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Nuts & Bolts - Case Study : Red Tie Lists Its California Love

December 2012 By Linda McGurk
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Inglewood is up to plenty of good, if you ask Reginald S. Hawkins. The Red Tie Insurance Services owner says, since September 2011, he's gathered more than 100,000 leads in his city in California and converted 31 of them to customers as of September 2012.

To do that, Hawkins says once or twice a month he plugged the 90301 ZIP code into infofree.com, an online database and sales leads company based in San Mateo, Calif. Hawkins's only requirement of the lists he purchased was that the potential customers own homes in the ZIP code—which covers a 15-mile radius around his agency.

"I try to stay local with the list," explains Hawkins, whose home and life insurance agency slogan is, "We're large enough to handle all your insurance needs, yet small enough to care."

After downloading the list from the site, he imports it into his customer relationship management (CRM) system. Hawkins then has all the phone numbers associated with those homeowners, as well as their addresses. He cold-calls the leads about buying homeowners insurance. Then, if email addresses are listed, he sends email messages to the homeowners he can't reach by phone.

Through his CRM system, Hawkins can find Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts for the leads he doesn't communicate with by telephone or email. He invites them to visit facebook.com/redtieinsurance, "and that's my last point of contact" with the leads he can't reach.

Hawkins says among the prospects with whom he does speak, he has a 22 percent conversion rate, "and that's great for the insurance world."

Outside lists now comprise 65 percent of Hawkins's marketing mix. Overall, he's happy with the performance of the infofree.com lists and that they're 1/10th the price of the main competitor he's considered, but he was surprised to find that most prospects he called didn't own their homes—they rented.

"We're still were happy to have those policies, of course," Hawkins says. "But [with] renters insurance, you don't get as much as you do for an actual homeowner."

Hawkins works every last benefit out of the lists. Some of the leads he contacts are 65 and older, so he upsells them with life insurance policies. And when infofree.com starts offering its own CRM, he's going to start using it.

"We still want more homeowners and we still want more life [insurance customers]," he says. "So I would say we reached our goal, but we're trying to exceed our goal right now."

In the meantime, Hawkins remains a huge fan of the cold call. But then, he's always got a positive outlook, finding the glass is always half-full in Inglewood—unlike Tupac Shakur and Dr. Dre sing in "California Love," that "Inglewood [is] always up to no good."

So while some may agree with the song's lyrics that it's the "wild, wild West," Hawkins has his own beliefs about reaching out to the homeowners in California through cold calls spurred by looking at lists: "It's proven."


 
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