As I read the articles regarding “marketing to women” in the April 22 issue of National Underwriter, memories of an important phase early in my selling career came to mind.
Like most agents, when I was new in the business I had a lot more time on my hands than I had prospects. As a consequence, I was like an octopus reaching out for prospects and leads in all directions.
One market that I tried was selling to women, particularly single working women. I gathered lists of nurses, teachers, women entrepreneurs and executives. I was attracted to this market because, at the time, no one else seemed to be interested in it. There were very few women agents in those days and even they did not seem to be particularly attracted to seeking out other women as prospects.
Using a company generated pre-approach letter directed toward working women, I blanketed the various mailing lists I had acquired. My strategy and the letter I used were based upon these three well-established premises:
- Women live longer than men.
- Women prefer to retire earlier than men.
- Women, as a rule, earn less than men.
All of these propositions complicate the retirement plans for working women–particularly single women. Thus the problem to be solved was easily established and my pre-approach letter offered a possible solution.
Essentially the plan involved setting aside a significant amount of money for 10 years, then letting the compounding of the accumulation build to a respectable figure, which could be used to generate income at retirement. Initially, the idea of a limited commitment of only 10 years seemed to have a lot of appeal.
The response from this direct-mail campaign was substantially higher than other programs I had tried in other markets. I also found that it was much easier to get appointments with respondents, which I believe validated the severity of the problem that women faced.
The women that I talked to were more careful buyers than men were; they asked more questions and displayed a bit more suspicion and hesitation. However, once they were ready to buy they were also a more loyal customer. I do not recall any of those policies ever lapsing and even today, over 40 years later, I still get notices of changes in policy status.