Vin: Welcome to The Marketing Stir Podcast by Stirista, probably the most entertaining marketing podcast you’re going to put in your ears. I’m Vin, the associate producer here at Stirista. The goal of this podcast is to chat with industry leaders and get their take on the current challenges of the market, and we’ll have a little fun along the way. In today’s episode, Vincent and Ajay chat with Kim Lauersdorf, VP of marketing at EmblemHealth. She talks about the fun challenges that lie with differentiating marketing from product to product in the health industry and how using creativity can work around constraints. Vincent hosts the Silver Apple Awards, and Ajay looks forward to finishing off a strong year. Give it a listen.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another episode of The Marketing Stir. I am extra happy today. It’s morning. It’s cold here in New York City. I’ve got my coffee, of course, but I’m usually this chipper anyway. It’s another episode of The Marketing Stir. I, of course, am one of your hosts, Vincent Pietrafesa, the vice president of B2B products and partnerships at Stirista. Really quick, let’s talk about Stirista just for a minute, the elevator pitch, just because we just have to pay the bills around here. I’m kidding. There’s no bills to pay. But anyway, Stirista, we are an identity marketing company. We have our own business- to- business data, our own business- to- consumer data. We work with organizations who would like to target that data in order to get new customers, to get their services, their products in front of those customers or potential customers. We do our own email sending. We have our own DSP that can execute media, display, OTT, connected TV. That’s enough about us. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. That is how confident I am that we can help. The other thing I’m confident about, I say it every week, but I didn’t say it on the last episode of the podcast only because he wasn’t with me. I felt alone up here. I didn’t know what to do. I’m so glad he’s back with me, my co- host, we call him the San Antonio Slayer, Mr. Ajay Gupta. What’s up, Ajay?
Ajay Gupta: Hey, Vincent. I was thinking you might not need me after all.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Come on. I always need you. I always need you, and I knew you were going to think that. I knew you tried to find a way to potentially… But you love this podcast, and especially now, I’m sure you love… Wait till you go to the conferences now, Ajay. It’s fun when random people come up to you like,” I love your podcast.” I’m like,” Thank you, sir. Thank you, ma’am,” but it is great, but we’re happy to have you. Don’t you do that to me again. You have to be here with me. What’s been going on since the last time I talked to you?
Ajay Gupta: Things are going well, man. I think we’re looking to finish the year strong. It’s a busy time of the year for everybody. Yeah, I’m sorry I’ll be missing out on seeing you in person this week. So, things are busy in a good way here, but I look forward to seeing you at another conference soon.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Absolutely. This will already air. I am hosting the Silver Apple Awards for the Direct Marketing Club of New York. You’ll have to stay tuned and see how I did. Hopefully, I did well with that event. It looks like about 150, 175 people going to that one. Looking forward to that. But yes, but I will see you in December in-
Ajay Gupta: That’s right.
Vincent Pietrafesa: …San Antonio. It’s that’s the only time I actually like going to San Antonio because it’s a lot hotter there than it is in New York. So, it’ll be good to see everyone finish out the holidays, the year. I’m going to a San Antonio Spurs game. That’s going to be fun, but awesome. Awesome enough about me, enough about you. You’re back, Ajay. We’re happy to have you, but I’m happy to have this next guest. So, here in New York City, I believe it’s the FDR, you drive down and I always see this beautiful emblem, I was going to say this emblem, this beautiful sign, pun intended, of EmblemHealth. We know it here, of course, in New York. I said,” I would love to talk to someone from EmblemHealth. I’d love to get EmblemHealth.” The healthcare industry, we’d love to get someone’s take on that, and we have amazing someone with us. Ladies and gentlemen, we have the vice president of marketing at EmblemHealth. Please, a warm Marketing Stir welcome for Kim Lauersdorf. What’s going on, Kim?
Kim Lauersdorf: Good morning. I’m so excited to be with you all today.
Vincent Pietrafesa: We’re happy to have you. It’s so nice to meet you and have you joining us today. It’s not too early there for you in Denver, is it?
Kim Lauersdorf: The sun is up today. So, we’re not the first meeting of the day. It’s awesome.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Nice. Nice. Hopefully, it will be the most fun.
Kim Lauersdorf: Yeah. I guarantee it.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Maybe not the most profitable or meaningful, but it’ll be the most fun. We’re so glad to have you here. Kim, for people who don’t know EmblemHealth, talk about EmblemHealth as a whole, and then I’d love to understand your role within the organization, obviously VP of marketing, but some of the day to day that you tackle.
