How & Why To Promote Your Medicare Plan Pre-AEP — When It’s “Illegal”

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  • August 16, 2017

The Importance of Preheat Creative for Any Medicare Annual Enrollment Period Marketing Strategy

By federal law, there are only 68 days to advertise during Medicare’s Annual Election Period (AEP). With such a narrow marketing window, companies must make the most of every day, every advertising touch, and every dollar spent during the AEP.

So the motive to advertise beyond that tight timing is obvious. Consider that a Medicare beneficiary could receive an average of four or five direct mail packages a day from multiple insurance companies and agents during AEP.

  • The airwaves are filled with both brand and DRTV competitor spots addressing the Medicare market.
  • Digital ads fill tablets and computer screens.
  • Free-standing inserts and print ads can be found in most Sunday newspapers.

In short, the ability to gain the attention of a Medicare beneficiary during the AEP sales timeframe is fiercely competitive.

How are marketers going to meet their target number of subscribers? By prepping the market in advance. An analogy to cooking is perfect: You don’t lay a steak on a cold grill. First you turn on the grill to heat the coals to an optimum temperature before starting to cook. You preheat it. Of course, you don’t get fined or sanctioned for firing up the grill a bit early.

Regulations Limit, But You Still Have Options

It is true that regulations prohibit Medicare providers from directly selling their products in preheat marketing before AEP. The operative word being “directly.” You can still communicate — but not about specific benefits, or with a direct sales call to action. Therefore, the message of any preheat campaigns should push prospects to get out and shop, get informed, and look around to see what’s available so that they’re ready when the time comes.

The messaging opportunities are endless and can be segmented as needed. The point is that while you cannot sell before October 15, there are things you can do to warm up the market and set your campaign up for success. This is particularly true from mid-September to October 1. Starting cold is risky and will likely limit the responses you receive.

When a “Nice To Have” Becomes a “Must Do”

For many of the health plans we work with at DMW, we see preheat messaging prove itself to be a good idea year in and year out. There are also circumstances when preheat is especially critical. Consider these scenarios:

  • Is there new competition in the market? A preheat can reinforce your presence and long-standing commitment to the region.
  • Are you expanding your marketplace? Create awareness in new regions with preheat marketing.
  • Do you have a large Original Medicare-only population? A preheat is a great way to address the concerns of those who only have Original Medicare coverage.
  • Do you have a Medicare education guide or other informational asset to send Medicare-eligible enrollees? This can help keep you top of mind as prospects near enrollment eligibility.

Like a traditional AEP campaign, Medicare preheat messages can be sent through various forms of media – DRTV, direct mail, print, or digital – making preheat viable for any budget. Contact DMW Direct to help make sure your campaign is cooking with gas this AEP season.

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