News and views to improve the strength and vigor of all your direct response marketing activity.

It’s a great lesson in Direct Marketing ... as more and more decisions about health insurance and health care are placed in the hands of the consumer, it’s important that they exit your sales funnel as customers armed with the knowledge they made the right decision. It’s important for them, but just as important for you. “An educated consumer is your best customer.”

“You could fit it on the head of a pin.”

Old saying: “What he or she knows about (fill in the blank) could fit on the head of a pin.” You could fill that blank with Rechargable Batteries, Home Brewing, Geothermal Home Heating, or any number of consumer goods or services. But when you fill it with “Health Insurance,” the consequences for both the person being talked about as well as the company they are buying from can be pretty severe. In this instance, ignorance is most definitely not bliss. (Last cliché, I promise.)

It can be like you’re speaking a whole different language.

As a marketer of a product or service via direct marketing, we can too easily get overly familiar with our product and assume the consumer is more aware than they are. Two facts I saw recently drive home this viewpoint and offer lessons relevant to all marketers.

Fact One: “Costs too much” and “I don’t get it” both equal “No Sale.” There are two big turn offs for many people newly insured in ACA plans. As documented in this article, individuals who have never had health insurance before — are leaving plans at an alarming rate. One reason cited is affordability; another is that they just plain don’t understand what coverage they have.*

Fact Two: Access to expertise doesn’t equal retention. Even in a group insurance situation, with access to an HR department and annual benefits meetings, the fact is 38% know little or nothing about their employee benefits. And per a study by Mass Mutual, this ignorance spans millennials, baby boomers and Gen-Xers, all of whom seem to be confused when it comes to [their] benefits.”**

It’s a challenge paying for something that you don’t really understand. Let alone something you can’t see the value of on a regular basis. We know the value of paying our car payment. We drive the car every day. It’s a physical thing we can touch and feel. Health insurance, like all financial services, or any intangible product, isn’t something you can see. And you don’t use it every day.

That’s where ongoing member/consumer education can help; educating them on what they have, and encouraging them to use it. Research shows someone who uses a service they have has a tendency to renew and stay a customer far longer.***

Two real live examples…from my life.

On the millennial side of reality, there’s a conversation I had with my 30-year-old son. He went to the doctor for the first time with his new ACA plan. Came home, looked me in the eye and said: “I pay all that money in premiums and I still had to pay them more money. I don’t get it. Isn’t it all included?” Now, I have taught him he should have health insurance. But where I (apparently) fell down was doing a good job of explaining it. I just assumed that he knew how it worked — I guess I thought he learned the lessons I knew from a career working in insurance by osmosis?

My other experience comes from an older demographic. I was “behind the curtain” at a focus group where the attendees were chosen because they indicated they had a Medicare Advantage plan. During the session, it was very clear that they all had a Medicare Supplement plan. Not only a different kind of insurance, but not the consumer we were trying to sell to. How can you convince anyone in that group that they should switch to a Medicare Advantage plan — when they think they already have one? Unfortunately, longevity in owning individual insurance doesn’t guarantee superior understanding.

Educating consumers may simply require online assets that link to messages in other media. Like in this case study.

Putting insights into action for your direct marketing.

The facts say many consumers often have limited understanding of many products they buy. Even with access to in-person expertise! And for products and services not physically accessed on a regular basis — all insurance, auto club memberships, many savings and financial services, home security, and more — this situation leads to high customer/membership lapse and attrition. The situation is arguably more severe when selling through direct response, rather than face to face.

Of course, your direct marketing efforts need not suffer this fate. A recent program for a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan in South Carolina linked lead generation media messaging to an informative microsite which helped properly inform, educate, and move consumers to action. For more examples of inquiry fulfillment and enrollment messaging which cemented the sales, as well as generated applications, please contact us here. As for some specific how-to’s ... please consider subscribing to this blog for my next post!

*“Half of Millennials Can’t Define Deductible,” BenefitsPro, Jack Craver, October 16, 2015

**2015 MassMutual Employee Benefits Security Study

***Deft Research