Category Archives: Martino Flynn

Medicare Advantage Marketing: Guidelines For Reaching Senior Women Aged 65-74

Seniors, ages 65 years and older, account for the fastest-growing age group in America—with a population expected to rise to 58.3 million individuals by 2021. Of the entire senior population, the largest demographic group is young, senior women, ages 65-74. Their numbers, as well as their influence on others’ important healthcare decisions, should not go unnoticed by today’s healthcare marketer. However, Medicare Advantage marketers may need to adjust their strategies in order to appeal to this particular group if they want to reap the benefits of expected senior population growth.

A recent Mintel report provides data from a survey of senior Americans regarding their thoughts and behaviors in relation to healthcare. From this data, Martino Flynn has gathered insights on the specific healthcare desires of young, senior women that will give Medicare Advantage marketers a competitive edge.

Outlined below are four marketing guidelines for advertising Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to young, senior women in America:

Develop straightforward marketing communications

According to Mintel’s research, young, senior women are almost as likely to pay attention to straight-to-the-point advertisements (35% of female respondents aged 65-74) as they are to pay attention to healthcare information from a friend or family member (43% of female respondents aged 65-74). This desire for “straight talk” is likely borne out of the complicated nature of the government’s Medicare program, which can often be difficult to understand.

When it comes to selecting an MA healthcare plan, young, senior women want to be guided through their options—laying out covered products and services, listing in-network healthcare systems, and citing associated costs up front. To meet this desire for transparency and clear communications, MA plan marketers should carefully consider copy—running it through testing whenever possible to ensure clarity. Leveraging visual representations of information can allow for ease of understanding. Videos, graphs, bulleted lists, maps, infographics, and tables are all proven tools for helping to convey complicated information in a way that’s “digestible” for young, senior women.

Position your company as an educational resource

Related to young, senior women’s desire for clear communications is their desire for information to help them make informed decisions about their healthcare.

Rising healthcare costs, including increased prices for prescription drugs, have young, senior women doing more information gathering than ever, before selecting a healthcare plan. Since most seniors live on a fixed income, affordability of an MA plan is of paramount importance. Also of increased importance to young, senior women is having a care plan for themselves. Developing a care plan includes making decisions about types of specialists they should be seeing, how often they should exercise, and their prescription drug regimen. With a decreasing number of doctors specializing in care for seniors, more young, senior women are seeking educational advice from other trusted sources on these important healthcare topics.

MA plans marketers have an opportunity to position themselves as thought leaders when it comes to senior care through the development of original content and/or dissemination of valuable third-party information on the topics that matter most to young, senior women. Both printed and online resources can be developed for those individuals seeking education. Medicare 101 booklets, blogs covering senior healthcare issues, and curated articles on social media are just a few examples of the ways healthcare marketers can position healthcare companies as subject-matter experts, and, therefore, capture the attention of young, senior women.

Provide a customized approach to wellness

More than half of the young, senior women surveyed showed a keen interest in exercise programs that were tailored to their needs. Specifically, young, senior women were looking for exercise classes that were only for seniors; programs designed for their age; and exercise regimens that were designed to help promote heart health, improve balance, and maintain a healthy weight.

Beyond offering financial assistance or credits for beneficiaries engaging in exercise activities, marketers for MA plans can address this desire for a customized approach to wellness by identifying local exercise programs designed for seniors. Maps, lists, and searchable databases of customized senior exercise programs may all prove as useful tools for this demographic. Compiling this information in one place for young, senior women can save them the time and effort of conducting their own research, and, therefore, continue to advance the company’s position as a trusted source of information.

Offer options that preserve autonomy

Around 69% of young, senior women are planning to age in place, either at their own homes or within their current communities. This response from young, senior women indicates a desire for independence, as well as the ability to control their own healthcare needs, rather than relying on others for assistance. In fact, when asked if they would be interested in particular healthcare services that would make living at home easier, many responded negatively. Less than half of young, senior women surveyed expressed interest in services that organized weekly medications, offered rides to medical appointments, or delivered medications directly to their home.

While the above may appeal to other groups aged 65 years and older, marketers should be wary about front-loading marketing communications with these types of services if they hope to pique the interest of young, senior women. Instead, marketers should focus on copy and imagery that promote their MA plans as ones that can help beneficiaries preserve autonomy and maintain their current lifestyles.

