Top 5 tools to boost your long-term care insurance sales

By Stephen D. Forman (LTCA)

Long Term Care Associates, Inc.

If you're an optimist like me, then you believe this is going to be a banner year for the long-term care industry. It looks like we're trending on the gains we made last year, in which the top five carriers posted a combined growth of 25 percent new business sales year-over-year. (Not everyone fared so well, but I've written before about how our industry is undergoing a natural process of contraction and thinning, just as 200 other markets have.)

See also: The current state of the LTCI industry: Three is the magic number

Still, how the market outside your doorstep fares is of marginal concern: You want to know how to improve your own bottom line. Allow me to share with you five reasons why this is going to be your best year yet for helping Americans plan smartly for their retirement:

1. The demographics: Sometimes we get lost in statistics. Hearing about the 10,000 baby boomers who turn 65 every day, or the 78 million who comprise the age wave can be overwhelming. You can't visit more than one family at a time, so let's choose more significant numbers. For instance, the fact that women incur 67 percent of all claims and account for 70 percent of all claim dollars. That trend will resonate throughout 2013 as carriers respond with (and react to) gender-distinct pricing. When speaking to women, your messaging should change likewise.

2. The trade group: For too many years, our industry has spoken with many mouths. Is LTCI represented by NAIFA, NAHU, AHIP, AALTCI, NLTCN, LIFE or any number of other credentialed and well-meaning organizations? Although the carriers themselves exhibit perhaps the best reach, the highest-caliber materials and the best judgement, they suffer naturally from a curse of perceived self-interest. Enter the 3in4 Association.

Neither condemnable by conflict-of-interest, nor focused narrowly on the concerns of agents alone, the 3in4 Association finds itself in the enviable position of receiving support from nearly every major LTCI carrier and most national marketing organizations. Hence, it is perfectly positioned as the consistent voice of LTC planning.

3. The awareness campaign: You couldn't go two weeks last year without Dr. Marion making headlines in her tour bus. We all saw the YouTube videos and read the press releases. This year's campaign is coming to the TV set in your home. Building on the strong media relationships already forged during the tour, 3in4NeedMore will be encouraging TV stations to run as many as five public service announcements (PSAs) throughout 2013. Imagine the lift you'll receive when your client has just viewed a commercial in support of LTCI planning or LTCI partnership. I also expect additional national spokespeople to help spread the gospel. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for sports and entertainment figures to extend our reach to new markets.

4. Social media marketing: Speaking of new markets, the future is digital. Although many producers intrinsically know this, just as many need help getting from A to B. The 3in4 Association, which already supports robust Facebook, YouTube and Twitter properties, has created a referral generator specifically utilizing Facebook, which any agent can use. Furthermore, as research demonstrates how many consumers increasingly shop online, the 3in4 Association can provide directory listing on their highly trafficked landing page, as well as other Web tools: a personalized agent website and content-rich blog.

5. Sales tools: How do you rise above the agent across the block to position yourself as the go-to expert in your region? Make yourself indispensable. Provide resources which are not readily available. Here again, the 3in4 Association has you covered: The comprehensive "Essentials of Long-Term Care Planning" can be branded with your photo, bio and contact information, and co-branded with the logo of a company you wish to prospect. You'll wish to set-up take-one displays in health care and legal establishments; quarterly e-newsletters to your book of business; and conduct seminars using PowerPoint presentations. How do you attract attendees? By participating in targeted direct mail and/or email awareness campaigns exclusively for 3in4 Association Outreach members.

As you can see, the industry has risen up and met us halfway. 2013 is ripe for success for those of us willing to invest in our businesses. Long-term care insurance is not necessarily right and proper for everyone, but long-term care planning is a step that everyone facing retirement must undergo. Three out of four families have not yet had that conversation. It's our job and our mission to help simplify the complex and to help as many Americans have that conversation as possible.