We marketers love (underscored, bolded and in all caps) to critique messaging. From television spots to billboards to the back of our shampoo bottles (this is a real thing that happens in marketing people’s showers across the world, trust me), we’re really good at asking, “What did THAT mean?” and “What were they thinking?” and “Are you serious?!” We also like to think we’re pretty good at spotting the good stuff. Last night, I saw an Edward Jones spot that made me stop and recognize it as successful. I’ll give you a quick synopsis: a man and woman go to see their financial planner, who insists upon turning off her phone and putting it in her desk drawer before starting the meeting. The spot stuck with me for two reasons: 1) it was different and 2) it touched upon something we at KPS3 believe in to our core – the power of human touch.
In a world driven by our dependence on digital channels (and, no, this isn’t going to spiral into a “we’ve all been destroyed by technology” rant), we cannot forget the positive impact of a one-on-one connection. In person. No keyboards. No status updates. And a heckuva lot more than 140 characters. We know person-to-person outreach has the power to change perceptions and move people to action. And in some cases, one conversation can even help improve someone’s life.
When we were tasked with helping connect uninsured Nevadans with income-based health insurance through the state-based health insurance exchange, we recognized it wasn’t going to be enough to place statewide media about Nevada Health Link. Through focus groups, members of our target audiences told us the subject of health insurance is serious and should be treated as such, and that they truly wanted to know what to do to comply with the new healthcare law. And while we knew billboards and 60 seconds were indeed going to help create the drumbeat of messages we needed to raise awareness, we also knew they weren’t going to offer the in-depth, one-on-one attention many people needed to make a decision to understand and then purchase coverage through Nevada Health Link.
What do I qualify for?
Am I eligible?
What if I couldn’t get covered in the past?
Can I put my child on my plan?
What if I don’t buy insurance?
What is the penalty thing all about?
Who can help me do this?
We had a lot of questions to help answer on behalf of our client, Nevada Health Link.
In April 2013, almost six months before enrollment actually opened, we developed a community outreach program to bring messaging to our target populations directly, in person. We hired a statewide team (the majority of whom are bilingual) and got our “boots on the ground” – about 25 pair, in fact – to visit classrooms, festivals, libraries, churches, sporting events, malls, movie theaters and grocery stores. The team facilitated partnerships with non-profit, state- and county-based organizations to help get the word out about Nevada Health Link. We also designed and implemented an in-home visit program (think Tupperware-style party in a host’s/hostess’s home) – our audiences also told us that complex messages are better received from someone they know and trust. The driving goal behind our entire outreach program was to develop a schedule full of events and physical sites where we knew our target populations would be.
With our tested messaging, tens of thousands of brochures, branded booths and logo’d outfits (we even created a Nevada Health Link-branded parade float!), our team connected with the under- and uninsured populations in the state for the next 11 months. In addition to our presence at 1,000 events and distribution locations, a door-to-door canvassing team took to the neighborhoods, knocking on doors and talking to Nevadans about how Nevada Health Link could help.
We believe in touting success through metrics and proving our theories with results. The outreach program achieved more than 125,000 one-on-one conversations and more than 1 million touch points throughout the state. But it’s not only the quantity of touch points and conversations that matter – did our audience take the next steps to enroll in income-based health insurance through Nevada Health Link? More than 1.75 million unique visitors to NevadaHealthLink.com and more than 250,000 calls to the Nevada Health Link call center tell us they did, and that each impression made a difference.
If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a metropolis to raise a brand. We learned through our experience with Nevada Health Link that a complicated – and politically charged – topic requires a strategic, multi-pronged approach to reaching audiences with key, motivating messages. Through a statewide marketing communications campaign, incredible work by the enrollment assistance groups throughout the state, a smart and collaborative client, and our team of outreach staff equipped with useful information (and giant hearts), we can proudly say we moved uninsured Nevadans to act. And for every moan and groan we heard over the past 11 months about the law, we also heard people thrilled to get their questions answered. Overjoyed to hear that someone would sit down, and walk through the process with them. Delighted to be able to talk through their situation with another person, in real time, eyeballs to eyeballs.
We can confidently say this about human touch: it works.
It’s not a battle between new school and old school. It’s simply a balance we all need to strike in our communication styles. If Ms. Edward Jones Adviser can put her cell phone away for her meeting, perhaps we all can think about how one-on-one conversations might enhance our programs, and – if we’re very lucky – improve someone’s outlook on life.
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