Do Consumers Understand Your Healthcare Message?

Vimarc Do Consumers Understand Your Healthcare Message?.jpg

“Medicare is for the poor. Medicaid is for the really poor.”

During a recent series of Vimarc-conducted focus groups, dual-eligible recipients were asked if they understood the difference between Medicaid and Medicare. All but one participant shook their head. The lone answer? The quote above. As you might expect, the study revealed most participants had little to no understanding of their coverage. They did, however, feel that the government wanted to take it away. 

Only 6% of people understand what contributes to the cost of their healthcare. 

A recent survey on the same topic found that only 6% of participants could name the four main factors that affect the cost of their healthcare coverage (co-pay, co-insurance, deductible and out-of-pocket maximum). As you can see from just these two examples, consumers don’t always understand the ins and outs of our healthcare system. Throughout our focus groups most consumers didn’t understand the qualifications or benefits at play, even the ones that directly affect them. That’s a problem.

But as marketers know, within every problem lies an opportunity. This dilemma allows healthcare companies to be looked upon as something more than an insurance salesperson. Your company can be perceived as an educator and advocate that creates a sense of trust. And trust leads to confident decision-making when it’s time to buy. 

But long before a marketing partner can educate an audience on healthcare nuances, they first must educate themselves. Not only on the details of a plan, but on the recipients and audiences. For the benefit of our healthcare clients, Vimarc regularly conducts focus groups in an ongoing effort to better understand healthcare consumers. In just the last year, here are a few lessons we’ve learned:

1. Don’t Sell the Benefits. Sell the Benefits of the Benefits

Say what? Communicating the individual benefits of a health plan is important. But what’s more important is to explain what these benefits really mean to a consumer. Your messaging should answer the question “what’s in it for me,” and show how a benefit really affects their lives.

For example, take dual-eligible consumers living on very low income. Because they already qualify for low-to-no cost coverage, marketing messages focused on price are largely ineffective. On the other hand, dual-eligibles are also typically older and in need of everyday healthcare items such as dentures, hearing aids, glasses, and even rides to the doctor. By focusing on consumer benefits like these, we create a far more engaging message.

Communicating the individual benefits of a health plan is important. But what’s more important is to explain what these benefits really mean to a consumer.

Or lets say your hospital system recently updated their surgical equipment. A message like “now featuring the latest surgical equipment and technology” is perfect for your stakeholders, but wouldn’t be as effective for a person in need of surgery. What’s important to a potential patient is how this new technology affects them. A message like “state-of-the-art surgical technology for smaller incisions, faster healing, and shorter recovery time” takes the same benefit of updated equipment, and sells it in a way that matters to the reader.

2. Keep it Simple

This is hard to do, but it’s the easiest way to successfully communicate: cut the fat. What’s the single most important message that your audience must understand? Take that statement and put it in the headline. Don’t ask your consumer to hunt for it in the middle of an essay. When the message is simple and direct, the path to conversion is easier.

3. Dare to Be Different

Did you know Medicare-eligibles receive between 50 and 60 pieces of direct mail every 60 days? That’s why your pieces need to stand out. Go beyond the oversized postcard. Consider dimensional mailers, reticulating postcards, a billboard with an oversized extension that can’t be missed, or a commercial with a music track that replays in a person’s head long after the TV has been turned off. 

4. Open the Conversation

Each piece of your marketing mix should focus on getting consumers to contact you. It should be another part of a larger conversation — one that should never be one-sided. Don’t be afraid to develop pieces that build up to conversion, but make sure your strategic plan supports the journey. By making yourself available, as an expert in your field, you’ll have the trust—and business—of your audience. 

To market effectively takes a lot of moving pieces. At an agency like Vimarc, we understand all of the above, and how these factors interact, to craft for the best possible message. When you get down to it, it’s all about understanding. From the consumer understanding your message, to marketers understanding consumer needs, it all takes getting to know each other. And it all starts with a conversation. So what are you waiting for? Let’s Talk -->

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