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    Some Thoughts on Fraternal Affinities

    I often wonder if fraternals really take advantage of the affinity – the common bond – that exists among their members to effectively provide them with products and services, beyond life insurance and annuities, that those members are likely to want and need.

    I am a member of a number of fraternals, but the organization that seems to know me best is a “non-fraternal” fraternal – Amazon.  As an avowed despiser of shopping, I welcomed the opportunity to buy books without ever having to leave my home years ago.  While I never thought I’d give up the hard copies of the books themselves, once I began experimenting with electronic books with my Kindle (a gift from the Alliance staff that I appreciate every day) I quickly became a “true believer” in the power of technology – at least as it relates to accessing literature.

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    As a result, Amazon and I have developed an affinity that will be almost impossible to break.  Moreover, that relationship has expanded beyond purchasing e-books to Amazon becoming the primary source for all my online purchasing.  If I haven’t purchased Christmas gifts by Thanksgiving weekend, I receive a friendly reminder letting me know it’s time to place my order, reminding me of my previous purchases, and letting me know about items I might be interested in purchasing this year.  For an individual who travels frequently, has a limited amount of free time, and/or for whom the thought of going to a mall and browsing triggers fever and nausea, this type of “affinity marketing” is a godsend.

    I think fraternals can borrow such a business model.  To me, the most logical extension of our core life insurance and annuity products are:

    • Financial education and information – Learning how to be smarter with money is a universal need.  This is especially true for younger and middle income consumers who not only want help on making ends meet, but want to know how, by doing so, they can live “more generously” and improve the lives of others in their community.
    • Health and wellness programs – It’s good business for fraternal life insurers to keep their members healthy and happy.  And it’s good for the communities in which those members live and work to be filled with happy, healthy and generous citizens.
    • Faith-based programs – Many fraternals have strong faith-based common bonds.  Makes sense to me for these societies to offer opportunities for members to grow their faith and put it to work in their communities.
    • Community service opportunities – Providing a wide range of choices to members on how they can to give back locally (in groups of two or three rather than the traditional lodge-based approach) can help engage more members and younger members.

    This is a combination of “big data” (knowing who your members are, what they do, and what they might like to do) and thoughtful communication (speaking to them in their language and in their favored media, i.e. Twitter, Facebook, texting, email).  If we don’t do it, someone will.  And I don’t think that someone is going to be MetLife or Prudential; it’s going to be Google, Amazon, or a new entrant to affinity-based marketing that we’ve never heard of.

    I’d like to hear how you are utilizing your societies’ affinities to forge closer bonds between your members and the organization, increase the number of products and services you provide members, and boost your bottom line in the process.  Share your comments here or send them to me at jannotti@fraternalalliance.org.

    Want to learn more about marketing to younger consumers?  Register for the Alliance’s Annual Meeting and take advantage of an educational program designed to help societies grow younger.  Don’t forget to bring your societies’ up and coming “millennials” to this event too!  Learn more about the meeting and register online here.

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