Monday, January 19, 2015

4 Key Trends For Healthcare Marketers In 2015

A report by PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI) is projecting a 6.8% increase in medical cost growth in 2015. The report notes that this increase is due in part to consumers who postponed non-essential medical procedures or treatment during the recession. Although the growth year over year is just .03% (HRI estimated growth of 6.5% for 2014), it raised eyebrows because growth had slowed significantly since the recession that began in 2008.
Smart healthcare marketers will take note of how the recession has altered consumer preferences and buying decisions, including medical care. Curated content leveraged via owned media should play a big part in overall strategic plans moving forward, given that these media allow healthcare marketers to start conversations and control the messaging on a micro level. Marketers will also look to integrate content marketing efforts with CRM platforms, as well as paid and earned media efforts.
Act II in Affordable Care. In 2015, a new provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will tie physician payments to the quality of care they provide, which will put a large emphasis on value over volume. Physicians will see their payments modified so that those who provide higher value care will receive higher payments than those who provide lower-quality care. For the past several years, marketers for healthcare plans and providers have tailored messaging to individual consumers and increased content marketing, allowing them to communicate outcomes and performance.
According to a December 2014 survey by, marketing companies have earmarked nearly a quarter of 2015 marketing budgets to content development and management. Marketing companies are also considering lifetime customer value (LTV) as a measurable metric, along with traditional ROI, which indicates that marketers are looking to build relationships with consumers via content platform experiences and owned channels.
Throw Out ‘One Size Fits All’ Marketing Strategies. With new provisions of the ACA coming into effect, marketers need to also bear in mind regional differences of state health insurance marketplace types being offered as part of the ACA. Marketers that are already adjusting and customizing their messaging to targeted groups are one step ahead of the rest of the pack.
To give you an idea of the breadth of marketplace types, there are 27 states offering federally facilitated marketplaces, 14 states offering state-based marketplaces, seven states offering state partnership marketplaces and three states offering federally supported marketplaces. Creating engaging, relevant content targeted demographically and geographically will become more and more important as consumers survey the new healthcare landscape and the many available options. Marketers will also need to help plans and providers build and sustain long-term relationships with smaller, targeted audiences, rather than creating ephemeral interactions. 
A Retail Mindset for Consumer Healthcare. In 2015 we will no doubt see the increased “retailization” of healthcare. In fact, this trend has already begun to develop. In October, Walmart launched Healthcare Begins Here, an in-store program designed to educate customers on health insurance options, in partnership with, an online health insurance comparison site and independent licensed health insurance agency.
The world’s largest discount retailer has also hinted that it will create a model that offers primary care via retail clinics and specialty care through the Centers of Excellence program, which Walmart offers to its employees. Walmart boasts both wide access — there is a Walmart store located within five miles of 95% of the population — and big data in the form of transactional customer data. Expect Walmart to help usher in the retailization of healthcare on a large scale. Healthcare marketers that embrace this new retail-focused mindset will be well positioned to guide clients’ strategic direction.
by , Media Post January 6, 2015

Treat prospecting like an appointment

Sales Tips
It's usually a good idea to put your prospecting time in your calendar and treat it like you would any other appointment.

If you leave prospecting to "whenever I can get some time," chances are you'll blow it off day after day, week after week.

It will be a lot more effective if you determine how much time you need to invest each day, week or month in prospecting and block the time off on your calendar.

Emails Should Be Personal To Capture The Reader

According to a report by Erik Schulze, VP at Yes Lifecycle Marketing, summarized in Direct Marketing News, this coming year email marketing messages will be even more personal. The reason, says the report, is that Email marketers must make their messages standout in the crowded inbox.
Schulze says that “… the number of emails that each of us get increases each year… conversely, as the number of emails go up, the engagement with those emails goes down… it's much more important to have a more personalized discussion or address personal needs… “
Personalization can include specific details, says the report, such as a recipient's name or perhaps a birthday mention. But Schulze warns that in the New Year, email marketers must go far beyond those simple elements. “… personalization should be less about getting somebody to transact in a moment… (but rather) fit into a broader strategy… “
As email marketers develop strategies for 2015, the report suggests several ways to go about making each email personal for each individual who opens it:
  • Consider personalizing emails when the reader opens them rather than solely based on past behaviors or when the email is sent. Discount countdown clocks, live social feeds, and changing hero images can all be optimized at the moment reader opens an email
  • The elements that a marketer uses depends on the device. It's important to recognize when and where the customer will receive a message, to determine the approach with personalized content
  • Yet another effective way to personalize an email is by using predictive analytics. With that, marketers can embed the right calls-to-action, make videos more personal, and even tailor the right frequency of emails for each person. Even frequency is a form of personalization, so it’s important to recognize how often a person wants to communicate with you, says the report
  • And, Schulze says email marketers should consider location as they personalize their messages, and match the culture, look, and feel of a reader's location. He stresses that personalization is more about an understanding and relationship of “… a single individual, never one big mass….”
by  - Media Post January 9th, 2015

