5 Healthcare Marketing Assumptions That Could Cost You

We’d be surprised if you never made any assumptions about your customers when deploying a marketing campaign. But we’d be even more surprised if you didn’t “miss the target” once or twice. False assumptions can be costly—and that’s why it’s so important to do your research and get your facts straight.

Let’s jump right in to looking at common consumer marketing assumptions made by healthcare companies and health insurance carriers along with the facts that challenge them.

1. “Our customers don’t want to connect with us via Facebook.”

Some companies aren’t completely comfortable using social media to engage with customers. Many continue to take a “wait and see” approach and haven’t committed to a social marketing strategy. Yet,

  • 30% of adults are likely to share information about their health on social media sites with other patients, 47% with doctors, 43% with hospitals, 38% with a health insurance company and 32% with a drug company. (Fluency Media)

If you’re making this assumption, you could be missing out on opportunities to connect with customers and prospects and build brand awareness and credibility through social shares.
Explore this topic further in 5 Ways Healthcare & Wellness Companies Can Get Results with Social Marketing.

2. “Seniors don’t go online to do Medicare Coverage research.”

Many Medicare plan carriers and insurance agents hold fast to the assumption that seniors favor person-to-person marketing and prefer traditional direct mail marketing. That may be true, yet,

  • Internet activity is the most prevalent shopping activity among Medicare Age-ins in 2016 and the activity they spend the most time doing. (But Direct mail motivates many consumers to visit websites.) (Deft Research)

The youngest Medicare consumers are absolutely online—and if they’re not seeing your advertising or other digital messages (e.g. social media posts), they’re likely seeing your competitors.’ Good thing you’re still sending direct mail, though.

3. “Men make most of the financial decisions for their families.”

Let’s get right to the reality check:

  • Women utilize more health care than men and make approximately 80% of health care decisions for their families. (S. Department of Labor)

If you’re not among the healthcare marketers targeting the lion’s share of advertising to the household’s female—it might be time to take a fresh look at your approach. Speaking of women…

4. “Millennial women don’t want to work with insurance agents because they prefer to buy online.”

There are lots of assumptions out there about Millennials. Yes, they’re digital natives. Yes, they’re relatively more comfortable with technology. Yet,

  • When it comes to solving financial challenges, 64% of baby boomer women, 51% of Gen X women, and 60% of women in the Millennial generation seek financial advice. (Ameriprise Financial)

This means most women—and more Millennials than Gen X-ers—value the service and support they receive from professional advisors, including insurance agents who offer plans to protect them from the rising costs of healthcare. Ignoring a huge segment of the marketplace, or focusing prospecting efforts for agents to older healthcare consumers, might not be the best policy.

5. “Our customers know the basics and understand what we’re trying to say.”

Healthcare concepts and terminology might be something we encounter day-to-day, as professionals working in the industry. And we probably take it for granted that everyone has a similar level of comprehension. Yet,

  • Only 12% of adults have Proficient health literacy. That means nearly nine out of ten adults may lack the skills needed to manage their health and prevent disease. Fourteen percent of adults (30 million people) have Below Basic health literacy. (Health.gov)

Based on this information, it looks like most of your target customers need at least a little hand-holding and seek education when it comes to understanding healthcare products and services. Are you providing enough support?

Getting the Facts Straight
Now that we’ve challenged some common assumptions, let’s look at what you can do to avoid them in the first place.

If you’ve got the data to back up your assumptions, terrific! But if you don’t, take some time to substantiate your claims. Good research and testing can have a big impact on your success.

Do primary and secondary research, looking at your customer data as well as industry data. And look beyond demographic factors and into the behavioral realm. Consider phychographic factors (e.g. lifestyles, attitudes, and expectations) that are likely to drive their healthcare decisions.

You’ll start to see your customers in new, multifaceted ways, and discover better ways to connect with them. You may conclude that you’re actually placing too little (or too much) value on traditional media, too much (or too little) value on digital media. Or, you may not be seeing your customers in enough detail.

There may be no better way to challenge assumptions than to test your campaign materials. If a direct mail campaign yielded poor response, don’t assume the package design is to blame, or even the tagline teaser on the envelope.

It just might be that your package went out at an ineffective time—too early to make an impact, perhaps, or too late, after most consumers have done their research and chosen a plan. For instance, according to Deft research, 85% of Medicare consumers have already decided whether they will switch plans or carriers, or stay with their current coverage by the beginning of the annual election period.

If you don’t have research like this to explain a poorly performing campaign, testing will give you answers, especially where there is gray area. For instance, Millennials are very attuned to their mobile devices and they are exceptionally comfortable transacting business online. But that doesn’t mean that sending them a direct mail package is a waste of time and money. (That’s an assumption!) Why not perform a test of your marketing materials to find out what works best?

As we’ve discussed, false assumptions can be costly and you could be missing out on opportunities to market your products and services more effectively. We help our clients target the right customers with the right messages, and our process includes performing rigorous research and testing. Contact us to find out more.