WPS brand recognition grows in Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis.—Feb. 19, 2019—The results are in: 2018 saw a great deal of positive growth in Medicare supplement insurance sales and awareness of the WPS Health Insurance brand across the state!

The Marketing and Corporate Communications Department engaged Leede Market Research to conduct two studies of Wisconsin seniors over the past year, before the launch of the “Because We Care” marketing campaign and after. The goal was to learn more about the perception of WPS and its senior products, as well as measure the impact of last fall’s campaign.

Much of the campaign centered on testimonials from four customers who gave glowing reviews of their experiences with WPS Medicare supplement insurance. (If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the stories of Jewel, Tom, and others at wpscares.com.)

“We came across Jewel’s story and we knew we had to build a campaign around her,” explains Eric Roell, Creative Director. “We didn’t come up with ‘Because We Care’ and figure out how to sell this message; it was the other way around. We had a heartfelt, true story from our customer.”

The omnichannel campaign included direct mail, newspaper, radio, social media, and digital search. Television ads ran in six media markets across the state (Madison, Milwaukee, Fox Valley, Wausau/Stevens Point, Eau Claire, and La Crosse) and reached 99.1% of the target demographic. Seniors 65 and older saw a WPS ad on TV an average of 34 times over five months, according to Rippe Keane Marketing, a WPS partner agency.

“Our goal as a marketing team is to focus our efforts and spend on revenue-generating sales,” explains Thia Hovorka, Marketing Communications Director. “After analysis of consumer and industry data and the marketplace, we specifically targeted key areas, audiences, and channels to maximize the effectiveness of our advertising spending.”

The campaign carried the same look, feel, and messaging across all formats and channels to strengthen brand awareness and improve recall of the WPS brand.

Leede researchers surveyed 400 people and asked questions like, “When you think about Medicare supplement plans, what company or carrier comes to mind?”, and, “Do you recall seeing or hearing any information or advertising from health insurance companies on Medicare products in the past year?”

According to the Leede Market Research study, the WPS Health Insurance brand scored higher in nearly every category after the “Because We Care” campaign, compared with before the campaign. And sales during Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period increased nearly 50% year over year, thanks to tremendous effort across many areas of the organization, from Sales and Customer Support to Marketing and Corporate Communications.

“For a five-month campaign, that’s pretty unbelievable and shows the value of local advertising,” says Scott Rippe, President of Rippe Keane Marketing.

“Remember, we’re trying to reach the same people, at the same time, with the same network of doctors. It’s a massive, competitive clutter. But there are people who bought plans who actually said on the phone, ‘I’m calling you because of your TV commercials.’ That never happens!”

Key findings from Leede Market Research

  • Mind Share—When seniors were asked to name a Medicare supplement insurance company or carrier without any prompts (also called “unaided awareness”), 23% of respondents chose WPS as their first or second answer. That’s an increase of 67%, the highest WPS has ever seen in a study of this kind.
  • Brand Recognition—When given a list of Medicare supplement insurance providers, the number of participants who had heard of WPS jumped from 58% to 68%. That means two-thirds of Wisconsin seniors associate WPS with Medicare supplement insurance.
  • Brand Awareness—Before launching the “Because We Care” campaign, 46% of Wisconsin seniors were unfamiliar with WPS. After the study, only 31% responded in the same way.
  • Advertising Recall—Of those seniors who said they recalled seeing any Medicare supplement insurance advertising in the past year, 39% recalled advertising that came from WPS. That’s up from 15% before the campaign, a 260% increase in just five months!
  • Messaging—Nearly one in six participants in the study recalled seeing or hearing the “Because We Care” campaign theme in marketing over the past six months. Nine percent recognized the “No Worries, No Hassles” messaging we also use in many of our advertising materials.

Study participants were also asked to name health insurers with a variety of attributes they might associate with that company. They named WPS the number one Wisconsin company providing Medicare products. WPS consistently ranked second, or tied for second, in all categories, including:

  • Highest quality
  • Value for the dollar
  • Customer service
  • Plans
  • Trust

“This whole campaign, and specifically our testimonial messaging, really seems to have resonated with our target market, and we’re all really excited and happy about that,” Roell says.

Hovorka agrees: “This year’s campaign illustrated that WPS is a major player in Wisconsin’s Medicare supplement insurance arena.”

“I’m really proud of what we created,” says Matt Stanosz, Multimedia Supervisor and part of the team who interviewed the featured customers and created the television ads and web videos. “To create something that has an impact across the company has been really special.”

The Marketing and Corporate Communications Department is already getting started on plans for the 2019 Medicare supplement advertising campaign.