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Update News for January 2010
Here is a quick run-down on what you will find in this bulletin:
These topics will be dealt with in more detail throughout this bulletin.
We would like to like to wish you a Happy and Prosperous 2010 and thank you for your support during 2009. We know that the recession has hurt many and we lost a number of subscribers this year. Having said that, we also gained an unusually large number of new subscribers who are discovering that term life insurance is the most recession proof product that most agents can offer to the public. All in all our sales were down only about a half a percentage point. You are helping us to remain strong during this period and we hope that the reverse is true.
We are genuinely excited about this coming year. Our new internet quoting service has been well received and we now have over 100 subscribers who have added Compulife quotes to their web sites. It's just one more way Compulife can help you make money.
And the on-line quotes are a "no brainer" given that you can do so for 4 months for free. Then if you like it, and want to continue, the cost is ONLY an additional $99 per year. Those who have added it are impressed with the speed, look and functionality. Word of mouth seems to be traveling fast on this and it is a very inexpensive way to add some real gravitas to your web site. For that reason we think 2010, no matter how good or bad for the economy, should be a good year for Compulife and our subscribers.
When we first started the "Get Agent" search tool at www.term4sale.ca we wanted to keep costs low and so we determined that our postal code lookup system would be based upon nearest postal code alpha/numeric values when trying to locate agents outside the immediate postal code entered by the consumer. We knew that wasn't a perfect strategy and that someday it would need to be improved. That day has arrived.
To review, when a consumer clicks the "Get Agent" button, in the comparison results at www.term4sale.ca, the names of three Compulife subscribers appear on the list. If there are already 3 subscribers listed in that particular postal code, as is the case of popular postal codes, the system simply lists those three and the job is done.
NOTE: Those three names are positively rotated every 3 minutes. In the first minute of a 3 minute cycle, the first in the file is listed first, the second is second and the third is third. In the second minute of the cycle, number 2 moves to number 1, number 3 moves to number 2, and number one moves to number 3. In the third minute of the cycle, number 3 in the file moves to number 1, number 2 moves to number 3 and number 1 moves to number 2. This gives each of the three listings, in that postal code, an equal share of each position in that postal code listing. None of that will be changing.
The change will affect what happens when a visitor to the site asks for a list of agents in a postal code where three agents have not purchased a listing in that specific postal code. In the current version of the lookup software, we go to alpha/numerically nearby postal codes to locate agents. Of course an alpha numerically nearby number may not be the nearest postal code - keep reading.
First, the lookup of other postal code listings is done within the province of the postal code entered by the subscriber. We do not assume that an agent listed in a nearby province, to the province the consumer is in, is licensed to sell in that province. If the agent is licensed in that nearby province, they need to get an additional listing(s) in that other province.
Second, and currently, we then look up the nearest postal code by numeric value. The flaw with that logic is that there may be postal codes that are physically closer, even though they are alpha/numerically further away.
The proper solution to the problem is to store within our database the latitude and longitude of each postal code, and then to base our search on geographical distance rather than the postal code number. We have now located a database that gives us that information for every postal code in the nation and so we will be working to integrate that data into our software. Once that is completed, and the postal code listing function has been updated with the change, the listings at www.term4sale.ca will work accordingly.
Another feature that the new postal codes database gives us is census information about the number of households in the postal code. The more households in a postal code, the more prospects there are to purchase insurance. That gives us a value to compare with other postal codes in order to determine the relative value of one postal code over another.
We are planning to integrate that information into the pricing structure of postal codes listings. As a result, we intend to raise the listing fees for postal codes that have larger total household incomes versus those that have lower household incomes.
Before explaining how that will work we want to assure everyone that postal code listings that are already purchased for 2010 are locked in at the current price of $12 per year (a buck a month). If you are listed in 90210, or a similarly high value postal code, you will not face a price increase until 2011. And any postal codes purchased between now and when the new pricing takes affect, sometime in the late spring, will remain at the $1 level for the balance of the year.
IMPORTANT: After the restructuring of prices no postal code will sell for less than a buck per month but the price for high value postal codes will go up.
Here is how the new pricing will work:
We will analyze the entire database of postal code households and establish a "mean" household number for the entire Canadian database.
