Today's article today because you are looking for some basic information on direct mail final expense leads, and to get a basic direct mail final expense 101 education on all things related to direct mail final expense leads.
More specifically, what you're going to find in this article is a lot of information on what exactly direct mail final expense leads are, some basic differences in the types of leads, why we use them, and then some recommendations on vendors that you can use whether you're an agent of mine or not to employ the direct mail business that I definitely endorse.
I'll make one more note before we begin and start zipping through the information. There will be some links throughout this article that will give a more detailed, thorough and advanced job of explaining some of the concepts that need more details.
If you're advanced in this business and you know direct mail final expense leads basics to an extent, but you're looking for some more information, scroll down to find those links. You'll find that as you go through it, you'll begin to get more information about direct mail final expense leads, and some more specific answers to some of the questions you may have.
Keep in mind. If you are looking for a full primer on all-things final expense leads, make sure you check out my ultimate final expense leads review for information on free final expense leads and final expense telemarketing leads.
Here's the overview of what I will be covering regarding direct mail final expense leads. First, I will give you the basics on direct mail final expense leads. You'll learn why they work so damn well! Next, you'll learn the best practices for working direct mail final expense leads, as well as optimal areas to generate a better quality lead.
Then I'm going to tell you how I approach direct mail final expense leads with my agents. Whether you are an agent or not under my hierarchy in Final Expense Agent Mentor, I'm going to share with you what I would do if I get a brand new agent in my agency and how I get him going with direct mail final expense leads from the beginning. Lastly, I'm going to end with some action steps you can take right now at the very end of this seminar to get started on a direct mail final expense leads program.
Direct Mail Final Expense Leads - What Are They And Why Are They So Good?
What exactly are direct mail final expense leads? Whenever I say direct mail final expense leads (and I'm assuming you're new if you're reading this), what I'm referring to is what's called business reply card mailers.
If you can picture a post card you pick up on vacation and send it back to somebody you love and you say 'Hey, I'm down here in Hawaii," that's not what I'm talking about. I may refer to post cards or direct mail, and when I say that, what I am referring to is a mailer piece that goes out to our intended recipient, and if interested, detach the bottom portion of the mailer, fill it out (postage paid, of course) and then returns it back to the mail house and then we get those returns scanned to us via email. Some cases mailed to us as a hard copy, to go physically see these people in person, unannounced, to get an appointment on the spot or to call over the phone in advance to set up an appointment.
This is a bread and butter typical direct mail final expense leads program, and whenever you hear other agents mention direct mail final expense leads, 99.9% of the time this kind of lead is what they're referring to. There are different methods, which we'll get into more specifics later on, to actually generate direct mail final expense leads.
The old fashioned way is to do what's called a pay-per-thousand rate. You call up a mail house (I'm going to give you some vendor references at the very end of this article), you order a thousand pieces, it usually runs $400-$450, and then whatever you get back is what you get back.
There's a huge problem nowadays sin the final expense field where the old fashioned method is not a good idea, which relates to the second option. This is something that I have all of my agents do, with the exception of a few areas in the country. I work with a vendor that gives us a price guarantee on our leads. The great thing about that is your price point is guaranteed. You know what to expect, and you don't have to worry about paying more than the pre-set price point.
This is very important, especially in very heavily saturated final expense markets. If you don't do this, you usually pay out the nose for your leads and it's really a pain. Again, it depends where you are in the country and we'll get into that a little bit further on.
Why do direct mail leads work so well? There are several reasons. First of all, one of the reasons is direct mail doesn't have a 'do no mail' list.... yet. Who knows, you put enough of these socialists in power, who knows what'll happen, we won't be able to sell to anybody!
As of right now in 2016, there is no 'do not mail' list. Anybody that we have information on within the typical ranges for leads gets mailed without government interference. There's no opt-outs or anything like that like there is with the telemarketing rules, which only allow you to market 25% of the total population.
You're going to find your ability to concentrate your marketing efforts, even in smaller towns, is much better than just using telemarketed leads. If I can drop ten thousand mailers in a county, I'm probably going to get back 100-150 leads. However, if I telemarket to those people, I may only have access to two thousand (20% of ten is two thousand) and I may only get 5 leads or 15-20 leads. Which is a fraction of the lead response that I would get if I was getting direct mail final expense leads.
