Psst! The Secret's Out

The Big Payoff

Using the "secret" theme in advertising requires that it truly refer to some specific information most people are unaware of. That's the only way to retain credibility for your product or service. Beswick needs to work on his current use of the term. And he's got great ammo, as I see it. This broker is just 20 years old, an insurance whiz kid who was among the youngest insurance brokers licensed by the state of New York. His letter sounded to me like he's out there taking big swings of the bat every day to try to promote his fledgling brokerage. He's apparently doing some TV advertising, advertising in local papers and the Yellow Pages, and has also put together a Web site. But, writes Beswick, "I haven't gotten the results I wanted or expected." That situation will change, I think, if he leverages what I feel is his most distinguishing benefit--his youth and the enthusiasm it brings to his image and business.

My idea is to make this aspect the big "secret" hinted at in his advertising, with a headline that reads "Revealed . . . a 20-Year-Old Secret to Lowering Your Insurance Premiums." The first words of the letter play off the headline:

"Dear friend,
It's me.
I'm the secret.
Twenty-year-old Brian Beswick."

The letter goes on to explain just what a fuzz-faced 20-year-old insurance broker has to offer that more experienced people in this field may not. This approach is--to use the marketing term currently in vogue--Beswick's Unique Selling Proposition, the benefit that separates him from the rest of the pack. Insurance salespeople typically need to sell themselves as much as, or perhaps even more than, the coverage they offer. And I think Brian Beswick's "secret" qualifications give him the edge he can use with great effect in his advertising efforts. He says he now wants to concentrate on the use of direct mail to reach prospects, and I would certainly endorse that approach as a way to talk one-to-one about his unique credentials. However, it's important to observe a few letter-writing secrets to ensure that his one-pager gets read.

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This article was originally published in the November 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Psst! The Secret's Out.

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