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If you build it, they will come…

Ray, people will come, Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.

That soliloquy, from the movie “Field of Dreams,” says a lot about the future of the fraternal system, especially given the results of the Alliance’s recent consumer focus groups.

If you’ve read the past couple of blog postings, you know that there is incredible potential for fraternals to capitalize on the desire for many American consumers to purchase their goods and services – especially financial services – from organizations that provide both value and values. And you also know that many of America’s for-profit corporations are “out-fraternaling” fraternals in their efforts to organize and finance community service activities that their customers appreciate and their employees embrace.

The opportunity to create a new “golden age of fraternalism” – and the significant (but not insurmountable) obstacles that lie in the path of this goal – were further affirmed in a series of consumer focus groups conducted by the Alliance last week in Madison, WI, and Addison, TX. The detailed results of the four focus groups will be presented to members at the upcoming Annual Meeting. We tested the opinions of people who were currently members of fraternals and people who were not members but met our economic and demographic profile – middle income consumers between the ages of 30-50 who own or are planning to purchase life insurance and who have are actively involved in their church or other community service activities. The results across all four groups were remarkably consistent and will be invaluable to you and your sales force as you prepare your marketing plans.

Here’s what you’ll discover at the Annual Meeting workshops:

  • We’re using the wrong words – Find out which of “our” words really turned off potential members and what alternative words we could use that resonate well with consumers.
  • It’s a tough concept to grasp – Find out how we can overcome “the oddness factor” and more effectively communicate who we are and what we do to consumers.
  • There is a universal selling point – Find out how the overwhelming majority of consumers reacted to the fraternal concept and what they LOVE about the business model.
  • More than good deeds – Find out what it takes to move consumers from being enamored with the notion of purchasing from a fraternal to actually becoming members.

We’re going to qualify and quantify the lessons we learned from these focus groups by conducting a national survey of consumers in the next week or so. The results of the entire research project could form the building blocks of a new fraternal system. Because the results are so critical to the future of the fraternal system, we are offering the Workshop on both Friday and Saturday of the Annual Meeting so that every member society can attend the session.

If we use the research to build a new fraternal system, people will come, folks – people will most definitely come.


One Response

  1. I am inspired!!!
    Looking forward to good discussion in Denver.

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