David Duford owns DavidDuford.com, a virtual insurance agency helping new and experienced agents nationally become top producers. He is the author of 3 best-selling insurance sales and marketing books, including “The Official Guide To Selling Insurance for New Agents”, “The Official Guide to Selling Final Expense Insurance,” and “Interviews with Top Producing Insurance Agents.” David is also a YouTube Influencer in insurance sales with over 19,000 subscribers and more than 2 million total views.
Listen to this informative Publish. Promote. Profit. episode with David Duford about selling more insurance by creating content and writing a book.
Here are some of the beneficial topics covered on this week’s show:
- The changes regarding the office space and the advantages of a virtual business.
- The growing market of baby boomers hitting retirement age and the sales opportunities that come along with that.
- How giving away the knowledge you have accrued and helping others will make you a placeholder and trusted commodity in your field.
- How creating content on YouTube and writing books for your industry enables you to “play offsides,” stacking the odds in your favor.
Connect with David:
Guest Contact Info:
Hey. Welcome, everybody. Rob Kosberg here with another episode of the Publish. Promote. Profit. podcast. I’m excited to bring a great guest to you. We only have great guests, but I think you’re going to like David a bunch. David Duford owns davidduford.com, a virtual insurance agency, which is quite interesting. I want to learn a little bit about that. He helps experienced agents nationally to become top producers, author of multiple best-selling books and marketing books in the insurance sales and marketing field. The Official Guide to Selling Insurance for New Agents. That’s one of them. Official Guide to Selling Final Expense Insurance. I’m not sure I even know what that is, but final expense sounds interesting. So, I’ll ask about that, and then interviews with top producing insurance agents. David’s also a YouTube influencer with over two million views. Congratulations on that, David. Thanks for being on.
Nice to meet you. Thanks for having me.
Yeah. Good to meet you too, man. I see your books have done really well. Congratulations on that.
Yeah, it’s like a real agency that I just sit in my house in the spare bedroom and yell at agents to sell correctly. So yeah, it’s what you would normally think of when you think of an agency that an agent would work at, but just completely virtual.
There’s no office space. Everything’s done on the phone and Zoom, and then agents take what they learn and go out and help people in the particular verticals that we’re in.
Yeah. When I asked, my assumption was that all insurance agencies are really virtual. I don’t know how many of my insurance agents I’ve actually met, right? I have insurance on my home. I have insurance on my car. I just call somebody and get it all done. So, I guess you’ve taken that to the point where, why do we need an office at all? People need great training, they need to know what they’re doing, and then they can do everything from there.
Yeah. It depends on the business, I guess. There’s a subset of people that still like to go to the brick and mortar and sit down and shake hands and all, but there are people now that don’t want to do that, and better yet, in some cases, there are a group of people that aren’t, believe it or not, in 2021 online and doing everything without a salesperson, but still need personal help. So, a lot of what we do is train agents to go to the person, to their home to help them, although a lot of our business, especially with the pandemic and all, we’ve done a lot more over the phone side, unseen. Either way, the whole office space thing is a thing of the past, the way we look at it.
Yeah. Well, I actually feel that. In some ways the pandemic was a blessing in disguise for a lot of people. It was for us. I have a large office in Pasadena, California. I haven’t visited it in over a year. I live in St. Augustine, Florida. So, I no longer have to pay California state income taxes. I have the door open and I have the water right outside my window. I’m looking at sailboats and spectacular, so thank you, Governor Newsom for shutting down all of the business in California as long as you did, because I hightailed it out. Anyway, this is not about me. It’s about you. So, tell me, when it comes to the whole virtual insurance agency thing, one of the things I think about when I think about insurance is the different kinds. I think of the financial aspect, and then I think of the protection aspect. So, do you cover everything, or what’s the focus?
So, we’re in the senior market. You live in Florida. There are old people everywhere. So, there’s tons of people that fit this bill of the baby boomers, right? They’re hitting retirement, 10, 11,000 seniors turn 65 every day, and that’s really important because it represents a shift in the mentality. You have a working mentality, you’re accumulating money, and then you have the retirement mentality, which is holding onto what you made and then planning for the end. And so, there’s a whole host of sales opportunities when it comes to things like selling final expense insurance to pay for burial or cremation costs, or possibly using an annuity protect against the ups and downs of the stock market. And certainly, Medicare, because 65 is when people start Medicare, and typically Medicare is not enough. You have to get a supplemental plan or have what’s called a Medicare Advantage Plan. And that’s the opportunity. It’s a foolproof trend that’s verifiably getting better and better for decades to come, and this particular subset of people appreciate service. They want help. They want advice, I guess you could say. So we’re all in that whole group of people to preserve what they’ve made or to prepare for the end, or just to give them peace of mind, knowing they’ve got good health insurance and don’t have to worry about just paying too much or going to the wrong hospital or anything like that.
