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Getting Personal and Connecting with Customers via Producer Microsites

Featuring Donn Vucovich, President, Retail Insurance and Shared Services and Executive Team Member, HUB International Limited

Posted on 18 May 10

This week we’re featuring Donn Vucovich, President, Retail Insurance and Shared Services and Executive Team Member of HUB International Limited. HUB was a major sponsor at the Peak Performance conference this past January, and Donn was part of a three-person panel at the event on “Using Technology to Build New Business.” He was also the winner of the “Best Marketing Eidyia” contest at Peak for HUB’s creation and implementation of producer microsites.

HUB, one of the top sales and service organizations in the insurance brokerage industry, provides a broad array of Property and Casualty, Life and Health, Employee Benefits, reinsurance, and investment and risk management products and services throughout offices located in the United States and Canada. Its core values as a company are entrepreneurship, in which innovation is encouraged; balance between corporate duty and personal growth; integrity, which means doing the right thing every time; teamwork to maximize results; discipline in focusing on goals; accountability in which employees measure and take responsibility for outcomes; and service to its customers, communities, and colleagues.

Donn joined HUB two years ago, and oversees all aspects of it’s small business operations, including platform development, small business carrier relationships, expansion of the book and development of alternative sales and distribution channels. He is also responsible for all non-financial back office operations and processes that support employee and client transactions including: information technology, real estate, client services, payroll processing, and purchasing. Donn’s prior experience includes executive management positions within corporations and consulting organizations. His most recent experience was head of the Global Business Technology Solutions group for an international consulting organization.

During his discussion on the panel at Peak, Donn reviewed how HUB International is currently using social media and technology for various purposes, including: Using Google alerts, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for monitoring industry news, trends, etc; a global HUB website, white paper releases, and having a Facebook presence for marketing purposes; and for internal communication, HUB has an Intranet site, broadcasts product webinars and executive team podcasts, produces best practices communiqués, and participates in LinkedIn group discussions.

He also touched upon the new practices HUB is undertaking this year in the world of social media for marketing purposes, including the creation of producer microsites, blogs, and newsletters; the generation of RSS Feeds and Twitter Feeds, and search marketing (paid and SEO). HUB has created producer Best Practices guidelines, and has released a HUB Social Media Policy.

In today’s interview, we discuss HUB’s producer microsites in more detail.

Annie George (AG): The Peak attendees were very interested in your presentation about producer microsites during the panel discussion and then later during the “Best Marketing Eidyia” session. Everyone wanted to know about what HUB is doing in this area. Let’s first begin with a general discussion on HUB’s overall approach in social media.

Donn Vucovich (DV): “HUB began its journey into social media by learning and exploring what is available and how it can be used in insurance. We see social media as an effective way of creating one-on-one relationships with our customers and future customers, using the medium available now on the Internet and through advanced technology. With this in mind, we’re still very early in the process and are learning and evaluating the appropriate ways in which to bring that technology and capability into the organization, specifically for our producer force. We want to help our producers create those one-on-one relationships as well as augment their ability to communicate with customers and prospects in a way in which they want to communicate with us.

“We have incorporated a number of aspects of social media initially into the organization, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. We are working on training our producers to use a site like LinkedIn as a referral network in the overall sales and marketing process. And we’re creating microsites for our producers.”

AG: What is a microsite?

DV: “Overall, a microsite is a new term that combines a couple of ideas that have been around for awhile. First and foremost it’s a way to present a specific topic or view within your overall structure, within your overall web environment, to drive traffic to that view, topic, or person. While it may be part of a larger website, a microsite has its own address, so it’s easier to find. Therefore, in lieu of having to search to find a specific view or topic within an overall website that’s general in nature to find what or who is of interest to you, microsites create a separate environment specific to a person’s needs to get to the information directly. Also, with microsites, based on what the visitor clicks on, you begin to learn what type of content is more appropriate to the individual visiting the site. It’s a combination of today’s capabilities and those of social media, such as Facebook and MySpace, and bringing it to a more personal level while having the capability of customizing content for the individual visiting the site.”

AG: This is more than just a blog, not just a person’s view or opinion or an article he or she posts?

DV: “Exactly. It began as a blog…but Facebook is probably the best example in a non-business-related arena where you create your own environment in which people become a part of and your own content begins to show up within their space based on their interests. With microsites you can begin to manage the messages based on what content your visitors are accessing.

“With producer microsites, you’ll get an understanding of the type of customers visiting you and the types of questions being asked. From there, you may then put out a blog on a topic specific to what people are asking about or clicking on, as well as add additional content on the site related to the topic to continue dialogue and engagement between the customers and producer.”

AG: Are producers embracing the microsites?

DV: “You need support behind what you plan on doing in terms of the microsites. For us, it originally started because one of our producers wanted to get a little closer to her clientele. She was holding conferences and giving presentations and getting questions and, because there is a limited amount of time that you can spend with each individual customer at these types of events, she wanted to be able to send them directly to a site that deals with the messages conveyed at the conference… so she can continue the dialogue and not lose momentum. This is an example that began very specifically, driving what she needed at first while giving us the information we need to see to determine what we can offer in this space. Now we have plans to incorporate webinars, training, Q&A capabilities, and specific search capabilities. And, over time, this will advance into our customers’ world, so that it is a site for them as well as for us.

“On a broader scale for all producers, what you’re basically doing with microsites is using the same technology and structure for everyone and then customizing it. The content and look and feel is what’s different, which is what makes it very powerful. You are not creating one website after another.”

AG: How do you go about marketing a specific microsite so people can find the producer?

DV: “Very simply, our producers need a place to send prospects and customers. Therefore, for example, when a producer is speaking at a conference, he/she will direct customers to his/her microsite. We are setting up the microsites for each producer with his/her name at, so it’s easy for them to tell prospects and customers during a phone conversation, a meeting, etc.”

AG: Does every producer have a website?

DV: “We’re not there yet but we are moving in that direction. We are also looking into creating search engine optimization for specific people in specific niches and with specific capabilities.

“Our main focus is to enhance the producer relationship with his/her clients and future clients. If people are looking for general information, they can access it at the HUB site, but our effort is towards our individual producers and our programs.

“The microsites will continue to evolve; it is a participatory approach with producers and continued feedback from our customers.”