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How to sell health insurance to millennials: Let's talk about life changes and unique benefits.

Nutrition counseling, healthy and delicious recipes, paid gym memberships, and many more. Reach younger folks based on the stuff they care about, not the general features associated with the plans you offer: The old "features versus benefits" paradigm...

This article is an edited excerpt from my soon-to-be-released book,iBroker: How an insurance agency should engage with the millennial and Gen Z demographic.

Change is in the air.

It is inevitable. Whether as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a changing of the generational guard, or a global community that is becoming more and more tech-savvy as the days go by.

The reality is that no facet of the way we live or do business will remain untouched. The digital revolution has begun to change the way the insurance sales ecosystem functions as well.

Companies like Ethos Life and Bright Health are typical examples of insurance companies of the future.

Ones that are built to not just embrace the digital revolution and the new kind of customer, but to address the needs of a younger, more dynamic audience.

Millennials ( born 1981–1996) and Gen-Z (born 1997 – 2012), by most estimates, have grown to become the largest consumer group in the individual insurance marketplace.

This article is an attempt to share with you, the independent insurance sales professional, some ideas to help you connect with the aforementioned consumer segments.

Shifting sands

If you have taken the time out of what I am sure is a busy day to read this article, then I can assume that you are probably the owner and principal agent at an independent insurance agency - One that mostly offers life and health products, correct?

Or at the very least, you are trying to navigate your new role as an agent at one of the big insurance outfits out there.

Either way, you are probably noticing a change in the way our industry operates, right? Heck, that is all folks talk about these days: The changing faces and ages of our typical clients, the newer ways in which we find ourselves having to connect with a more tech-savvy, younger audience. You know? The Tiktok and Snapchat crowd. Snapchat is still a thing, right?

Well, it's happening. And all any of us is trying to do is to figure out how to - at the very least-(partially) transition to a more digital, youth-friendly way of doing business.

All about messaging

As an insurance sales professional, It is truly vital that your messaging- in all your marketing campaigns- comes across in ways that jive with what your prospective clients will find enjoyable and beneficial- as they see it.

The old adage is that you sell your products based on the aspects that uniquely benefit your customers as opposed to just the various (great) features of your products.

Keeping in mind that if you choose to reach your prospects via social media and other youth-friendly channels, you will be mostly engaged in what the experts call interruption marketing - Trying to grab the attention of folks who were not generally looking for what you have to offer but will take the actions prescribed to hear more of what you have to say.

This type of marketing, while budget-friendly, requires that you position your products and services to align with the estimated interests of your potential clients no matter how peripheral said benefits may be to the core features of your insurance offerings.

Examples of Interruption marketing

  • Telemarketing

  • TV & Radio Advertisements

  • Digital ads ( Pre-roll Ads, Popup Ads, etc.)

  • Print Media Advertisements

  • Direct mail

Come on down!

Like hearing your raffle ticket number called at the State fair, folks – younger folks- will get excited about what you are selling if they feel you are talking to them directly.

So, who knows what features associated with the Life and health plans you offer that folks will find beneficial? I believe that factors such as life changes, income, level of education, gender, and so on, all play major roles on the benefits side of the equation.

Common life changes associated with the reasons younger folks look into new health insurance plans:

  • Turning 26 and losing coverage through a parent’s plan

  • Having a baby or adopting a child

  • A student moving to or from the place they attend school

  • Moving to a different ZIP code or county

  • Losing existing health coverage, including job-based, individual, and student plans

However, let's run through a few of the factors I have come across as far as connecting with younger audiences and the reasons/ways you can speak directly to your audience via your marketing initiatives that rely heavily on the "selling based on benefits" mindset.

Gerber babies

One of the strangest things about getting older - believe it or not - is seeing others grow as well. Especially others you once perceived as much younger than yourself. For real! The idea that my baby sister, the one I pushed around in a stroller for years, is now a mother of two, is infinitely wild to me. The crazy thing is, although she is in her 30s now, I still think of her as that baby who would want to go with me everywhere I went - when we were both kids.

But she is a mom now and acts like a mom now. Some of the folks you come across in your business will be making similar transitional moves. The "I am having a baby and want to know my options for health coverage" or "I am planning to have a child and want to know which health coverage option works best for me" situations are the ones we get most from our millennial customers and their friends and family.

You will be placing yourself and your agency at the intersection of tremendous need if you choose to market based on the needs of new or expectant parents.

According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 76% percent of women reported having some type of health insurance coverage a month before getting pregnant.

In a post-pregnancy survey, however, 97% of mothers reported having health coverage and stating the need to cover costs associated with having a child as the main reason for seeking out health coverage in the months leading up to delivery.

Expectant parents are among some of the top types of prospective clients your agency will come across. The prohibitive costs associated with carrying and delivering a child are no secret. Not to mention raising said child.

