I just returned from the 9th Annual Medicare Marketing & Sales Summit, where I had the opportunity to not only attend but also to speak alongside Sarah Fernandes from Health New England. Consistent themes surfaced throughout the conference, including the importance of targeted multi-channel marketing to seniors, the projected impact of mailing during a presidential year and the importance of continuous community engagement.

Sarah and I presented “Ramping up Your Member Engagement and Retention.”   My focus was to begin at a very high level, offering thoughts with a discussion surrounding how branding has changed and what it means to plans. Key points included how much more complex it is to manage a brand identity today, given all of the two-way channels of communication that exist between a member and insurer, as opposed to years ago when most communication was one way from the plan to the member.

A second major point was while two people can both have a high affinity for a plan’s feature (i.e. $0 premium), there are other perspectives that also shape a members perception – making needs very different in terms of how individual member should be communicated with. To illustrate this point, I showed pictures of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, noting that their respective supporters are firm believers in the “anti-establishment movement.” This said, I think we can all agree that those “Feeling the Bern” are likely quite different in their political views from the “Make America Great Again” crowd.

After sharing some best practices regarding retention and engagement, I turned the microphone over to Sarah, who presented case studies on ways that Health New England found success. The audience was captivated, as Sarah explained the efforts and results that Health New England has used to limit controllable attrition and improve member engagement. I can’t overemphasize how impressive Sarah was and kept coming back to one common thread in Health New England’s success: Sarah and her team have a true passion for helping their members altruistically, and really walk the walk of caring friends to seniors in the community. They creatively think about ways they can promote engagement and in turn make it their mission to serve members as a trusted advisor would. This passion is reflected in the affinity that members have for Health New England and their low attrition rates. While plan features and benefits are important. It is the trust that Health New England has created with members to allow them to best serve the very individual needs of each senior and as we know, word of mouth holds so much importance in the market which helps with acquisition efforts.

A big thanks to you Sarah for providing me the opportunity to co-present and for sharing the contagious enthusiasm that you and your team have in serving your members! We came out of this year’s Summit with a great deal of enthusiasm and new ideas to work with our internal teams and healthcare clients.