March 27, 2000
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
is one of an ongoing series on interactive marketing leaders who
are doing things other marketers can learn from. They are not
yet household names, but the executives we profile are laboring
in the trenches today and will be in the headlines tomorrow. They're
the emerging leaders of an emerging marketing discipline.
rank and serial number: Bennet Harvey, 39, vice president
of product management, Esurance.com, San Francisco. B.A. in English
Literature, UC Berkeley, 1984; MBA, University of Chicago, 1990.
Worked in newspaper publishing, then drove the online classifieds
business at America Online Inc. (1996). Moved to Cendentmortgage.com
(1997), helping one of the nation’s largest retail mortgage
lenders fill the same role in the market space. Helped build Move.com
real estate portal, and joined Esurance.com in 1999.
"Build product offers on the customer’s terms."
he got interested in Esurance.com: "The opportunity
to deliver a truly customized insurance offer to consumers,"
plus the quality of the financial support. (The company is backed
by Trinity Ventures, Red Point, 21st Century, Internet Ventures
and Global Retail Partners.)
Esurance.com works: "We’ll allow the customer
to use online planning tools to evaluate their own needs and choose
personal coverage and deductibles; the Web allows a ‘do-it-yourself
experience’ that many customers seek."
biggest challenges: "The regulatory environment—it’s
regulated state-by-state—and privacy; customers have to
trust they can provide their sensitive information at your site."
branding online: "The brand is really indistinguishable
from the user experience in the online world. Your user experience
is your brand. We’re a heavily direct marketing-based company.
Unlike other dot.coms that focus on brand advertising, we are
targeting (customers). We’re not about incurring big losses."
Esurance’s targeting works: "Life events play
a big role in the insurance process—customers have kids,
(the) kids turn driving age, leave home, (customers) sell their
home, downsize and become empty nesters. These events…feed
the sales process. We’ll develop lifelong relationships
with our customers and push content to them that’s pertinent
to their needs."
collaborative filtering: "Collaborative filtering
assumes prior clients have been buying the right products for
themselves, (but) brokers and intermediaries may have influenced
past purchase decisions. The community’s past purchase behavior
may not be the best proxy for a new customer’s needs."
filtering is a useful but superficial means of providing offers
to customers. It’s fine for low-risk retail items, (but
it’s) not as valuable in financial services." Esurance
will make customized offers, but "they’ll be based
on an analysis of each customer’s personal financial requirements
and needs rather than on what a batch of ‘similar’
customers bought in the past."
Internet ‘first’: Charter subscriber to Red
Herring in December 1993.
is a partner with Diamond Technology Partners in Chicago.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.