Marketing Medicare Advantage plans is often intimidating because of the compliance component. The language in your advertising materials needs to be compliant with CMS guidelines. Plus, if you mention a specific carrier, your materials have to go through HPMS for CMS approval.
Creating marketing assets and navigating the compliance maze on your own would be intimidating – not to mention time-consuming and frustrating.
But that’s what FMOs are for! We do all of the behind-the-scenes work, deliver you the tools you need, and you can spend your time generating business.
If you’re looking for tips and resources on how to market Medicare Advantage plans compliantly, this guide is for you.
Table of contents:
- Get Prepared to Sell Medicare Advantage
- Learn CMS Compliance Rules and Regulations
- Use Medicare Advantage Marketing Materials
- Create a Medicare Advantage Sales Strategy
- Medicare Advantage Marketing Plan Examples
Get Prepared to Sell Medicare Advantage
Before you start any marketing initiatives, you need to be certified and ready to sell Medicare Advantage plans in your area.
Not convinced about MA sales? Check out 10 Reasons You Should Seriously Sell Medicare Advantage
We developed a free Medicare Advantage Sales Training program that takes you through those beginning steps, including:
- Taking the AHIP
- Taking carrier certifications
- Figuring out which carriers you should certify with in your county/counties
You can unlock access to this training by clicking the image below:
When you’re prepared and ready to sell, it’s time to start marketing to the counties you’re targeting.
Learn CMS Compliance Rules and Regulations
The Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines (MCMG) is where all the compliance rules live. These are updated semi-regularly, but you can always check the latest version on this CMS page.
It’s a massive document, but we’ve boiled it down to some key points you should know.
Remember that we have developed some Medicare Advantage marketing materials you can use, but it’s still important to understand these rules. The certifications you take should also cover all of this, but again, we’re just covering some basics here.
Marketing vs. Communications
CMS has made a distinction between marketing and communications.
Marketing refers to using materials to draw someone’s attention to a specific plan and then influence them to select it. Any marketing materials that have a carrier’s name on them or refer to a particular plan must be approved by CMS.
Marketing example: ABC Health is offering $0 premium PPO plans in Macon County. Call me for more information.
Communications refer to using materials to provide information. All of the generic marketing materials we’ve developed are classified as communications. They aren’t steering a person toward any specific plan – they are simply informing them that Medicare Advantage is an available option.
These communications do NOT need to be approved by CMS, but they still need to follow the guidelines about what you can and cannot say.
Communication example: ABC Health is now offering Medicare Advantage coverage in Macon County. Call me for more information.
Here's a communications example – it's not trying to sell any specific plan. It's just providing information.
So, the moral of the story here is you shouldn’t publish or send any materials classified as marketing unless you are 100% certain they have been approved by that carrier and by CMS.
You can, however, publish or send any materials that would be classified as communications, including our generic Medicare Advantage marketing assets.
Tips for Marketing to Potential Enrollees
While you can market to potential enrollees via conventional mail, other print media, and email (provided you include an opt-out function), you can’t use other standard marketing methods.
You cannot market to potential MA enrollees in the following ways:
- Door-to-door (including leaving flyers at someone’s house)
- Approaching someone in a common area (parking lot, hallway, etc.)
The best way to get on the phone with a potential enrollee is by getting permission via a business reply card or email – they can email you asking for a return call.
Here are a few more compliance rules you should know:
- You can’t call $0 premium plans free.
- You can offer nominal gifts ($15 or less, $75 total per person per year) for marketing purposes, but you must offer that gift regardless of whether they in a plan.
- You can’t provide or subsidize meals at sales or marketing events. You can, however, offer refreshments and light snacks.
- You can’t knowingly market to MA or Part D enrollees during the OEP (January 1-March 31). You can, however, market to age-ins (people turning 65).
- Educational events must be explicitly advertised as educational – no marketing or sales activities are allowed.
- Marketing and sales events are designed to steer potential enrollees toward a plan or set of plans. There are lots of requirements for these – please read the CMS guidelines!
