America is becoming more diverse. More than 50 million U.S. residents regularly speak languages other than English in their homes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The U.S. multicultural population in 2001 accounted for over 30 percent of U.S. residents; by 2020 this could increase to 39 percent.

Insurance companies are trying to reach these multicultural audiences, but many of them are missing the mark because they are forgetting a simple, yet critical step. They are not doing a good job in recruiting multicultural producers to represent them in the field.

Admittedly, every financial services company has a unique situation, but the following tips might be useful to bring in multicultural agents and reps to work with your organization.

o Let’s do lunch. Take the first step and reach out to the prospective producer. Having lunch can be a highly effective means of getting to know someone as well as his or her culture. It is a great way to make that initial connection and can be an ideal learning opportunity for you, as well.

o The high-tech approach. You have hundreds if not thousands of names in your producer database, but do you really know the people behind the names? By segmenting your database, you will be able to send targeted communication pieces. Often, targeting your communication is more helpful than just using a standard “saturation” campaign strategy.

Also, don’t forget about the Web. Your communication pieces will need a call to action; what better place to send prospective producers than to a well-maintained Web page that features all of the information you want to share about your organization.

o Speak the language. No, you do not need to be fluent in Spanish or Mandarin Chinese. But if you are sending out direct mail or developing an e-mail campaign to recruit multicultural producers, you need to know your audience. Do your research to find out what speaks to the people you are trying to connect with. It might even be as easy as acknowledging holidays.

Keep an open line of communication. Something as simple as a conference call can be extremely helpful. Have a dialogue with prospective producers and find out about their concerns and needs. This is not only a great learning experience for you but also an ideal time to share information with several people at once about your organization.

o Recognition and reward. Develop a recognition and reward program that is attractive to multicultural producers. Loyalty/production programs are not new to the insurance world, but they are yet another way to highlight your commitment to multicultural producers and multicultural markets.

o Admit when you need help. Hiring a multicultural marketing recruiting firm or consultant to help support your business can be an important step that you might need to take. Your investment can go a long way, as the recruiter will often have in-depth knowledge of a particular culture, which can be invaluable to recruiting new producers.

o Use a sounding board. Take the time to develop a multicultural producers advisory board. Experienced and knowledgeable board members can offer great insight and advice. They also can be a great resource for trying out and generating new recruiting tools and ideas.

o Partner with the right organizations. By partnering with a multicultural-oriented organization, you are not only showing your support to the organization, but you also are sending a message that you are dedicated to working with a community. You begin by developing trust with that community, which is invaluable to the success of your recruiting initiative.

Recruiting multicultural producers is perhaps the most important part of an effective multicultural marketing program. These producers will help you better understand and connect with the communities that you are trying so hard to serve. As the face of America changes, so must insurance companies that want to be able to serve our changing population properly.