The Consumerization of Healthcare – How to Think Like a Consumer Brand

by Marisa Cogan

The consumerization of healthcare is here.  Are you prepared to change your marketing strategy?  For years, health insurers have focused on marketing to businesses since they are the predominate purchasers of health plans.  But with the Affordable Care Act established, there has been a shift in purchasing power.  Now, individual health plans account for 40% of the market – a 30% increase from pre-ACA numbers. Something else to consider – millions of individuals that were uninsured prior to 2014, are now shopping for insurance on exchanges, and many consumers who had relied on employer-sponsored health plans in the past are now charged with making their own healthcare purchasing decisions. For health carriers, this means a shift in marketing tactics, away from a predominately B-to-B strategy, to a more consumer-focused approach.  Not only do you have to recruit new members, but you also have to educate and engage these members in order to retain them.  Are you ready to start thinking like a consumer brand?

healthcare insurance cards

Create Buyer Personas

Who is your audience?  This is the first question you’ll need to answer before developing your marketing strategy.  Creating a buyer persona helps you understand the wants and needs of your prospects by learning about their lifestyles, behaviors and demographics. For the healthcare industry, you will likely need to develop multiple buyer personas to address geographic, gender, age and ethnic differences.  By creating buyer personas, you will be able to more easily map out the buyer’s journey and create a marketing strategy that is targeted to each persona.

Become a Trusted Advisor

You want your audience to think of you as a trusted advisor so that they feel more comfortable joining your health plan.  Being transparent and providing “free” information are two ways that you can accomplish this.  When presenting your plan pricing, be specific and communicate in terms that all will understand.  Hidden fees and costs will only create animosity and reflect poorly on your organization. Along with providing transparency, provide your potential members (and current members) with an education so that they can make better decisions when it comes to their health.  Build loyalty by producing educational content that can be shared on a blog, through social media or, perhaps, through a quarterly magazine or newsletter mailing. The content should be entertaining and can, perhaps, help members move towards a healthier lifestyle.  Create content that your audience looks forward to receiving and suddenly you’ll turn your prospective members into brand advocates.

Take a Multichannel Approach

In researching your buyer personas, you will find that each group has their own preferences when it comes to receiving communications.  It is not surprising that millennials are more inclined to engage on mobile devices compared to older generations.  However, you may be surprised to learn that 90% of millennials find direct mail reliable and prefer it over other forms of advertising.  So when it comes time to plan your marketing strategy, think about incorporating both traditional and digital tactics around the preferences of the buyer persona.  And when doing so, make sure that your messaging is consistent across all mediums.  This helps to provide a better experience for the consumer and reinforces your brand message.

In summary, when it comes to marketing to consumers, you really must begin to think like one. What would be important to you when selecting a health insurance provider? Where do you spend your time online? What type of ads pique your interest? What do you value the most when it comes to selecting a carrier?  Answering these questions will be he jumping off point to help you migrate from a B-to-B strategy to a more consumer-centric approach.

 

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