Mike Schafer shares his vision of Give Your Kid a Million. With nearly three decades of experience in the insurance and financial services industries, Schafer’s observed the changes, challenges and opportunities that face agents. He shares his thoughts on his company and why he believes the Give Your Kid a Million model is right for agency owners.
What is Give Your Kid a Million?
We are a B2B2C company. We offer a turnkey marketing platform that helps independent property and casualty insurance agencies sell life insurance to the middle market consumer.
What is the significance of the name?
Give Your Kid a Million is a creative hook. The life insurance narrative has historically been centered around the quality of the insurance company, product type, or price. As an industry, we haven’t talked enough about the benefits.
For the middle market consumer, life insurance is about taking care of the people who depend on them for financial support. What do they do if they haven’t accumulated what’s needed but they don’t walk in the door tonight? Life insurance can provide for their loved ones in that worst case scenario. That’s the benefit for our agency partners’ target audience. That’s what we need to be talking about. We know it can be used for estate planning, business continuation, college savings and other purposes, but we’re going after the middle market, where income replacement is the primary benefit. Give Your Kid a Million ties the benefit of the product to the name, and it gets the conversation started.
What’s beyond the creative hook?
Having a creative hook is one thing. Having the tools necessary to reach the middle market is another thing. What’s beyond the creative hook is the heart of our business.
Our business model provides the tools necessary to make marketing easier for independent P&C agents. Years ago, when I started, you could literally call people out of the phone book and write life insurance. Everything is digital now.
Websites, email marketing, social media, search engine optimization - that takes a little bit more expertise and time. While Give Your Kid a Million is a creative hook, and it gets the conversation started for our agents, the real value to our clients is that we provide automated marketing tools in a turnkey format, and we also provide creative content so our independent agency partners can reach their customers and prospects more often, and more easily.
Why are life insurance sales, overall, decreasing?
I believe one key reason is actually technology. Or more specifically, technology applied in an incorrect way as it relates to selling life insurance. When you remove a local agent from the life insurance sales process, you remove the sale. Technology as applied to current sales processes over the past 15 years has effectively done that. As an industry, we didn’t see that coming 15 years ago; in fact, we thought technology, for example, the Internet was going to increase life insurance sales.
Another example on the sales side, is that technology as old and as outdated as Caller ID, has had a far more negative impact on life insurance sales than mass adoption of the Internet has had a positive impact for the local agent.
Our belief is that technology should be used to enable, not replace, the local agent, and our platform does just that.
What’s on the mind of your clients?
In the areas where we can help, every agency principal is concerned about competition, increasing their cross-sell ratio, and retention as it relates to growth. Those three things are related. Our platform helps them in all three areas.
What about cross-selling?
Cross-selling to your existing customer base typically has a lower acquisition cost while at the same time increasing retention, making it a compelling strategy. What we know anecdotally, however, is that it’s a challenge to get clients to perceive their P&C agents as life insurance agents. All companies, regardless of the distribution model, have struggled to find a way to overcome this challenge.
Give Your Kid a Million is what we call a marketing cooperative. It’s a brand partnership that is separate from the the independent agency brand. We believe that separation is a key tool in overcoming the perception of the auto, home and business insurance agent versus auto, home, business and life agent.
What are your thoughts about retention?
Increasing retention is closely related to customer engagement. Customer engagement spans marketing, sales, customer service and claims handling. Our platform is designed to help agencies engage their customers, not only through the sales and marketing cycle, but during key points in the customer relationship, like when there is a claim. What really can make a difference for them is that everything is automated.
Are independents struggling to sell life insurance?
Yes and no. They do sell life, and they always want to sell more life, but their core business is auto, home and commercial insurance. Our platform, with our lead generation component, helps them sell life to new prospects and then cross-market auto and home to those new prospects.
For too many agents, customers who buy auto and home are not buying life -- primarily because they don’t view their agents in the life business. Our platform and our brand can help change that dynamic. Agents can now reach out to their existing base, as well as new prospects, with fully developed and very professional creative materials that will get them the results they want.
Where’s Give Your Kid a Million headed in the future?
We plan to have 5,000 high quality insurance agencies located throughout the United States using our platform within the next 5 years.
Mike Schafer is founder of Give Your Kid a Million. He has spent three decades in the financial and insurance industry and resides in Chicago, IL with his two children.