Marketing to the Un and Underinsured – Part 2

Part 2 – Implementation

In Part 1 of our Marketing to the Un and Underinsured series, we wrote about research and the “Aha!” moments that help fuel our decisions. Nothing thrills us more than being able to back up our strategy with data gleaned from primary and secondary research, and that’s the key to many of our campaigns’ successes. But having the right research is just half of the recipe. What we do with the research and how it’s implemented is what turns a well-informed strategy into a perfectly executed campaign. It’s not only about the ingredients you have to cook with, but how you pull them together. Part 2 of this series focuses on implementation, and how KPS3 has helped our clients reach their communications goals through flavorful, thoughtful, well-executed campaigns.

As marketers, our job is to influence audiences to act, and much of our work focuses on moving under-resourced audiences to manage their healthcare differently. For the Nevada Health Link campaign, in particular, our task was to encourage the un/underinsured population to purchase high-quality health insurance plans (many for the first time in their lives). And while research played a major role in our understanding the audience, consistent and constant alignment to this research was key to the success of the campaign. Once in implementation mode, our mantra went from, “We are not the target audience,” (something we have plastered on our mental walls as we develop strategies for all campaigns) to, “Does this align with the research?”

The Nevada Health Link campaign included just about every marketing and communications tactic and channel possible: a media campaign with a heavy dose of digital advertising (perfect for our younger target populations), website development, person-to-person outreach, direct mail and email, door-to-door marketing, events, public relations and social media, collateral materials – you name it, we implemented it, but always with the research in mind. The common thread among all tactics was messaging. Making every word count was paramount, and many hours were spent evaluating words, one at a time, proving that campaign execution is indeed about the details. It’s about understanding the impact words can have on the success of a campaign, and taking the time to align, align, align.

What is the difference between the words enroll and sign up? How about financial help and financial assistance? Affordable and income-based? In the world of marketing to the un/underinsured, the difference is huge. Our research told us that under-resourced audiences prefer signing up, getting financial help and buying income-based insurance. At every turn, we calibrated. Our success wholly depended upon splitting the hairs of our messaging and scrupulously evaluating what was being implemented. Tens of thousands of word choices have been made for the Nevada Health Link campaign, and we believe those decisions are responsible for effectively reaching thousands of Nevadans with information about income-based health insurance. And the results back up this claim: 62% of uninsured Nevadans have an unaided (could name it without prompting) awareness of Nevada Health Link and 83% said they were likely to purchase health insurance through the marketplace. Pair these stats with 2 million+ unique visitors to during the first open enrollment cycle, and we know our messaging decisions were the right ones.

Implementation of a well-informed outreach strategy also contributed to Nevada Health Link’s success. Primary and secondary research told us that un/underinsured populations place a high value on family. Maintaining relationships is often at the epicenter of decision-making for under-resourced populations, and this concept helped us implement an impactful outreach program. Our street team attended events and visited locations (hundreds, in fact) that successfully connected our messaging about the benefits of having health insurance (and how to purchase through Nevada Health Link, the state’s online marketplace) with un/underinsured families. Activities through schools, health fairs, seasonal events such as Cinco de Mayo parties and fall festivals, in-home information coffees, sporting events and movie theater tabling graced the Nevada Health Link event calendar, and the results proved our strategy successful. Our person-to-person outreach approach garnered 1.6 million quality touch points with members of our target audience and final budget analysis showed an amazing $0.87-cost per touch.

In Part 1, we also wrote about the research done for the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA) Nurse Health Line, which is a non-emergency medical care service that provides an alternate phone number for non-emergency medical situations. The stated goals of the campaign were to introduce the new concept to an audience that tends to utilize emergency services for non-emergency situations, increase the number of patients served and help set the stage for program sustainability. Research told us that the best way to communicate this new concept, while reassuring the public that there is still a reason to call 911, is through concrete examples opposed to abstract concepts and messaging.

A pre-campaign survey, secondary research sources and target audience data helped develop the messaging platform, positioning, and outreach and communications plans for the Nurse Health Line campaign. From these planning materials, we developed the campaign’s foundation elements including a strategic program name and logo, color palette, brand guidelines, key messages and collateral (everything from signage to displays to uniforms for the staff). And from there, advertisements, two websites and multiple community outreach pieces were developed, with all roads leading back to the research-based strategy. Our public relations activities also stemmed from the original research, ensuring each part of the campaign’s execution was just as successful as the initial research itself. Even our media buying strategy had roots in the research, which produced successful media metrics – 89% reach, 16x frequency and 16 million impressions. Based on preliminary results and data from October 2013 through June 2014, the Nurse Health Line received 15,941 total calls (2,000 calls per month); the initial goal was to get 2,500 total calls during this time. These calls resulted in the avoidance of 1,149 unnecessary emergency room visits and 190 ambulance transports.

Research is great – vital, even – but it’s not the only ingredient needed for successful campaign implementation. Constant tuning is what brings research to life. Ask yourself: Is my organization aligned to our original strategy? Are we still on the tracks? Do we need to recalibrate and get back to the research?

Each word matters. Every color choice matters. Each in-person opportunity with your target audience matters. And every minute spent evaluating choices of how the research is implemented is worth it.

Do you have thoughts on cooking up an on-strategy campaign? What are your strategies to ensure research is implemented best? Tell us in the comments!


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