Right, right. And is it a national thing? Are you talking about every state, or is it just focused in one locale?
Yeah. Being virtual, we have no borders; at least in America. So, I recruit and train agents regardless of their geographic region. I have agents as far west as Hawaii and as far north and south as Maine and Florida, so everywhere in between.
Nice. Very cool. And how many agents, how big is your agency, and how has it grown? And of course, I want to get into your use of media as well as your books, et cetera, but tell me about the agency itself.
Yeah. So, I’ve recruited probably about 2,000 agents, but the thing in this business of building an agency, it’s not who you recruit; t’s who takes what you teach them and is successful. That’s really the true measurement. And that’s somewhere around 150 to 200 people a month writing some kind of business through my organization, which to me is very good. Since I’m a small business, I’m generally a solopreneur. I’ve got some virtual assistants that assist in some stuff, but it’s pretty much all me, which that’s how I really want it, to be honest with you. So yeah, that’s the idea. And we do the training, the coaching, everything’s entirely virtual, everything in regard to teaching the system.
Very nice. And as far as your training goes, is it a membership area, a database that they then tap into? Is there ongoing coaching that you do? I love the field. We do a lot of books for coaches and consultants and that kind of thing. And oftentimes, the SOPs, the operating procedures go from one industry to the next. Is that true for yours as well?
Yeah. I don’t sell a membership. To me, that actually stands in contrast to what I think an honest agency would do. And look, I don’t have anything personal against this, but there’s a perception that comes with multi-level marketing companies. You think of an MLM that some friend of yours pitched that you’ll never answer the phone for anymore. That’s the same culture that predominates in insurance. And one of the things you realize is that you’re as much of the customer or the target for making money as much as selling the policy to the prospect. So, a lot of these organizations, they charge you for training, they charge you an upsell so they can make a margin on lead sales. They charge you to 10 bootcamps that they press you to come to, and even if you don’t produce anything, the company walks away making money off of you, and I’ve always thought that that’s a goal alignment. If you’re recruiting agents and you’re charged with the task of training them to be producers and be successful, I always felt, at least for me, you shouldn’t make any money until they do. Because that keeps your bias aligned with what matters, which is them selling something. So, we make a percentage above that as far as our cut of the deal. But I don’t charge for anything other than – well, nothing really. They come in, they do their business with me, and we both profit together. And if they don’t, then I don’t. So, it keeps me honest, and I think it just keeps the relationship as pure as possible.
Love it, love it. Now, you can’t one-on-one coach 200 people, but I would imagine that there’s some group elements and live elements and that kind of thing. What does all that look like for your people?
Yeah. Great question. So, first of all, I purposely tell my recruits that I’m looking for an entrepreneurially focused agent, somebody who is self-sufficient, that can study on their own, that can figure stuff out without babysitting constantly. And this actually is very appealing because many people come into insurance because they don’t want to work for somebody else. They don’t want to be micromanaged. They want to have entrepreneurial freedom, and so it’s usually a really good fit. So that’s how we coach them to get started. We select for that type of person who doesn’t need a lot of handholding. We’ll help them or support them, but it’s not in the sense of we’re going to demand that you be on a call every day, and then you’ve got to report to me. We’re not into any of that. Now, for mass training, we do live training, but just like you suggested, it’s not one-on-one. We do one-on-one with agents that need help, but a lot of what we’re doing is in a group format. So, I have multiple training opportunities.
Many times, what you could do in a one-on-one session, you can do in a group session. I think there’s a lot of even comparison there, and even more so, I think it’s more beneficial because not only do you teach one person, but everybody else learns, if many people have a problem, everybody else has that problem. And therefore, you can solve more problems simultaneously without the extra time spent. So mostly group training at this point, lots of self-study materials as well, and a bias towards selecting agents who just don’t want to be micromanaged. That’s my strategy.
Yeah. Love it, love it. It’s interesting, when you think of, or when I think of, insurance agents, I’ll think realtors, mortgage professionals, insurance agents. I love the way you’re doing things because it is the 21st century and you’re operating with a 21st century mentality. In the past, they would put up a shingle, which is expensive and requires maybe a loan, or at least a serious commitment. They go to a BNI meeting or some kind of networking meeting, and they’re just trying to hustle up to pay the bills. In your case, you’ve done it very, very differently. You become an influencer. You become an influencer through your books. You become an influencer through YouTube, et cetera. I don’t see a lot of people doing that in the insurance agency. How in the heck did you get the idea to do that?