For example, let's say we set the mean at a point where there are 20,000 households in the postal code. Any postal code with a total of 20,000 households or less will continue to be available at $12 per year.
However, if a postal code has a higher number of households, its price will rise proportionately. Let say a different postal code has the 30,000. That means the total households are 1.5 times more than the mean that we set. The price for that postal code listing will rise 50% to $18.00 pear year.
These changes would leave subscribers guessing as to which postal codes they should select. To address that we will be creating a new "Postal Code Value" tool/service that will be introduced BEFORE any change in pricing.
Currently we spend too much individual time with subscribers who are trying to strategically select postal codes. While we certainly don't want you to blindly throw money at listings, or buy codes next to codes that make your listings redundant (you can only be listed once in a group of 3), the fact is that at a buck a month we just can't afford to spend inordinate amounts of time giving you guidance about which codes to buy.
Our new on-line "Postal Code Value" tool will give you an interactive way to review postal codes and make decisions about the value of any particular postal code. It will tell you which postal codes are listed nearest to other postal codes, the value (price) of each postal code and will also tell you how many existing subscribers are listed in each code (it won't say "who", it will say how "many").
Once you enter in a postal code as a point of reference, that postal code and those nearest it, in order of nearest to farthest, will appear. The list will give you several columns of information for each postal code. Next to each postal code will be the following information:
You will be able to modify the list and show only those postal codes that have subscribers listed.
We have some other ideas to make the site even more interactive a useful and we suspect it may become popular for others to use who may not even be buying listings at www.term4sale.ca. Anything that increases traffic to the site is a good thing.
Once the new "Postal Code Value" service is completed, and once the new listing methodology has been implemented, we will announce that in a monthly bulletin. We will also do an email blast to all subscribers who current have postal codes listings pointing them to that bulletin.
Existing postal code buyers will have 60 days to re-arrange their postal code listings without any change to price. If you have purchased 10 postal codes, you will be able to trade or exchange that postal code for an available postal code of more value. Once again, if you do so, there will be no change in cost for you for the balance of 2010. You will only be faced with a price increase in 2011.
Once the new listing service has been implemented and announced, prices for new postal code purchases will be based upon the new schedule. Once again, postal codes will never be less than $1 per month but prices for other postal codes could be higher. We already suspect that most high value postal codes are already identified and have been spoken for but we also suspect that remaining bargains may be out there and the new "postal Code Value" service should help turn those up.
Those who will be in an excellent position to snap up bargains will be those who already have a group of postal codes purchased for 2010 at the $1 level. Once again, those subscribers will be able to exchange those postal codes for higher value postal codes at no change in cost. Those buying after the introduction of the new features, and those buying more postal codes after the new features, will be faced with the new prices.
Term4Sale was always intended to match consumers with local agents who use Compulife. That purpose and intent remains unchanged. Having said that, we are quite happy to list subscribers in postal codes where three local agents have not been listed as having home postal codes. The revenue from those paid listing helps covers the costs of operating the site.
For that reason home postal code listing will remain free even if the home postal code is a $24 code ($2 X 12). Once again, if a postal code has a higher price, and it is your home postal code, it will remain free.
We expect that this will create new pressure for those wanting to move their home postal code to a more valuable postal code. We may have some wrestling matches over who gets which codes. Therefore, some new factors will apply to determine who gets which codes as home postal codes.
First, the level of your subscription will determine who gets which code. If you are subscribing to a Personal Use Subscription ($149 per year) you will have less priority over a Standard Subscription ($299 per year).
In a worst case scenario, where three Standard Use Subscribers all lay claim to the same postal code, we will go with the subscriber who has been with us the longest and/or who actually has a business address or home address in that postal code.
In addition to their Home postal code being free, Personal Use subscribers have gotten a second postal code free, and Standard Use subscribers have gotten two. That will continue but the free postal code will be a $1 postal code. If the subscriber wants the second postal code to be one that has a higher value/price, they will have to pay that higher price minus $1. Such price changes do not apply to current listings for 2010.
