Infographic: The State of Media and PR Collaboration

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State of Media and PR Collaboration

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.

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