What are you doing to attract more business? Are you simply going after the same clients and getting the same results? There’s a whole population of consumers out there waiting for your services that you probably haven’t even tapped into yet, and that group is called Generation Y. They range from 15 to 28 years of age and have the money to spend and the need to spend it on your products and services. Many agents and insurance businesses forget about this market segment because they think these consumers don’t have the money or the inclination to buy insurance products. They’re dead wrong, however.

The next question then becomes, how do you market your insurance business to Generation Y? Following are four helpful hints to remember when selling anything to Generation Y.

#1: Think fast, good, and cheap
You need to understand where this group is coming from. This is a generation that has had access to almost anything. They grew up in the computer age with information at their fingertips 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. They can access information within minutes and immediately find the answers to all their questions. If they are working late on a term paper, they can pull all-nighters because the FedEx Kinkos is open 24 hours a day and the Internet never sleeps.

In other words, this generation thinks in terms of today and not tomorrow. So what offerings do you have that will show them an immediate return on their investment? With life insurance, you may want to show them a product that would only cost them about $4.75 a month. Compare the cost with something like a Starbucks latte, something they may purchase every day, and you’ll get their immediate attention and help them relate to what you’re offering.

This group also thinks quickly when processing information. Maybe you have developed an online application — good for you. Just make sure that it doesn’t take too long to fill out. Speed kills not only on the road, but also in the marketplace for Generation Y dollars. This generation demands good, cheap, and fast services from an insurance agent, and if they don’t get this, they will look elsewhere.

#2: Build a Gen Y Web site
Is your Web site Generation Y friendly? Does it spend more time talking about your history and expertise, which can turn off Gen Y consumers, or the benefits and value you offer? Does it mention your community involvement?

If you are selling something online, make sure you feature young people in your ads. If you’re trying to sell health insurance to these prospects and you show them ads full of people in their 60s and 70s, the message won’t get across. You may want to consider creating two Web sites. It won’t be that difficult. Just get a local high school or college student to help you put it together. Then, have some Generation Y consumers check it out before going live.

#3: Be truthful and respectful
Not only is this generation full of demanding consumers, but it’s also composed of some of the most educated consumers. They are among the most-marketed-to group in recent history, which means they have a pretty good sense of when they’re being bilked. They won’t respect you based on the size of your office, but rather on your openness. If you want their attention and trust, you need to show them that you respect them. Establish trust first, then tell them about your product — not the other way around. Ask questions and get to know them personally. Also, when explaining your product, take time and ask if they have any questions. It might make for a longer first appointment than usual, but you will likely be able to hold onto them longer than you would a member of any other generation.

#4: Refer a friend
Generation Y talks, so tap into their extensive social network. This generation has hundreds of online friends. They have friends on MySpace, on Facebook, at work, and at school. Offer them a program where they receive a cash incentive for every person referred. Ask for them to send a message out to all their friends. This generation is very widely connected. If you offer great service and provide great value, you will have reached a new consumer group, and they will be lining up to seek your advice and purchase your products.

Generation Y does have the money, and they’re not a new consumer group. They are only getting more powerful and influential as the years go on. The question is, are you going to start selling your services to this group? If not, then how much money will you be leaving on the table?

Eric Papp is a consultant on Generation Y marketing. He can be reached at eric@ericpapp.com.

Top 4 Products and How to Sell Them to Gen Y

Disability insurance
The best way to sell disability insurance to Generation Y is to provide the sizzle. Once you’ve gotten their attention, you need to give some examples of what could happen, because Generation Y might think they’re impervious. Don’t focus on heart attacks, but that while speeding along at 90 miles per hour, you could get into an accident. Point out that the best time to get DI is 15 minutes before the disability strikes. At a younger age, they’re insurable at the lowest cost possible. It’s win-win in a sense.

Larry Schneider, owner of Disability Insurance Resource Center

Health insurance
When it comes to selling health insurance to Generation Y, it’s important to focus on the first-dollar benefits and give relevant examples. Another good tip is to use social media, because this is where Gen Y turns for advice and information.

Mike Norderhaug, vice president of sales strategy at Assurant Health

Life insurance
The elder segment of Generation Y may have already settled into a career, gotten married, had their first child or even purchased a home, so there is a need for income protection.

However, they’re still relatively young with modest earnings, so they need affordable insurance options that provide long-term protection. In addition, this generation is used to products and services that cater to their specific needs, so product customization and flexibility are important to them. Term life products that allow for extended terms as long as 35 years may be appealing to this age group. Another term product on the market that this generation may respond well to is return of premium term, which allows the policy owners to recoup a cash value equivalent to what they have spent on premiums if they live to the end of the policy’s term.

Michael Murphy, vice president of marketing development and support for AIG American General

Long term care insurance
Generation Y is a skeptical lot, and often with good reason. Thus, a straightforward approach to providing long term care insurance information without scare tactics should take you much farther.

The Millennials, as this group is often referred, are one of the most educated generations yet, and they love to learn. Going to college is no longer reserved for the elite, it is the norm. So, my recommendation for those with clients in this marketplace is to start educating them today about long term care planning. Education is like farming — you have to plant seeds today to reap a harvest tomorrow.

Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.