Sheer luck. I saw one of my competing agencies, It was funny, in 2014 or ’15, I saw a video they put up and I thought, “The video shared useful information about selling final expense life insurance,” and instantly I thought, “Good Lord. Why would somebody want to give away their most valuable content for free?” People don’t appreciate things given away for free. So that was the devil on my shoulder, and I had the angel on my shoulder who said, “Well, wait a minute. Now maybe there’s something to this. Maybe in this world where nobody trusts anybody and everybody’s skeptical, and rightfully so, giving away information without expectation of anything returned, actually that might actually be even more beneficial to your business.” So, I deliberated and contemplated and said, “That’s probably true. If I just commit myself to giving away and helping people without anything to expect in return that maybe one day, if the stars align with enough time, I will have something wonderful out of the business, I’ll have agents that work with me that’ll be enjoyable, pleasurable. I won’t have to work for anybody.” And it took a while. I started making some videos. I wasn’t consistent at first, but I started getting consistent. And then lo and behold, a couple of years in, I started getting tons of traffic, tons of traction, and now I’m pretty well known for anybody that does any sort of search for life insurance sales or final expense sales, related sales for insurance. People have seen my content. And it just gives me such a leg up over every other agency that they got to start from square one to say, “Hey, I’m this and that, and this is why you should do business with me.” I don’t have to say that because YouTube gives you this celebrity-like appeal because, hey, you’re on the screen. I think I’m just a normal dude. Other people think, “Oh, wow. Oh, wow.” I’m just what they say. When you set up a conversation to influence somebody to join you or buy your product, you’re playing offsides. You’ve got all the odds stacked in your favor, unlike everybody else. It’s an incredible thing that anybody that sells anything or has products should absolutely be on YouTube. I think it’s just the best way to build an influence.
Talk to me about the books. So, you’ve written a lot of books. They all have the similar style, which I really like. They attract attention very easily. They’ve done well. You have hundreds of reviews on your books, which it’s not easy to get reviews. It means you’ve got to get a lot of sales to get one person to offer you a review. So how have your books helped you to really be positioned as the authority? Have they brought people to you that way?
Absolutely. So, the first book I wrote was the red one, The Official Guide to Selling Final Expense Insurance. The idea behind that at the time, I think it was 2016 when it came out, was that even then, and certainly still stands today, even in a world of everything digital, being the guy who wrote the book on the subject still has a placeholder in a lot of people’s minds, even if they don’t read books. Right? So, my thought process was, “Well, I know not every agent is watching YouTube, so I’m not going to touch a ton of people. So why don’t I come up with some content and put it in a book format that conveys a lot of the same stuff?” And then for those people looking for books, because that’s just how they’re programmed, they’re the kind that reads books to gain information. Again, here I am exposing myself to a different audience in order to position myself. So that’s where that whole idea came around. The other ones were related to that, and I can talk about this at length or not, but I’ve had a brand shift over the years to be more broadly insurance, an insurance sales influencer, not just in the niche of final expense life insurance. So, the green book came out about, I think, a year or two ago. And it’s more generic for the beginning insurance agent, no matter what they’re doing, as a starting point. And yeah, again, being the person who wrote the book on the subject, people just assume you’re an authority. I hope they believe it, but you wrote the book on it. But that’s what you’re tapping into, psychologically.
Yeah, no question. The framing is radically different. I remember the first book I wrote was for my financial services company back in 2008, when things weren’t so good in the financial services industry. And I’ll never forget, I hustled hard, I got on a radio interview; this is pre-podcast, and that very day, I got a telephone call into my office because I was on the radio and I was an author, and I just thought, “Wow, this may really work.” I’ll never forget that moment. Have you had some moments like that?
I had a multi-million-dollar agency in South Carolina reach out to me because of a book for the final expense book, and the gentlemen was very well decorated in his particular business, in group life insurance sales. He sold insurance to employers, like life insurance that employees would buy through the employer. He had thousands of thousands of clients, really good opportunity to do some business. But the reason he arrived at that is, he’s not a techy, yet, at the time, and he wasn’t on YouTube, but he liked reading. It’s how he grew up. That’s the kind of stuff that you would never think that would pop up on your desk because you wrote a book.