You can find out more about more about final expense mailers, and why it's important to outsource your lead generation activity to a competent mail house in my article here.
The More Engagement Level, The More Quality You Will See
The engagement level with direct mail final expense leads is much higher than other leads. You see, with direct mail final expense leads you have to picture how people receive the lead. Imagine Mildred for a second. She's 70. She's walking out to the mailbox, sees this card, and sees something that sparks her interest.
She sits down at the table, starts to read through the card, reads through it, thinks about it, thinks about maybe, "I've been thinking about buying more life insurance, maybe this is the time, maybe this is the moment where I take the next step towards really seriously buying something." Mildred puts it down, goes and does something else. She comes back to it, reads through it, has her husband to look at it. He looks at it and says, "Yeah, that looks good. Go ahead and fill it out and send it back." So she fills it out, walks it back out to the mailbox (it's the next day or the day after) and then it's gone.
What's happened here is the level of engagement that's not forced by a telemarketer. That's because of the interest is measurably better as a percentage of the total leads sent out due to how the lead was acquired. That means they remember it better. So when you show up, they know what you're talking about. When you call them, they know what you're talking about more often than not. And many more times the closing ratios are a lot higher for direct mail final expense leads for that very reason. I think the engagement level factor is the biggest reason why direct mail is much better on consistency and quality than pretty much every other lead.
Direct Mail Final Expense Leads Are The First Choice Among Top-Producing Final Expense Agents
This leads to my next point. Virtually all top producing agents use direct mail final expense leads as their primary source of leads. This is important to understand. Brian Tracy said that success leaves clues, and the bottom 10% who got smart simply asked the top 10% what they could do to get to the top 10%.
There's nobody reinventing the wheel in the final expense business, I promise you! They may make it sound like they are, but they're not. What they're doing is a duplicatable process based off of purchased leads and hard work and access to multiple carriers. While that's my operating philosophy of success here at Final Expense Agent Mentor, other good agencies out there follow the same approach, too. And the system itself is simple. It's easy to duplicate with the right person and the right approach to generating direct mail final expense leads.
If you look to find out what the top 10% are doing in final expense, they're all doing this very approach. They're doing exactly what I'm talking about, and that must mean there's something to it.
Final Expense Direct Mailer Leads Give You Leverage When Door Knocking Unannounced
When you door knock with direct mail final expense leads, you get leverage since you can show the lead what they sent back. In essence, I tell my agents that the lead is the one actually doing the soliciting! These people know what they're doing with these cards. Don't listen to them say, "Oh, I forgot, I don't know what this is about." They know exactly what happens when they fill a card out and send it back.
They're 70 years old, they're 60 sixty years old. They've lived such a long life and have gotten so many solicitations. Don't even attempt to tell me that they're going to say, "Oh, I thought this was free," or, "I didn't know you'd come out." That's B.S. The point is you get to show them and say, "Hey look-- I'm here because you sent this in and I need five minutes to show you what you requested." So I'm a little blunt in the article here, I'm much nicer when I'm in front of a prospect, of course. But the point remains you have a physical piece of proof that they requested you to give them the information.
The Best Methods To Work Direct Mail Final Expense Leads Explained
What are the best practices of working direct mail leads? You've got to make it your goal every single week to see every single direct mail lead within the first 7 days of getting leads. The reason is that the most successful producers do whatever it takes to get in front of these leads, to find out if they're going to buy or not. And every single day that passes that you don't make a sale to those leads, some other guy who's doing what we do has a chance to shoe in on you and make the sale out from under your feet.
In this marketplace with the competition becoming heavier and more concentrated, time is of the essence. You have got to get out there and have got to work to see these people. The best practices are making sure that it's done as quickly as possible.
If you're new, my recommendation is to only door knock leads for maximal return on your investment. Phoning, or setting appointments over the phone, is a completely different skill set. You don't have body language. You don't have a hand shake or eye contact. You don't have the things that make the human communication experience fuller and richer when using the phone. It takes time to develop phoning capabilities, and as a rule I really prefer my agents to take their leads to door knock them. The more door knocks you're going to do, the more return on your investment you're going to see, relative to other lead types.