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Deck The Malls With Boomer Shoppers

Baby Boomers
How can marketers reach more Boomer shoppers this season? For answers, let’s turn to the blizzard of holiday shopping surveys out there. 
First of all, will 2014 be dominated by Santas or Scrooges? The National Retail Foundation has tidings of joy: For the first time since 2011, holiday sales will increase more than 4%. However, a short selling season of just 27 shopping days doesn’t leave a lot of time to capture Boomer customers. So, what’s the best way to reach them? Although different surveys reached different conclusions, some common themes emerged. 
The FIVE W’s of Boomer Holiday Spending
For WHOM are Boomers buying? According to the 2014 Mintel Holiday Forecasting Study, the purchase of most categories of gifts declines with age. However, women aged 55 and older are very likely to buy food to entertain the extended family at holiday meals. 82% of women aged 55 plus also buy gifts for family members, many of them earmarked for grandchildren. In fact, according to a recent Forbes article, Boomers spend a collective total of $35 billion a year on their grandkids.
WHAT are Boomers buying? 
The generation that marched on Washington now leads the country in purchasing small, rectangular pieces of plastic. According to the Shullman Research Center, Boomers buy more holiday gift cards than any other demographic. 62% of Boomers purchase gift cards, more than Gen Xers (57%), Millennials (38%), and seniors (18%). Boomers are right on target with their gift choices: According to a National Retail Foundation study, gift cards are the most requested gift item for the eighth year in a row. 
If your business doesn’t already offer gift cards, the holidays are a good time to start. If you already offer gift cards, consider offering them electronically. According to Pace Perspectives, electronic cards are gaining in popularity since plastic gift cards are so easily lost. In fact, 40% of 18-29 year olds admit to having lost at least one gift card. 
WHERE are Boomers shopping?
According to Mintel, Boomers’ number one source for researching holiday gifts is the Internet, but many still prefer to make their purchases in the store. 43% of men ages 55 and up, and 38% of women in that age group, say they research items online, then wait to find them on sale in stores. How can you capitalize on their shopping habits? Mintel suggests offering online coupons that shoppers can redeem in the store. 
WHEN do Boomers shop? 
According to a recent PunchTab survey, Boomers are the least likely of any demographic to shop on Black Friday or in the entire month of November. They spread out their shopping throughout the season: 22% in September, 20% in October, 34% in November, and 21% in December. In contrast, Gen. Xers and Millennials do the bulk of their shopping in November. 
WHY are Boomers buying?
During the holidays, it’s important to look at Boomers’ life stages, not just their ages. That’s because Boomers in larger households tend to spend significantly more than empty nesters in one-to-two- person households. Another surprising fact reported by Mintel: Affluent Boomers do not necessarily spend more than their less-wealthy counterparts, unless they have children at home. 
HOW do Boomers choose gifts? 
According to PunchTab, Boomers are influenced by a number of sources. 62% ask friends and family for input, 61% browse in person, 50% check recipients’ wish lists, 39% browse brand websites, 38% read online reviews, 30% check flyers or catalogs, 24% open emails, 17% browse online magazines or blogs, 14 turn to Facebookand 9% log on to PInterest.
Are Boomers motivated by price? Not as much as Gen Xers, according to the CFI Group Holiday Retail Spending Report. Only 23% of 55-65 year olds are influenced by sales and coupons, versus 40% of 25-34 year olds. 
One final idea from Mintel to get cash registers ringing: Since only 11% of grandchildren currently give presents to their generous grandparents, how about leaving something for Boomer Santas under the tree? Art or photography classes, books for Kindle, or restaurant gift cards are all possibilities.
 , Media Post Nov 24th, 2014

