Smoked Brisket, Google And Reading Your Clients’ Minds

During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic where we were all looking for new things to do with our families, I decided to pick up another hobby—barbeque. Not just barbeque, but barbeque of the smoked variety such as smoked brisket, smoked ribs, smoked chicken, etc. I have always loved my Weber grill but that did not do what I was seeking to accomplish—smoke. Eventually I suggested to my wife that we purchase a smoker, and smokers are usually not cheap! My wife, being fairly frugal, took some convincing, but she finally agreed and we got the smoker. Today I am probably 10 pounds heavier as a result!

What is my point? My point is, by the time my recommendation was verbalized to my wife that we were in dire need of a new $1,200 smoker, do you think there was any footprint at all of my interest in smokers? Were there any leading indicators? You guessed it, yes. That “leading indicator” was Google.

If my wife could have gotten into my phone to check my previous Google search terms, she would have known that I was conspiring to buy a smoker for probably two to three months prior to actually asking for her permission. Do I feel guilty about this? No. For two reasons: 1. I did ultimately ask her for permission after all. 2. Husbands across the country were doing the same thing that I was. How do I know? Check out Chart 1.

Chart 1

What this shows you is the search term’s relative popularity over time. This is a “Google Query” that shows you how popular the search term “Best Smokers” was over a time of your choosing. Obviously, I queried “best smoker” for the above data because that is exactly what I googled when I was educating myself on which ones to buy. In this query I chose five years as the period. My pencil circle on the left is June of 2020 and my circle on the right is November 2020 (Christmas shopping). The way the relative importance works is that the peak is set at 100 percent and anything lower than the peak is a percentage of that. Of course, the peak represents the highest point in time where people—including me—were “googling” the search term “Best Smoker.” You can see that the troughs over time are merely 25 percent or so of where the peak was back in June and November of 2020. The pandemic multiplied demand for smokers…

By me laying all of this out, you likely realize that this article is not about how popular smokers are. Rather, it’s about the information that is at your fingertips that is powerful! And if you are as savvy as the Broker World readership usually is, you are asking yourself questions like:

  • How do I get access to this query?
  • What financial/insurance search terms are popular in the queries?
  • How do I leverage the information I gather from the queries?
  • What smoker did Charlie buy that was supposedly “the best”?

Google Statistics
To say that Google has major influence over what we see, how we buy, etc. is a major understatement. Because everybody uses Google and relies on the information that Google leads us to, this entity is one of the most influential entities on Earth—whether good or bad. There is no search engine that compares to Google. For years they have had 90 percent plus market share of all searches in the United States. The next competitor is Bing with around six percent market share. Google conducts 3.5 billion searches a day (yes, billion!). Eighty-four percent of survey respondents say that they use Google three-plus times a day.

A lot like how economists track store traffic in brick and mortar stores every year to gauge how the economy will fare, that is exactly what Google does except on a more comprehensive basis. Google tracks not just one store or one industry, their queries track everything. Most importantly, Google tracks what consumers look for while the consumers are in private—like what I did with my grill. And Google having this kind of a snapshot into the brains of consumers is pure and unadulterated information that a company—whether in financial services or not—can leverage.

Where do I get access to this query?
www.Trends.google.com is where you can query and compare what consumers are searching for. You can query by time frame, query by region, drill down into subtopics and also run a query that compares certain search terms with others.

What financial/insurance search terms are popular?
I will give you the bad news and the good news.

Bad News: Relative to pop culture topics like movie stars and singers, there is not anything that I have found in financial services that compares. Take my example (shown in Chart 2) of the relative importance over time (since 2004) between “The Rock” and “Life Insurance.” “The Rock” is in the red and “Life Insurance” is in the blue. This means that there are more people googling The Rock than life insurance. Although I do like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, I think this is kind of a sad statement about our priorities.

