This most recent Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) was my first AEP Season where I, as a “senior” was marketed to by my fellow Medicare AEP marketers. As I talk with many of the TargetLeads’ agents in developing direct mail letters, brochures, and postcards, I realize many of them are of my generation and fully understand who we boomers are. Thus, they likely see the ads on television, receive the email, are annoyed by the pop-up ads, and receive the many direct mail pieces sent to Medicare-eligible prospects.

That said, let me share my discoveries as I took part in both sides of the AEP Medicare marketing season. Permit me to begin with my inside observations. These are less discovery related because I’ve been serving TargetLeads’ agents’ creative development needs for many years, and thus they are more continued observation and could even be considered accepted normalities. So here are five discoveries.

1) Don’t Wait: The Medicare Annual Election Period officially opens on October 15. Your success depends on how early you start. According to CMS, the new rules state marketing communications can’t start until October 1st. But if you wait till then to start planning, you will be many laps behind. Direct mail takes time to create, approve, produce, and mail. Then it takes time to deliver.

TargetLeads’ team streamlined this process with over three decades of experience. But they can’t squeeze time. And surprisingly, they can’t squeeze you. Give yourself and your team time to work with our team and prepare. Have the mail ready to drop into the mail stream by September and schedule the ongoing mail drops to provide you leads throughout the AEP season.

2) Serve your current clients: In a recent survey published by Media Logic, consumers reported high rates of satisfaction with their current plan, but more than 40% were somewhat or very interested in changing plans during AEP. Your clients will be pitched by television, online ads, and direct mail. Take care of them today. You won’t violate any rules by maintaining a relationship with your clients. If you have a relationship, they will turn to you when they become interested in changing plans.

My wife reached Medicare eligibility a few years before I did. During her second AEP, her initial broker paid her no attention, and she easily changed plans with a more attentive agent. As I aged in, her new agent got me as a bonus, as well as three of my associates. Her first agent lost all five of us. Contact the TargetLeads’ customer service team, even in August, to get the plans underway.

3) Be local if you can: Carriers, such as Humana, United Healthcare, Molina, Cigna, and Blue Cross, dominated my mailbox with letters and cards during AEP. Interestingly, the direct mail that registered above that plethora of mail were those from local agents who positioned themselves as the locally available, experienced resource for all things Medicare. The agents certainly represented the carriers whose mail plowed the way to build my awareness during the AEP season. Many of the agents told me so, and others inferred it. I felt more comfortable choosing my agent personally from the mail I received, rather than from a national company. In another AEP survey of respondents, indicating elements that affect their purchasing choices, 68% supported locally-owned businesses. If you are local, be local, and tell everyone so.

Targetleads Direct Mail Leads

4) Use carrier-supplied marketing if it meets your needs: This is not new to any of you; the carriers, who we do appreciate, provide the tools to personalize approved mailers. You and your team know just how to access these compliant tools and how to access the co-op funding. TargetLeads can and does mail these cards, letters, and flyers by the gazillions. Our team will take the art you provide, and if it needs some modifications for size or shape to mail efficiently, we do so and get your proofs ready to mail. We’ve discovered that some agents who take advantage of this available personalization, were previously stressed about how to find the lists, the mail services, and the follow-up process. Providing all those services, TargetLeads could be packaged and placed on the stress relief shelf with Tums, Pepto-Bismol, and Rolaids.

5) Brief and to-the-point messaging won out every time. Here are ten envelope or postcard headlines that resonated with me. Notice their brevity and some specificity.

            Don’t miss out on extra benefits

            Don’t wait – you have limited time to make changes

            You are invited to attend a special event Exclusively on Medicare

            Free Medicare Orientation

            Important information about your Medicare Enrollment

            2023 Benefit Information Update

            Get $490 in wellness benefits and over-the-counter products

            Your temporarily enhanced benefits will be changing

            Want more from your Medicare?

            Get more benefits with (XYZ Choice Plan)

            All the benefits you need and more!

From here, some of the mail pieces jumped into detail when a plan was being presented, which of course, then required a sizable disclaimer. Others simply led the reader (me) to request more information. Since most of the envelope packages did not get opened and read by me, I defer to the data that says less is more. From this, we find that less is more from our own experience. This does not mean envelope mailers are not popular. They still make up most of the Medicare mail in my mailbox.