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BOGO (or “What fraternals can learn from retailers")

October 21, 2014
My wife works for one of America’s largest retailers. And over the years I’ve learned a good bit from her about the retail industry and the challenges it faces. Think we’re in a tough business? Check out these daily obstacles to success:
  • Cut throat competition
  • High employee turnover
  • Significant losses due to internal and external theft and fraud
  • Razor thin profit margins
  • Cyber liability
And the list goes on. Retailers have to constantly keep current customers coming back while bringing new ones in the door in order to survive. And there is one marketing tactic that many companies use to both retain and attract customers. It’s beautiful in its simplicity and it’s called BOGO – “buy one, get one.” Everyone can understand the concept. You purchase one item and you get another for “free.” And while most of us inherently understand that nothing is ever free, BOGOs still make us feel like we’re getting a great deal. bogo1 That got me to thinking… Why can’t fraternals apply a twist on the same tactic to their marketing campaigns?  I’m not suggesting that when an individual purchases a fraternal insurance certificate the society provides them a second one at no charge. I’m quite certain that this would violate basic actuarial and anti-rebating principles and result in widespread bankruptcies. (Not to mention jail terms.) What I’m thinking is a “Buy One, Give One” campaign that highlights the community service aspect of our unique business model. That’s right, for every certificate purchased a fraternal could make a contribution to a specific charity. Better yet, the society could provide a list of organizations that it supports to the member and let the member direct where the contribution will be made.  This accomplishes several objectives (at least from my simplistic perspective):
  • It establishes a direct link between the financial and fraternal sectors of the organization – one that agents can effectively market and one in which members (both current and new) can feel good about.
  • It can give members a much more “hands-on” ability to direct where the fraternal’s financial contributions are made.
  • It can open the door to additional volunteerism by opening the eyes of members to the connection between the society’s financial services and community services activities.
  • It provides “immediate gratification” for new (and younger!) members, allowing them to make a difference in their community as soon as they join.
I suspect that some of you must already be doing something like this. If so, I’d love to hear about it (and I suspect other readers would, too). So tell me if and how your society is borrowing a page from retailers’ playbook and implementing the “Buy One, Give One” concept in your society’s marketing campaign by posting a comment here…