A core premise in marketing any good or service is that clear and relevant messages need to developed, packaged and delivered to potential buyers in a reasonably persuasive manner.
Advertisers use a fundamental approach known as “AIDA” – Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action, which recognizes that most people will not act based on seeing a single message. Media plans for ad campaigns are built on the science of target audience “effective reach” of 3+ or 5+ times. And those impressions deepen awareness, stimulate interest, activate desire and drive action.
For most employers, especially Benefits and HR departments, this is not an inherent skill set. Most of their communications work is policy-focused or compliance-oriented.
Driving health behavior change is very different.
One of the key reasons that we see such an “Engagement Gap” in the industry is that most communications efforts for health and well-being improvement aren’t well designed. Many use the “kitchen sink” approach (a la Open Enrollment materials), and try to put the whole story out in a single pitch. Others rely on their web portals to provide their information. And there are many other permutations that also fall short.
It’s generally better to use a multi-phase, multi-media communications campaign that provides bits of information at a time. Use special events, leadership statements, well-being ambassadors, place-based media, and other elements of what could be considered a combo advertising and public relations campaign.
For a more in-depth look at ways to improve your approach to communications planning, check out How Madison Avenue Methods Can Help Drive Health Behavior Change, which I published in the SHRM on-line resource a few years back.
Preparing a truly effective communications campaign takes a lot of time and effort. It should get the same care and attention (and investment) as consumer brand marketing campaigns do, because unfortunately, selling health and well-being improvement is not as easy as we’d like for it to be.