Turning Agents into Educators - Horace Mann and DonorsChoose.org
Focused on educators, Horace Mann insurance agents focus on creating relationships with the school employees they serve. Through those relationships, they eventually have the opportunity to sell insurance and retirement products. A challenge for agents is how to create these relationships and sincerely interact with their target consumer base.
In partnership with educator-focused DonorsChoose.org, Horace Mann created a cause marketing campaign called Turning Agents into Educators allowing these agents to develop relationships and gain access to their target consumers, while reaching far more teachers than the staff at DonorsChoose.org would be able to engage on their own.
After a small pilot program in 2010 resulted in an overwhelmingly positive response from agents, the program was ramped up and in 2012 a multi-faceted initiative was created.
Together, DonorsChoose.org and Horace Mann created a rigorous training curriculum for agents to learn about all aspects of DonorsChoose.org and the best way to explain the organization to teachers. DonorsChoose.org staff took part in train-the-trainer sessions for regional managers and Horace Mann included DonorsChoose.org in all agent trainings, marketing communications, and best practice seminars. An arsenal of training videos, Power Point decks and marketing materials were developed by both partners to support field agents in communicating their message effectively to teachers in schools.
Agents were able to approach previously inaccessible schools with the offer to inform teachers about the opportunities at DonorsChoose.org and guide them through the process with the assurance that agents would only mention the products they were selling in the very last moments of their presentation. Many agents were able to collect contact information from teachers who wanted to learn more about DonorsChoose.org as well as Horace Mann products.
Utilizing matching DonorsChoose.org gift cards, Horace Mann allowed agents to get involved with the program by making donations to local school projects at half the cost. The insurer also gave free gift codes to all new agents so they could immediately go to their schools, offer to show teachers how to use DonorsChoose.org, and then immediately fund projects.
In addition, agents were awarded with gift codes for meeting with school administrators and learning more about the school’s insurance needs as well as for meeting sales and customer service goals.
As of December 2012, Horace Mann had donated $1,394,631 to classroom projects, supported 1,005,998 students, and funded 11,129 projects.
The Classroom Project (Phase I of a cause marketing Facebook campaign in the fall of 2011) increased Horace Mann Facebook fans by 70% in just 2 months. The Classroom Project II, in the spring of 2012, increased Horace Mann Facebook fans by an additional 22.7%.
After Horace Mann’s very first campaign, 501 schools were funded that had not previously had a fully funded project at DonorsChoose.org and over 2,000 schools were supported that wouldn’t otherwise have been reached without the Horace Mann partnership and at least 5,000 teachers were recruited to DonorsChoose.org specifically by Horace Mann.
Horace Mann intends to experiment by continuing its partnership with DonorsChoose.org in customer retention efforts this year, providing incentives for taking desired customer action.