How The Consumer Is Changing The Way People Think About Health Insurance

If you look at nearly any assessment of how the health care industry is evolving, the word “consumerism” comes up regularly. What exactly does that mean, and why does the consumer have so much power all of a sudden?

It wasn’t many years ago that nearly everyone got their health insurance from their employer, and today, nearly 60% of people still do. But even for the 60% of people who still get their insurance through their employers there is a significant shift that is occurring as employers are contributing less to their coverage, making employees more aware of the cost of their health insurance.

Let’s face it, before people make a purchase, especially one that is as expensive as the cost of health insurance, they research the product, read customer service reviews, and shop for the best price. Taking this idea into the health insurance segment is exactly what “consumerism” is all about.

So what are consumers looking for when interacting with their health insurance companies?

  • Access – to information, to doctors, to pricing. Consumers are looking for everything from transparency in pricing, in other words knowing the cost of a medical procedure before scheduling it, to a physician review.
  • Partnership – with a shift to a more holistic approach to patient care, consumers are looking for an insurer and a health system that provide collaborative treatment programs. Since patients are more financially responsible than ever before, many want to be part of the discussion before deciding on a treatment path.
  • Simplicity – information overload is not going to help consumers make any key decision; instead, it will slow them down. Clear, concise, and personalized communications will help provide the best pathway moving forward for consumers looking to purchase health insurance.

Certainly, the way that a consumer interacts with nearly all brands has changed significantly over the last 10 years and the health insurance industry is not the only industry facing this challenge. Online shopping has become the norm, and the reference to a shopping cart rarely has anything to do with a piece of equipment that is pushed around a retail store. Some consumers even order their groceries online and just pick them up at the store or have them shipped directly to their homes. So, understandably, these interactions are changing the way that consumers want to interact with all products and services that they use.

It is an exciting time to be in the health care industry, as many will agree that this new level of engagement with consumers is challenging yet refreshing! Consumers are taking responsibility for their health and are looking for insurance companies to help lead the way to a healthier lifestyle.

The Importance of Case Studies in PR

Case Studies: The Secret Weapon of PR

I’m sure other PR professionals will agree that being a storyteller is the largest part of our job. We are constantly crafting stories on behalf of our clients in order to positively position them in the public eye.

As the industry becomes more integrated, we’re charged with the task of developing new ways to tell our clients’ stories. One tactic acts as the crossroads for a number of different opportunities, opening the door to different forms of content that can tell a client’s story from a different perspective.

The tactic I speak of is none other than the case study. On the outside, it may just seem like a hidden section on a company’s website that’s designed to be a glorified customer review. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as case studies offer a number of unique opportunities to paint your clients in a positive light. When done properly, you can use a great case study to create additional forms of content, including:

  • Video: The sign of a great story is its ability to help you visualize all of the details. With video, you’re able to tell a complete story that comes straight from the source—the client and the customer—while giving your audience the visuals it desires. Potential customers are able to put a face to a name, which personifies your client’s organization and makes it more approachable. According to a study conducted by Adelie Studios, 70 percent of marketing professionals report that video converts better than any other medium. On top of that, the average Internet user spends 88 percent more time on a website with video content. With numbers like those, telling your clients’ stories through video is a no-brainer.
  • Press Release: The quintessential tool of PR professionals, a press release helps paint a picture and provides all of the necessary details to make that picture come to life. You can rework a case study into press release format and give the partnership between your client and its customers a newsworthy angle, something all journalists demand.
  • Media Pitch: Most PR pros want more than just a press release pickup. At times like that, drafting a pitch for the media is the best approach. With a pitch, you share a little bit of the story, enough to get the reporter interested, and then fill in the blanks to close any “holes in the plot.” For a PR professional, this is like double dipping: If successful in securing coverage, you create exposure for both your client and its customers. In other words, it’s a win-win scenario.
  • Blog Post: If there’s one thing that PR professionals love, it’s speaking highly about their clients. When taking a case study and applying it to the blog format, you’re able to tell a success story while highlighting all of the great things your client can do. With a press release or a pitch, you have to be somewhat modest and keep a balanced perspective that shines a light on all parties equally. When writing a blog on behalf of your client, you can tell the same story while highlighting the benefits of your client’s offerings. Reporters may not be interested in those details, but potential customers certainly are.

