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Getting the Pulse of Life Month

The LIFE Foundation coordinates the annual observance of September as Life Insurance Awareness Month (LIAM). This effort carries a greater burden each year as the number of life insurance policies in effect in the United States continues to decline.

LIFE is joined by 100 companies and industry groups in the yearly awareness campaign, but recently, many of the sponsors have been asking for proof that this campaign is bringing results. LIFE president and sales master Marv Feldman has been working on a satisfactory answer for these sponsors. In this interview, Marv discusses what’s new with the campaign.

INN:  How’s it going with this year’s Life Insurance Awareness Month?

MARV FELDMAN: We’re very, very excited about this year because of the changes that we’re implementing. Of course, having sportscaster and former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason as a spokesperson doesn’t hurt.

INN: It sure is a good time of year to have him aboard.

MARV FELDMAN: Yes, from the industry standpoint we are getting a lot of great feedback about having him as a spokesperson during the football season. We’re also reaching out digitally to people so that we can do a much better job of tracking and getting the metrics that the industry has been clamoring for. We think that’s going to help a great deal from the consumer standpoint.

INN: How are you getting metrics? Does that mean you are tracking ads?

MARV FELDMAN: We’re going to be doing pre-roll advertising [ads that run before a video online]. We tried that in May with our disability insurance awareness program.

INN: How do pre-rolls relate to the videos you already have?

MARV FELDMAN: We have two series of stories: realLIFEstories and LIFE Lessons. RealLIFEstories tell about somebody who had life insurance and how that life insurance, disability insurance or long-term care insurance worked in their particular situation when it became a claim.

LIFE Lessons are just the opposite. Those are stories of young people who have lost a parent or a guardian and that death severely affected the young person’s financial ability to pay for college.

Our traditional stories run three to four minutes. That’s too long in today’s marketplace.  So we’re taking our new stories and making 15-, 30-, 60-second video spots. That’s what’s being used as the pre-roll advertising to make sure people have the attention span to watch it to the end.

INN: Do you have any sense of how they are working?

MARV FELDMAN: We did some blind studies of one group who hadn’t seen the pre-roll and another group who had. Our completion rate was about 83 percent. I think the industry average is closer to 70 percent.

From an awareness standpoint, there was a 94 percent increase on awareness of disability insurance from the people who had seen the video versus the people who hadn’t seen it. Those are the metrics that we’re using to track our awareness campaign.

INN: What market are you targeting?

MARV FELDMAN: The middle market, basically in the 25-45, maybe up to age 50, age group. We target a lot of women because they control so much of the wealth and are involved in the decision-making process.

Many companies are looking at alternate distribution systems, such as MetLife selling insurance at Walmart, and also new online programs. We’re trying to make sure that the resources we develop can be used by various companies regardless of what distribution system they’re using. We want to make sure our material can be used in wirehouse, bank or direct distribution, as well as by carriers and brokers.

INN: Most of our readers are independent agents and advisors. How about those folks?

MARV FELDMAN: We work very closely with NAILBA (National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies). As you’re aware, NAILBA represents probably 50 percent of the premium that’s written in the industry now.

So we’re making sure that the NAILBA members have access to our resources so they, in turn, can push that information out to the various broker groups that they have. You may have a NAILBA representative who could have 1,000, 2,000 or 3,000 agents that they will reach out to. They can take something of ours, send it out and say, “Here’s something you might be able to use with your clients.”

INN: Is it important to focus on the emotional aspect with this messaging?

MARV FELDMAN: Absolutely. We key on the emotional side because one of the things that we’ve known for years is that people make the buying decision emotionally. Then they justify the decision with the numbers and the statistics and the illustrations and all the other material that goes with it. But first you have to have the emotional buy-in. That’s what we do so well at the LIFE Foundation. So we’re not trying to deal on the other side. That’s what the companies do best. Companies don’t do well on the emotional side.

INN: Right. That’s been the province of agents for so long.

MARV FELDMAN: That’s exactly right. So our job at the LIFE Foundation is not to sell the product. Our job is to make the client aware of what the products do, so that when the agent makes the call, emotionally the client has made the decision. Then it’s up to that agent to convince the individual that it’s the right decision.

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