Reinventing Through Technology, Data, and Humanity
The director of marketing, research, and design for Allstate's Arity explains how the brand is leveraging all three
Staying relevant in today's world means being willing and able to reinvent yourself. This is true for companies, for the people who work for them, and especially for those of us in the marketing field.
My career – probably like many of yours – has been nothing but change and reinvention: getting better and smarter, evolving best practices, experiencing audience change, and setting higher expectations. But nothing has changed me professionally quite like my role as head of marketing for Arity.
For those of you unfamiliar with Arity, it's a technology company Allstate launched in 2016 to better face the realities of the fast-changing insurance world by analyzing data and generating insights.
Here's the thing you need to know about insurance companies: They're in it to help people. To do this, however, they have to rely on numbers and actuarial data to help them develop and price insurance products. It's been all about calculating risk and helping customers make the smart decisions.
That's not going away. But today, there's so much more to consider. Personal transportation is nothing like it was five years ago. We've entered a new era of transportation, and old models no longer apply.
Car and ridesharing are growing. New technology means better efficiency. Driverless and connected-car technologies are upending existing safety models. The Internet of Things is linking vehicles, homes, and more. People demand seamless, transparent, and data-driven experiences. All of that has turned personal transportation on its head, taking the insurance industry along with it.
Instead of being intimidated by it, the smart companies are doubling down and embracing it. At Arity, we're changing data from something used to price insurance policies to making it much more: something that builds new categories of goods and services, new companies, and even new industries themselves. Our solutions help people connect with one another and the world around them with products and services that address real-life challenges.
There's nothing traditional about this. At Arity, we've developed the technology that can help automatically summon aid when someone's in a car crash, give them real-time safety alerts, and help them earn rewards for safe driving. For our insurance clients, it's not just about helping them price insurance. It's about keeping people out of harm's way in the first place with the sense of security they want and the connectivity they demand. For our rideshare and carshare clients, it's helping them identify the best prospects to become new drivers. Geolocation data, driving data, vehicle data, safety data – it's all about optimizing transportation data in completely new and more useful ways.
And so, yes, since launching Arity, I've had to reinvent myself as a marketer, with new approaches to new challenges. I used to leverage data to make my marketing more efficient and effective. Now data isn't just a tool – it's who we are. Building this business and the brand via the data we can leverage is at the core of our value in the digital economy.
We've worked hard to answer some tough questions: How do we define Arity to ourselves and to an industry that's only starting to realize the potential that data offers? How do we develop a brand and market a company whose product is nothing you can touch, see, or hold? As a new brand, how do we make ourselves indispensable to the people who will benefit from our products? How do we take things like technology and anonymized data, and help people feel connected on an emotional and human level like they do with the products they love and use every day?
This isn't your favorite laundry detergent, your most comfortable pair of shoes, or the barista who knows you prefer your fat-free, sugar-free, three-shot latte extra hot. But we need people to feel a connection as if we were.
That's why our manifesto is that we are a technology – and a humanity – company. Innovation should come from and serve the people using it, and technology should fit the consumer. It's technology for humanity – the data has to have a human impact as people manage their transportation, keep themselves safe, and stay connected.
Here's the good news for marketers navigating this fast-changing digital world. While it means reinventing yourself, it doesn't mean throwing out everything you know. In fact, it makes all that even more important. Proven marketing techniques and best practices will continue to serve you. Don't give up on what's worked in the past. Leverage and build on what you've done and learned so far in your career as you plot a new course in this new digital ecosystem.
The four pillars of marketing remain – product, price, place, and promotion are all part of our marketing blueprint. Throw in a variation of the “golden rule” – give people the digital experiences you'd want yourself – and you've not only got the heart of our marketing efforts but also the keys to increased relevancy for Arity and the customers we serve.
About the author:
Lisa Jillson has more than 25 years of experience building and leading innovative product marketing strategies for local, national, and global brands across various industries, including financial services, beverages, and retail. Jillson is passionate and ever curious about the intersection of innovation, technology, and marketing. She currently serves as the director of marketing, research, and design for Arity, a technology company founded by The Allstate Corporation, where she leads all brand, sales, product marketing, experience design, and consumer research.