Developing effective marketing communications that appeal to senior women ages 65-74 can seem like a daunting challenge for MA plan marketers. However, insights into the thoughts and behaviors of this group have shed light on the topics and tactics that will drive higher response rates. MA plan marketers that develop straightforward advertising, educational resources, tools for identifying customized wellness programs, and marketing that embraces independent living will have the upper hand when it comes to capturing the attention of young, senior women, and reaping the benefits of increased enrollment.

Source: Mintel, Seniors and Health—US—September 2016

Cost-Effective Direct Mail Campaigns

With digital marketing on many companies’ to-do lists, “older” tactics such as direct mail are often overlooked. However, when done correctly, direct mail can still be a cost-effective way to reach both Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) audiences. Planning a direct mail campaign can be daunting, but here at Martino Flynn, we are experts in this tactic and can help you with all aspects—from strategy to reporting—of your direct mail campaign.

When starting a direct mail campaign, it is important to remember that cost effective does not necessarily mean “least expensive.” Inexpensive direct mail campaigns can be accomplished, but sometimes your audience and/or product warrants a more robust mailer. For example, when mailing an important press release to industry CEOs, you may want to invest more for a thicker paper stock or use a more expensive format that grabs attention. On the opposite end, if you have an easy-to-understand, consumer product, an inexpensive postcard with a coupon attached to it may be your best option.

The first step to determining your campaign budget should be to create a waterfall, also called a pro forma. The waterfall should take into account your estimated response rate and allowable costs per response and/or sale. Using the above example, if you are targeting CEOs and signing one new contract will bring in a large chunk of revenue for you, your allowable may be much higher than a company that profits $20 on each product that it sells. Keeping in mind the potential lifetime revenue, not just the first sale for both B2B and B2C customers, is important as some campaigns may take time and multiple sales per customer to pay for themselves, while others may pay for themselves almost immediately.

Once your direct mail campaign budget has been determined, there are many different costs to consider, including paper, printing, postage, design, photography, mail list purchasing and cleansing fees, among others. As mentioned, your audience and/or product can help to determine which of these things you should spend the majority of your budget on and where you can save. Keep in mind that spending more does not necessarily equate to a better response rate.

Another factor that can affect your direct mail campaign’s cost is the quantity of your mailing. Typically, the smaller your mail quantity, the more expensive it is per piece for design and printing. Postage costs may also decrease per piece for larger quantity mailings or mailings that target a small geographic area.

Like many other marketing tactics, most of the people who receive your mailer will not respond. Multiple mailings may be needed and testing different messages, formats, and calls to action is always a good idea.

Martino Flynn can help you navigate the often complicated direct mail campaign process. For more information on developing a cost-effective direct mail campaign, please contact Heather Riexinger at hriexinger@martinoflynn.com.

What Can We Learn From The United Airlines Fallout?

When the video leaked of airline security officers forcibly dragging a passenger off an overbooked plane against his will, it was clear that United Airlines’ crisis communications plan should have kicked into high gear. With one of the best crisis communications teams and a business-savvy CEO like Oscar Munoz—who also happened to be named PRWeek’s Communicator of the Year in 2017—you would have expected the airline to handle the debacle of Flight 3411 with ease. As one of the top international airlines, United has survived numerous PR blunders in the past, including the most recent #LeggingsGate.

Unfortunately, for this latest disaster, that was not the case.

PR practitioners would argue that Munoz should have addressed the crisis head on, owning what happened on his airline and publicly apologizing to both the victim, Dr. David Dao, and the fellow Flight 3411 passengers. However, United stumbled. Well, fell flat on its face, really.

Mistake #1: United released a mediocre apology on social media where Munoz apologized for having to “re-accommodate” customers. The lack of empathy to the flight’s passengers made the CEO appear tone deaf during a looming crisis and generated thousands of negative comments across Facebook and Twitter. In fact, Facebook alone brought in more than 140,000 comments.

Mistake #2: Rather than notifying employees that an investigation was underway, Munoz issued a rather defensive employee letter calling Dao “disruptive and belligerent” and praised the officers for following procedure. No brand wants to admit guilt or wrongdoings, but at times, it’s necessary in order to survive a crisis. It’s also vital to remember that even internal communications can go public (or worse, viral).

Mistake #3: Munoz made two additional statements, each one seemingly less genuine than the last due to the “too little, too late” notion. The second social media apology that called the event “truly horrific” brought in some favorable likes, but still opened the discussion for negative reactions. The third apology, made directly by the CEO in an exclusive ABC News interview, was a step in the right direction in terms of humanizing the brand and accepting responsibility, but made it clear that the brand was really struggling.

