GE Insurance and Reader's Digest Form Alliance

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GE Long Term Care Insurance yesterday formed a marketing alliance with Reader's Digest that will give the insurance provider the ability to market its portfolio of products and plans to the more than 22 million people ages 50 and over within the Reader's Digest database. On Monday the two got the first test direct mail campaign underway with what Alan Fishbein, vice president of financial services for Reader's Digest, called a significant number of mailings.

"The number of mailings was less than a million but it was a sizeable number," he said.

As part of the agreement, GE will offer its products and services through a number of mediums including direct mail, print ads within the magazine, a co-branded Web site and "quite possibly e-mail campaigns" to portions of Reader's Digest database.

According to Carl Dombek, media relations manager for GE Long Term Care Insurance in San Rafael, CA, the main reason for GE to enter into this agreement is the ability to reach and educate a large portion of its target audience.

"There are close to 70 million aging baby boomers and people reaching the age of retirement in the U.S.," he said. "By working with Reader's Digest it provides us with a great convenience and the best way to reach and educate a large portion of that population on long term care insurance. And with both companies having a lot of credibility people will be more willing to look at our offers."

Fishbein made the point that Reader's Digest is not trying to sell insurance to its customers.

"We are licensing our name and certain portions of our database to GE in order for them to offer their products," he explained. "The benefit for us is that we can bring a product and service that we feel has some significance to the attention of our customers."

He went on to say "no one would receive the piece if they ever told us they did not want us to send them anything."

For now, marketing efforts will focus on the 50 and over demographic, but both Dombek and Fishbein said reaching out to a younger portion of the database is definitely within the realm of possibility.

"There are a number of people that buy long term care before they reach the age of 50," Dombek said. "So we would definitely not turn away from reaching out to them."

"Long term care insurance is a complicated sale," Fishbein said. "Because of that we felt it was best to start with an audience that would be most receptive to learning about it. But we will eventually be testing into other segments of the database."

Because it is "a complicated sale," Fishbein said the marketing is going to be a two-step process and those responding will not be making a purchase but an inquiry or"voicing an interest."

Respondents to any of the eventual offers will be doing so directly to GE, and will speak with an insurance sales agent. Dombek said those agents will not sell anything other than long term care insurance.

While GE will do most of the design and creative of the pieces, Reader's Digest will work closely with it to determine the timing of the drops and what the best way to introduce it to its database will be.

Other forms of marketing are expected to get underway in late April or early May.

This marks the first time GE Long Term Care Insurance has formed this type of deal with a publication, but according to Dombek, it currently has agreements with more than 200 other organizations that exclusively endorse it as their chosen long term care insurance provider.

Reader's Digest, Pleasantville, NY, currently has similar agreements with five companies in the U.S. and a few overseas.


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