Ah!Stralia! What would you expect to happen if you asked your agents to sell 25 percent faster? In the case of ReliaStar Life Insurance Company, the results were outstanding. In January 1994,

ReliaStar (then called Northwestern National Life) cut its incentive travel qualification period from two years to 18 months but kept the qualification requirements the same as for its previous contest. A year and a half later, a record number of agents had qualified for the 1995 Convention and the upper-tier Top Ring/Managers Circle Meeting in Australia.

Although agents were accustomed to attractive travel rewards, including recent programs in Hawaii, Hong Kong, Paris, and Spain, Australia was an especially hot ticket. And a comprehensive promotional campaign also takes a good deal of credit for the agents' enthusiasm. Monthly reminders kept sights set on trips to Sydney and Coolum rather than the challenges of the sales goals at hand.

If you've created a successful promotion, why not share it with your peers? Call Senior Editor Alison Rakoske Hall at (617) 441-0638, or send your materials to Insurance Conference Planner, 60 Main Street, Maynard, MA 01754.

ReliaStar's agent magazine LifeStrive ran articles on the Australia meetings throughout 1994. The October/November issue was sent out with the Australian Tourist Commission's A Fair Dinkum Aussie Dictionary for the 1,000 top producers.

In January 1994, ReliaStar mailed 3,200 posters to top agents, first-year agents, and regional managers to kick off the Convention promotion. Qualification requirements are printed on the back. The Aboriginal images (along the border) and logo (at the bottom) introduced here were carried throughout the campaign. In addition, the designers used the posterOs photos and headline for table tents set out at the April 1994 Maui Convention and the August 1994 national sales meeting in Minneapolis.

At the same time the company mailed the poster, regional managers and the company's most productive agents also received a booklet to announce the Top Ring meeting. Produced with heavy-weight, textured papers and an embossed logo, bound in raffia, and stylishly packaged, the kick-off piece reflected the quality that would characterize the elite, 56-agent pre-Convention meeting.

The March 1994 mailing, which went out to about 1,000 agents, reiterated the qualification rules. The rules came wrapped around a dozen Australia postcards (imprinted with the company name on the back) and logo stickers.

This holiday card with a boomerang tree ornament won a Life Communicators Association Award of Excellence. On the inside, the encouragement continued: "This boomerang is proof that what goes around often does come around. That's why your hard work could land you in Australia."

This opal lapel pin was mailed to the top 400 agents concurrent with the June 1994 issue of LifeStrive magazine.

Department heads had logo stamps to adorn envelopes, letters, or anything that had space for a Convention reminder

A commemorative coin-one troy ounce of silver-was the final incentive sent in May 1995.

Among the adventures awaiting Top Ring winners was a ride on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle into the Queensland countryside. The key chain was mailed to 400 agents in May 1994, concurrent with the May issue of the company's LifeStrive magazine, which ran an article on the Top Ring meeting and the promised Harley experience.

In February 1995, 400 potential Top Ring participants got a break from winter with a quick view of Queensland's turquoise waters. The copy on the packaging read, "Warning: What you are about to see may cause heart palpitations, shortness of breath, excess salivation, temporary daydreams."

Company: ReliaStar Life Insurance Company

Event: 1995 Top Ring/Managers Circle Meeting and 1995 Convention

Sites: Top Ring-Hyatt Regency Coolum; Convention-ANA Hotel, Sydney, Australia

Dates: Top Ring-October 14 to 20; Convention-October 20 to 25, 1995

Qualification Period: January 1, 1994 through June 30, 1995

Qualifiers: 213 at the Convention, including 56 who attended the Top Ring meeting

Total Attendees: 415 at the Convention, including guests and home-office staff

Theme: Ah!Stralia!

Design: After ReliaStar's Creative Services Department brainstormed as a whole, Senior Art Director Ken Edmondson and Creative Consultant Dan Day formed the team that designed, wrote, and executed the campaign. A freelance illustrator was hired to create the woodcut-style logo.

Promotion Budget: $35,000 including printing, postage, stock photography, original illustration, and assembly of mailers

Savings Ideas: "Every time we went to press, we made sure that we made use of the entire sheet of paper," says Senior Art Director Ken Edmondson. "For example, when we printed the posters, we had extra space on the sheets and were able to create the table tents at the same time. You need to be thinking years in advance."

Departments Involved: Creative Services, Conventions & Meetings and Incentive Travel & Special Events