Marketing Lesson From Progressive Insurance

by JR Griggs

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Flo_from_Progressive_InsuranceProgressive Insurance has been running their TV commercials about “Name your own price” for quite some time now. They even show a little “Name your price” gun that customers are seen walking around with, scanning items like a self checkout. The message they are sending is that you the customer are in control and decide what you pay.

What is interesting about the ads are that all insurance companies let you name your own price. You can raise and lower deductibles, which raise and lower prices. You can add different coverages, which will raise and lower your price. With exception to what state law requires for financing or leases, you are in control of what you pay.

This basically leaves just the company’s rates as the difference the competition.

Just the Facts

Sometimes you don’t need any more than the facts about your product to sell it. While the rest of the industry is out screaming that they are the cheapest, Progressive has been doing it with a twist. By simply explaining that you can name your own price, they created a buzz about their product. Nothing changed. Still the same way to buy insurance, just more open about how it actually works.

David Ogilvy in his book “Ogilvy on Advertising”, mentions that sometimes you don’t have to convince your customers that you  are superior to the competition. Sometimes just showing that you have a good product, even if it is really the same, can do the job. Especially when the competition is constantly talking about other companies and not focusing on the product.

Compare Progressive to the current field of insurance companies. Allstate has their “Mayhem” campaign stating that “cut rate” insurance companies may not cover what they do. GEICO is constantly pushing that they average 15% cheaper savings. State Farm is still pushing that “Like a good neighbor” they are there. Progressive let’s you name your own price.

Progressive was able to change their position in the market without changing anything about their service.

One of my favorite episodes of the show “Mad Men”, is where Don Draper is meeting with  the owners of Lucky Strike cigarettes. They are brainstorming ideas on how to get around the government telling everyone that cigarettes are bad for you. The cigarette companies were all trying to advertise that their product was just fine. Of course regulations weren’t allowing them to do this.

The solution was to advertise that Lucky Strike was “Toasted”. A simple reference to the fact that they toast their tobacco. Of course the owners were confused at this because all the cigarette companies toasted their tobacco. But no one was talking about it. They were all trying to figure out how to beat the government.

You’d be surprised what the basics about your product can do.

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