4 Month Free subscribers, trying our software for the first time, will NOT be allowed to bump existing subscribers from home postal code listings. They can bump paid postal code listings if they select that paid listing as their home postal code listing. We will move a bumped customer to another close, equally valued (or higher value) postal code to accommodate the home postal code listing of the person who was listed for 4 months. If that 4 month subscriber does not renew, the old listing will be available to the original subscriber on a priority basis.
When we first began www.term4sale.ca our strategy for pricing postal codes was built on an auction concept. If you wanted a postal code that three people already had, you could offer more for it and the three in the postal code would be given first right of refusal to match that price.
A similar concept will be implemented and is a reverse logic.
Let's say that the new price of a postal code is $3, and no one is yet listed in that postal code. We will let you offer us a reduced price for that postal code. If we accept your offer, then you will get that listing, for that year, at that price. If three other people come along, each willing to pay the full price, your listing will be bumped.
You cannot offer less than what one other person offered to be listed. Let's say, in the above example, someone offered $2 for that listing and we accepted it. You then came along after that and offered $1. Your lower offer will be rejected and you will be given the opportunity to pay $2 as well. A third person would have the opportunity to be listed for $2. In the event others came along after that, and are willing to pay the retail price, we start bumping those who were in at the lower price. While we will not refund money when we bump, that money can be applied to other postal codes.
The only way to ensure that you keep the postal code, and not be bumped, is to pay retail for that code.
There is another strategy to keep your cost low. Let's suppose one other person buys a listing for the retail price. You could still be listed in that more valuable postal code if you purchase a nearby cheaper postal code listing. The reason is because we need to look up agents listed in less expensive postal code listings in order to give the consumer the three agent names.
For example, assume there is only one person in a $3 postal code. You buy the immediately adjacent postal code with costs only $1. A consumer requests a list of agents from that $3 postal code, and our software only finds one. We then look for listing next to that postal code, and you effectively are listed second because you were in that nearby $1 postal code. The only downside to this strategy is that if two other people purchase that more expensive postal code your cheaper listing will then not appear. Further, you will not be able to buy the more expensive postal code because the existing subscribers who are listed, have priority to keep those codes.
Having done this for 10 years, we think that this new postal code listing strategy and pricing concept will address our needs moving forward and makes the playing field much more equitable for everyone.
Your comments are welcome and you may direct them to:
As we announced last month, sometime early in 2010 we will be adopting a new data version that will be incompatible with old versions of our software program. If you try to run the new data, with an old GOWIN.EXE, PDA program or internet software program, it will choke and not work.
There are a very small group of people still running Windows 98 and a program we put up on the web called "GOWIN98.EXE". The ability to use that program is coming to an end, and you need to upgrade your machine to Windows XP. If you give me a call (Bob Barney 888-798-3488) I will show you how you can pick up a Windows XP Home Edition (Upgrade) on ebay. I typically pay $50 to $60 for a copy.
Here is an ebay search that you can use:
Windows XP Home Upgrade
Note that the search is in order of price. You can modify the search by sorting based upon "Time ending soonest" to see if there is an auction that you may want to get in on quickly. Alternately, if you don't want to mess around, click on the "Buy It Now Only" tab to see if someone has an immediate sale price that meets your budget.
Either way, if you are using Windows 98, you will not be able to run Compulife after this upcoming change.
Those using XP and newer will have a smooth and simple transition. We will introduce the new program files at the same time as we release the new data files. There will be nothing that you will need to do and those who didn't read this won't know anything happened.
However, it does means that those of you who are using our Internet software on your own servers MUST UPDATE to the new version or you will be stuck - COMPLETELY.
This does not apply to you if you are using Compulife on your web site through Compulife or a third party web provider. It will only affect those who have actually placed the internet program on their own server who will have some work to do, not you.
Having said that, we know that there were a handful using our Internet software who have had some trouble updating to the latest version and have gone back to the old version of the program. You will not be able to do this much longer. Once we introduce the new data version, our data updates will be incompatible with the old engine. So the first priority is to get the most current version working on your server. You need to get that done ASAP.
Once we make the switch to the new data version, you will need to upgrade to the new engine literally that day. We will announce "the day" well in advance. The internet software that runs the new data will be completely plug and play, simply because it will have an identical interface to what the new engine already has, it will simply have some new internal functions that do not affect normal web operation.