Mentioning Specific Medicare Advantage Carriers
If there’s a plan in your county that’s the most competitive, it’s to your advantage to mention it in your marketing efforts!
However, you need to know the rules about this before you get started:
- Many MA carriers have marketing materials already prepared and available for order in the agent portal.
Aetna Agent Portal Example
- If you want to create marketing materials mentioning that carrier and their plan(s), it must go through a compliance approval process. Most carriers do not allow this and would prefer you stay generic and do not mention their name.
- Social media posts that mention a specific plan or carrier must be approved by the carrier and CMS (the carrier would submit to CMS).
Just so you understand what’s going on behind the scenes, the insurance carriers are the ones who submit the marketing materials to CMS through a portal called HPMS. Agents and FMOs don’t do this – we can’t do this. We can help facilitate the process, but it helps to understand who does what when it comes to getting materials approved.
If you plan to mention a specific plan or carrier name, we strongly recommend going through the available assets in the carrier’s portal.
Use Medicare Advantage Marketing Materials
The best way to market Medicare Advantage plans is to utilize marketing materials, including:
- Desk displays
- Social media posts
- Radio ads
We’ve developed some generic materials you can use to spread awareness and put yourself out there as an agent who offers Medicare Advantage plans.
You can also dig into your agent portals and check out the available materials.
For example, Humana’s Marketing Resource Center has all kinds of materials that help you market specific plans.
Social media post example from Humana
Aetna’s Medicare Marketing Studio has all kinds of marketing materials prepared for you based on your NPN. It only shows collateral for products you’re licensed to sell, making it easy to find what you need.
Example of a print ad available in the Aetna Medicare Marketing Studio
Aetna’s Medicare Marketing Studio offers:
- Print ads
- Web Content
Plus, everything is automatically customized for you once you set up your profile and specify your contact information and headshot. Humana’s portal works the same way.
Create a Medicare Advantage Sales Strategy
Now that you know about the marketing materials available to you, it’s time to develop a Medicare Advantage sales strategy.
Sure, you could just post a Facebook image or send out an email, but with no actual plan behind it, you’re aiming at a moving target.
There are all kinds of outlines out there about developing a business plan, but here are a few steps that tend to come up often.
SWOT analysis: What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?
It’s helpful to know what makes you different from the other agents and competitors in your area from the outset.
- What do you have to offer?
- What’s your competitive advantage?
- Where are your competitors falling short where you could compete?
Thinking about these questions will help you begin your marketing plan.
Define Your Target
Define your target: Who are you trying to market to? What problems do they have that you can solve?
In every marketing initiative we develop here at New Horizons, we’re always focused on who our target audience is. Think about whom you’re trying to help and keep them in mind as you develop your plan.
- Are you specifically looking for high-income retirees with an HSA?
- Are you trying to find low-income couples in need of a low-premium option?
- Are you focused on helping veterans find affordable coverage that goes beyond what the VA offers?
It’s so much easier to use marketing materials effectively when you know whom you’re trying to serve.
Define Your Goals
Define your goals: how many policies do you want to sell, and by when?
You can’t get to your destination without following a map, and you can’t be successful in Medicare Advantage marketing without a goal.
Before you start any marketing plan, write down your goals. Then, you can use the materials at your disposal to help you reach them.
Related: Cover Your Bases: How to Set Meaningful Goals for Your Insurance Agency
Perhaps your goal is to sell 50 MA policies during AEP. If you’re halfway through and only have 10 policies under your belt, it’s time to look at your tactics and figure out what else you can use to help you inch toward that goal.
Define a Budget
Define a budget: how much are you willing to spend on marketing activities?
If you have no clue where to start, check out our article, “Calculate How Much You Should Spend on Marketing With One Simple Formula.”
Here’s the formula, but we go into more detail in the full article:
Average annual commission per client X Average # of years a client stays with you – Amount spent to acquire that customer = Lifetime Customer Value
Now that you know your lifetime customer value, how much would you be willing to pay to get a client?
Build Your Action Plan
Build your action plan: what tactics will you use to reach your goals within your budget and timeframe?
This is where all of the marketing materials come in handy – these are the tactics you can use to achieve your goals. Still, you need to decide how you’ll use them and when.