One thing you must always keep in mind: When a customer has nice things to say about your client, seize the opportunity and amplify what’s being said. The case study is the perfect platform for that customer voice to be heard, opening the door to multiple methods of storytelling. It’s a secret weapon for PR professionals—one that shouldn’t be a secret anymore.

Cutting Through the Clutter: Three Tips for Media Roadshows

Today’s PR professionals are faced with new media relations challenges as the role and workload of a journalist shift to meet the demands of digital media. It can be difficult to catch a reporter live on the phone to pitch a story—and even harder to survive the delete button when a journalist’s inbox is inundated with 100+ other pitch emails.

Media events or roadshows are popping up and picking up steam as a great venue for brands to engage in face-to-face pitching and relationship building with journalists at top consumer and trade publications, broadcast outlets, and newspapers. For some brands, media events are a great way to introduce a product or service to journalists and publications with beats that hit your target consumers. For many other brands, media events help to put a face to the name to further foster relationships between a brand, its PR team, and a journalist that already works with the brand.

Two types of media events that are trending in the industry include traditional tabletop events and speed-pitching events. Traditional tabletop events allow journalists to browse an exhibitor’s or brand’s table and stop by to learn more about a featured product or solution. Speed pitching takes a slightly different approach as exhibitors or brand ambassadors rotate from media table to media table creating a five-minute pitching window with each journalist. There has also been a rise in themed media events, including home and garden, summer fun, holiday gift guide events for techies, pets, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day.

Over the past couple of years, Martino Flynn has worked with a range of clients to break through the clutter and make the most of their investment at media- pitching events and media roadshows. Here are three tips for media roadshows to help maximize your media event experience:

Tip 1: Research the Attendee List

Many media events provide a list of attending journalists and/or publications. Leverage any pre-event information that you can to research the attending journalists, a publication’s focus and readership. It’s essential to have background information on the appropriate publications or outlets to be effective in each on-site pitch interaction. Researching a publication can also uncover recent stories and what type of stories.

Tip 2: Customize Pitches

Having a range of pitch angles can be a secret weapon for success at media events and roadshows. Researching a publication and/or journalist can help support pitch development and ensure that you use the most effective customized pitch to break through the clutter of conversations at an event. Tying a product or solution to an upcoming holiday, a trend, or a hot news story can also provide a unique story angle for a journalist to consider.

Tip 3: Details Matter in the Follow-Up

Media events and roadshows can prove to be overwhelming for both exhibitors and journalists. The post-event follow-up is where article inclusion and media hits are secured. Taking notes during an event can help with creating a memorable and detailed follow-up. Did a journalist mention that he or she enjoyed a specific product fragrance or flavor? If so, send him or her a product sample of his or her noted favorite, along with a follow-up note. Also, if a journalist expressed interest in a specific pitch angle for an upcoming article, make sure that you include those details of the conversation in the follow-up.

At Martino Flynn, we have found that media events provide great exposure for our clients. Success can be seen with the relationship-building aspect of the event and in terms of securing media hits for clients. Journalists attending media events and roadshows are typically very engaged with each brand as they search for content for upcoming articles and/or product guides. Media events and roadshows offer a win-win-win for brands, PR teams, and journalists.

For more information on how your brand can break through the clutter at media events and roadshows, contact the Martino Flynn PR team at 585.421.0100.

