Don’t Emulate How the Big Auto Insurers Sell

By | March 9, 2009

Market Auto Discounts Differently

It’s pretty safe to say that money isn’t everything. Your health, happiness and, of course, golf are all more important. A lot more important, right? Well, maybe not if you glance at the pile of auto insurance direct mail promos that have accumulated in the far corner of my office over the past year or two.

Here are actual excerpts from the mailings of seven different insurers. Who they are isn’t important. The message that they send to drivers is:

  • Save up to $523
  • Average annual savings: $338
  • Average premium savings: $286.18
  • [Average] annual savings of more than $500
  • [Drivers] save an average of $409

Striking Similarities

According to these eerily similar marketing pieces, saving money is virtually everyone’s buying trigger. Most of the mailings tout oddball dollar figures. One includes pennies, while one goes for the big rounded number. If you get all of these messages in your mailbox (as I did) you can’t help but be confused. Who do you believe? Now, this isn’t to say that the cited dollar amounts aren’t credible. If there’s one thing that insurance companies are amazing at, it’s running numbers. Each of these insurers probably has an actuarial department that’s bigger than a small town. So, believability isn’t the issue. Rather, it’s that each carrier’s savings claim tends to cancel out the others, leaving recipients with a stack of mailers as well as questions.

More to Come

The odds are excellent that in this economy we’ll see more of these types of promos from the big auto insurers, as long as they continue to attract new sales. So, as a local or regional agency, how can you compete against such leviathans? The answer lies in doing something different rather than trying to emulate them. And yes, saving money is important, more important than it has been in decades, but there’s more than one way to deliver this message.

Discount Checklists

One alternative is to dazzle prospects with the variety of discounts that your agency offers. Many drivers don’t realize that they can reduce their policy premiums through certain actions and forbearances, other than the obvious ones of no accidents or tickets. So, hook these auto insurance shoppers by distributing a promotional checklist that itemizes the many credits that are available through your office. List both the automatic policy credits (anti-lock brakes, age of operator, etc.) and action-based credits (defensive driver courses, multi-policy, pay in advance, etc.). Encourage drivers to check off each policy discount to which they believe they are entitled. Conclude the form with a call-to-action that invites prospects to phone or e-mail your agency to go over the discounts in detail. Permit shoppers to contact a specific person at your agency for this service, instead of requiring them to call your main number or e-mail a generic address. An auto quote naturally ensues.

Checklist Promotions

Distribute printed editions of the checklist as an insert in your local shopping news, suburban weekly, and other area publications. Also send it out as a direct mailer with an encouraging cover memo. The document may further be distributed as a Web form for prospects to complete online or posted as a PDF. These, you can instantly promote through permission e-mails, banner ads, blogs, Web 2.0 communities, etc.

Educate and Entice

Interested and informed prospects may be sold and retained without resorting to specific dollar savings, as statistically accurate as they may be. That’s because if you can’t actually achieve that level of savings for the individual prospect at your desk, credibility does become a factor and the sale is tougher to close. Discount checklists deliver a serious savings message, without all of the drama. And if you are concerned about current insureds seeing your list and bugging you with discount queries, be glad that they do. Make them feel welcome. Their call gives you a chance to retain their business and to bond with them during these universally tough times.

About Alan L. Shulman

Alan Shulman, CPCU, is the publisher of Agency Ideas® sales and marketing newsletter (free basic subscription at He is also the author of “500 Sales Ideas for Commercial Lines Producers” among many other P&C sales resources. Email: Website: More from Alan L. Shulman

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Insurance Journal West March 9, 2009
March 9, 2009
Insurance Journal West Magazine

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