3 Ways To Use Postcards

Typical advertising mail

Image via Wikipedia

In the last few years much has been said and written about “Social Media Marketing.”  I agree, it can be very effective and efficient if done correctly.   I do disagree with those people who say that online marketing is better than traditional marketing.

To me, they are different but equal.  Neither is more important than the other.  People still need to see your name associated, in a positive way, with your product at least 8 times.   Friends and family buy from you because they love you.  It takes something different to sell to a total stranger.

Recent numbers say that there are just a little over 56 million subscribers to the largest social media platform, Facebook.   That is a huge number of prospects but remember, we live in a nation with a population of over 300 million souls.  That is roughly 1 in 6 people on Facebook.   The others have to be contacted some other way.

Also, I encourage you to look at the number of Facebook friends you have.  The average person has fewer than 200 yet every author and guru I have ever read or heard says it takes 2000-5000 people to form a market.

Until you have that many Facebook relationships, you are probably better off supplementing your online presence with a little old fashioned, non-computer marketing.

There are several ways for you to build your own personal brand off line.  This article only talks about 1.

To me, 4 x 6 postcards can be very flexible and used in at least 3 ways.

Direct Mail

A 4 x 6 postcard is the least expensive thing that you can mail with first class postage.  Currently at $0.28 the cost to mail 1000 of them is only $280.

Even more importantly, there is no envelope that has to be opened.  If you have done a good job designing your post card, whether or not recipients want to see your name associated with insurance is immaterial.  Even if they transfer their mail directly from the mail box to the trash container, your message has been implanted on their brains.

Just remember, the key to good marketing is repetition.   They have to see or hear your name or logo associated with the type of insurance they need a minimum of 8 times.  Then, and only then, will they think of you the next time they are in the market for your services.

Typically, when I have a database of around 1000 names and addresses I mail one postcard a month to the same database during the months of March – October.  It tends to keep me busy during the months of the year that I focus on.

Generally, I focus mainly on Medicare supplements during the Open Enrollment for Medicare in November and December and traditionally have found that from January to April my target market is focused more on tax returns than health insurance.  I use other marketing methods during the first quarter of the year.

Door Hangers

I left the world of captive agency to become independent during my youngest son’s senior year of high school.  That year my wife was able to secure a data input job for him with her employer since he was allowed to leave school early.  I drove her to her office in the mornings and she rode home with him in the truck that I had given her but she lent to him to get to school and work.  Since she had to be at work by 8:30 AM I would get back to my side of town around 9:00 AM (Houston is big and we lived in the suburbs.)

Like many agents, from my generation, I would stop by McDonalds to get breakfast and then spend 45 minutes to an hour placing marketing materials in residential areas.

Each week I would target a neighborhood and walk through it placing a postcard or brochure on each garage door handle of front door handle.  The postcards or brochures had my contact information on them.  If the resident was interested in what I had to offer, it was up to them to call.

Before you attempt this technique, make certain you do your homework.  Some neighborhoods have signs posted that forbid the distribution of flyers and marketing materials.  If the neighborhood forbids you from marketing in it, don’t be discouraged.  Just find another neighborhood you can work.

Hanging door hangers has not proved as efficient as mailing postcards for me but it does have other benefits.  At the top of the list is exercise. By walking through a neighborhood distributing 50-100 pieces a day you are able to get some marketing done along with the aerobic exercise you do not get sitting in your office.

If the rule of repetition is correct, it would not hurt you to target the same neighborhood to walk through as the one you mail to.  If you do, your door hangers and direct mail marketing pieces will support each other.

Remember, your goal is to cause your prospects to associate you with your products at least 8 times during one year.  The combination of door hanging and direct mailing will give you 2 points of contact in the same month.

Making Rounds

Although I am positive it has another, more technical name there is a practice that I have used that I refer to as “Making Rounds.”  My experience tells me most P&C insurance agents do not want to fiddle with health insurance.  It is a totally different discipline than they participate in every day.  It’s bad enough that many of their companies are trying to force P&C agents to sell life insurance. 

Unfortunately, because their competition attempts to cross-sell health insurance with auto and home insurance, many agents feel they must do so, just to keep up.

Each month I try to schedule a day to go by a warehouse store, like Sam’s, buy a box of large cookies, attach a post card to them and take them by the P&C agents in my neighborhood.

I am not looking for them as clients.  I know full well that they probably have the same licenses I do.  Rather, I am looking for referrals from them.

I know that the odds are they do not want to fiddle with any health insurance or are not up to date on the recent changes.  I also know, which agent’s companies do not allow them to deal with health insurance and which agent’s are allowed to deal with health insurance on the side.

My goal in “Making Rounds” is to set myself up as a resource for insurance agents to refer clients to knowing that I will not bother the auto and home insurance they have with the refering agent.

By using the postcard in the same way I would a business card and attaching that to something the agent would not normally buy for him/herself, I hope to be memorable.  The repition of going to the same offices regularly helps fulfill the need for repetition in marketing.

I realize that the idea of propecting in your competitor’s office is anathema to most agents but there are probably businesses in your community that you can think of some sort of tie in with.  By asking, repeatedly for referrals rather than prospecting for their personal business you may feel more comfortable.

Now that we are in the last quarter of 2010 you are probably making plans for 2011.  I know I am.  I have already finished my re-certification for Medicare D for 2011.  The open enrollment does not start until November 15.  Sometime in the next 2 weeks I will probably create and order 10-12,000 postcards for 2011.  That will give me enough to mail 1000 a month for 8 months next year with 2-4000 left over for door hanging/canvassing nest spring when the weather is nice enough to get out and walk.

If I buy a full year’s supply at one time, I will get a bulk rate from the printer.

If your goal is to build your personal brand, you may wish to consider a customized post card.  Just consult your states advertising rules first.  Most states will allow you to distribute advertising material as long as you do not mention any companies or products by name.  My post cards typically have the photo of a barn that I use for my logo, my web site address, www.theinsurancebarn, my tag line, “When You Think of Health Insurance, Think of Me,” and my phone number.

If you want to promote a specific product or company, use a brochure or post card that is approved by their legal department.  If you want to customize it so that people associate it with you, staple a business card to it or get permission to have your name and contact information placed on the piece before you distribute it.

The dance instructor in the office next to yours may be allowed to use coupons and many other marketing techniques but with insurance our marketing hands are often tied.  We are only able to use approved marketing techniques.

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About The Insurance Barn

Husband of 1, father of 2, health insurance agent and insurance trainer.
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