Radio Ink: Tell us about your relationship with Dave Ramsey.
Jeff: Before we ever advertised with Dave he had a falling out with State Farm because of reduction in coverage they decided to implement nation wide and I got a call from his office asking if I was interested in quoting on his insurance. That was the first meeting we ever had. It was about his insurance. When we became his agent there we discussed other opportunities that were on the horizon. In July of 1998, we began a single campaign of running one spot a day on his show and it immediately generated lead activity from day one that was in excess of what we anticipated.
Radio Ink: How has that relationship grown over the years?
Jeff: It is integral to our success as a company overall. We basically learned in the early days that Dave Ramsey is a different type of individual from a lead standpoint. There are different companies out there that acquire leads and resell them to different types of organizations. They are sold to multiple people who have varying levels of interest. Dave brings us, even when there were only one or two stations, an individual who’s interested in doing something about their financial life. If they’re calling us about insurance, they’re recognizing, because of Dave’s advice, they have a responsibility and a need to deal with a certain aspect that they haven’t addressed in the past. These are people who are motivated, interested, and trust his advice, and they act on it. We have seen that grow exponentially based on the number of radio stations that carry his show.
Radio Ink: What have you learned about the success radio can bring since hooking up with Dave’s show?
Jeff: Dave is a unique opportunity. We continue to do some local radio with a few other talents just to get some distribution, because of the network exclusivity. Dave’s voice is on Clear Channel or iHeart Nashville, then we can’t use him at any of the other stations so we have tested local and other national. I have learned a lot about radio in that Dave Ramsey generates activity that is unparalleled by any other talent that we’ve used. There are no comparisons. There are other successful smaller endeavors that we have tested and still carry on, which work for us, but they don’t have anywhere near the response rate, the conversion rate, the sales, the loyalty, the retention, or any of those elements. Nobody comes close to reaching the numbers that Dave has achieved for us.
Radio Ink: What would you like to say to other advertisers outside the insurance arena that might be thinking about doing what you did?
Jeff: His platforms of opportunity started in the early days with just radio and now his inventory is very limited. He has expanded because he’s seen the future to a degree about the disruption in the radio market and the listenership, and has expanded into all the areas with the podcast, iHeartRadio, video, live event, and his ELP program. My advice would be whether on a local or a national basis, if a business has an opportunity to buy the service that Dave can get behind and feels is appropriate for his listeners. You would have to be brain dead to walk away from that situation. He can generate the activity. He has to believe in the product, he doesn’t just take something on because you want to pay him. He doesn’t operate his business that way. If he feels it is a match and an opportunity for his listeners because it is about serving them [he will take it on]. I have seen a lot of people passed on the opportunity, and I’ve seen a lot of people take on the opportunity and fail because they couldn’t handle the activity. I have seen others succeed greatly at each stage.
Radio Ink: How important is the consistency? Twenty years is a long time. You don’t see that often.
Jeff: We are an extremely well-branded company with Dave listeners, period. Outside of the Dave universe, if I say Zander Insurance most people would not have a clue who we are. But within that world of people, who listen to his show all over the country, I could be in Denver and somebody says “I have your identity theft product.” That has been accomplished because we are consistently on every one of the offerings Dave has with regard to the different platforms. We are everywhere because he’s everywhere. His credibility is so high that it transfers over to us. We have also learned over those 20 years that, while we have other lead sources, they are minuscule to what Dave offers. We have learned that trying to serve too many masters would dilute our success in serving Dave’s listeners. We built the company and we’re riding the Dave train. That may not be for everybody to focus 100% of their marketing budget on one outlet, but because of the diversity and the growth he has achieved, if I try and have a conversation with somebody and say “How did you hear about us?”, then I have already lost the link that Dave has created between us. We have another company that we’ve started that we are attempting to grow in the non-Dave world, but anything that comes through Zander is to 100% serve Dave’s listeners, and it’s worked.