New Brand On LIFE

A conversation with ‘Life Happens’ president Marv Feldman

Marking its 20th anniversary year, the LIFE Foundation in February unveiled a revamped brand and website to speak more directly to the millions of Americans who are inadequately insured, through a message they can intuitively understand. The effort includes a new, completely redesigned website, as well as a refreshed brand and logo that represent the latest chapter in the organization’s efforts to inspire the public to take personal financial responsibility through the ownership of life insurance and related products. Going forward, the organization will be known as Life Happens, a nonprofit organization.

Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, ChFC, President and CEO of ‘Life Happens’, spoke with L&HA e-newsLink managing editor Peter Kelley about how his organization has fine-tuned and updated its mission and brand; but how its most basic message has not changed at all in 20 years: your industry’s core products will restore financial wholeness to families devastated by disability or death.

PK: The Life Foundation has just turned 20. What have you learned during this time about the effectiveness of your message?

MF: That’s a very good question. It’s one that we’ve had to ask ourselves all along, and one the entire industry has had to ask as well: is our message having the impact we intended it to? When we look back, we look at both the message and our ability to effectively communicate the message. So, the message has remained clear throughout: we want to continue to educate and motivate consumers about what our products do in addition to what they are. We look to inspire the consumer to take personal financial responsibility, utilizing life insurance and all the related risk-based products.

PK: Are they getting it? How do you measure feedback?
MF: We have changed our entire outreach campaign to a completely digital format.
Our partner companies were all asking the same question: tell us how well your programs are working. On a digital platform, we can now track everything, and we can report to the companies and to the agents and tell them what worked, what didn’t work, and why. We can now measure the effectiveness of each component of our message, with the help of social media, to better quantify the whole campaign.

PK: Has your message changed in any substantive way?
MF: It has, actually, and I have to put it in perspective. Twenty years ago, the was a tremendous amount of negative media about the industry, particularly about how advisors were doing business. The LIFE Foundation was formed to expressly counter that public perception, and I believe it succeed. Today, we find ourselves in a similar situation, on the heels of the financial crisis. Here again, the industry has asked us to go back to consumers to try to rebuild confidence in the products we sell and the people who are selling them. What we have learned is that in addition to education, we have to provide access to an emotional attachment that consumers need to understand how the portfolio of risk-based products actually work: life insurance, disability, long term care… they have to understand how these products actually work.

Life Happens

PK: That initiative began with the Real Life Stories campaign, didn’t it?
MF: Yes, it did. Real Life Stories is all about insurance in action, relating stories of families that had realized a loss and how our industry is able to respond, both from the standpoint of the products as well as the agents involved. It was a way to convey precisely what the The Life Foundation was all about: educating consumers about the real value of life insurance.

When we did our research, however, we found that consumers thought that Life Happens and The Life Foundation were two separate entities. Moreover, 26% of our own industry thought so too. So, we didn’t so much re-brand as bring the brand up to date, to something that people can be more familiar with.

PK: How extensive is your social-media presence?
MF: It is now an integral part of our overall communications directive. Last year alone, we put out 1500 separate message through our social media channels, averaging 4 or 5 per day, whether through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or others. The response we’re getting, particularly to True Stories is not only immense, but it is being shared like never before and it is now measurable in a way we never could do before.

PK: On your site you provide ‘calculators’ that help consumers better grasp the concept of income need over time. How well do they understand the importance of this?
MF: We have learned that most people do not want to be over-sold. Sure, we can present a ‘human-life-value’ algorithm, which we know will effectively calculate the replacement of an income stream over time, but consumers only want what is appropriate for them, and nothing more. So they can use the calculators themselves, and they can even do it using their cellphones, and arrive at a value themselves. After that, the agent’s job becomes much easier, because the client has come to this very important step on his own.

PK: We recognize two emerging demographic segments: Women & Ethnic Groups. Do you find significant numbers in your research for these two markets.
MF: We had begun to deliberately target women more than two years ago. What our research was saying was that women, in one way or another, now have more influence in the financial decisions of the household.
On the ethnic side, we have provided a lot more information in Spanish, and hope to continue to do so going forward, although it is very expensive to translate. What we’ve done is create videos in both English and SPanish, and we’re hoping to continue this effort as well.

PK: What are some of your new initiatives?
MF: We need people to understand the overarching message, which is embodied in our new brand: Life Happens. So as we proceed, and taking into account our marketing assets: Disability Awareness Month, in May; Life Insurance Awareness month, in September; and ‘Insure Your Love’ campaign, in February; these have all become evergreen, so that the messaging can be used at any time of the year. As such, our resources, the marketing assets that we promote, can now be used according to the needs and wishes of our partners.

Visit Life Happens