What do little life moments, Game of Thrones, loving
parents, and March Madness have in common?
The answer is that all have been part of
Guardian Life’s excellent marketing offerings recently. Over the past year the
insurance and financial services company has been consistently creating fresh,
engaging, topical content while also experimenting with new platforms.
This innovation is especially impressive given that Guardian Life
(The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America) must reach two very distinct groups
with its content: consumers and financial representatives/agencies.
Recently we sat down with two of the company’s
marketers to find out how GuardianLife develops content and what other brands
can learn from its experiences.
Check out our Q&A below with Mari
Pagliughi, Head of Digital Communications, who is responsible for GuardianLife.com/developing Guardian’s
corporate consumer facing social media programs, and Tara Meehan, Head of Social Content, who works with financial representatives/individual agencies on
their content strategy and content development.
broadly, what is the role of content at Guardian Life? What are the goals?
Mari: In terms of Guardian’s corporate program, it’s an awareness,
an education, and an engagement play in how we strive to interact with
We seek to develop content that’s meaningful and relatable to
the consumer and to engage them wherever they are. That can be out on other
sites, blogs, and their social networks as well as on our own properties.
We seek to elevate the Guardian brand and gain mindshare. We
also want to educate consumers about the kinds of things they could prepare for
now that can make their lives more secure in the future. The goal is to provide
information that’s valuable to helping people’s lives.
Tara: With content for financial representatives and agencies we’re
focused on helping the financial reps and agencies provide value to their client
Q: We love the Life
offering, which is your sponsored content published on Medium.com. What’s the
story behind it?
Mari: That was a test-and-learn pilot. Our main goal was to extend
our brand exposure into areas that we haven’t traditionally been.
Medium.com has a large, young, well-educated user base and
that’s an audience who we want to be talking with and having get to know us. It’s
a very large prospective audience for Guardian.
We sponsored this blog and worked with independent writers
who had relationships with Medium, and who already had grown their followings.
We worked together with our creative agency IMRE to come up with the theme, Life
Well Lived, which underscores our philosophy.
Traditionally insurance companies have gone to market around big life
moments – when you have a baby, when you get married, when you buy a house –
and we want to engage and tell stories around smaller moments which are just as
important as well.
The content we’ve been co-creating with Medium tells first
person accounts of how people live their lives, what kind of lessons they’ve
learned, and wisdom they’d like to pass along to other readers.
Q: How do
you build an audience for your content? Do you use paid media and promotion?
Mari: We definitely amplify our reach via Facebook and Twitter
page promotion. We don’t just build content and hope that people will come. We’ve
developed key audiences like families, specialty professions, small business owners,
etc., and we target our messages towards those specific segments.
Q: Do you
each have a few favorite pieces of content created by Guardian Life?
Tara: We work with an agency, Contently, that’s done a great job
at helping us tell our story in a way that is relatable. So we’ve been able to
have a lot of fun with tying our messaging to things like sports and pop
In particular, I love a few infographics we created. First
there was, How Solid Is Your Offensive Line? which talked about the components
of a financial protection strategy in football speak. It was very popular and got
picked up by Forbes.
The second piece piggybacked off March Madness, and was all
about setting your financial brackets; again using sports speak to deal with a
complicated financial concept.
The last one was a play on one of my favorite TV shows, Game
of Thrones, and the theme was winter is coming. The idea was that you need to
protect your castle; so make sure that your home, your property, your office,
etc., are kept safe.
Mari: A few of my favorites come from our Twitter posts.
One was of two young girls reading a book, shown wearing an
imaginary chef hat and police hat. The tagline says: “The reason I plan ahead.”
This image represents the perspective of a parent who envisions
their children’s future when they see them.
What I love about it is that it creatively uses stock photography with
the addition of original hand drawn illustration to convey a key message.
Another one I like is of a little girl spoon feeding her dad
ice cream with the message: “When sharing a pint after work takes on a whole
It does a great job of using a play on words to capture an
unexpected perspective and how perhaps life’s priorities may shift through the
celebration of small moments.
Q: Any key
learnings from your experiences with content? Any advice on what you’ve seen
that works or doesn’t work in the context of your content creation?
Mari: Anything that has a visual element gets twice as much
engagement for us as something without, so that’s a big one; especially if the
visual is warm and authentic. It sounds cliché, but images with children and
animals perform well across all our channels.
Videos that are under 30 seconds long do really well for us,
so that’s another learning.
Also, we’ve found that audiences aren’t as averse to product
information as we originally thought. They’re happy to engage with it if it’s
relevant to them and it’s packaged in a way that’s simple to consume; so a 10-
or 20-second clip rather than a 20-minute lecture.
Tara: For me, another learning is that you always have to think
about why you’re sharing content. It needs to provide value to the specific
market, demographic, or location that you are trying to engage with. The days
of sharing content just for the sake of it are over.
There’s also a listening component. Are you replying to likes
and comments and shares? Are you starting conversations? For financial
representatives, that is a huge part of content strategy because engaging can
build the relationships.
question, any content marketing trends that you’re keeping a close watch on?
Mari: Video is becoming a primary way consumers prefer to receive
information. I already see that taking shape, so advertisers and brands would
do well to look at the mix of media they’re putting out there. The written word
doesn’t have the primacy it did in the past, and it’s essential to understand
how to harness video.
Also, mobile is the most used device for many consumers, so
that will continue to have a huge impact on content strategy.
Tara: To build on that, I’m personally a big fan of podcasts. They are
sharable and easy to listen to when on the go, especially in a situation like
driving to work when you can’t access video. We have a podcast that’s easily
accessible, and it’s worked well for us. I think in general the medium is