Best's Review


Insurance Marketing
Branding and Data Help to Meet Today’s Customer Expectations

Marsh McLennan Agency’s chief marketing officer discusses the importance of viewing B2B marketing as an audience of individuals and why digital marketing must make this a priority now and for the future.
  • Lori Chordas
  • January 2022
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Evolving customer expectations and changes brought about by COVID-19 are placing a greater emphasis on branding, digital marketing and data.

“Quality data and understanding your audience is paramount nowadays, and time is such a valuable commodity. Customers expect their preferences to be known and understood not just by the companies trying to do business with them but also those they aren't doing business with,” said Steven Handmaker, chief marketing officer at Marsh McLennan Agency.

Marketers need to develop messages and content that “create an experience that customers find valuable, saves them time, isn't repetitive and makes things efficient,” he said.

Following is an edited transcript of Handmaker's interview with AM Best TV.

How are customer expectations changing the way we now look at insurance, and how is marketing to consumers evolving to meet those needs?

Customer expectations are increasing, and it's up to us as marketers to figure out how to make sure that we're following the Amazon model of using data for good, trying to be helpful, useful, and showing that we understand our audience. Our industry brings tremendous value to the table for our customers. We all have to continue to find creative and smart ways to make sure that they fully understand and perceive that value.

Steven Handmaker

Steven Handmaker

One of the things that COVID-19 did was place a spotlight on digital channels and communications. What digital channels and tools worked for your company?

Digital marketing is marketing. Nowadays, you almost can't separate the two. Most of the face-to-face or print things that we would consider ourselves traditionally doing now all have some digital component to them. The real challenge is to focus ultimately on and remember that it's about the experience of the people that we're communicating those messages to. We can make a world of smart, helpful and useful information available across the digital landscape, but not every message is right for every individual's interest.

We don't want to bombard our audience with 14 daily messages, even if all of those messages are perfectly right for them. It takes some effort to be strategic in our outreach, to think about how we're doing it. It's B2B marketing, but our audience is made up of individuals. As we think about digital marketing, we need to make this a top priority now and for the future.

How has the pandemic changed the way marketers are thinking about their brands?

One of the things that MMA found is that the pandemic seemed to create what I'll call a “flight to quality,” where folks wanted to be with organizations that they could trust and rely on. This wasn't the time to take chances. The MMA brand benefited greatly from that desire for reputation and stability.

Lori Chordas is a senior associate editor. She can be reached at

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