Health Plans: Consider This Strategy for Creative Talent Shortages

6/21/2022 Cindy Thomas

Health Plans: Consider This Strategy for Creative Talent Shortages

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many skilled and valued professionals leaving their jobs. This caused specific functional teams to lose their talent and knowledge base, crippling their ability to perform. As the “Great Resignation” continues, health plan businesses struggle to attract and retain creative talent. 

Unprecedented workforce challenges, including shortages in marketing and creative services, threaten to compromise any momentum gained for member acquisition. This article will provide a recommendation on how health plan marketing teams can build reliable operations, and always run at maximum efficiency regardless of the social or economic changes. 

Marketing departments are feeling bogged down

Member growth goals rely heavily on effective, multimodal communications, so marketing departments must be nimble to adapt to this ongoing trend of staff shortages. All of these communications, both digital and printed, are prepared by skilled marketing professionals who deeply understand health plan business needs. 

Health plan marketing leadership, however, often direct their talented team members to apply their impressive skill set to every available and mundane task. When this happens, your talent is distracted from their core competency (aka the very reason you hired them).

Richard Lindner, co-founder of the education platform DigitalMarketer, described the marketing workforce challenges this way:

"It’s no secret that marketing is complicated. The breadth of knowledge today’s marketer is expected to be proficient with is overwhelming to say the least. Even the most skilled marketers can’t be expected to know everything, and if they do, some part of it has likely already changed."

A couple years ago, Workfront’s “The State of Work” report revealed U.S. workers say only 43% of their work week is taken up by primary job duties. The report also revealed 58% say they’re so swamped with getting day-to-day work done that they don’t have time to think beyond their daily to-do list.

So what’s it all mean? Seeking external support to free up your marketing talent can make a lot of business sense. It will also allow key marketers to refocus on executing high-priority strategic initiatives.

10 Reasons for Outsourcing
Your Content and Creative Services

Selective outsourcing and a hybrid marketing department

Despite strong efforts, some payers are still having a tough time attracting and hiring qualified workers. It is common for technical and creative skill gaps to emerge in this environment, as few companies have marketing talent that excels in every aspect of creative marketing and specific business communications necessary to remain competitive. 

The good news is that there is a solution: selective outsourcing. 

Health plan organizations can address both creative and marketing talent shortages with a targeted sourcing strategy that sends specific functions or projects to a trusted vendor with a deep understanding of their business objectives. This would create a “hybrid marketing department” structure to support projects, such as customer acquisition, with the industry-specific experience and capabilities needed for success. 

This is what selective outsourcing can look like 

To address workforce shortfalls, external support from a trusted (and proven) partner can bring flexibility and access to a time-tested portfolio of capabilities, such as:

  • Branding – brand guidelines, content strategy, brand messaging and consistency
  • Marketing –SEO content, digital and social copy, brochures, and blog posts
  • Advertising – ad copy, scripts, banner ads, direct mail, and social media posts
  • Thought leadership – blog posts, white papers, and other educational materials
  • E-commerce – product descriptions and tutorials, social media
  • Business communications – internal/external communications, email and direct mail
  • Content strategy – detailed engagement plans, creative content campaigns
  • Market research and analysis – competitor differentiation, brand identity, strategic message development
  • Editorial project management – content process management (creative and operational)
  • Photo and video creation – professional production of images and short-form videos perfect for Tik-Tok, reels, and other social media

By 2030, all Baby Boomers will be at least 65 years old. As the final wave of Boomers hits that milestone, enrolling and retaining new plan members will become more difficult, requiring quality and persistent multi-modal communications. Forward-thinking health plan marketing executives will understand the need to employ strategies that make their member acquisition efforts more efficient, more effective, and of higher quality. 

The solution to maximizing your existing talent pool

As you know, building a quality marketing team is key and far from cheap. According to DigitalMarketer, way back in 2019, an entry-level digital marketer — who may take six to eight months to train — could cost over $70,000 in annual salary. In today’s tough workforce environment, finding and retaining a talented marketing team has become significantly more difficult and expensive. 

Outsourcing creative needs and select marketing functions to a trusted partner can add the value and quality needed for member acquisition and retention campaigns. By design, it will also maximize your existing talent pool, introduce new levels of scalability, and reduce overall costs associated with managing an exclusively in-house team. 

As the “Great Resignation” train rolls on, consider initiating a conversation around this hybrid marketing structure. It may just lead to improved morale, more effective campaigns, and a heightened sense of flexibility.  All good things.


Cindy Thomas is the Director of Business Development for RRD’s Health Plan Solutions. If you are interested in learning more about selective outsourcing and creating a hybrid marketing department to drive your member acquisition efforts, RRD can help. Connect with one of our health plan experts today. 

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