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How Can An Organization Maintain a Hometown Advantage in a Virtual World?October - 2020


Network Health has offered commercial and Medicare health insurance services to employers, individuals, and families throughout Wisconsin for almost 40 years. While national competitors might boast higher name recognition and larger advertising budgets, Network Health has differentiated its brand by humanizing the health care industry and highlighting its local advantage.

Network Health historically cultivated relationships with members through 1-1 interactions in a way that larger competitors could not. Customers appreciated that they could walk into Network Health’s offices with questions and attend focus groups or member events, such as yoga on the lawn. 

However, as coronavirus began to spread throughout the United States, Network Health had to close its doors, eliminating the ability for employees to connect with members in-person. 

As a whole, communication is one of the largest areas that the insurance industry has had to rethink amidst coronavirus. According to a PWC study on COVID-19 and the Insurance Industry, “Communications, both internal and external, matter now more than ever. The ways a company responds to a stressful event can shape employee and public attitudes far into the future and be a defining moment for corporate culture.”

While this created both a challenge and an opportunity for Network Health, one thing was very clear – while the future was, and still is, unknown, this health insurance organization could not remain silent and wait for normalcy to return.

With seniors disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and the annual Medicare enrollment period just around the corner, Network Health first needed to speak out in support of its A65 + members.

AE Marketing Group helped Network Health effectively communicate with and reassure members that their health insurance company wasn’t going anywhere. With the understanding that health care marketing during coronavirus would need to look different, our agency developed a strategy to maintain Network Health’s hometown advantage over competitors amidst the pandemic and shelter in place orders. 

Network Health’s service excellence didn’t miss a beat amidst COVID-19. The organization sprang into action through member outreach, volunteerism, virtual doctor visits and telehealth offerings, virtual seminars, premium discounts, benefits cards, and more. We determined that one of the best ways to showcase their efforts was through short-form videos.

We recognized that health care marketing during coronavirus had changed. Facebook activity had spiked between 20 – 70% and remained most popular with the A65+ crowd, who was now more isolated than ever. Additionally, time spent watching streaming video content during the afternoon had surged over 40% and cable news, in particular, Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC had all reported record viewership. Creating new video content that could run across digital, cable news, and specific streaming video networks would allow Network Health to hyper-target their audience with limited waste. 

To do so, AE Marketing Group not only produced four versions of Network Health’s Medicare TV ad, but we also created nine new sales support videos and five customer outreach videos. 

As an organization known to speak the language of consumers, the sales support videos helped explain timely and/or complex health insurance topics, such as remote care benefits, Network Health’s on-staff pharmacy team, the advantages of a provider-owned health insurer, supplemental benefits, and more. We visually depicted these topics through short and easily consumable animated videos. 

“I feel honored to work for a company that truly cares for each individual member,” said KiErrin Phillips, Quality Health Integration Clinical Supervisor at Network Health. “Being able to take the time to reach out to members and provide personalized resources for their unique needs is something I have not seen or experienced from any other insurance company.”



The customer outreach videos featured unscripted Zoom video conversations between Network Health’s Care Managers and members about topics such as dealing with isolation, COVID-19 relief offerings, the use of virtual video technology, and more. 

“I really appreciated being able to be able to work with AE Marketing Group to give a glimpse of how we assist our members and provide much-needed support,” said Yvonne Marrow, Care Manager at Network Health. “The AE team was amazing to work with and incredibly patient with me as we tried to navigate in a virtual world during an incredibly busy time. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with AE Marketing several times now and I have been continuously impressed by the professionalism, care, and creativity of their group.” 




“The new video assets have helped us go above and beyond to reach our members and potential members amidst coronavirus,” said Melanie Draheim, Director of Marketing and Individual Sales at Network Health. “It’s more important now than ever to make the complicated health insurance world simple and these videos help us accomplish that.”

But we did not stop there.

Another group that has been disproportionally impacted by COVID-19 is small businesses. 

With many small businesses closing down or experiencing massive layoffs, Network Health wanted to call attention to all of the good that these businesses do for their community.

AE Marketing Group helped Network Health celebrate the work of its small business customers through long and short-form videos, journalism features, and branded imagery as part of the Stories of Wisconsin campaign.  

And to provide much-needed earned-media during the pandemic for local area businesses (including non-customers) Network Health partnered with TMJ4, the NBC affiliate TV station in Milwaukee.  The partnership showcased a small business every month in on-air features as part of the Insuring Small Business program. 


Network Health CEO Coreen Dicus-Johnson on TMJ4 Morning Blend


With political spending at an all-time high, AE Marketing Group helped Network Health leverage nonpreemtable, local media sponsorships and earned media opportunities to ensure the health insurance organization could still reach its audience.

Network Health continues to prioritize the health and safety of its members. And while their doors remain closed, their communication lines with members remain open. How they improve their members’  wellness and experiences, combined with their understanding of their audience’s evolving needs and priorities, is Network Health’s true hometown advantage. 

If your organization is struggling with customer outreach amidst coronavirus, contact us.

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