Research Proposal: Marketing Plan for an Insurance Company

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Marketing Plan

The project is to create a marketing plan for Allstate. Allstate is one of the largest insurance companies in the United States, and they compete across most segments of the insurance industry. In 2007, Allstate's revenues were $36.769 billion, and their profits were $4.6 billion. Creating a promotional plan for Allstate represents an interesting challenge. They operate in some many segments, and have such a broad target market, that the marketing plan needs to be both broad-based and also fairly well targeted. It needs to be broad-based in order to drive business to all of the company's lines, and to market the company itself rather than just one segment. It needs to be well targeted in order to prevent competitors from exploiting a lack of focus on the part of Allstate.

There are several steps to completing the marketing plan. The first step is to conduct a literature review. The review needs to be sweeping - it must provide tools for analyzing the insurance industry, its segments and their target markets. The review should also provide insight into the development of a marketing plan that will be effective. For this project, the marketing plan itself is comprised of two distinct components - the Allstate plan, and a plan for an individual agent. These represent two distinct plans, so the research needs to provide sufficient information to approach both topics equally well.

The literature review is then analyzed, and findings recorded. These findings will ultimately provide the basis for the marketing plan. This process is merely a formalized version of what every marketer does during the preparation process for a marketing plan. At this stage, we should be synthesizing the information from both the literature review and any other research we've conducted.

The project splits here as well. On one side there is the plan itself, but on the other side we will further our analysis of the research, circle back from the completion of the marketing plan, and attempt to discern some generalizations that can be used in the formulation of future marketing plans. As valuable as creating one plan is, it is equally valuable that we are able to use the skills and knowledge acquired during the course of this exercise in future marketing endeavors as well.

We will then bring the entire exercise to a conclusion, tying everything back together, from the methodologies to the final marketing report. The process is as important as the results, because while the results are a plan on paper, the process is a tool that can be used time and time again.

Ultimately what we hope to accomplish in the course of this exercise will be three distinct outcomes. The first is a marketing plan for Allstate, a multi-billion dollar insurance company of incredibly broad scope. The second in a marketing plan for an Allstate agent, a unique business entity with its own needs and objectives. The third is to develop a research and writing methodology, as well as a body of knowledge, that can be applied consistently across different industries and business models. In achieving these three outcomes, we hope to acquire a stronger understanding of the fundamentals of a marketing plan and the steps that go into creating such a complex document.

Research Methodologies

The amount of knowledge required to complete this task is significant. Writing a marketing report that covers what are essentially two distinct businesses, and developing an understanding of the techniques and skills that go into such marketing reports requires a deep body of knowledge and strong skills base.

We took as a starting point the need to understand the insurance industry. The industry is vast, but there were two potential starting points. The first potential starting point was to find an outside source of industry research. This lead to a major roadblock, one that is common in the business world. A significant portion of business research is performed on a for-profit basis. One can suppose that the reason is simple - the intended audience is business, and therefore that audience intends to use the information to generate profits. It stands to reason that any product that is going to be used to generate profits will cost money. As a student, however, it is not reasonable to pay hundreds of dollars for research, so industry information must be found elsewhere, even if it means acquiring it piecemeal.

This leads to the second potential starting point, which is internal sources of research. As with many industries, the insurance industry has an association, set up by the firms within the industry as a communications and advocacy tool. In this case, we found the Insurance Information Institute. This group provides a wealth of information online, for free, about the insurance industry. The information is presented in a number of ways, including overview, segment-specific, and geographic.

With industry knowledge in hand, the next step is to gain an understanding of Allstate's operations and how they fit into the insurance industry. Before this process is started, some of the learning objectives should be identified. The main starting point for that is to understand the sorts of information we will be looking for with regards to Allstate. This begins with the SWOT analysis.

SWOT, like other standard business analytic tools, provides a framework for understanding a company. The knowledge gleaned is then to be applied to the specific project at hand. So the first step is to gain an keener understanding of the SWOT tool, how it works, and what the desired outcomes should be. This will help guide us in our company research, by focusing on the areas about which we need to learn.

The next step is to learn about other tools that can be used to complement the SWOT. In reading about the structure and objectives of the SWOT we gained significant guidance as to the types of things we wanted to analyze with regards to Allstate. You understand that the internal and external environment are critical, but the SWOT will inevitably leave gaps in our understanding. Thus, we search around management and strategy literature for other tools. Ratio analysis, for example, helps to understand the company through evaluation of its financial statements.

This provides view of the company in quantifiable terms, whereas the SWOT focuses on qualitative evaluation. We learned about other tools as well - gap analysis, measurement plans and the formulation of useful success criteria.

Essentially, the SWOT is a tool to analyze the internal and external environment. It focuses on the internal strengths and weaknesses of the company, and the external threats and opportunities. The value of the SWOT is that it allows for these elements to be weighed against each other. This does not simply mean strengths vs. weaknesses, but also applies strengths to opportunities and weaknesses to threats. This aids in strategy formulation. The most important strategy will be to ensure that the external threats do not exploit areas of internal weakness, as the results could be catastrophic. Aside from shoring up weaknesses, it should be examined where strengths can be used to exploit market opportunities.

Gap analysis is a way to gain perspective on a business' operations. The analysis examines to dimensions - where the company is and where it wants to be. Once an understanding of this relationship is gained, the gap analysis is then used to examine reasons for the gap, and how those reasons can be dealt with. The ultimate idea is to decrease the size of the gap, to take the company closer to where it wants to be.

Measurement plans outline the ways in which a company can measure the outcomes of its strategic initiatives. For the purposes of the marketing plan, this relates specifically to the outcomes of its marketing program. The measurement should be related to a gap analysis, in that the plans should be measured against an ideal, and that ideal should flow from the "where we want to be" part of the gap analysis. The ways in which the outcomes are measured pertain directly to the definitions of success of the program. Further, measurement plans and gap analysis both tie in to success criteria, which are the definitions of success. These flow from the gap analysis, and the measurement plans outline the ways in which the company is or is not meeting the success criteria. Put together, these three tools result in a measurement of a plan's success and allows the firm to adjust its strategies on the fly, in order to ensure that they are constantly at their most effective.

From there we move into the gathering of information about Allstate itself. The company provides a significant amount of information in its annual report, so that is a natural starting point. While the annual report is a strong source of information, it cannot be considered an entirely neutral source. Granted, securities regulators require that companies be relatively conservative in the statements that they make in the annual report, but it takes… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Marketing Plan for an Insurance Company.  (2008, August 8).  Retrieved November 17, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/marketing-plan-insurance-company/5201

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