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Des Moines startup Denim wants to be the fabric of insurance marketing

Denim’s Matt Crummy, Gregory Bailey, Mike Clark. Photo courtesy of Denim.

It’s tough for local insurance agents to stand out online when they’re up against Flo, cavemen and talking geckos.

Denim, a Des Moines-based startup, is hoping to level the playing field for local agents by reimagining marketing and distribution for the insurance and financial services industries.

How Denim works

Any business owner knows that Facebook posts are almost worthless for reaching followers unless you put some money behind it. For an insurance company that might have hundreds of agents across multiple cities, it can be challenging to run a customized campaign across your network that gets the right users in touch with the right agents.

“Denim allows corporate marketing employees to launch very smart social media ad campaigns at scale,” CEO and co-founder Gregory Bailey said. “The software lets you launch a campaign on behalf of hundreds or even thousands of local agents, that will be seen by consumers in your local market. Prior to Denim, insurance companies had to launch ads one at a time for each agent’s Facebook page.”

The process takes about two minutes to opt in agents and launch a campaign. For now, Denim is only live on Facebook, since Bailey said that’s where the demand from companies is. But Denim’s software is built so it can plug into Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other platforms.

Denim launched in October and is currently being used by the Texas-based American National Insurance Company, which has around 1,500 agents nationwide.

Relaxed fit ads

More than three million people have viewed Denim-powered American National Insurance ads in the three months since the company launched its campaign. With the early success, Denim has already started to pay the salaries for its two employees, as well as several contractors. Bailey expects to add several more employees throughout the year.

Bailey expects to launch a seed round soon for Denim, and has established its own regular podcast, Denim Rivet, focusing on the insurance industry.

Bailey spent more than 20 years as an insurance executive, so he knows that insurance companies aren’t always quick to embrace change.

“The timeline it takes to transform an industry doesn’t happen overnight,” Bailey said. “I know our role won’t be as a disrupter; we need to develop partnerships and through that we can reimagine the approach to their business model.”

Looking ahead

This month Insurance Networking News named Denim one of 17 Insurtechs to Watch in 2017.

Bailey sees Denim doubling in size over the next six months, announcing more clients Denim is already working with behind the scenes. He hopes to find permanent office space for the company (which is currently housed at the co-working space Gravitate) and launch some events for investors and the insurance community in Des Moines to spread the word about Denim.

Looking ahead, Bailey thinks Denim can ultimately be useful beyond insurance and investment companies.

“Any business with a central headquarters and centralized marketing that sells in local markets, like the real estate industry, could benefit from Denim,” Bailey said. “In five years, we’ll be helping different types of companies to reimagine their marketing and distribution of services.”

Joe Lawler is a freelance reporter based in Des Moines.

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