Despite the fallout from these missteps, there are some key learnings from what United did right. Yes, hang with me, here.

  • United responded immediately after the incident hit social media and while the communication verbiage wasn’t successful, it proves that social media almost always comes first. The videos were released at 7:30 p.m. and the airline responded to Twitter complaints as early as 7:37 p.m. with a formal statement going viral later that evening. Prioritizing social media and addressing customer concerns in real time are both practices that all brands should follow.
  • Following the incident, United pulled back on online digital advertising in an attempt to “go dark.” Although disappearing isn’t a long-term strategy, it is a good way to avoid further attention to a brand during a sensitive time and allows the brand the time it needs to rethink its campaign messaging.
  • Despite Tuesday being United’s top day for sending email blasts, its airline pulled back on scheduled messages following the incident. Reeling in regular communication efforts was a good move as United will undoubtedly have to rebuild its reputation with customers before pushing out marketing promotions.

In the upcoming weeks, it will be interesting to see how Munoz will try to revive the airline’s brand, as well as its finances. After the event, United’s stock has dropped as much as $1.4B, there are rumors of a looming lawsuit from Dao, and the video has now exploded across Chinese social media platforms fueling rumblings of a potential Chinese boycott of international travel via United. For those of us in the marketing and PR world, this PR disaster will no doubt give us a case study for better crisis communication planning.

To learn how you can protect your brand’s reputation, contact Martino Flynn today.

Soft-Selling Your Technology Services Through Thought Leadership

From cloud connectivity to cyber security, it seems like almost every technology company is expanding their communication services. However, having the most extensive fiber route or the most customizable cloud configuration simply isn’t enough when it comes to landing new customers. Speeds, feeds, lines and features may sound like strong differentiators to service providers, but IT decision makers know all too well that solution capabilities, and their own business needs, change rapidly. In this fast-paced industry, C-Suite and IT professionals aren’t likely to jump at the latest solution to hit the market, rather they are more apt to make purchasing decisions based on brand affinity, reputation, and loyalty. With this in mind, we often recommend our clients consider executing upon a strategic thought leadership program to better position their company as a strong business partner.

How do thought leadership programs work?

After a company identifies the correct company spokesperson for its program—often based on factors such as the individual’s industry knowledge, product expertise, authenticity, and likeability—the next step is to identify and implement a series of communication tactics to position him or her as the company’s Subject-Matter Expert (SME). This can include setting up a speakers bureau so that the SME can speak at trade shows or customer events, pitching that SME for media interviews in targeted trade, regional, and national outlets; authoring a blog series portraying the SME’s opinions on various topics; or executing a social media engagement effort to build the SME’s personal brand.

With the right mix of communication tactics, a thought leadership program can help a company:

  • Evangelize company culture by using an SME who embodies brand values
  • Establish credibility through the expertise of their employees
  • Develop stronger rapport with customers/prospects by humanizing the brand
  • Deliver value to a topic and steer the direction of an industry conversation
  • Sell products and solutions through storytelling

What type of thought leadership content resonates the most?

Despite common misconceptions, audiences are not looking for your SME’s opinions to be all that differentiated from the industry standard. In fact, many SMEs who cover topics like cyber security will naturally emphasize the same key advantages of implementing network and cloud security solutions. However, audiences want to find the best answers to their questions; and if you have the right SME—one who is well-respected, knowledgeable, and trustworthy—your company will be able to do just that. By addressing customer pain points, industry changes, and the latest trends, your SME can become the “go-to” authority.

From the public relations perspective, thought leaders can play a valuable role in “soft selling” products and/or services without ever hinting at promotion. The best SMEs are those individuals who are respected within the industry and trusted by customers and prospects alike; therefore your target audiences will find value in hearing what they have to say. SMEs can talk about solutions in terms of capabilities vs. features and dance on the line of vendor neutrality when discussing “hot” topics. Company thought leaders are not your salesmen, they are your influencers; this is a subtle, but important, distinction.

To learn more about creating a thought leadership program, contact Jenny LePore at Martino Flynn.

Our Take: Super Bowl 51 Commercials

From the big game to commercials and the food, Super Bowl Sunday always brings a lot of excitement to the employees of Martino Flynn. We asked our experts to recap the commercials that aired during Super Bowl 51 and share “Our Take” on this year’s spots.

John Marianetti, executive producer

Every year there is great hype and anticipation surrounding the new Super Bowl spots and every year I seem to be left feeling slightly underwhelmed. I think that most brands just try too hard to make their spots memorable.

