing messages. But this commercial focuses on something that has very little to do with the the actual product — in this case, a car. The main focus is on an idea common to the target audience — in this case, anyone who might be in the market for an automobile, which at some point is just about everyone.

Despite that, it feels well-targeted and never heavy-handed. How can you apply the same thinking on a smaller scale through your own marketing?


1. Tap in to your community

Every community is different. Each has an identity that is unique to what lies within the city limits signs. It’s important that you get out there and experience the people and places and events of your community, so you can know what your town’s “story” is. Kia rightly honed in on the American ideal of “being the best.” They pushed the idea that success should be rewarded; it shouldn’t simply be patted on the head and told to move to the back of the line.


2. Get under the hood

Out in your community, you will not only find citizens, you’ll find customers. And at some point each customer will have need of one or all of your insurance products. But if subtlety is what you’re going for, you’ll need to get under the hood and see the ways that insurance really offers value to these people even when they’re not filing a claim. Talk to some of your existing customers. Ask them about any emotional connections they have to their insurance products. Is it peace of mind? Is it the memory of a time where the company was really there for them? No one can give you the answer you’re looking for here but your customers. So definitely check under the hood!


3. Turn your product into a useful prop.

Again, the car has very little to do with the main thrust of Kia’s message in the commercial described above. It’s just the place Dad and Son are walking to at the end of the game. It’s the conveyance that will take them from the park to ice cream or home or wherever they plan on being in the next 10 to 15 minutes. Still, there’s nothing about its use that feels “tacked on” or meaningless because it is part of the journey. It’s just not the main part of the journey. It is, essentially, a useful prop, and because of that, it’s something people who watch the commercial remember after they’ve embraced the message — in this case, that participation trophies cheapen achievement. What ways can your insurance products be used as “useful props” in a commercial or advertisement or billboard?


In Summary

While the debate can rage on about the value of participation trophies, the value of subtlety in your marketing messages cannot be denied. Above we’ve dissected the Kia commercial in question. Now see if you can use that as a blueprint to craft a powerful marketing message for your local insurance leads. Good luck!

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