I just got back from the World Congress 2016 Medicare Marketing and Sales Summit in Orlando and what a great place to learn what is happening in our industry! I heard case studies on Maximizing Limited Resources to Make the Most of Marketing Efforts, Implementing Effective Marketing Tactics to Capture New Age-Ins as well as Creating Partnerships and Co-Branding with Wireless Carriers. I even presented with Marcia Griffin, Director of Medicare Operations at Martin’s Point Generations Advantage, on How to Develop Effective Retention Strategies to Keep Members Loyal. Her presentation had a deep emotional impact, as it included a recording of a member thanking his customer service representative for a card she sent to him. She sent it because his wife had recently passed and he was having a hard time. You could hear it in his voice how much this gesture meant to him and it really hit home that what we do and how we serve our members is of upmost importance.

It was great to hear what my peers have done that has been successful, but I also wanted to learn about what is new and upcoming in our industry, and I was not disappointed. Here are the top 5 new trends that people were buzzing about.

  1. The benefits of targeted media for direct mail, as well as addressable digital systems (DAS) which includes 1:1 digital, IP targeting for online ads, and even addressable TV through cable providers. All of these items do specific targeting to match the consumer’s level of engagement. What all does that mean? It means your marketing gets in front of the people in your target audience most likely to respond to your ad. No more “spray and pray” direct mail and that is a cost savings which equals a lower CPL. I am all about that.
  2. Member retention is very important during AEP, and is not just for Lock-In anymore. Research shows MA plans that send promotional mail to members during AEP decreased switching by 8% and it decreased switching by 11% if there was phone outreach.*
  3. It is an election year (like we all didn’t know that) and television spots are going to be more in demand than ever, which means your pre-paid spots could be bumped for political ads. Using multiple-screen advertising on television, mobile and also online is the future of healthcare marketing - especially during the Open Enrollment window and with the Boomers aging into Medicare.
  4. Pop up retail stores are becoming a successful added sales channel for MA plans. They provide a place for face-to-face consumer engagement and can differentiate the plan from competitors to attract and retain membership. Plans also can leverage the retail space to host retention events (seminars and presentations) as well as meet with current members to review any plans changes starting January 1. Sounds like a win-win. 
  5. There are specialty care companies that focus on providing “add on” benefits to MA Plans, including vision, hearing and dental to safeguard member health and quality of life, as well as serving as a tool for new member attraction and existing member retention. These specialty care companies have a cost-effective approach to providing, servicing and supporting ancillary benefits offering without additional financial and administrative burden to the plan.

Now you know all about the buzz too. I am off to the Medicare Marketing & Sales Summit in the Nashville and then to Washington D.C. for the 13th Annual World Health Care Congress. If you are planning to attend either one, look me up!

Merry Beth Ward is SourceLink's Healthcare Marketing Strategist. She was formerly Director of Marketing for Cigna-HealthSpring, so she's been through her fair share of AEP seasons. She's a Nashville, Tennessee native and loves her hometown Tennessee Titans football team. You can reach out to Merry Beth at mward@sourcelink.com