Bottom line: my recommendation for you is to see the people face-to-face. It's easier for someone to slam the phone down on you than it is to slam the door in your face. So the outcome is a lot more appointments and a lot more sales taking your direct mail final expense leads and door knocking them, rather than you would see if you just phoned.
If you have phoning experience, there's nothing unique about calling on leads than it is from any other business-to-business or business-to-consumer market. If you're good at it, make sure you still door knock between appointments because not everybody picks the phone up these days. And that's a serious, growing issue with the heavy screening of phone calls. Make sure when you door knock that you print off a copy of each direct mail final expense lead that you ordered. This way, you can show these people that you're here because they sent the card back.
Lastly, keep all your leads you happen not to get in contact with because the shelf life of direct mail leads tends to be a heck of a lot better than what we see with telemarketing leads. I have routinely sold leads that are 6-12 months old, and I know agents that do the same thing. You always keep those old leads filed away. Keep an Excel file to call on them. Keep them in a paper file. But don't throw them away.
Always take them back out when you're working in a specific county or zip code. Many times, nobody saw them and so if you're the first one there you'll get the sale.
Picking The Best Areas To Target Your Direct Mail Final Expense Leads Campaign
My opinions have changed as my experience levels have grown regarding targeting specific markets for final expense. I've gone back and forth the last five years, and it's just now that I've seen different marketplaces and different agents working different situations.
I can tell you with certainty that what I'm about to tell you is the case and the best practices for generating direct mail final expense leads. First of all, if you can picture a low income area, maybe an older neighborhood, single story brick homes, single wides, double wides, out in the country. Or picture subsidized housing. These are places where there are low income areas, and they are very high opportunity areas to sell final expense. The reason is because people who buy final expense don't make a lot of money and don't have a lot of savings. So we need to target the higher opportunity areas that make sense to the kind of people that we're going to sell to.
To further define what I mean by low income areas, for example, poor working class communities, rust belt communities, inner city communities, small-town America. If you go out an 1-1 1/2 hours from where you live, they may have one or two traffic lights, that's perfect! Rural areas are also great to target into for final expense leads. Anywhere where there's a general lower income economic scale is excellent.
This is really the only thing that I say do not do - do not target middle and high income areas and try to stay out of 'bedroom communities'. For example, I live in Chattanooga and for the most part there's two specific communities that are very wealthy. There's obviously pockets of poor, but if you drop mail there, the income filters really segment out a lot of the wealthier people but it's not perfect. A lot of people report a $0 income to the government but they're dirt rich or millionaires but not on income statement.
If you drop mail in these two communities in Chattanooga, you're going to get some people who send cards back. But when you get there, you're just going to shrug your shoulders and smack yourself in the face because you're sitting in a $300K or $500K home where they've got retirements, pensions, Medicare supplements and the last thing they really even care about buying is burial insurance.
I know you'll ask, "Well, why would they send the direct mail final expense leads back?" They do because they just do, and I want to stay away from that. So the high income areas I stay away from. The 'bedroom communities' would be more of a white collar outside suburbia-type area. Those, in my experience, are not very good. I've had hit or misses there from personal experience. I can think of two areas between Chattanooga and another town I worked in. Same kind of concept, probably would be perfect for a Medicare supplemental type of sale, but not for final expense.
Where There Are Poor People, There Is A Great Opportunity To Sell Final Expense Life Insurance
You need to stick with the poor people and poor communities because those are the people who need what we sell. The other ones may be interested, but they don't have the urgency once you show them the price.
I prefer to order direct mail final expense leads about an hour outside of big cities. What I have found is that an hour outside of a big city is just right. Again, Chattanooga's not huge, but it's not small. An hour outside of Chattanooga, I've got great access to rural areas, small towns. People get nicer and aren't mailed as often. I sold better and I personally enjoyed it better. I wish I had done it a lot sooner.
Yeah, it's a pain to drive that far, but my experience dictates a better overall quality and one of the secrets is when I recruit agents I say, "Look, we're sending you out into the country because the country is, bar none, much better, quality-wise, than usually what you'll find in a metro-type of environment, as far as the enjoy-ability factor and more consistency."