Kim Lauersdorf: Yeah, absolutely. So, when we talk about EmblemHealth and the EmblemHealth family of companies, we have to start with the heritage of the health insurance plan. It’s funny. I was checking a little bit as you were talking about emblem and EmblemHealth, because we were founded 80 years ago to serve the hardworking men and women of New York City and that our logo is actually representative of the police and fire shields coming together as the members that we have probably protected for over 80 years at this time. So, we have the core health insurance plans, which serve the New York tri- state area. Our family of companies are also advantage care physicians, which is over 40 medical practices in the Greater New York City area, as well as digital solutions company. So, really, as we have looked at the transformation of healthcare over the 80 years we’ve been a company, but absolutely the rapid transition in the early years, it’s been very intentional that we have a provider group, that we have a digital solutions company so that we can really help meet members and patients where they are and how they want to consume healthcare today, which is rapidly involving and accelerated in many different ways over the last couple of years with the pandemic. So, day in and day out, as vice president of marketing, I get the privilege of leading an amazing team that is oriented in creating our brand, engaging with customers, community, our members, our patients throughout everything that we do, from digital to offline experiences. So, incredibly proud to represent that team today and who we are in the New York City market.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, I love hearing that. Again, like I said, I’m biased with New York. I love seeing that. Kim, talk to me about… We love asking this question on The Marketing Stir because it’s not always a traditional path, and if it is a traditional path, well, then that’s unique as well. So, talk to us how you got into marketing in the first place.
Kim Lauersdorf: Yeah. I don’t know if this qualifies as the traditional or nontraditional path, but I was about seven years old, and it involves minor league ballparks. So, honestly, I grew up a huge baseball fan, playing baseball, may have been raised at a minor league ballpark, that type of investment. My dad got me really into baseball cards and a big part of that was autographs. And so, as a seven- year- old, I believe that was first or second grade if we go back into the grade levels, they used to produce, this is before the internet, they used to produce a book of the home addresses of professional baseball players.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Oh, wow.
Kim Lauersdorf: And so, I would literally go through my cards. I would find their home addresses. I would write letters. I mean, this is Willie Mays, Cal Ripken, Nolan Ryan, Ryne Sandberg, right? This is the era of the greats we’re talking about then. I would send them handwritten letters with their cards, the return envelopes, so that they could easily send it back to me. I would even keep a little spreadsheet in the book that was on what date I sent it, what date I got it back. Amazingly, you’d get some stuff back in days. Some stuff I got back in months. Some stuff I got back in years, but grew in a fantastic autograph collection through the in- person experience at the ballpark and also sending to professionals around the country. So, I count that my first digital marketing campaign of really going on the ground with that. And then, honestly, as I went through life, I was always just fascinated by advertising, fascinated by humans. When it came into what are we going to do as a job and a life, it was like,” I’m either going into advertising or I’m going into psychology,” which I think as marketers, we all say,” Did you really make a choice there? Because you’re doing both.” As leaders of teams, I think we also know that we’re always a little bit of a therapist. So, I feel like every single day I get to live out both really understanding people, what makes them tick, how to connect with them, how to reach them. It has been maybe not traditional, but I would say very clearly that you’re going to be in an advertising and marketing camp, and I love it.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I love it. I love it. I know I would. Before I get to this question, what I love there is first of all, you’re right, those are the greats that I grew up with too. I mentioned Ryne Sandberg, what a nice mention to the Chicago Cubs. I love the fact that you put a self- addressed return envelope in there. At seven years old, you’re like,” I’m going to make it as easy as possible.”
Kim Lauersdorf: Yeah.
Vincent Pietrafesa: And that’s awesome. And then the fact that you’re right, I do remember there’s some addresses. Now, forget it. You will never see that. No one wants to be known.
Kim Lauersdorf: Very different time.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That’s amazing. Do you still have a lot of your collection?
Kim Lauersdorf: I do. I still have them.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That’s awesome. Awesome. All right. I love hearing it. Go ahead, Ajay. Take it away.
Ajay Gupta: Hey, Kim. You’re very passionate about what you do, and I can just tell that from your answers, but what’s your favorite thing about your work?