Younger folks, for the first time in this nation's history, have access to affordable comprehensive healthcare to help ease some of the financial burden associated with childbirth.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) ensures that expectant mothers can enroll in healthcare plans without the pregnancy being considered a Pre-Existing condition. Not to mention all the other free essential health benefits the mother can avail herself of to ensure optimal health of the baby and herself.

Health insurance sales professionals today must become very familiar with all the associated benefits of the various plans out there to help connect with young, soon-to-be parents.

Why is my squat so weak?

Spend any amount of time on the various social media platforms out there - and I suggest that you don't, for your own inner peace and mental health and wellness.

But if you are like me and you (have to) do a ton of social media marketing, then I am sure you have noticed how important "health and fitness" is to younger folks. To Millennials and Gen-Z, it is all about the rock-hard abs and the booty.

I am not telling you anything you didn't already know, am I? There are whole new categories of fashion today made to show off folks' "assets"-Leaving an old lady like myself with very few options. But that is a totally different topic of discussion for another day.

I mean, sure, we all care about being in "good shape" and even better health. But millennials and Gen-Z? They take that stuff to the next level. On Instagram? You cannot avoid the millions of videos and photos out there of folks working out - doing squats or some other intense workout routine.

There is a whole industry out there of folks selling various fitness and nutrition programs. I should know, I have signed up for a few in the past myself. And let's not even talk about the thousands of "What I eat in a day" videos out there on various social media platforms. If you don't know, these are types of content that look to show folks what their favorite influencer eats to get so hot? I guess?

Anyway, my point is, young folks love to work out and look good. Even more so than their forbearers. What most insurance agents I meet often neglect to capitalize on is the fact that most mainstream health plans now offer some type of wellness and nutrition benefit as free or discounted parts of the plan.

Bright Health and Blue Cross plans, for example, under preventative care, cover nutrition counseling as well as gym member benefits in some cases. This is a benefit that we, as an agency, started using as a selling and marketing point as a result of conversations we would have with our clients.

Various health insurance organizations, as a result of rising demand and the long-term health benefits of staying active - have made significant investments in multiple resources to help encourage their younger clients to stay active.

I say all this to say that, selling/offering health plans to younger prospects using the aforementioned benefits as a conversation starter will help deliver desired results.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Unlike folks of my generation and older, younger families today, across all racial, educational, and socioeconomic backgrounds are more open to discussing and addressing issues relevant to mental health.

Today, boosted by open social discourse and investments in technology, the topic of mental health is undergoing a complete metamorphosis. One infused with destigmatization and digitization - A phenomenon clearly evident in the share number of mental health apps and online resources available.

Let's see... there is Calm, Headspace, and others that focus on meditation and sleep health.

Then, there are other apps, communities, and various podcasts dedicated to the mental health and wellness of younger audiences. This is a booming market right now. Why? Millennials and Gen-Z take their mental health very seriously. Today's young guy or gal has way more to worry about than I did when I was in my 20s.

Clinton was president, the economy was great, my one-bedroom apartment with a walk-in closet was $300 a month, you know? The good times. Now younger folks have to deal with various social issues, rising, no, impossible cost of living, and so forth.

I didn't know who was on the Supreme court when I was in my 20s. And I didn't care. I just wanted to go to my classes, get to me part-time job at Applebees that paid all my bills and hang out with my friends. That's it. These were my biggest worries at that age.

According to the National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM), The rates of mental illnesses are rising faster among 18- to 25-year-olds than the rest of the adult population, which is largely driving the overall increase in rates of mental illness in the U.S.

A recent poll by the American Psychiatric Association showed that one-quarter of Americans made a new year’s resolution to improve their mental health in 2022. I say all this to say that as broad and dynamic as is the topic of mental health, your younger prospective clients will be open to talking about it.

I cannot tell you how many times our younger, typically female clients have called to ask for an explanation of mental health benefits and asked for guidance finding providers that are compatible with their health plan.

The openness to talking about mental health among millennials and Gen-Z presents an opportunity to set yourself apart from other agencies and to drive growth. We sometimes build engagement with our existing clients - via email marketing and phone conversations - around mental health awareness month. This gives us an opportunity to spark conversations that often lead to more business.

Final thoughts

I wholeheartedly believe that an effective sales and marketing infrastructure is the foundation of any robust, profitable organization. In addition to quality products and/or services, of course.

As insurance sales professionals, the latter part of this equation -for the most part - rests in the hands of well-established companies that we often partner with. Our only job then is to find and connect with folks that can benefit from the products we sell.

It is then our duty to continue to evolve and embrace every opportunity available to us to help as many families as possible. The thoughts and views laid forth in this article are but a sampling of where our industry is and the various cost-effective channels available to us to connect with younger audiences.

Those that are certainly the future of the industry and whose wants, needs, and ways of accessing our offerings will inevitably become the standard.

A much more complete version of this content can be accessed via my forthcoming book: ibroker.

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