We want our clients to understand the market and how to get ahead," says Victoria Manning, marketing analyst for John Hewitt and Associates (JHA), a risk management and consulting firm, in Portland, Maine. "If clients need information to grow, we'll get it for them free of charge, so we can grow with them."

Twice a year, JHA gathers sales information on every firm in the disability market and distributes the results to both customers and noncustomers. Companies use the information to benchmark how well they're doing against the competition and to tout their industry ranking in their promotional materials. "The survey generates media attention," says Manning," and positions our firm as an expert in the field. New clients often cite the research as the reason for seeking us out."

JHA provides another client service: a broker survey. Clients submit the names of 1,000 independent brokers who sell their insurance products. The brokers are surveyed to find out how the clients can better serve them. "Clients say this is exactly what they need," says Manning. "It helps them design and market new products."

JHA also keeps its clients informed on industry trends, recent court decisions, and new products introduced by competitors. "Providing market research differentiates us from the competition," says Manning. "We attract new customers and keep our current ones--our retention rate is 90%. The growth of the long-term disability market, due in part to our research efforts, is good for our customers and good for us."

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing