October 20, 2013

7 Ways to Sell Obamacare The introduction of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) is a marketing case study in what not to do. Health exchanges are a new fundamentally different and untried way for consumers to approach healthcare, especially for those millions without it. Established insurance brands compete with lesser known brands and start-ups in a free-for-all retail arena that is driven primarily by monthly costs. Communications have to take a retail direct marketing approach rather than a wonky policy-making tone and manner. Governments and insurers need to become 24/7 retailers. And the websites ought to scale and work properly. This unique marketing opportunity is especially challenging because nobody really understands what Obamacare is or how it will work. And political voices on the left and the right are dedicated to keeping it that way. Surveys of healthy millennials, the most desirable and necessary customers, indicate many see no need to insure themselves. To compete in this marketplace, consider these seven tactics: Brand Identity Rules. If they’ve heard of you, you have a fighting chance. Awareness and preference are top priorities. Even well established insurers, used to selling through employers, will be below the radar. Establishing a clear brand voice and positioning is critical to retail success. We just might be on the cusp of a new round of spokespeople on the order and magnitude of Flo, The Gecko or the AFLAC duck. Though early efforts in several states seem to be very fluffy and short on details. Voice, tone, attitude and manner count. The classic insurance industry posture; we-know-what’s-best-for-you will not fly. Two-Way Conversations. Establishing a direct-to-consumer brand requires engaging your target customers in a meaningful conversation. Your best prospects don’t just buy a product; they buy into the company providing it. Aligning brand values and sentiments with best prospects is critical. Establishing a position, as a knowledgeable friend and adviser without preaching or scaring prospects matters. Giving consumers opportunities to ask and to tell will separate the winners from the also-rans. Name It. Keep it simple and intuitive. Bundling plans with snappy, telegraphic names will assist consumers. A “Young Family Plan” instantly communicates targeting, intention and value. Anticipate likely consumer segments (e.g. singles, partners, new families, growing families) and construct affordable packages with fewer rather than more choices to resonate with millennial consumers. Talk Price. Millennials are unemployed, underemployed and strapped. Every thing they do is run through an affordability filter. The driving marketplace variables will be the what’s-in-it-for-me compared to the monthly price. Consumers will separate “must-have” from “nice-to-haves” then decide how the price will impact their monthly budgets. Don’t be bashful about communicating price and value. Don’t hesitate to offer different payment schemes. Even though its mandatory, if the fine is cheaper than the fees, there is no incentive to buy. Smart players will sell-in very affordable plans and then up-sell over time. Be Present. Millennials are on the move and highly social. Presenting your brand in social and mobile media is table stakes. Understanding which devices and forums serve which marketing objectives is important. Insurers need the ability to target, segment and engage millennials in multiple channels at any time of the day or night. Nobody will fill out an application on a smartphone in the back of a cab. But they will fill out the form on a tablet or on Facebook while they are searching and researching the competition and consulting friends. Concentrate on Channels. Speak with one voice across channels. Your website, TV and radio spots or print ads, 800#, Facebook presence, e-mail and postal mail must look and feel similar. Leverage the inherent qualities of each channel for maximum customer engagement. Expect consumers to use multiple channels to discover, research and assess offerings before and after buying. Use Technology as a Utility. Make it easy to print out, email and share content. Don’t fear comparative shopping. Anticipate the conversations and frequently asked questions that will come up in the news media, in online communities, on blogs, in search or live chat and in-person between friends and family members. Develop content for those situations and deploy content and PR assets accordingly. Think about ways to syndicate or seed branded content in places where your best prospects regularly go. Related articles Millennials Need Your Healthcare Organization 5 Tips for Marketing to Millennials from a Millennial
Big Data Meets Programmatic Buying The pace of automation, interconnections and change in digital media buying is staggering. And while there’s still considerable blabbing, handwringing, stalling and excuse making about programmatic buying, reality is way ahead of the rhetoric even if media firms and their clients aren’t leading the charge. The days of armies of young media planners and buyers wielding spreadsheets are being replaced by a business rules that instruct computers to buy and optimize in real time. Think about it. Americans are spending much more time online than on TV, yet most of the ad dollars flow to TV. Similarly people are using mobile media extensively yet there’s just a trickle of brands experimenting with mobile advertising. The likely reason is the continuing need for efficient reach, measured in gross tonnage of eyeballs, mixed with 6 ounces of conventional wisdom and 2 tablespoons of inertia. As social and mobile media ascend to dominance, advertisers will be looking for transparency (who saw their ads) and performance (who clicked, signed up or bought) according to Sephi Shapira, CEO of Massive Impact. These rough equivalents of general and direct marketing will become increasingly important as smartphones and tablets merge into Phablets, which in Q2 2013 have 25MM units in market. Ultimately everything on the phone/phablet will talk to each other and be available to marketers to enable ad serving. Consumers will be targeted by device, by apps installed, by the games they play, by names in their phone book, by browser or even by the pictures they take. And while this has a 1984 feel to it, the concentration and mining of data will make messages more relevant to each individual. To accommodate these needs real-time bidding (RTB) is accelerating and becoming more sophisticated. In terms of inventory control and access, auction style bidding puts each unit and each potential customer up for bid. Prices are determined moment by moment in relentless auctions managed by demand side platforms (DSPs). In terms of targeting or retargeting, by using contextual data rather than demographics as the principal targeting criteria, brands can track what consumers do and where they go in order to direct the messages served to them. Ads can be directed by device, by location, and by collaborative filters that, like Amazon, infer what people want based on what they’ve done or what their friends do. “For a generation that live their lives entirely online, there’s no such thing as TMI,” in Sephi’s opinion. “And while this may feel creepy to some, younger consumers appreciate the behind-the-scenes filtering that delivers information and offers about things they actually like and care about.” Facebook, on the strength of FBX units, has gone from zero to sixty in record time transforming both the timeline and the right column ads into direct response and pay for performance vehicles. With the number of Facebook users accessing the platform on mobile devices now approaching 50%, real time mobile ads are likely to play an increasing role for brands. Ninety percent of the automated inventory is now being sold on a cost per action basis. Publishers display messages as often as necessary to drive a guaranteed number of actions. Brands pay only for performance; less for a click and more for a sale. But with guaranteed performance and predictable costs, there’s very little risk. Automated performance based ads, which can course correct on their own like heat-seeking missiles, are transforming eCRM which enables repeat sales, upsells and cross selling. Data swapping is a refinement on its way to the US, says Shapira. In Europe and Asia it’s not uncommon for a telco to share data with an insurance company in order to mutually enhance databases and improve segmentation, targeting and conversion. Sephi’s message to brands is “Don’t miss the revolution. Social and mobile platforms, games, apps and real time bidding are emerging tools that savvy marketers are embracing and mastering to gain first-mover competitive advantages. If you are buying banners and hoping for the best, you’re not really in the game.” Related articles Why Real-Time Bidding Is Going To Completely Change The Equation For Mobile Advertising By 2017, it projects that programmatic buying (Real-time bidding) will account for 87% of display, 69% of video and 88% of mobile advertising buys. (U.S.)

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

The Typepad Team

Recent Comments