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How to Market Life Insurance

how to market life insurance

Marketing life insurance can pose some of the most daunting challenges in all of American business, and certainly to your practice. Consider the objectives: getting people to confront their own mortality and the certainty of death, and ultimately put down their hard-earned after-tax dollars to benefit other people after they themselves are dead; getting them to talk honestly about their spouses, children, people they love and people they don't, health, assets and debts, successes and failures, and what they'd like to have happen after they're gone.

At least coffin manufacturers get to sell a pretty box.

The old adage is true: People only buy life insurance for two reasons -- because they love someone, or because they owe someone. The successful life insurance producer has to tap into the most basic of human emotions and concerns, and then motivate customers to take action. They have to motivate them in the most altruistic manner possible, encouraging them to part with their money to "do the right thing."

Because nearly everyone is a life insurance prospect, life insurance producers have to do this in the most universal manner possible. Whether a Rockefeller or a Rogers, everyone is driven by the same basic concerns for themselves and their families.

Turning challenges into assets

When you market life insurance, you have to wear many different hats and play many different roles. You have to be a financial advisor, a medical analyst, a father confessor, a psychiatrist, and a confidant. You have to reach potential customers on an emotional level, but use rational arguments to convince them to buy. Conversely, you have to approach and engage a prospect with coherent financial, economic, legal, and tax arguments, but urge them to buy on a basic emotional level.

It is a tricky line to walk. If it were easy, everyone could do it -- even a caveman.

Strangely, the same factors that make it so difficult to market life insurance can also make it a very successful endeavor. Because everyone is a potential life insurance client, if you reach enough people, many will respond. If you can connect with a large enough target market with sympathetic emotional appeals and logical economic and financial reasoning, many will buy.

That fact alone ought to give you confidence and courage: knowing that if you offer life insurance often enough, people will say "yes." It becomes somewhat of a numbers game -- reach enough people with your message, and a certain amount will buy.

Improving your numbers

There is a tested and proven ratio based on decades of research and experience. The 10:3:1 rule states that, on average, for every 10 prospects you reach, three will express serious interest, and one will buy. That's proven to be the general rule of insurance marketing.

Every life insurance agent should strive to improve on that average. If you can qualify your target market to more affluent prospects, or concentrate your efforts on a particular segment (e.g. business owners) or become an expert for a certain profession (e.g. doctors), then hopefully, you can improve that ratio.

Even a seemingly small improvement -- to, say, 10:5:2 -- means you'll double your final sale.

Nuts and bolts: What to do

Some ways to improve your success when marketing life insurance include:

  • Earning the major industry credentials (CLU, ChFC, CFP)
  • Networking with centers of influence (e.g. attorneys, accountants, bankers, etc.)
  • Participating in local activities
  • Serving on civic and charitable committees
  • Cultivating alumni associations

    Direct marketing. targeted marketing. well-positioned advertising, and leveraging insurance company promotions can also help you achieve success. Email newsletters and Internet-based social networking tools are effective ways to reach a defined market.

    Offer to work with local businesses to give advice and help to their employees. Conduct seminars and presentations for groups at local churches, synagogues, and mosques. Attend community functions, participate in trade fairs, and sponsor Little League teams. Anything you can do to strengthen your name recognition will benefit you in the end.

    All of these techniques and strategies, when combined and practiced consistently over time, will make you a respected consultant and advisor in your field, a valued member of your community -- and a happy, successful person.

    Charles D. F. Cohn is a financial professional with AXA Advisors' Paramount Planning Group. He can be reached at 212-408-9592 or .

    Category: Insurance

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