Less is More for Health Care Marketing Communications

There’s an old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and that may be sage advice for health care managed care organizations (MCOs) seeking to offer insurance plans on the “Obamacare” Health Insurance Marketplace in fall 2013.

It seems that a key to the balancing act of insuring older policyholders (more likely to file claims for care) is attracting enough younger policyholders whose premiums and lack of claims will provide offset relief. The challenge for health care marketers is that these two different age groups learn and communicate differently, so MCOs must take this into account when developing their health care marketing and communications plans.

This blog post is the second in a series that considers the value proposition and message delivery needed to connect with young adults. Make sure to read our first post about healthcare marketing for this demographic. In this post, we will examine four areas to consider when designing your collateral and delivery strategy:

healthcare marketing infographic

Use of Visuals & Infographics

The use of images is important for two reasons. First, those born in the past 20 years are visual learners. They have grown up with video games, the Internet, mobile phones, and other devices that deliver immediate feedback. As a result, this generation expects fast information retrieval and has little interest in reading lots of text copy.  Second, the use of images can be powerful to convey concepts such as the relationship between plan coverage, costs, odds of becoming ill or injured over time, and more in fewer words (thus, more likely to be read).  A popular visual is the Infographic.  Think about leverage visuals to tell your story.

Use of Metaphors

A metaphor is a figure of speech that can be a powerful tool for communicating a new or abstract concept. A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them. Here at esd & associates, we frequently use the metaphor “hub & spoke” to communicate the relationship between a brand’s website and their other marketing vehicles. The website is the “hub” (center of activity) and the “spokes” are items like PPC advertising, social media, print ads, etc., whose purpose is to connect back to the hub (in this example, drive website traffic and sales leads). This metaphor has helped us communicate this concept to clients and reduces the amount of conversation needed.

Simple Language

Organizations such as Enroll America who are advising MCOs as to ways to prepare for their entry into Health Insurance Marketplace also notes the growing discontent and distrust between consumers and health insurance companies. Consumer perception is that health insurance companies deliberately use confusing language and fine print to deceive consumers into insurance plans that are not in their best interest. Whether true or not, this perception must be overcome for MCOs to secure the trust of consumers who have not recently shopped for health insurance.  As a result, any progress MCOs can make to reduce the “insurance speak” and talk to consumers in language they can understand will improve the chances of the message being heard and understood.


Attention span is at a premium for most consumers as the average consumer is now bombarded with over 5,000 media messages per day. As a result, people size up whether they will read a piece of content based on their assessment of the required time investment.  A long (multi-page) document is less likely to be read when compared with a bullet list, Tweet, or online group post.

The implications for message strategy are that MCOs would be well-served to break their communications into “bite-sized” chunks that can be consumed in stages. Rather than creating collateral that is so enormous that it requires pocket folders, think about creating a “message stream” whereby smaller pieces of relevant content are delivered to consumers at just the right time in the buying cycle.

By applying these four principles, MCOs can connect more quickly with their target audiences to establish trust.  Why does this matter?  Because establish trust is a prerequisite for closing the sale.

As always, we’re here to help.

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