Selling Life Insurance by Mail (1,175 words)
by Don Jackson
It's odd. The creative for insurance direct marketing is not known for winning awards. It is seldom pretty. It operates on different principles than, say, the publishing industry or traditional continuity programs. It is regulated, and specific words and phrases are prohibited or subject to interpretation by lawyers.
All in all, it's an uphill battle for those designers and writers specializing in this field. You see, unlike The DMA's Echo Awards, insurance direct marketing creative does not answer to the standard of "response." In fact, response, per se, is irrelevant. The only measure of success is if the paid response meets or beats the marketing allowance. Marketing allowance is the sum of money you can afford to spend to acquire a customer. Insurance direct marketing profit studies (the basis for setting the cost of the insurance coverage) automatically calculates a customer lifetime value and it is factored into the marketing allowance.
One more thing: Keep in mind the whole notion of insurance marketing is truly intangible marketing. You are selling a promise that money will change hands due to a catastrophic event that may or may not happen in the future.
And, the event is truly distasteful. It's a tough sell for even the most accomplished writer. The one sure way you can identify a "control" is to count the number of times it is mailed. And in both these cases, the multiple appearances of these direct mail packages qualifies them as true "controls."
Gerber Markets Increasing Benefit Life Insurance
The Gerber "Grow-Up" plan offers life insurance for children. The example shown here is a classic presentation of juvenile life insurance. And the key element of the package is the offer.
$5,000 life insurance today doubles to $10,000 for your child at 21 with no increase in premium.
It is a simple offer, clearly stated, expressing increasing value of the coverage offered. But, why would a caring parent even think about buying life insurance for a child between one year and 12 years of age?
The notion is known in insurance parlance as "guaranteed insurability." Guaranteed insurability means that no matter what happens to your children, no matter what your child's health condition is at age 21 and again at age 28, the guaranteed insurability option allows an increase in benefits without any physical examination.
Starting a policy when a child is young ensures that an adequate amount of life insurance is guaranteed during the lifetime of the youngster. It is this positioning which makes this offer such a strong effort.
The value-added appeal (doubling of benefits at no additional cost until age 21), coupled with guaranteed insurability form a persuasive appeal. Then Gerber sweetens the offer by presenting a double benefits plan option ($10,000 benefit doubles to $20,000), and a triple benefits plan option ($15,000 benefit doubles to $30,000.) That means the insured child has options that can increase adult coverage from $50,000 to $150,000.
That's a good deal if an unanticipated health condition should prevent the child from obtaining coverage as an adult.
There is one final twist in the product: The type of insurance offered in this package is permanent insurance (whole life) that builds cash values. Cash values are a type of enforced savings.
In the P.S. of the letter, Gerber lets the prospect know that:
In 20 years, Grow-Up cash value equals or is greater than all the premiums paid.
After having the protection of the insurance for all those years with its guaranteed insurability options, the insured child can turn in the policy and get back every dollar ever paid in premiums.
The point—the child can be protected, and at the end of 20 years if there are no health problems that might threaten the youngsters ability to get other coverage—the Company returns all the money paid to it.
In short, it's a good deal.
Now overall, the package presents a solid offer, a value-added product and a real money-back guarantee, all communicated in a persuasive, clear, simple style.
Using brand equity, Gerber Life leverages three copy drivers in the material:
•Fear (will the youngster be healthy tomorrow and able to purchase life insurance?)
•Guilt (what happens if I don't do this for my child?)
•Salvation (If I do this my child cannot lose.)
All in all, a good effort that has proven itself a productive control.
Globe Life Changes the Model
If you have a child, you know Globe Life Insurance Company. It is the largest children's insurer in the United States. Period. One reason it got to be the largest is an original offer for juvenile life insurance that hasn't changed much in the last several decades.
Nowhere in insurance direct marketing is Bob Hacker's gospel: "It's the offer, stupid!" better demonstrated than in this simple, effective direct mail effort.
$5,000.00 or $10,000.00 of Permanent Life Insurance For Your Child.
$1 for the first 6 months.
It's the "trial" offer raised to an art form. In fact the $1 offer is one of the most powerful in insurance direct marketing, used for a remarkable number of products from accident insurance to health to life.
Price plays a big role in this offer. To continue coverage beyond the first six months, the cost for the $5,000 benefit amount is just $20 a year, and for $10,000 is only $40 per year. Easily affordable for most people.
The clear, simple four-page selling letter is a terrific example of persuasion in print. It begins with a faux endorsement letter written by a "concerned parent." This element focuses on the reason this type of insurance is so important to the parent: guaranteed future insurability.
A terrific element in the package is a "newspaper" clipping extolling the virtue of insurance for children.
What Globe has done here is let what appear to be external sources (a newspaper and a concerned parent) support and endorse the selling proposition—a need for the product—and provide the parent with reasons to purchase.
The same copy drivers are present here as found in the Gerber package: fear, guilt and salvation. But it adds one other: flattery.
The opening line of the letter reads:
I often receive letters like this one from wise parents.
Well, the recipient isn't going to be less "wise" than the concerned parent who wrote the faux letter.
Globe Life's Young American Plan direct mail package is a classic. A strong offer, clear and simple copy, persuasive endorsements—all add up to a winner and a demonstrated control.
Both the Globe and Gerber direct mail packages demonstrate that following the rules and leveraging hard-won brand equity results in productive and creative solutions to the barriers of lawyers and regulators in insurance direct marketing.
Don Jackson is an author and consultant headquartered in Middletown, DE. He is chairman of the Jackson Consulting Group, Ltd., and his latest book, "2,239 Tested Secrets for Direct Marketing Success," co-authored by Denny Hatch, was published earlier this year by NTC Publishing Co., Chicago. You can reach Jackson at (302) 378-0218.