In addition to this general announcement, email notices will be sent to each Compulife subscriber who we show to be a current internet engine subscriber/user and whose subscription to the engine is current. If you subscribed to the engine in the past, but did not renew that subscription, and are continuing to use the old engine, you will be experiencing a "wheels up landing" with the new data.
More information about the reasons for this change is set out in the December 2009 monthly bulletin. You can obtain that bulletin, and all past bulletins, by going to this web page on our site:
The system we are building to track PDA use of our new online PDA service is more involved and has taken longer than we originally anticipated. Such is life in the software business when you are breaking new ground.
For that reason we are taking a baby step forward and will be implementing the "look and feel" of the new service at:
Please note that when that is completed, you will actually be redirected to this address:
Once the new online PDA service is available, where you will be able to select the companies you want to quote, an enrollment form will replace the quoting service at:
Once you complete the enrollment form, a personalized version will be created for you and you will have your own Administration Panel that lets you include only those companies that you want to quote. Those of you who are now trying Compulife's new web quotes for your web site will have already seen the new administration panel. The one for the PDA version of the software is exactly the same.
Unlike the new web quoting option that you can buy for $99 per year, the new PDA quoting service that we are rolling out will be FREE but it will be for your personal use only. Your web address, for your PDA online quote system, must be kept confidential and it must not be used by others or made available on your web site. That's why we are implementing features to track who is using your PDA quote system. Remember, this is the FREE version for YOUR PDA only. We will be able to monitor the specific PDA's visiting your PDA quote site, and if more than the allocated number are doing so, the software will notify Compulife and we will shut down your PDA quote site.
If you want a PDA quote site that others can use, we can set that up for you for only $99 per year and we can do that now. And keep reading, you can get the first 4 months of the public PDA version for FREE. Once a public site has been set up for you, you can give the address to anyone that you want.
If you are a current subscriber to Compulife, and have never before had our web quotes on your web site, you can have the option for 4 months for FREE - with no obligation to purchase the service at the end of 4 months. This is a standing offer.
First time trial users of Compulife, who qualify for 4 free months of service, can also add quotes to their web site for FREE for 4 months.
To obtain your 4 months of free quotes for your web site, complete the application here:
Once our work on the web engines and PDA/Phone software is complete, we will be turning our attention to some important maintenance work that is needed to the data entry systems. Those programs have not been updated for quite some time, and some need to be converted to take advantage of the newer programming compilers that we have been using for the Windows software that we already distribute to you. Our goal is to make it easier to program future software, which will ensure that we can roll out changes and improvements more efficiently.
Further, having reviewed where we are heading over the next few years, and the changes that we would like to be able to make in the future, we have decided to stop and do a much more extensive overhaul than simply changing our data entry software. We have determine that we would also like to implement a better data storage structure that will make maintenance easier on both a data entry basis, as well as a programming basis.
To achieve our goals in this regard, we will be spending a fair bit of time reviewing our new data storage needs, and then building conversion software that will convert our existing data files into our new data file structure. Once we have done that, we will then introducing new comparison software that does exactly what it does now, but which derives its results from the new data structure. In other words, you will end up with a new program that does exactly what the old program did/does.
Once this first stage is completed, we will have both old program and old data, with new program and new data. Moving forward we will use the old data entry systems to maintain the old version, then converting old data to the new data forms for general distribution.
The next stage is to create the new data entry systems that talk to the new data format. Once we are satisfied that the new data entry system give us everything that we have now, we will then switch to the new data structure alone. We will only do this once we have thoroughly tested the new software to ensure it gives us no problems in maintaining the date. This may take several months. As far as the part you use, by the time we make that transition, you will have been using the new software for several months.
The point of sharing this with you is that the process will be quite lengthy and so from this fall throughout most of 2009, you will not be seeing many changes and improvements to the software that you use, even though the underlying foundation will be going through a massive change. Once the foundation has been reconstructed, and all the tools to work on the foundation have been built, the program will be in a position to make some substantial moves forward.
Think of it as transplant surgery, where you need to keep the patient alive and well, at the same time as you are swapping out the organs.