Not Your Grandma’s Medicare

Did you know that by the year 2034, seniors will outnumber children in the United States? Medicare is undergoing a massive reorientation as it prepares to serve larger numbers of people, and that is being felt specifically by Medicare Advantage plans and the heated competition to identify and convert prospects each year. It’s an exciting time to be in the Medicare business.

A few weeks ago, Jump joined over 500 leaders and senior executives in the managed care space at the RISE Medicare Marketing & Sales Summit. This marquee conference focuses on insights, strategies and tactics from industry leaders to deliver in this rapidly evolving marketplace.

The next generation aging into Medicare looks very different than what you would typically expect. It includes Madonna, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Barak Obama. What has worked well with Medicare marketing in the past may not be the right approach for these bold, tech-savvy individuals who are now reaching retirement age. Here are a few of the notable takeaways from this year’s conference as you prepare for the annual enrollment period only seven months away:

Personalization and Targeting are Key

People want to feel seen. With technology developments, it is now more important than ever to meet prospects where they are online and show up with messaging that is relevant to them. Consumers are looking for more conversational and personalized interactions with businesses. 

Authenticity Wins

The market is saturated, and it is tough to stand out from the competition. Authentic brand storytelling is the best way to break through the noise. Be real about who you are and offer comprehensive and dynamic journeys that demonstrate you truly care about them. 

Marketing Mix Matters

Direct mail has been the historical workhorse of Medicare marketing, but the tide is turning, especially as new generations age into Medicare. The marketing mix needs to evolve. Consider omnichannel marketing with tactics that build on each other in a strategic way.

Playing by the Rules Has Never Been More Important

CMS is cracking down on marketing activities. Rules are being enforced, and penalties are steep – sometimes even including suspension of enrollment activities. Now is the time to be more vigilant than ever to ensure you are following all the regulatory guidelines.  

These are exciting new days in the world of Medicare. The opportunity is rich, but the competition is steep, and regulations are strict. If you’re looking for a marketing partner who understands the dynamics of this market, we’d love to help you tell your story in a way that will make even Madonna open her heart to you.

Six ways to gain an advantage in Medicare marketing

Every industry has unique marketing challenges, but marketing Medicare Advantage products during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) may have more in common with a season of Survivor than a seasonal campaign.

Having led Medicare Advantage marketing programs for several years, we’ve seen competitors move in and out of marketplaces and increase and decrease spends as plan offerings change. We’ve also seen consumers’ needs change and priorities shift. Throughout all the volatility, the constant is that it ultimately comes down to driving leads. Here are six valuable lessons we’ve learned about Medicare Advantage marketing and lead generation.

Start early. It’s natural to want to have all the information before you start to develop a campaign, but the timelines and mandatory review periods of Medicare simply don’t allow for it. Don’t get caught waiting for every detail before you begin; work with the information you have and layer in new information as it becomes available. In order to scale the work, we start planning in April.

Align processes. We find the most successful way to work is for the agency and provider teams to be fully in sync. Design for complete transparency around timelines, build shared project plans, created shared sources-of-truth documentation, and collaborate in each other’s systems across everything from project management to communication channels.

Understand your audience. 65+ looks a lot different than it did ten years ago, or even three years ago prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s easy to focus on the overall increase in digital engagement as a tactical challenge, but we also need to focus on listening to our audience about what matters to them. Understanding the 65+ audience as they are this year – today – may unearth less widely understood health needs such as mental health support, transportation, food, virtual care, or mail order prescriptions. These are keys in designing a Medicare Advantage plan, but also in how to market one.

Don’t forget your brand. The market is completely saturated during AEP, often with very similar messaging. We’ve even heard members talk about receiving enough direct mail to fill an entire car! Cutting through the clutter is increasingly challenging for marketers, making it even more important to differentiate your offering with not only product information, but also your brand’s value proposition.

Build omnichannel funnels. It is easy to get caught up in lead generation goals and lose sight of how much awareness is needed to drive individuals through the funnel. How much brand awareness you need is different for everyone, but a good place to start is to be honest with how well your market knows and trusts your brand and how much outside marketing/sales support you have with brokers and other partners. This will allow you to identify any awareness or perception gaps that might create barriers to conversion.

Leverage data. We can’t stress this enough. Data is critical to your success. It starts from the beginning by ensuring you have data that helps you understand your market and audience. It becomes even more critical when determining how you can best use your marketing dollars to target individuals who are more likely to convert. And is arguably the most important when you are optimizing campaigns, analyzing what messages and/or channels drove the best results, and determining the final ROI of your marketing efforts.

As a business, Jump Company has been driving innovation in data-driven Medicare Advantage marketing for a number of years. As individual employees, this makes us a sought-after resource for our parents, grandparents and family friends who “just have a couple questions before we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner.”