1.15.2009

In My Mailbox: Selling Cancer Insurance


Cancer insurance is - for some reason - a tough sell. Maybe it's because people who have a major medical health insurance plan or Medicare feel they're already covered by their primary plan - so why buy an additional policy? Maybe it's because people don't like to think about getting cancer and buying an insurance policy specifically for that "dread disease" is spooky. If I knew the exact reason, I'd be able to figure out a way to overcome the sticking point and I'd be an expert in selling cancer insurance. But truth be told, I can only speak from experience in having written some cancer insurance direct mail packages over the years and have received a few in the mail. In fact, the other day, I received such a package from Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company. Here's what they sent ...

Outside Envelope: 6 x 9 with two die cut windows. The top window shows a mysterious code (the piece code from the application) and the words, "Please Reply Today!" The bottom window has my address area showing through it. The Mutual of Omaha logo and return address are in the upper left corner, and the package uses a standard PRSRT boxed indicia for postage in the upper right corner. 
No teaser copy or sales pitch on the front of the envelope. No promise or benefit. 

On the back of the envelope is big, bold copy about  "easy ways to apply" (by phone, online, or mail) and a blurb to "See how supplemental cancer insurance can pay you thousands of dollars over a lifetime! Details inside." (Ick. Who wants a lifetime of cancer? I know the headline doesn't mean that - it means over the course of your lifetime, you may develop cancer and then collect benefits through the plan - but that subhead's a little misleading, don't you think?) 

Once inside the envelope, I pull out the addressing vehicle - which is the application. Boring. No sales pitch. No teaser copy. It just says "Application For Cancer Insurance" in big, bold type at the top, and I see the monthly rates on the application ... $5.95 for individual, $11.90 for family. Ok, not too expensive. 

Where's the letter? There are three pages nested behind the application. The main letter is chock full of old-fashioned courier font type, so much so that I miss the words "Dear Cynthia" on it and think the whole thing is out of order, and I start reading a second letter. Which is ok. The second letter has a compelling message. It pushes the need for this supplemental coverage whether you have major medical insurance or Medicare. 

Back to the main letter - now that I finally have the pages in order. It gives me three reasons to apply: a stat regarding the likelihood that I will get cancer in my lifetime, the medical cost of cancer treatment being very expensive, and the fact that this cancer insurance will pay a lot of money for a small monthly premium should I have a claim. Plus, there's this really cool thing that's buried in the third point (maybe it should have been a fourth point - it seems worthy enough) ...

"Once you are approved for coverage, a donation will be made on your behalf, at no additional cost to you, to the John Wayne Cancer Foundation which helps support cancer research."
Why didn't you say so first? This is big. Major. A really cool thing. I love it!
That MIGHT make me buy this insurance. Why isn't it the big idea, the concept, more upfront, highlighted?

Well, then there's the brochure (pictured above).  Lots of "Pays for... Pays for... Pays for..." on the cover - but no dollar figures. Why? No mention of the John Wayne Cancer Foundation donation either. Again, why? I have to open the brochure to see that that plan "Pays $50.00 a day..." for this, "Pays $1,000.00 for that," and "Pays Up to $800.00..." for something else and so forth. Where I was taught to sell insurance, we'd put those dollar figures on the brochure cover. And there's plenty of room on this cover for those amounts, so I'm a little perplexed. Don't these folks want to sell this coverage? 

Further into the brochure, now the inside spread, there's still no mention of the John Wayne Cancer Foundation. And the individual and monthly rates are pre-printed, which leads me to wonder why the letter was nested behind the app. and personalized?

Onto the back cover - finally, the John Wayne Cancer Foundation is mentioned, buried in body copy. No headline pointing it out. I only see it because I am looking for it in regard to this post.

So how to know if this package does well in the market? The only way for me to find out is to wait and see if MofO sends it to me again. If I get the same package next year, I'll know it did well. For now, I'll keep this one in my files.

2 comments:

Ryan said...

I agree cancer insurance can be a tough sell. It's interesting to see your take on this package. The cancer research angle really should have been played up. I hope you'll re-post if you get it again. Thanks!

linda said...

BEFORE MY BOYFRIEND DIED HE TOLD ME HE BOUGHT INSURANCE FROM A TV ADVERTISMENT WITH JOHN WAYNE IN IT. HIS MOTHER WOULD GET ANY MONEY AND SHE COULD REALLY USE IT. SHE SAID SHE DIDN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT IT. HOW CAN SHE FIND OUT?

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