Marketing to the Un and Underinsured – Part 1

Part 1

At KPS3, we live for the “AHA!” moments and the victories that result. The majority of our victories revolve around our clients and their success. Helping meet sales goals, exceed metrics, garner valuable media coverage and more – the list of our favorite victories is long yet specific. And more often than not, research is the catalyst for our “AHA!” moments. We adore a presentation that begins with “The research told us…” and we know our work and clients benefit from information-fueled decision-making.

One of our strengths is helping clients educate under-resourced (and often times underinsured) populations. We’ve done extensive work developing strategies around moving these populations to actions such as purchasing health insurance, having an emergency preparedness plan, calling a number staffed by nurses instead of 911 (when appropriate) and making specific decisions around their health management.

Our success in reaching under-resourced populations stems from our research. Our mantra, “We are not our target audience,” pushes us to gather the information we need to get into the hearts and minds of our audiences, and develop strategies that will truly resonate with these populations. Through exploring the existing research and then executing our own primary research such as focus groups, surveys and other lesser-known methods like eye tracking and cognitive testing, we inch closer to the “AHA!” moments and are able to develop communication strategies that move under-resourced populations to act.

One of the most influential pieces of secondary research we’ve used to effectively reach under-resourced populations is Bridges Out of Poverty, a valuable book and community support program that provides a family of concepts, workshops and products to help employers, community organizations, social service agencies and individuals address and reduce poverty in a comprehensive way. Bridges brings people from all sectors and economic classes together to improve job retention rates, build resources, improve outcomes and support those who are moving out of poverty.

For a marketing firm like KPS3, the Bridges Out of Poverty program and literature provide an in-depth look into our under-resourced communities and help us cultivate effective communications strategies and outreach programs. Understanding how and why people make day-to-day decisions is crucial to effectively influence a population, and the Bridges Out of Poverty program provides those insights.

For example, the program taught us that family is often at the epicenter of decision-making for under-resourced populations. Maintaining relationships that are of value is a priority, and this concept has helped shape much of our messaging and creative approaches for a variety of clients. In fact, this concept played a large role in crafting messaging and developing the outreach program for Nevada Health Link, and was backed by primary research among members of our target audience. Nevada Health Link’s goal was two-fold: first, educate uninsured Nevadans about the perils of having no coverage and second, drive them to a new website (part of the Affordable Care Act, a law that requires all of us to have health insurance) that offers the opportunity to purchase income-based, state-approved health insurance plans.

The research helped us produce a series of advertising concepts that were rooted in this idea of prioritizing family and relationships. Advertising that told stories about individuals fearful of the consequences of a life without health insurance (and how it would affect their families) resonated with our uninsured target audiences. One video depicted a young man who says he knows he needs health insurance because his mom worries about him proved successful among the “young invincibles” audience. An older woman with severe asthma was featured, explaining that without health insurance, she couldn’t enjoy her life to the fullest.

Our secondary research is often (and preferably) complemented by primary research. As evidenced by our work with Nevada Health Link, focus groups and surveys allow us to learn, first hand, our audiences’ perceptions of and attraction to particular messaging.

In 2011, KPS3 was tasked with exploring why many under-resourced Washoe County, Nevada residents did not have a family emergency preparedness plan. We conducted a series of focus groups to gauge awareness (How many in this population were aware of a need for an emergency plan?), attitudes (Did they think a plan was necessary?) and behaviors (Without a plan, what do they do in the event of an emergency?). The participants’ responses revealed insights that gave the client, Washoe County Health District, a research-based platform upon which to build a campaign. “Emergencies happen to other people, not me” was the prevailing perception among the target audience. The research told us this population lacked the forethought for the future and “what could happen” (a concept also outlined by the Bridges Out of Poverty program), and helped identify a need for messaging that made the possibility of an emergency in the future relevant today.

When Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA) received a federal grant to launch its Nurse Health Line, the organization asked KPS3 to conduct research to find the most effective ways to tell Washoe County residents about the new service. The REMSA Nurse Heath Line is a non-emergency medical care service, which provides an alternate phone number for non-emergency medical situations. Through primary research, we learned how to best communicate this brand-new concept while reassuring people that there is still a reason to call 911. Our audiences told us they needed concrete examples of when to call the Nurse Health Line, rather then relying on an abstract message. This discovery fueled all campaign decisions, from messaging to creative to the user interface of the Nurse Health Line website. 

We can thank research for much of our success in reaching under-resourced and uninsured populations and moving them to act. Research helps us make fewer assumptions and more informed decisions regarding strategic messaging and advertising concepts. It helps tell us how and where to best reach our audiences. And it helps produce even more “AHA!” moments in our work and for our clients.

Want to learn more about how to effectively reach and influence under-resourced and uninsured populations? Stay tuned into KPS3’s blog roll for Part 2 of this series. And if you have any thoughts or your own examples, share them in the comments.

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