Seeks to Develop BTB Marketing Movement

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Capitalizing on the besieged feeling insurance brokers have received from the Internet, StarNex Inc., an online and offline provider of insurance technology, is kicking off its "Save the Broker" marketing campaign to promote its Web site, which officially launches May 15. will provide insurance brokers in the health and life arenas the ability to get quotes from many carriers all in one location, as well as other information.

The goal is to let the site's primary target audience, which includes insurance agents and brokers in the employee benefits, property and casualty fields, know that the Internet can be an ally, instead of the enemy. The call-to-action is "Join the Movement."

"The genesis of the campaign was 'Let's tell the world we're out to save the broker,'" said John Unipan, president and CEO of StarNex, Wrentham, MA. "Brokers still have to be used for complicated products as a trusted financial advisor. Auto and home insurance can be done on the Internet as its fairly simple. However, property, casualty and employee benefits are complicated."

The campaign will be launched in two phases. The first phase will involve the official kick-off of the site and a highly targeted campaign meant to create a buzz about the "movement."

At the end of last month, the site began running ads in six industry-specific trade magazines including Broker's World, National Underwriter and Best's Review. Agreements with some of these publications will include banner ads at their online entities.

The site plans to have a very conspicuous presence at more than 100 industry trade shows, meetings and seminars this year. At these events, recipients will receive logoed merchandise such as mouse pads, T-shirts, hats and fake tattoos.

A public relations push is also underway. Select members of the press have received direct mail packages that include, among other things, a gas mask.

"It's tightly targeted vertical marketing," said Liam A. Shannon, creative director, Trinity Communications Inc., a Boston-based integrated marketing communications company that helped create the campaign. "We're not spending any money on general awareness; it's just not necessary. We want to create a groundswell among certain people."

Phase two of the campaign will launch this summer coinciding with the opening of 20 offline sales locations. The goal of this phase is to let people know the movement is happening.

The site will mail 100,000 high-end direct mail pieces to brokers that are influential in the insurance industry. They will receive posters as well as basic information about the site.

Guerilla marketing efforts in select cities will include spray-painted stencils on the sides of buildings.

The site also will conduct weekly e-mail marketing messages. It has a database of roughly 60,000 users derived from permission marketing lists from state underwriters and other sources. The site is considering creating a sweepstakes offer for its e-mail recipients; the prize will likely be a Palm Pilot.

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