Lastly, most vendors will allow you to exclude zip codes if you don't want to target certain areas. Again, if you're familiar with an area you live in, but you don't want to work in 'X' area because the income is too high, or you don't want to work 'Y' area because people get shot there every other day, I totally get it. Vendors, including the one we work with at Final Expense Agent Mentor, will allow you to exclude areas.
Let me give you an example of Crossville, Tennessee. It's a very interesting town located half-way between Knoxville and Nashville in a county called Cumberland County. It's really interesting because there are two huge retirement communities. A lot of people from the northeast, rust belt areas that worked for the car manufacturers. They all retired here and they all show an income of $0-$50K, but when you get there, they're set financially. They've got their investments done and they're more of a financial planner-type of lead. Or maybe annuities or some other exotic products. But final expense prospecting is just stupid. It doesn't make any sense for this particular type of market.
I remember working up there and running 15 or 16 appointments in a row and everybody saw me, which is unusual (usually you get some no-shows), but nobody was interested and it was really disheartening and frustrating and I vowed never again to go back up there. But it was interesting because if you looked on the map at the zip codes and excluded them, everywhere else in the county was normal like rural Tennessee. I did fine in those areas. But when I got into those zip codes, of course I got tons of final expense direct mail leads back from them, they were complete garbage.
The moral of the story here is that part of this process is a betting process when you buy your final expense leads. You're not always going to know which areas work best and which aren't good. But once you do know it, you want to make sure you start tweaking your campaign to stay out of the lower opportunity areas like middle class retirement areas and high income communities.
How I Recommend New Agents To Final Expense Direct Mailers Get Started
How does Final Expense Agent Mentor recommend you buy and work direct mail final expense leads? This is priceless information here. If you live in historically low response areas, you should always buy fixed price direct mail final expense leads. Here's why: final expense, as I mentioned earlier, is becoming more saturated with an ever-increasing amount of agents entering. That doesn't mean that's it's more competitive, per say, and that might not make sense. A lot of the times the first person to show up buys, they're not shopping around and it's not a price war between you and the competition.
But what happens is everybody and their mother is sending off some form of direct mail post card or direct mail business reply card mailer. So everybody uses similar leads and when our recipients are swamped and whereas 20 years ago they only got 2 a month, now they get 8 a month (seriously, it's that high), the chances are lower that they're actually going to send the card back that you sent in. What happens is low response is inverse to high price, not because the leads are particularly better, it's just that that's how it turns out.
If you don't go fixed price in the high concentrations of final expense areas, you're going to pay big bucks for your leads. I've got a video linked here with a YouTube description or article transcription of my one dumb mistake that cost me $12K in commission because I attempted to trial a per thousand mailer to see if it was any good.
Bottom line: you want to start with 15-20 leads a week. Again, if you're an agent of mine, you're going to be door knocking those leads. If you've got experience phoning, go ahead and phone, but I want you to door knock the leads because you're just going to get better results that way.
If you have a problem or just can't set appointments (if you've got a full-time job and you're starting final expense part-time or if you just hate calling, like I did) hire my appointment-setter. I partner with an appointment setting group, and this is the one thing that's exclusive to my agency. I've got a very skilled group of callers that are excellent at final expense appointment setting and for a fee they'll be happy to help you.
My preference is to use a direct mail final expense lead that says 'life insurance' somewhere on the card. I'll provide a link about which mailers are the best to use, but the point is that there are some variations on what a card can say because of the saturation effect I mentioned earlier. Many of them are now offering bribes, like Walmart cards; there's one lead that says that you can cash a $5 check if you deposit the lead into your bank account (it's literally a check). There's another lead that doesn't say anything about life insurance of final expense on it.
There's a 'vanilla-ization' of direct mail final expense leads in order to increase response rates, but there is an effect to that and you've got to be very careful. All else equal, 'life insurance' listed on the card generally does a better job getting people who want to buy life insurance. New agents should definitely use a card that says 'life insurance' and then once you get comfortable with the process and you see results, get dialed into a lead program, unless you're completely happy with the income you're making off of 15-20 leads (some people are) I push my agents out of their comfort zone to do 30-40 leads a week. Check out my article on final expense insurance leads direct mail for more information on my perspective as to which lead type is best to use.
