Versatile video offers multiple uses and maximum impact

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Objective: To emphasize the value inherent in a MECC worker's comp product in a competitive market
Strategy: Develop a video with 26 compelling personal stories of service and employee treatment and recovery
Results: $1 million in new business immediately as a result of the video and its continued use in various other campaign channels

Midwest Employers Casualty Co. markets workers compensation insurance to risk managers at corporations and public organizations, as well as to independent insurance brokers. Facing a heavily competitive marketplace, MECC needed to set itself apart from its competitors and showcase its highly service-oriented products.

“The world views insurance as a commodity; when you watch insurance commercials on TV, they're all talking price,” said Steven Link, exec VP-marketing at MECC. “The insurance industry for the most part has allowed this, and our campaign was an attempt to address it.”

Video became the company's choice as central to a direct-mail campaign. MECC felt that a powerful piece, filled with compelling personal stories of injury, treatment and recovery, would convey its corporate philosophy better than any other medium.

“The type of cases we see, the losses we cover, are catastrophic in nature—as is the impact to the families,” Link said. “We're the human element of the insurance we provide, and that's what we wanted to get across in the video. All the collateral material we produce doesn't have the same impact as video.”

Link also believed that a campaign stressing the company's premium service could be best conveyed in video format.

“We're a value play,” he said. “We made the decision more than a decade ago that we would provide extraordinary value, rather than be a low-cost provider, and appeal to customers who don't jump ship over our being 15% to 20% higher than the competition.”

Using St. Louis-based Mercury Multimedia to produce the video, MECC coordinated 26 one-on-one interviews with employees and customers, and Mercury shot and gathered footage of MECC and customer work environments.

“As a creative storyteller, our first challenge is how to embody the message,” said Angie Lawing, executive producer with Mercury Multimedia. “We immersed ourselves in workers' compensation insurance to know what it would be like to be a part of this industry.”

To ensure that MECC's story would strike an emotional chord, Mercury also tracked down footage of an injured employee of one of MECC's customers and detailed his recovery. The final cut was packaged in a specially designed DVD case that could be mailed to prospects and distributed at marketing events.

MECC sent the video to a database of about 10,000 of its top customers and prospects, as well as about 1,200 insurance brokers. The cost of each mailing was about $2, added to the $20,000 production costs.

It's featured on the MECC website, segments of it have been used in live slideshow presentations and webinars, and the video is an abiding presence at MECC's trade show booths.

“People come to us with one primary use of a video and then find that it will be useful for five or six other things,” Lawing said. “It has legs as a marketing campaign tool.”

Within weeks of the campaign's kickoff, MECC secured two new customers exclusively due to the video, representing about $1 million in new business, according to the company. The video remains the most-watched asset on MECC's website, and Mercury Multimedia is working on a video series for the company to be part of future marketing campaigns.

“It's been good for us, a real differentiation in the marketplace at a time when we needed it,” Link said. “The value play works, but you have to communicate it. You have to find a compelling way to tell your story, and the video is the most compelling way we've come up with yet.”

Originally published Oct. 12, 2009

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