Chapter 1Separate but Equal

The World's Worst Marketing Challenge

Here's a business and marketing challenge for you: You have a product that's intangible and expensive. It requires monthly payments. If things go well, the money your customer spends on it will be wasted. Both the purchase process and every single payment moment require that your customer confront some of the most uncomfortable truths a person can face. There is no possibility that your customer will ever see any personal, direct benefit from your product.

Sounds a lot harder than selling soda, right?

If you haven't already guessed, the product is term life insurance—the stuff that has no cash value and evaporates once the term is over. Its benefits, however, are significant. It can provide a safety net to your beneficiaries in the event of your death—a safety net that is much larger than you'd be able to afford via a whole life policy (the kind with a defined cash value).

But tens of millions of people in the United States have term life—so it can't be that hard to sell. Although this is true, those existing customers have a culturally mediated understanding of term life insurance and the disposable income needed to make it accessible. For them, it's a plus, not a trade-off.

Naturally, the life insurance industry has long targeted this segment. They're affluent and, for the most part, white. They're a great market, except for one major problem: Because they're already well served, the market isn't growing much ...

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