Mobile Banking Tips For Financial Service Institutions

I have a confession: I haven’t visited my Financial Service Institution (FSI) in over a year. The reason? About two years ago, my FSI added mobile deposit for checks. That was the end of my branch visits – when I would often rush in during the last five minutes of business on a Saturday afternoon, disheveled and beseeching the teller to deposit a slightly wrinkled check from weeks prior that I’d forgotten about.

Now I can deposit a check the moment I receive it, I have instant access to that cash, and I don’t have to check branch hours or locations anymore – all thanks to mobile banking.

Mobile banking has given customers like me access to a whole host of services that ease and expedite their banking experiences. And the technology has been around long enough now that many customers see it as a “must-have” rather than a value-added service. While the majority of FSIs have adopted some type of mobile application, this technology (and the marketing associated with it) should be constantly evolving to meet customer needs.

Here are a few tips for FSIs looking to improve their mobile banking services:

Know Your Audience

Mobile banking isn’t just for millennials. In fact, a 2013 survey conducted by the Federal Reserve revealed that individuals between the ages of 18 and 29 account for only 39% of total mobile banking users. Individuals aged 30 years all the way through 60+ years account for the other 61%.*

If FSIs are looking to inform audiences about the existence of their mobile banking services, they should develop marketing messages that target several different age groups.

However, when looking to advertise a specific mobile banking service, it’s important to target the age groups that are most likely to utilize that service. For example, those 45 years of age and older are more likely than younger age groups to use mobile banking technology to find branch and/or ATM locations, whereas those 44 years of age and younger are more likely to utilize mobile deposit capture than those in more mature age groups. Each generation uses the technology a little bit differently, and FSIs should be cognizant of just which mobile banking services each group is most likely to use.

Understand Why Customers Use Mobile Banking

Mobile banking is a preferred method across all age groups for simpler tasks – i. e., tasks that take less than five minutes to accomplish. The preference for utilizing smartphones over computers declines greatly when the length of time for a task increases.**

This is an important piece of information for FSIs, as it’s an indicator of which services should be provided through mobile banking technology. Understanding that customers are far more likely to use a computer for more complex tasks (such as researching financial products, obtaining insurance quotes, opening accounts, and other time-consuming banking activities) will allow FSIs to narrow their efforts to improve upon their mobile banking applications. FSIs are encouraged to continue innovating when it comes to simpler mobile banking tasks such as account and transaction review, check deposit, bill payment, money transfer, and branch/ATM location listing – which all take a relatively short amount of time to complete.

Advertise Your Mobile Banking Application

Customers can’t use mobile banking if they don’t know it’s available! FSIs should make every effort to ensure that customers are well-informed about the existence of their mobile banking technology, and educated on the value-added benefits of using it.

Choose Appropriate Marketing Tactics

Customers who are predisposed to use mobile banking as a tool are also very likely to be comfortable with and proficient in using smartphones. These customers use their phones regularly, and in a variety of different ways to accomplish tasks efficiently. FSIs can convince smartphone-savvy customers to use their mobile banking technology by utilizing mobile-friendly marketing tactics to reach them. E-blasts, web banners, and paid social media posts that are informative about an FSI’s mobile banking application are highly advised. Each of these tactics offers an easy, “one click” way for customers to sign up or learn more. In addition, FSIs are encouraged to have more information regarding their mobile banking services made available and easily accessible via their responsively designed websites.

Capitalizing on mobile banking can seem like trying to hit a moving target, and in this era when technological advances are expected, FSIs are constantly being challenged to innovate. But understanding and applying these aforementioned tips can allow FSIs to focus on the mobile banking services that matter, so they can market and deliver the technology that smartphone-savvy customers crave.

* http://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/consumers-and-mobile-financial-services-report-201403.pdf

**http://www.americanbanker.com/bankthink/think-twice-about-your-banks-mobile-first-strategy-1073623-1.html

Five Tips to Drive Retail Sales with Online Marketing

Today’s retail market is competitive. Brands are not just competing with each other; they are competing against online retailers as well. So how do you drive retail sales when there are so many options and people are still pinching pennies?