In the next section, we’ll go over some examples of what other agents have done.
Medicare Advantage Marketing Plan Examples
You’re licensed and certified, you know your target market, and you have heaps of marketing materials at your disposal. Now what?
There are so many different Medicare Advantage marketing plans you could develop, which can be a bit paralyzing. There’s radio, you could do a billboard, but what about Facebook, and aren’t you supposed to do some kind of advertising on Google?
It can be overwhelming, and it is – even for seasoned marketing professionals.
However, you need your marketing plan to be manageable, especially if you’re doing everything yourself.
Here are some examples of what other agents have done – hopefully, this sparks some ideas on how you can strategically reach your community.
Direct Mail Strategy
For agents wondering how to get Medicare Advantage leads, the most straightforward answer is: buy them.
As an example, one agent had a strategy where he would send direct mailers to 1000 leads per month (we talk about this in our Medicare Advantage Sales Training).
Out of the 1000 leads, he would write 5-15 policies out of those. But he didn’t just throw away the other 985+ people – he nurtured them over time. He reached out again at three months, six months, and 12 months.
After three years of buying 1000 leads per month, that agent has hired 17 agents to help him handle all of the referrals he’s getting.
Develop Local Connections
If you want to be an authority in your community, you need local connections. And really, this marketing strategy is more about how to market yourself as a Medicare Advantage agent and less about how to market the actual products.
Get involved with associations, affinity groups, and organizations in your area. Some examples include:
- The VA
- Church groups
- Camping groups
- Quilt clubs
- Country clubs
- Book clubs
- Rotary clubs and other civic organizations (Elks, Lions, Moose, etc.)
- Chamber of Commerce business after hours
- College alumni clubs
- Local charities
- Homeowner’s associations
You can also connect with other businesses in your area and develop a referral stream.
For example, you might connect with a financial advisor – she would refer her Medicare clients to you for their health and life insurance, and you would direct your clients to her for retirement planning.
Our 2021 agent survey revealed that of agents who make $200,000 or more per year, nearly 81% said their #1 lead source is referrals or word-of-mouth. Now that’s compelling!
Partner with Local Banks
Most banks have a vested interest in people not moving their HSAs. They’d be happy to refer their Medicare-eligible customers to an agent specializing in Medicare Advantage plans.
Clients can use their HSA money to pay for out-of-pocket costs associated with MAPDs. You can also use your HSA money to pay for Medicare Advantage premiums (but not Medigap premiums).
For folks with funds saved up in their HSA, it often makes sense to choose an MAPD instead of a Medicare Supplement.
So, you’re not only doing what’s best for the client, but you’re able to get a steady stream of referrals. This is a strategy an agent we know has used successfully for years.
Comb Through Your Existing Client Base
Wondering how to market Medicare Advantage products to your clients? Start by combing through your existing book of business.
- Do you have any current Med Supp clients who can’t pass underwriting and have sky-high premiums?
- Do you have any Med Supp clients who are healthy but are still uninsurable and are stuck with rising premiums?
- Or, do you have any current Med Supp clients who might prefer the out-of-pocket risks associated with Medicare Advantage in exchange for low or even $0 premiums?
Many client profiles would benefit from and/or be interested in the Medicare Advantage world.
The lowest hanging fruit will be those clients who are stuck in very expensive Med Supps but cannot move. An MSA is often their best buy.
When thinking about how to market Medicare Advantage plans, it feels intimidating. But when you realize just how many tools and resources are at your disposal, it’s well within your reach.
Start by getting our Medicare Advantage materials customized and going through carrier portals to see what materials they have for you.
Then, develop a game plan. Break up the year into quarters and come up with a plan for each.
If you need sales training, check out our free Medicare Advantage Sales Training:
And if you need help determining which carriers are the most competitive in your county, set up a consultation with me:
I pull CMS data from your county and tell you with absolute certainty what is being sold the most and whom you need to be certified with.
If you’re willing to share, please let us know in the comment section: what strategies and marketing plans have you used in the past?
I hope we can all learn from each other!