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5 Ways to Use the New US Life Tables

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If you help clients with life insurance, or with longevity planning, information about how long people live shapes your world about as much as the Force shapes Luke Skywalker’s.

A life insurance policy or annuity contract is really a statistical lightsaber made up of assumptions about mortality and interest rates.

— (Related on ThinkAdvisor: Under the Hood: Life Expectancy and Financial Planning)

A team at the National Center for Health Statistics, an arm of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has just published the latest U.S. life tables. That’s a 64-page PDF full of information that’s in the public domain. It can be reproduced or copied without permission, without getting you in copyright trouble.

The NCHS life tables report even includes a statement at the end that the document is “hereby certified as an official federal document and is fully admissible as evidence in federal court.”

You might have no need for statistical information that’s admissible as evidence in federal court, but you might have a need to make rain. You might have an interest in reaching new prospects, in persuading established clients to give you more business, and in attracting referral business from other professional advisors.

If you have a fee-based business, your need to establish yourself as a thoughtful, independent-minded source of wisdom might be even more acute than if you rely mainly on commission revenue. If you have, or are building, a fee-based practice, based on the idea that you will act as a fiduciary, you can’t just get leads from a service and sell people what seems nice to sell today. You have to have your own idea about what the world is like, or at least show clients that you are knowledgeable enough to make a sensible choice about where to go for ideas about how the world is, and how the world of the future will be.

One quick, cheap and easy way to establish yourself as a thinker is to use free government statistical data.

Here are five ideas about how to do that.

Keep in mind that, before you make any effort to market yourself, even through use of a government document that’s admissible as evidence in federal court, you need to check with your own compliance advisor, and the compliance people at the financial services firms you work with, to make sure you’re dotting your compliance I’s and crossing your compliance T’s.

Video (Image: Thinkstock)

1.  Tweet.

Many agents and advisors set up Twitter feeds, then wonder what on earth they should tweet.

One simple way to use the new NCHS life tables report is to post a copy of the report on your website. Put a prominent link to your local copy of the report on your main entry page, or whatever page you’d like prospects to visit first.

Use your favorite tweet scheduling tool to set up several tweets about amazing new life expectancy facts from the life tables report. Include a link to the landing page on your site that showcases your local copy of the NCHS life tables report.

Visitors who click on the Twitter link will go your life tables. Some will simply look at the life tables report. Others might see other things on your site that interest them and click around.

2. Make pictures.

If you’re reading this, chances are that you, or someone in your office, uses a web browser, such as Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer or Opera.

Most modern browsers give you access to some kind of “app store” or “extension store” that’s full of simple free and cheap web tools. Using one to create your own simple life expectancy infographic can be as easy as making roast chicken.

  1. When you look through the NCHS life tables report for amazing life expectancy tables, make sure to save your favorite table in an easy-to-find place.

  2. Use your web browser’s app store to search for the term “infographic.”

  3. Look for an infographic app that looks as if the price is acceptable and the terms of service are acceptable. (For this purpose: Paying a fee for an app that allows commercial use and will not put a software company logo on the user’s infographics might be well worth the cost.)

  4. Install the infographic app.

  5. Feed numbers from your favorite life tables report tables into the infographic creator.

  6. Give your infographic a nice title.

  7. Post your infographic on your website entry page, along with the link to your local copy of the NCHC life tables report.

Voila! You now have a nice, new, homemade infographic on your website.

You can then promote the infographic on Twitter, Facebook and other social media feeds. You can also use the infographic in any promotional newsletters you send out through email or postal mail.

Meeting (Photo: Thinkstock)

3. Make a press release.

You can use the same NCHS life tables information that powered the tweets and the infographic to create a simple press release.

  1. Use your favorite search engine to search for the term “simple press release,” to find an example of a press release format you like. Start with that format when you do your own press release, and change whatever you want to change to fit what you’re writing.

  2. Start the text part of the release with a statement about why you think that information is important for consumers, business owners or some other group of people to know.

  3. Describe, briefly, where you got the information, and that the NCHS life tables report is. Then, give what you think are the most useful, most interesting bits of information that you’ve been tweeting.

  4. Include your contact information.

  5. Email the release to local newspapers, radio stations, TV stations, news bloggers and other media people in your area.

You could also try posting the entire press release on community message boards, if the terms of service for those message boards let you do that.

4. Make a video.

The easiest way to do this is if you already have a phone that takes video, and you’ve already been posting fun family videos YouTube, Vimeo or similar services.

  1. Go to your phone’s app store and get a simple video app that lets you add a phone voice recording to a phone video.

  2. Have someone else take a video of you doing some mildly interesting, noncontroversial activity for a few minutes. (Use yourself as the video star, so you know you won’t have trouble with the actor.)

  3. Turn your life tables press release into a video script, by adding an introduction at the start that explains why you’re doing the video and cutting out the parts in the press release that don’t seem to belong in a video.

  4. Read what you’ve written into your phone’s voice recording app.

  5. Add the recording of your narration to the video of you doing something interesting.

  6. Shorten the visual part of the video to end when your narration ends.

  7. Use the phone video app to add your contact information to the end of the video.

  8. Post your video on your favorite video hosting service, and embed the video on your website landing page.

  9. Promote your video, with a link to the website landing page, through your favorite social media and email marketing channels.

5. Give a talk.

Once you’ve used the NCHS life tables data enough to create tweets, an infographic, a press release and a video about the data, you might know enough about the data to give a short talk about it.

You could try sending a package based on that material to local groups that need speakers and see if you can get booked to talk about what trends in life expectancy mean for the people in your area.

— Read On NAIFA’s plate: tax reform, SEC rule, state retirement plans on ThinkAdvisor.


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