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Betty's Corner


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Product Endorsements for Senior Services

www.philipmoeller.com

Older consumers can be especially susceptible to scams and erroneous product pitches. Their vulnerability has been well documented. Diminished mental skills as we age are part of the cause — we just don't process information as clearly as we once did. Frailty can come into play; some older folks are physically intimidated by an aggressive sales push and sign on the dotted line to end their discomfort.

Solitude can also play a role. Without companions or trusted friends, an older consumer has no one to turn to for guidance — no one to say "wait a minute" when asked their opinion. Loneliness also may spur an older person to make a purchase, especially when they see a product endorsed by a trusted figure they "know" from the entertainment world or other public appearances.

Betty White, who just celebrated her 89th birthday, pitches products, and is a powerful endorsement figure in the senior community. I think she's terrific — a great role model for the kind of active life that all of us hope is in our futures.

You've probably seen Ms. White in her humorous ad for Snickers. But you probably haven't seen her as the primary public endorser for a company that specializes in helping older persons sell their life insurance policies to earn income while they're still alive. The company is called The Lifeline Program and it is part of what's called the life settlements industry.

Ms. White's endorsement of The Lifeline Program has been a difference maker for the company, says its founder and CEO Scott Page. He wants to position his company as the good guys in an industry that so far has not been known for its good guys, and Betty White does that for him. Life settlements aren't in the news that often but when they are, the news is usually negative. Life settlements essentially involves buying someone's life insurance policy and then waiting for them to die so an investor can collect their death benefits. Even the best company is not going to be getting a Good Housekeeping Seal of approval anytime soon. But Betty White provides that seal.

If you visit The Lifeline Program's website, you might be forgiven for thinking you've landed on Betty White's website. Hers is the dominant image and a streaming video of her thoughts is launched once you land on the company's home page.

The good news here — what, you thought I could write something negative about Betty White! — is that she put the company through the wringer before agreeing to endorse its products.

"The due diligence that we went through to have her agree to become our spokeswoman" was grueling, says Page, who has been working with Ms. White for five years. "She does what she does in life" because she believes in it and wants to, not for the money. "Her endorsement of life settlements is just huge for the industry as a whole."

Betty White, of course, may be as much of an exception in her commercial work as in her life. I'd love to hear from readers about other senior pitchmen, good or bad.


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