Avoid the five deadly lead-generation mistakes

In the past 20 years as a practicing direct marketer working in the insurance sales lead-generation arena for insurance companies, Ihave found that they make one or more of five deadly mistakes that lead to low response rates.

The first mistake: Small list circulation causes overmailing. When insurance companies find a few lists that work, they mail and re-mail to the same names, quickly wearing them out. Customers will become increasingly less responsive to the type of pitch from these groups.

Test all types of lists to keep the names fresh. Aside from response lists, also test compiled lists based on customer profiling. Don’t forget to re-mail to qualified, past respondents who did not buy. Also, remember to re-mail your multis. These are the duplicate names that are found on several of your rented lists.

The second mistake occurs when the sales force is not prepared for the calls. Provide call centers with samples before each drop and share the lead-generation strategy with your field agents as well.

Third, offers are not tested to increase response. Applicants must go through a lot of effort to apply for most insurance policies — especially if they are underwritten. So be sure to offer them an incentive as a reward for contacting the company. Most insurance companies do not present compelling enough incentives.

The fourth mistake occurs when internal lawyers take over the marketing program. In any regulated industry — which, granted, is just about everything today — make sure the lawyers are not running your marketing department. Seek to create a balance between your legal, brand and response-generation requirements to achieve better response rates.

The final mistake is when formats that are used do not generate maximum response. The format of choice for most insurance companies today is the self-mailer. What is worse, companies usually select expensive paper stocks with four-color printing that add nothing to improve response.

After hundreds of tests in this industry and others, Ihave yet to beat the classic envelope containing a letter, a response device and a product brochure with a self-mailer or oversized postcard. Give proper attention to these areas and you should be able to get better results.

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