Chart 2

Good News: If you were to zoom into the “Life Insurance” line—as I do (see Chart 3)—you will find that we have not been “googled” this much since 2007. This is a positive leading indicator!

Chart 3

I believe the heightened interest in life insurance is because of COVID-19 bringing a lot of folks to grips with their possible mortality. This heightened interest is not new news as it is supported by industry studies.


As far as life insurance versus other industry topics, let’s make a comparison query. In (Chart 4) I compared the relative popularity across five different terms: 1. Life Insurance; 2. Annuities; 3. IRA; Long Term Care; 5. Bank CD.

Chart 4

All lines are basically irrelevant except for the blue and the yellow. The blue line is “Life Insurance” and the yellow line is “IRA.” The other lines way down at the bottom—that all blend in and are hard to read—are “Annuities,” “Long Term Care” and “Bank CD.” The volatility in the yellow IRA line is interesting. Every year around tax time (April) the search term of “IRA” is heavily googled.

What is the most searched keyword of all of them on Google? Hint: It’s not “Life Insurance.” It is “Facebook.”

How do I leverage the information I gather from the queries?
Here is a list of items that my company (CG Financial Group) implements with our financial professionals based off findings like the above, and thus what I would suggest:

  1. If you do not sell life insurance, definitely consider it because that is clearly “top of mind,” at least relative to the other topics we deal with in financial services. Don’t know much about life insurance? Plug yourself—or your reps—into a training platform that your IMO may have. Or, check out www.retirement-academy.com that launched April 5. That is my online training platform that some agencies have outsourced their training to.
  2. Regarding life insurance: Although not shown, I further drilled down into the terms related to life insurance that are most searched. “Term Life Insurance” and “Whole Life Insurance” are among the top. Do you offer these? Also note that various questions like “Is life insurance tax-free?” are googled a lot! Do you discuss the tax-free potential of life insurance?
  3. Do you have a website?
  4. Does your website have the above-mentioned terms so Google can recognize that your site is a site it should direct its searchers to? That is called “search engine optimization.”
  5. Does your website have a term insurance quote engine? Studies show that consumers start their life insurance journeys online. Furthermore, studies are also showing that consumers are now becoming more comfortable with actually purchasing life insurance online.
  6. Do you sell annuities that can also be IRAs? If you sell annuities, then you certainly do have the capability of selling IRAs. Do you market this capability that you have? Don’t assume that if consumers know you sell annuities that they also know that those annuities can be IRAs!
  7. Do you have a Facebook business page? Three billion people worldwide use Facebook and so should you. Plus, it’s free.
  8. Make sure you are working with an IMO that helps you with all the above.

What smoker did Charlie buy that was supposedly the best?

What I finally purchased was a Reqtec 700. Sorry Traeger fans!

Charlie Gipple, CLU, ChFC, is the owner of CG Financial Group, an innovative and full-service independent marketing organization (IMO) that serves independent agents that sell life insurance, annuities and asset-based long term care. He also owns “The Retirement Academy” (www.retirement-academy.com), which is a subscription based online training platform for agents, reps, and company wholesalers.

Gipple is recognized throughout the industry as one of the foremost thought leaders and subject matter experts on annuities, life insurance, long term care, leadership, storyselling and behavioral finance. He is also an industry keynote speaker conducting 100-150 speeches per year. He has spoken at the MDRT Top of the Table as well as other large forums and has also appeared on TheStreet.com and AM Best TV.

Gipple has vast leadership experience in the insurance industry as he has been an executive of various insurance companies and large independent marketing organizations. He is unique in his broad knowledge across the life insurance, annuities and securities businesses. Additionally, within these businesses, he has a deep understanding of the distribution aspects of these products along with the actuarial and hedging aspects. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Northern Iowa, is FINRA Series 7 and Series 66 licensed and also holds the CLU® and ChFC® designations.

Gipple can be reached by phone at 515-986-3065. Email: cgipple@cgfinancialgroupllc.com.