Drive them with online marketing. And I don’t just mean banner advertising.

Today, “online” encompasses desktop, mobile, tablet, social networks, and music and video-streaming outlets such as Pandora and Hulu. Paid advertising is important, but also think outside the box. “Word of mouth” is still one of the most trusted and powerful forms of advertising. Dunbar’s original social circle model included 150 connections. But a 2014 study shows our average social circle is now 350, and the 18-24 age segment actually averages 649 social connections.

Here are five tips to drive retail sales with online marketing:

  1. Optimize your mobile site

Almost half (40%) of consumers don’t feel comfortable shopping online, and it doubles to 80% when we’re talking about shopping on a mobile device. This may look dismal, but the good news is that these same individuals are still researching online. Use this search behavior to drive to store for purchase. A mobile experience that is optimized and intuitive will provide a good online experience and drive store traffic–a win-win! People use desktop and mobile search for different reasons, so Google ranks these sites using different algorithms. Google’s recent search rankings algorithm makes it easier for users to find mobile-friendly sites when searching on mobile devices, since Google knows the experience will likely be better on that mobile-optimized site.

  1. The clearer, the better

Add interactive tools or a “chat” function offering help to your visitors–similar to how a sales associate would assist at retail. You can also add a store lookup option right in the ad, instead of driving users to the website. If retail visits are your goal, listing your locations can be an ideal way to drive foot traffic. If there is not a store in the area, drive to online. Don’t lose the opportunity for a sale. Another way to promote sales is to add a product carousel to your ad. We recently tested this approach for Golf Galaxy’s “Father’s Day Sale,” resulting in more than 12,000 interactions with the product carousel. This led to a significant increase in traffic to GolfGalaxy.com on Father’s Day weekend. Keep your site and ads clean so the message is clear and you increase the likelihood of a click or visit.

  1. Try geo-fencing

Geo-fencing is becoming a popular marketing tool for retailers so they are only targeting online ads near their retail location(s). This approach creates a virtual “fence” around a specific geographic area. When individuals move inside this fence, they can receive messages, special offers, or other information sent to their mobile devices. American Eagle capitalized on this tactic earlier this year. The company’s sales had recently fallen, as competition increased from online retailers such as Zara and Forever 21. In order to win back its market share, American Eagle launched an effective marketing strategy aimed at reaching its mostly teenaged audience via the one thing they can’t seem to put down–their mobile devices. Through geo-fencing, as well as a heavy rollout of beacon systems that use low-power Bluetooth technology, customers can be targeted within a fixed radius of an American Eagle outlet and drawn into the physical store.

  1. Know and understand your competition

One of the most important aspects of any retail brand is researching its competition. Spend time analyzing the competitive marketplace in order to determine where and how you should be investing advertising dollars. Know your competitors’ key online messages and use them to help determine what to test in your own marketing efforts.

  1. Test, Test, and keep testing

A/B testing is an excellent approach in determining the best promotion and messaging to use. Narrowing down the most effective aspects of a promotion can make your marketing effort more profitable and cost effective. Be sure to have at least two creative images to test. According to a study conducted by Rocket Fuel, ads that displayed specific products averaged 6% higher conversion rates compared to ads that did not show a product. Ads featuring humans averaged 4% higher conversion rate lifts. Simple changes, such as logo placement, can also make a big difference. Rocket Fuel’s study concluded that ads with a logo in the lower-left corner averaged the highest conversion rates. A/B tests shouldn’t be limited to just images; evaluate different ad sizes and call-to-action messages as well.

The retail market can seem intimidating, but placing your products and messaging in front of your target audience is both feasible and affordable. A simplistic site coupled with a clear message can create a lasting impact, turning potential customers into lifelong patrons.

To learn more about Martino Flynn’s digital media capabilities, contact Alyssa Mayer at 585.421.0100.

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