Northwestern Mutual Wants You to Play Nine Holes

Northwestern Mutual Wants You to Play Nine Holes?


Why is that life insurance companies seem too ashamed to just tell people the truth?  Do they honestly think that launching a new marketing campaign filled with platitudes will accomplish anything?

I’m completely frustrated with how our industry seems to assume that people are stupid.

There I said it.

It’s the truth though.  Why do all of the life insurance, financial services companies, and self-proclaimed financial experts feel the need to put a pretty bow on everything?


Case in point, we discovered just a few days ago that one company in particular actually suggests that you choose from among ten different images to place on the front of their illustrations before you present them to your prospective client.  The selections are along the lines of, white collar, blue collar, family with children etc.


Someone in the marketing department has convinced the someone in the executive suite, that people are that influenced by an image that’s put on the front of a life insurance illustration?  I think we should all remember something   Brandon said a few weeks ago in this post, where he points out that most marketing/advertising is geared to scatter like a shotgun to the widest group possible.

I would contend that probably works when you’re selling Bud Light but applying that to mantra to cash value life insurance sales is ludicrous.

When Brandon noticed this bit about the picture for the illustration, he immediately called and we reveled in the arrogance of this company. A picture?  Really?

We honestly believe that people have been reduced to this level of intellectual capacity?

Okay I’m done with asking my series of obviously ridiculous questions.

What's Northwestern Mutual Got to Do With It?

I’m moving back to the title of this post because by now I’m sure you’re all wondering what the hell Northwestern Mutual has to do with any of my ranting.

Well, I’ll refer you to this article so that you have a frame of reference for my tirade.

Northwestern Mutual thinks that if they develop a clever marketing campaign with a golf theme, they’ll be able to more effectively  “engage Americans and get them thinking about their potentially extended lives.”

You know what’s wrong with this?  Well, there are actually all sorts of things I could point out but I choose to point out what matters most.

Here it is.  When we attempt to wrap up people’s financial problems with pretty packaging, we are running away from the reality.

What’s the reality?

Math is math.  It’s absolute.

Guess what?  If you’re 65 and you haven’t saved any money and you’re looking to retire at 70, you probably ought to consider rethinking your plans.  There’s no amount of financial wizardry that I or any other financial planner, financial adviser, or insurance agent can perform to right your ship.

That’s the truth.

And furthermore, attempting to engage you with some cutesy marketing piece where we play “nine holes” to get through a planning conversation is a waste of time.

Why is there such a desire for people to run away and hide from the math?  We don’t need to overcomplicate things and make them seem more nuanced than they really are.

If you can use a calculator and have basic math skills, you can comprehend what I need to tell you without my needing to put a bow on it.  Gimme a break.  This sort of stuff makes me gag.

Maybe I’m just too cynical but I know that the people we work with make fun of all these sorts of tactics.  As a matter of fact, we often we get emails and voicemails forwarded to us by our clients that they’ve received from other agents.

See, in many cases our clients come to us after having talked to other agents/advisors. They go on the internet to do some research after being presented with a concept and stumble on the insurance pro blog.  For this, we’re grateful.

And many times these people tell us how refreshing it is to just have a couple of guys shoot them straight.  They tell us about all the things the “other guy” said to them and we all get a good chuckle.

Don't BE THAT Guy

Quite often the other agent is still in hot pursuit of the client and will text, call and email incessantly, spewing forth all sorts of really great stuff they learned from Tom Hopkins. All of this does nothing but irritate the client.  I’m telling you people send us these emails and voicemails…it is unbelievable.  Wish we could share them with our readers, but it would reveal too much about the identity of our clients.

Why does the financial service industry have to assume people are stupid?  Those who want to be helped by us have the intellectual capacity to understand our solutions.  Just be up front about it.

Consultants vs. Engineers

Let me riddle you this.  What’s the difference between a consultant and an engineer?  The engineer can actually do the math, the consultant just talks about it.

Which would you rather build your house?  The guy who mathematically determines how many floor joists you need or the guy who says “yeah that looks about right”?

But I digress.

Americans ARE thinking about their extended longevity.  Now, there are some who can’t do much about it because they lack the financial means to do so and there are even more who choose to ignore the reality, however, I can safely say with 100% certainty that devising a scheme to engage those who choose to ignore the reality is nonsense.

Just tell people the truth and then let them make a decision.  Sure you’ll have to answer lots of questions along the way.  We do it all the time.

But at the end of the day, when we have a client move forward, they feel comfortable about what they’re doing and they’ve certainly not done it because of any pressure we applied to the situation.

Show them the numbers, present options and alternatives in a logical manner and move out of the way.  Those who want to fix their problems will choose to do it in their own time and those who continue to ignore it will continue to do so.

If you’d like to work with a couple of guys who will always shoot straight and never ask you to “play nine holes”, feel free to reach out to us.  We’re always happy to help and we pledge to never sugar coat anything, we’ll always tell you the truth.

About the Author Brantley Whitley

Brantley is a practicing life insurance agent and has been for nearly 18 years. After years of trying to sell like his sales managers wanted him to, he discovered that people want to buy life insurance if you actually explain the benefits.

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