U.S. sales of gluten-free foods rise 63 percent in two years

Gluten Free
According to global market research firm Mintel, dollar sales of gluten-free products are surging. A new report from the company, "Gluten-Free Foods — US," forecasts the gluten-free food market to reach sales of $8.8 billion in 2014, representing an increase of 63 percent from 2012 to 2014.
“Overall, the gluten-free food market continues to thrive off those who must maintain a gluten-free diet for medical reasons, as well as those who perceive gluten-free foods to be healthier or more natural,” said Amanda Topper, food analyst at Mintel. “The category will continue to grow in the near term, especially as FDA regulations make it easier for consumers to purchase gluten-free products and trust the manufacturers who make them
All gluten-free food segments increased in the past year, Mintel noted, although the snack segment increased the most. Gluten-free snacks increased 163 percent from 2012 to 2014, reaching sales of $2.8 billion. Sales increases were mainly the result of a 456 percent increase in potato chip sales.
Meanwhile, the meat/meat alternatives segment is the second-largest gluten-free food segment in terms of sales, reaching $1.6 billion in 2014, a 14 percent increase from 2012 to 2014. In addition, Mintel said, the bread products and cereal segment saw gains of 43 percent during that same time period and is set to reach $1.3 billion this year.
Despite strong growth during the past few years, retailers and suppliers will still find opportunities to innovate, Topper said, especially in categories that traditionally contain gluten. Bread and cereal are ripe for gluten-free growth, Mintel added, with only 1 percent of the overall segment termed gluten-free.
“Gluten-free products appeal to a wide audience; 41 percent of U.S. adults agree they are beneficial for everyone, not only those with a gluten allergy, intolerance or sensitivity," Topper said. "In response, food manufacturers offering either gluten-free alternatives or existing products with a gluten-free label have increased dramatically over the last several years,” adds Amanda.
But it seems not everyone is convinced of the health attributes of gluten-free products. Thirty-three percent of respondents to a 2013 Mintel survey agreed that “gluten-free diets are a fad,” and the number increased to 44 percent of Americans in 2014. However, gluten free’s popularity has not waned — 22 percent of Americans currently follow a gluten-free diet, compared to 15 percent in 2013, Mintel said.

Cyber Monday grows as busiest day of season

Great article from USA Today, Dec 2nd. ~Curt
Cyber Monday proved just as big a draw as ever after a weekend that saw fewer people shopping in stores.
Sales grew 8.5% for the 24-hour period, according to IBM Digital Analytics, solidifying Monday as the largest online shopping day of the year. Shoppers spent an average of $124.21 per order, down 3.5% from last year, though the number of transactions was up and people bought more items on average per order.
Monetate, a company whose software helps major retailers including Macy's and Best Buy personalize the online shopping experience, also tracked more shopping sessions this year with about 49.3 million sessions, up 11.8% from 2013. Revenue per session increased 7% and the number of people who completed a purchase increased 8.3%.
The National Retail Federation expected a different outcome, projecting fewer shoppers would head online Monday at about 127 million vs. 131 million in 2013.Growth did slow compared to previous years: in 2013 online sales were up 20.6% vs. 2012, according to IBM data.
That may be because shoppers have more chances to get deals later this week as Cyber Monday prices continue through Saturday with some brands. With promotions spread out across November and December this year and many retailers having offered pre-Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to spur people to shop early, those days themselves have become less important as shopping drivers.
Meanwhile, more people than ever are opting to online shop and use their phones to browse for deals. Online sales over Thanksgiving weekend were up 17% vs. last year and mobile accounted for more than half of all online traffic, according to IBM. On Monday more people shopped on desktops, though mobile still accounted for 41.2% of all online traffic, a 30.1% increase over last year, IBM says.
Retailers are hopeful that online deals this week will be compelling enough to get shoppers to continue to spend. Walmart doubled the number of deals available for Cyber Monday this year and will continue to have 500 new promotions a day through Friday. Walmart reported Monday was it's biggest day of online orders ever as customers shopped for deals on the 16GB iPad mini, HDTVs, and video games, all major traffic drivers, the retailer said.
Target is billing its Cyber Week as its biggest yet, with more than 100,000 items on sale all week. Kohl's is going a day further with deals online through Saturday. Amazon is offering new deals up to every 10 minutes all week.
Those deals may entice the roughly half of consumers who still have shopping to do, says Consumer Electronics Association Chief Economist Shawn DuBravac. "I would estimate probably close to half of consumers have completed the bulk of their holiday shopping at this point," he says.
And he expects people to continue to buy leading up to Christmas. "There's still appetite as we head into the remaining few weeks of the holiday season," DuBravac says.
That appetite may be fed by increasing parity between online and in-store deals and the convenience of options like same-day shipping and buy online, pick up in store, all of which are making it easier for consumers to wait out the season for the best prices, says Lucinda Duncalfe, CEO of Monetate, a company that sells software to retailers to help them personalize the online shopping experience.
"You can shop online later and later and still get things by Christmas Day," she says. "What will end up happening over time is this continued flattening of the season where people are more willing to wait to see what's going to happen."

Demonstrating credibility

Sales Tips
It's not enough to tell prospects you offer better service or quality than your competitor. Prospects want to hear specifics about why you're better.

Here's a formula that helps show the difference more effectively:

* Unique qualities. What can you offer that your competitor can't? Try to convert the value of your products or services into financial results.  For example, I am a veteran television sales executive...but I am also certified in SEO, and other digital aspects that allow me to help outside of TV.

* Advantages. What do you do better than the competitor? Give prospects what they need to understand the unique qualities of your product or service.

* Parity. If there’s little difference between you and a competitor, look for minor ones that may add up to a competitive advantage.

* Disadvantages. Are there areas in your product or service in which competitors have a definite edge? Focus on the advantages you do have to offset these disadvantages.

Happy selling! ~Curt