MetLife Marketing is Focused on Providing Value—You Should Be, Too

February 23, 2017


In a recent Forbes interview,Esther Lee, CMO of MetLife, admits that for most financial services companies, marketing is typically equivalent to sales support. When she arrived at the company in 2015, she found that many of her marketers were just “brochure ware people.” Standard volume-based strategies weren’t cutting it.

Lucky for Lee, MetLife was in the middle of revamping their business model, so marketing had the opportunity to grow into something more. Lee jumped at the chance to reinvent marketing from a volume- and sales-driven organization to a value-driven organization.

According to Javed Matin, Marketing and Sales Consultant, this was a good move. He explains in a Marketing Journal article that successful businesses are built through consistently creating and delivering value. Matin says, “This requires an organizational design and alignment that puts the customer at the center of the universe and aligns all its functions towards creating, delivering, and realizing customer value.”


To Add Value, Be More Human

Customers are demanding that marketers like Lee are more relevant to their needs—more human. To bring the human back to marketing in a digital world, we must understand who individuals are and speak to them contextually, one-to-one, in the moment in which they are situated. Matin says, “Value realization is a journey that involves a continuum of every touch point between the customer and the vendor.” In other words, each interaction must deliver value back to the customer.

“Value realization is a journey that involves a continuum of every touch point between the customer and the vendor.” -Javed Matin

Lee has made clear strides toward the foundational elements for more human marketing with her market segmentation and persona activities, explained in the video link above. However, her team also needs a thorough understanding of the buyer’s journey to provide true value at each step of the journey.

Understand the Buyer’s Journey through Jobs to be Done

While it may seem to be, the buyer’s journey is not randomized. There are distinctive and quantifiable steps consumers go through on their path to purchase. The most effective framework through which to understand this journey is Tony Ulwick's Jobs to be Done Theory. As Theodore Levitt said, “people do not want a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole.” People buy products and services to get jobs done; and while products come and go, the underlying job-to-be-done does not go away. Therefore, to deliver value at each stage in the buyer’s journey, you must start with understanding the job the customer is trying to do.

Related: The Harte Hanks approach to adding value throughout the buyer's journey

Looking at the buyer’s journey through this Jobs to be Done lens, there are 5 overarching stages. Within each of the 5 stages, there are specific goals a customer is looking to accomplish on the journey to solving his or her problem.

financial services buyer's journey stages

Let’s imagine that our buyer, Chris, has a neighbor that dies in an accident with no life insurance. In the problem recognition stage, Chris witnesses the grief, stress, and financial burden his family goes through. Although he has significant savings and investments for retirement, he decides he also needs to ensure his family’s security should he pass unexpectedly.

In the information search stage, Chris finds out that life insurance is available through his benefits at work; however, he does not have a qualifying life event to update his benefits and must wait until open enrollment in July. He does some Google searches to find other options that he can purchase on his own in the meantime. He determines he can speak with his auto and home insurance provider and get quotes from other companies online.

He evaluates the different plans, rates, and payment options and discusses the different possibilities with his wife. This is the evaluation stage.

Chris chooses an affordable policy that he feels will sufficiently cover his family’s needs in the event of his unexpected passing that he can pay monthly and cancel any time. He purchases this policy in the purchase stage.

Finally, Chris moves into post-purchase evaluation. If he is satisfied with his purchase, he can continue with the purchased policy or change his payment plan to a quarterly or yearly for a small discount. If he is not satisfied, he can cancel and switch to his employer’s policy come open enrollment. He may also share his experience with his network.

Map Content to the Buyer’s Journey

Each step of the journey informs the type of content the customers desire at that time. With a real-time understanding of where Chris sits in this buyer’s journey, insurance companies can provide him with the most relevant content in the moment that he needs it.

Imagine that Chris is already selecting a provider through which to acquire his policy, and one provider sends him a direct mail piece explaining the different types of life insurance. This is not the information he needs at this step in his journey, and the mail piece is irrelevant—it provides no value. However, if the provider were to send Chris a direct mail piece explaining the ease of their application process, they would be providing him with relevant information (value) to help him make his decision.

See the Buyer’s Journey in Action

David’s Bridal executed an email campaign to women that had just recently signed up on the website.

The company separated recipients into four groups:

  1. Did not receive an email
  2. Received promotional messaging that alerted buyers to sales
  3. Received emotional messages that focused on beauty and sophistication
  4. Received trends and tips on the wedding experience

Which campaign resulted in the greatest revenue impact?

The group that received trends and tips on the wedding experience was the most successful. At this stage in their journey, brides wanted information to help them decide on a wedding dress, a high-involvement product. They were looking to start the process with company with which could build trust. The company needed to offer them the rationale for why they should invest in a dress.

Which campaign resulted in the lowest revenue impact?

You may expect it to be the group that did not receive an email. However, the group that received promotional messaging about sales was the worst performing campaign. No email outperformed the wrong message at the wrong time. The lesson here is that marketing to the buyer at the wrong time generates worse results than not marketing at all. Failure to understand the buyer’s journey results in lost revenue.

It’s Time to be More Human

No matter their industry, age, or size, a growing number of firms are finding traditional marketing inadequate. It’s time to bring the human back, and this means delivering value through contextually relevant interactions. Esther Lee agrees and has started MetLife down that path. When will your team make the move to value-driven?

Learn more about the process of mapping the buyer's journey in this post: What Every CMO Needs to Know About the Buyer's Journey. You may also want to check out the Harte Hanks approach to bringing more value and human interaction back to marketing.