Right. If somebody actually goes through the trouble of buying your book and reading it, you’re done. It’s done. It’s over. Unless they hate it. That’s, of course, different. But if they actually buy it and read it, it’s over. If they can afford your services or they’re a fit for your services, there’s no competition there. Tell me, you’re in a small niche as far as writing a book, which is great. I always highly recommend try to niche down as much as possible to my clients, but you’re in a small niche, but your books have done really, really well. What have you done to market your books? How have you gotten reviews on your books? Any kind of special things you’ve done to make them successful?
Not really. So, here’s the thing. I think where I benefited from is, I was in a market without competition. Okay? I’ll be honest. There were one or two final expense books that were out there, but I read them, and they were trash. They were terrible. I thought, “Well, hell, I’ll just write a book,” and bada-bing, bada-boom. But again, the weird thing is my sales really picked up as my YouTube volume did, so one hand washed the other. I put my book out there. I would get a couple of sales every month, like 10, 20 sales, which, hey, I’m fine with it. Right? But then a year or two into it, as my YouTube channel picked up and my overall influence status picked up, guess what? The rising tide lifts all boats, and I’m making more sales now than I ever have. I am peaking with books that are years old. It’s the strangest thing, but now people know of me and they’re aware I have a book, it just serves back to people buying.
Well, thanks for sharing that. That’s a big deal. I think what most authors would love is that the one book that they write and put their heart and soul into it would, on its own, produce the results that they desire. And I always tell my clients, I’m like, “Look, if Michelle Obama, who’s the most known person in the world, has to go out and appear on The Today Show and Good Morning America and do speaking engagements to sell her book, you’re going to have to do something to sell your book.” And so, I love the whole idea of the cross-pollination of the YouTube channel and what that’s done because, again, even in a small niche, two million views are significant. Have you done anything special to market your YouTube channel? That leads to the next thing; they’re cross-pollinating, but have you done anything special on YouTube to grow it?
I’ve very rarely ever done any paid ads. I’m an organic guy. When we think of from content marketing, I just strictly do organic, up until recently. And I would sometimes market my email list to show my YouTube because sometimes people come in through your website. They’re not YouTubers. They’re just readers, and you want to cross pollinate that to some extent. But for me, again, the thing with YouTube is I focused on delivering top notch, high quality content because that’s the stuff YouTube wants. YouTube wants users to stay on their platform. They want them to stay engaged and want to serve up ads to them. And the people who create good content will have longer average view times, which means more ads served. And I just stuck at it. I never did anything super extraordinary for the YouTube, except just constantly created really good content and stuck with it for a couple of years before really getting serious traction.
How many years has it been now?
2015 is when I started, but I really didn’t get super serious until 2016 or ’17. I made a good bit of videos between then and then. After I started seeing some of the just escalation and viewership, I just started more and more and more and more. I was like, “Hey, it works.” So triple down on what works.
And how often are you producing content now for YouTube?
Is it really?
I still do daily. Yeah. There were times when I did maybe three or four. So, it just depends on the ebb and flow. I might cut down a little bit and do longer format content on YouTube next year, more interview style. This year, we’re doing more edited, shorter clips. Five, 10 minutes average. But right now, we’re daily. And I don’t have a big following. 20,000 people in the scope. That’s about my subscription base. That’s not a lot of people. Okay? Especially since there’s probably about a half million plus licensed agents. It’s a small subsection, but you don’t need a big group of people subscribed. I know agencies in my business that have a little YouTube channel. They’re doing great. So, you’d be shocked at how little you need to get a lot of people interested in whatever it is that you’re offering.
Yeah. Yeah. Well, 20,000 is no small amount. I understand it’s 20,000 and 500,000, but that’s 20,000 people that are learning from you, following you, see you as the authority, see you as the expert, more than likely have purchased your book. That’s very, very cool. Congratulations.
Love that. So, give us some links. Obviously, for somebody that is in the insurance field or thinking about getting into the insurance field, they need to go to your YouTube channel, they need to buy your books. Where’s the best place to get some info from you?
Sure. davidduford.com. That’s my website. If you want to check out my books, check out how work in my agency works, you’ll see some links in the menu. It’s the store link and then the FAQ link. If you want to see some YouTube content that I do, just go to YouTube and put in David Duford, and then you’ll see all sorts of videos there. And if you want to check out any books directly, Amazon, of course, just put my name in and you’ll see them all.
Love it, love it. Well, I’m going to go check out your YouTube channel. I want to see the good stuff that you’re doing there; how you’re creating. So, David, thanks. Thanks so much for sharing, giving us a tour around your business, both from the standpoint of what you do and the books and how you do it, but then also the depth of the stuff, the specifics. So, great to have you on the podcast today, my friend.
Thanks for having me. See you.
Awesome. Thanks, man.