Be Schlocked!! The Cracker Rappers Rap “Let’s Go Sell Some Annuities!” A YouTube Peek Into the Surreal World of Annuity Agent Recruiting

lemoncut“Let’s go sell some annuities!” We got the tools, and the education too.”
“We got the drive, it ain’t no jive. We got the only game alive”

“We got the FMO to see us through!”

The Cracker Rappers
“Let’s Go Sell Some Annuities”

Don’t you just love YouTube? It allows everyone in the world to see what everyone else in the world is doing. No wonder that by July of last year YouTube was streaming one-hundred-million videos each day. This July it may be up to 200 million for all I know.

You might wish that video had not won the peoples’ choice award for preferred information conveyance vehicle but it’s too late. The votes are in and it was video in a landslide. Now everything is watchable, even annuity agent recruiting ads. (Or even a video to promote this blog. Click here to see it).

Historically, if you wanted to see some examples of advertising that many might describe as sleazy you could look to agent recruiting advertisements created by certain annuity wholesaling firms (variously described as FMOs, IMO, Marketing Companies) that are designed to entice annuity agents to sell indexed annuity products. This type of advertising is generally confined to insurance industry magazines and email campaigns to agents and is paid for by marketing companies that typically cater to indexed annuities. I’ve seen this form of advertising for many years and I know that it has often been effective in attracting a segment of annuity agents who fall prey in a serial manner to “get rich quick” invitations. But that was before the dawning of the digital age in annuity land.

Today I offer you a peek into this arcane world because I can no longer avoid doing so. My hand has been forced. The reason, once again, is that even this peculiar advertising genre has migrated to the Internet. Let shine the white-hot light of public scrutiny!! Today’s example takes my oft repeated comment that the annuity business shoots itself in the foot every three minutes and accelerates the pace to every thirty milliseconds!

I introduce you to Mr. Gary LeMon who casts his gaze into your web browser and asks, “Are you rich yet? No, seriously! Are you rich yet?” (Click the video image below to see it).

In his funny and schlocky YouTube video Mr. LeMon tells his agent (and non-agent) viewers, “The road to success is littered with land mines, detours, dead ends…and maybe you’ve taken a few. I know I have! Then I figured out how to sell fixed indexed annuities!!!

Fixed indexed annuities obviously changed Mr. LeMon’s life, and now he wants to change the lives of other annuity agents by helping them “make a fortune selling indexed annuities.” In fact, he’s developed quite an elaborate system to do so.

In his video Mr. LeMon states that he has the tools needed to accomplish this in terms of “tutorials, selling systems and a fully-scripted seminar system that generates a million dollars a month in premiums.”

Mr. LeMon asks viewers to “imagine… No, I’d like you to burn this image into your brain: can you see yourself banking $10,000, $20,000, $30,000, ever $40,000 a month? How will you and your family feel about that?”

The annuity industry needs to think through the implications of messages like Mr. LeMon’s being available for anyone to see including, of course, the press, regulators and consumers who may already own or may be asked to purchase annuities in the future (recall the famous New Yorker cartoon: a dog is typing on a keyboard and staring intently into a computer monitor; the caption reads: “On the Internet no one knows you’re a dog”). Well, on the internet we can’t know who’s watching Mr. LeMon’s get rich pitch. Here’s a question: After watching Mr. LeMon’s video would a nice lady from Topeka who’s interested in learning how to invest her $500,000 in 401(k) assets because she’s preparing to retire be interested in putting her money in an annuity? What’s Fidelity’s number, again?

On the one-to-ten scale that measures how much I worry about the annuity industry’s future, the migration of agent and marketing company advertising to the Internet takes my concern into uncharted territory. Who needs the New York Times or Parade Magazine to damage the public perception of annuities and the agents who sell them when the agents and marketing companies can do it more quickly and less expensively themselves? Glory! We’ve discovered technology!

I wish I could get insurance company executives to move a little more quickly to the video party. For a few years now I’ve been trying hard through the creation of web-based communications networks to build the compliant infrastructure that annuity providers need to get out in front of the video revolution. With some notable exceptions (all Wealth2k clients, I’m proud to say) the providers have moved slowly. The video party did begin, however, but the agents brought the keg.

Video can be used as the linchpin in a compliant strategy to improve the public image of annuity products and agents, or it can be used to further damage the industry’s public standing. Consumers want to “watch” more than they want to read. Make no mistake they’ll watch Mr. LeMon and I fear that his funny rapper act might anytime get highlighted on the home page of YouTube. If that happens we’ll be seeing Mr. LeMon’s recruiting pitch on the Today show and 60 Minutes,

Mr. LeMon, may I suggest that you do your industry and your agents a favor: show your video at a recruiting meeting that’s not so global.

©Copyright 2007 David A. Macchia. All rights reserved.

PLEASE NOTE: Coming Tuesday morning: a fascinating interview with behavioral finance authority Professor Meir Statman of Santa Clara University.