If you want an income of $150K or more, you're going to to have to work around 30-40 leads a week. It's not a 6-day week by any stretch, especially if you're using an appointment-setter. You should be able to do all that in 4 days flat. Bottom line: the goal is to scale up, once comfortable, into an income range and production range that meets your income goals.
Speaking again of the high concentration areas, the best response areas tend to be the pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, Idaho), the northern Midwest like Kansas and north, as well as Michigan and parts of the Northeast (especially as you get into Boston, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine). Those are all higher response areas. In those cases, if you live in that area and you're my agent, I'm going to tell you to work with one of the vendors I talk about shortly. There's no reason to go fixed price because at the end of the day you're going to miss and still get the same advantages of leads on our fixed price program.
A Consistent Direct Mail Final Expense Leads Program Leads To A Consistent Level Of Production
The key behind buying final expense direct mail is a consistent standing order of leads each and every week. This is something I try to impress upon all my agents. Buying an order here, buying an order there isn't going to cut it in the long-run.
You have to burn the bridges. If you really want to see success in this business, if you really want a 6-figure income, you have got to produce a consistent, steady flow of leads and you've got to be willing to pay for a consistent, steady source of leads.
All of my agents that write $15K-$20K/month all have a consistent source of direct mail final expense leads through me. They're buying every week like clockwork and so should you as a new agent. Like I said earlier, we do the fixed price mailers. If you don't live in one of those states mentioned earlier, you're going to probably want a fixed price mailer. I have an excellent vendor and a great relationship with them. They're exclusive to us and are not available freely to an individual agent in most circumstances. They do a great job, and they do it consistently well. They're the kind of people I like to work with.
Direct Mail Final Expense Vendor Recommendations
How should you get started with direct mail leads and what are some vendor recommendations? If you like direct mail and you like what you see, pick a vendor. The Lead Connections is a great place to start. Chris Etheridge is the guy who runs it and he is service oriented. You do pay a premium for his mailers. But in exchange, you're going to deal with a very reputable and honest person who does the job.
I highly recommend Chris and truth be told, if there was a way to get fixed price from Chris, I would do all my business with him even if I had to pay a buck or two more because their service level is absolutely great. I definitely recommend The Lead Connections, go to that website and tell them Dave Duford referred you (I don't make any money of these, but it's just my of saying 'thanks' to them for helping me out).
JenMarco is another one and they are the low price leader for mail. I haven't had any service problems with them. I did the 'Dumb Mistake' video, I used JenMarco. They did a good job and I didn't see any problems with them, the response rates just suck but they can't control that. They're $400 per thousand. So if you're in one of the high response areas, one of these two vendors will work fine for you.
One thing to do in the meantime, as it takes 4-5 weeks to get your direct mail final expense leads, and you don't want to sit around and do nothing, you can easily buy telemarketed leads or aged direct mail leads in the interim just to keep you busy and to keep you busy doing something. Test the water on cheaper leads before you feel like you might blow a fresh lead, even though that really doesn't happen. The whole idea is to get you going to do something while you wait on leads to come in.
Concluding Thoughts On The Importance Of Using Direct Mailers To Sell Final Expense
Lastly, the biggest thing here is to stay consistent with your orders for direct mail final expense leads. If you're not consistent, your results are not consistent. The best thing I can tell you is to be prepared to buy leads weekly. Don't even get involved in this business if you just want to dibble dabble a little bit because I can promise you you're going to fail out and you're going to think, "This business sucks." The truth is you didn't give it the ample amount of attention to set it up the right way.
If you're going to do this, whether it's through me or through somebody else or on your own, buy leads consistently. Have a standing order of how many you want, set it, forget it and depend upon yourself to go out there and find the business between the leads to make sure you're paying for your direct mail final expense leads.
That concludes this article on direct mail final expense leads. I hope you enjoyed and I also hope that you find the links that I've provided on more explanation of different variables of final expense direct mail useful for you.