Vendors and health plans that provide health and well-being improvement services are always looking at new and different ways to increase participation and engagement. Too often though, they emphasize program innovation or refinement, rather than how to better pitch their offer and “sell” their services to their audience.
We know that individual lifestyle and health behavior choices contribute to about 75% of our nation’s healthcare bill and that the programs being offered are intended to change that, so why don’t we do more to fully engage the individual…?
Most of our colleagues in the industry would agree that the interventions and interactions generated by vendors and health plans are generally quite good, and that the missing piece is participant engagement.
We see consumer marketing as the missing element that is needed to stimulate the demand side, and “convince the buyer” that we have something of interest that has value to them. Ironically, we’re not asking them to pay, and in fact frequently offer them cash or rewards if they do take part. In borrowing from consumer marketing strategy, we see the following five areas as essential to “making the sale.”
1. Identify the clear benefits. We all know the reasons why it is good to take part in health and well-being improvement programs, but don’t do a good job at framing the relevant consumer benefits, and providing context for the story.
2. Serve up the story. This requires more than a series of e-mails or flyers. A more complete communications campaign is needed to deliver key messages designed to get attention and build interest. It takes repeated exposures to a message to penetrate the target audience.
3. Make the sale. Awareness must translate to action. Incentives help, but there also needs to be intrinsic receptivity to the offer. It must have relevance and strike a chord within.
4. Reinforce the buying decision. Avoid the “trier-rejecter” pattern. Find ways to strengthen conviction through direct messages, portal postings, internal advocate support, peer influence and pats on the back from coaches as well as colleagues.
5. Reward them over the long term. Health behavior change is difficult and part of a lifelong journey. Build in financial or benefit-oriented advantages for individuals that have made the right choices and done the hard work to overcome challenges to create new and improved healthy lifestyles.
It often takes a different mindset to rethink conventional approaches to wellness promotion, but by looking at the overall program from the consumer perspective, you may be surprised at how much opportunity for improvement there can be.
So, be a marketer, and convince the buyer…!
Having smart and effective fundamentals is a strong first step. What we’ve outlined above is not rocket science. It is basic and must be done to achieve success. We hope this perspective is helpful for your efforts in the wellness arena. The bottom line key is to be able to achieve effective participant activation and sustainable engagement.