I prefer the simpler, yet flawlessly executed, spots. As much as I really enjoyed the cinematic styles and almost mini-feature-like qualities of Budweiser’s, “Born the Hard Way”, 84 Lumber’s  “The Journey Begins,” and Pepsi’s “Life Water”, I was equally impressed by the simple, conceptual  approach of the Skittles “Romance” spot. Good TV commercials don’t always equate to big budgets or complicated productions.

And when you cast Justin Timberlake reacting to Christopher Walken’s spoken word performance of NSYNC’s “Bye, Bye, Bye” for Bai, well that’s just gold from a branding and name retention perspective. It’s hard to imagine anyone drinking a bottle of Bai without singing “Bye, Bye, Bye” out loud!

Tim Downs, executive creative director

Initial observation: I was struck by how many advertisers chose to address some of the issues that are currently affecting our country today. While there were plenty of ads that were entertaining and used humor to gain consumers’ goodwill, it’s the advertisers who used their spots to align themselves with bigger issues that stood out for me.

My favorites being the Audi spot that addressed women’s rights in a great storytelling way. And Budweiser—while still self-serving—acknowledged the role of immigrants in our country. The Honda yearbook spot not only employed great production techniques, but delivered an uplifting message.

As advertising professionals, we preview a lot of the spots online and read many trade articles analyzing them. For each spot, we break down the marketing strategy, the production techniques and special effects, art direction, and the copy. It makes it somewhat difficult to view the commercials objectively—as a pure consumer.

So as a consumer, I appreciated those spots that used humor and entertainment in a relevant way. I thought advertisers that reinforced their brands well and in interesting ways were Bai, Coca-Cola, and Mercedes Benz. All of them demonstrated that they understood their audiences and, more importantly, how their brands relate to them.

At the end of the day, what resonated with me were the spots that combined great storytelling, awesome production, and a message that was relevant to current social issues and their brand.

 Matt D’Angelo, digital creative director

I think the pinnacle of creative, widely engaging Super Bowl spots are in the past. The annual Super Bowl broadcast is a huge global stage where advertisers can really flex their muscles, but I have to say that this year the spots were a bit weak. I’m looking for some really sharp comedy, a clever twist, a super catchy jingle, or a deeply moving humanity piece. In light of our current political and social climate, the low-hanging fruit were spots leaning on cultural diversity. It seemed like a lot of brands jumped on that bandwagon— although, some were more creative than others.

While there were no “Wow” moments, raucous laughter, or tear-jerkers in my viewing experience, I did enjoy Ford’s “Go Further” spot. Set to the tune of Nina Simone’s “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” and narrated by Bryan Cranston, the commercial is a bit sappy, but it did the trick. Ford will help us “Go Further” and make our lives “faster, easier and better” in the future.

I’m a sucker for fail videos. If done right, there’s a charm in showing the limits of humanity. I liked this spot for the simple tune and a nice payoff on how Ford is there for its customers. It’s not a groundbreaking spot, but it is one that’s cute and replayable—kind of in the vein of the Humans campaign from Liberty Mutual.

Jenny LePore, public relations and social media senior account supervisor

I’m all about good storytelling; I love when a brand not only draws in your attention through a compelling storyline, but also pulls at the heartstrings. Brands take big financial risks when they opt for the “soft sell,” but when it works, oh man, does it work. When Audi boldly took on the gender pay inequality issue in its 60-second “Daughter” Super Bowl ad, it did just that.

From a PR perspective, Audi made its brand relevant by associating itself with one of the most significant social issues of today. “Daughter” addresses the challenges  that many parents face when it comes to discussing issues such as, the gender pay gap and provides a solid metaphor for what can happen inside the workplace. As a working mother of two daughters, I have to say this topic hits close to home.

The best part is that Audi continued to engage its target audiences beyond its TV spot through its #driveprogress hashtag and its YouTube page where it noted that “a 2016 report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee found that women were paid 21% less than men on average.” Props to Audi for thinking this through in terms of digital integration and, of course, for keeping the conversation alive.

While critics argue that Audi took the soapbox theme too literally or, worse, called out Audi for only having two female top executives, it’s important that these conversations happen from a cultural level. Plus, here we are, post-Super Bowl 51, still talking about it. Are we talking about the latest car? No, but for many, they now have a new emotional connection to the progressive-luxury brand. And if you know anything about successful branding, emotional connections often lead to true brand loyalty.

Well done, Audi.