Kim Lauersdorf: Oh, it’s hard to narrow that down because you’re right, I love what I do and I love the connections that we create, but I would say the best part of it is when you see the change happen, when you see the impact of your work. It’s really interesting. I think a lot of times, as marketers, we can believe we’re putting it out in the world. We don’t connect. We may not be that salesperson. We may not be that customer service person. We may not be that engaged, but I often tell my team, as marketers, you’re often the front line. You are often creating what most people will ever engage with us as a brand and that perception. And so, I’m incredibly privileged. We have an amazing community team and amazing events team. In the last month of October, we kicked off open enrollment season with on- the- ground health and wellness expos. We stood it all up. We gave away hundreds of screenings, pallets of fresh food. We gave away vaccinations, COVID and flu shots. Flu vaccinations were available on site. There’s nothing that is more fulfilling in marketing than standing on the ground and having members literally come up to us and say,” I’ve got my ID card right here.”” Ma’am, you don’t have to take it out of your wallet. I’d really trust you that you’re a member,” and just saying how happy we are to have you in the community. Many saying,” This isn’t a community that health plans or providers come to, so thank you” and having really that connection with the member. We can do that connection in a lot of ways as marketers today, virtual events, digital communications, on the ground. Nothing is quite as victorious as that feedback that you get that something is working. That’s my favorite part.
Ajay Gupta: Kim, what’s different with health insurance marketing versus general marketing? Are there specific nuances that you see applying more to the healthcare industry?
Kim Lauersdorf: Yeah. I think there’s a couple things that make the healthcare industry, I would at least say fascinating and different in ways. One, when we’re talking about the health insurance products versus care delivery, in truth, it’s a regulated specific product. So, at the end of the day, the plan differentiations from company to company can only have a degree of variation because they’re regulated, right? You’re told this is what you have to provide to people. So, as a marketer, that challenge is it’s really a commodity product, but a commodity that is incredibly important in people’s lives and how they’re engaging with it. So that’s always a real… I find it a fun marketing challenge of how are you going to differentiate? How are you going to step apart when the product, the plans aren’t the area that you can differentiate? So, how you wrap service around that, how you wrap experiences around that, that is where you can differentiate and that’s where you can step apart. So, that regulated piece I find really fascinating because usually marketers have the advantage of product advantages to leverage, and that’s not always one that you get. Obviously, like I said, it’s regulated. There are clear things that we have to be specific about, creative about, but I also am one of the believers in beautiful constraints and you can get really creative and really impactful with the work that you do when you have the constraints on you. I don’t say constraints in a negative way at all. I think that’s actually what provokes curiosity and creativity. So, I think those are some of the things at the end of the day, and you can never forget, right? You are interacting with someone most of the time in a very emotionally driven moment and that emotion could be,” I’m so happy we just had a baby. We just got pregnant. We just got a cancer diagnosis, and now my world has just been flipped upside down. We just got a terminal diagnosis.” And so, to be able to also market and connect when you know that your member is on a spectrum of emotions is another very different challenge. I like sneakers. I’m a sneakerhead, right? My sneakers are all joy moments. There’s not a negative moment that any of my sneaker companies that sell to me have to worry about in my world. So, I think those nuances of the regulated space, the commodity product, but really an emotive moment that someone is always engaging in are what make healthcare marketing so fun.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Kim, I wanted to ask about, you touched upon it earlier, the last few years, especially how it’s changing. We addressed this with all of our guests on the podcast, the last year and a half or so, marketing during the pandemic. Let’s say marketing, we could focus on that, but especially healthcare during the pandemic has really been at the forefront of people’s minds, what people have been doing here in New York. The hospitals were overrun. Talk to me about how your world was affected during the pandemic. And then also, how did you market during that time, or did you market? Did you focus on something else?
Kim Lauersdorf: Yeah, it’s a great question. I want to make a public service announcement real quick. We’re still in the pandemic.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yes.
Kim Lauersdorf: We’re still heading toward a pandemic, so please make sure you’re vaccinated. Please get your flu vaccinations. Let’s do this together on all of those components, but it really was a fascinating time. I’m going to put on both hats. I’m going to put on the EmblemHealth health plan first, which there were huge pivots that we had to make as a marketer because we literally shut our doors. We are a plan that’s very active in the community. We have nearly 15 physical neighborhood care, is what we call them, but they are health and wellness centers, in the city that our members came to every day, that they went to yoga classes. They went to health literacy classes. They engaged with us, and specifically a population that tends to be our Medicare members, a more elderly population that needed that social piece to really help keep things like loneliness and depression and anxiety in check. So, for us as the plan, in the early days of the pandemic, it was,” How do we keep the connections intact?” Let’s focus on that, right? Every single day information is changing. Of course, coverage is being very laid out for us by the federal government, how testing will be covered, how care will be covered. So, let’s focus on the connection. We did that in a couple of ways of we took all of our program virtual. We started hosting town halls of direct communication. Let’s give you what we know. Let’s put our physicians in front of you. We did an initiative that frankly was called… We called it the Piece of Mind initiative, where we literally picked up the phone and just started calling what for us were our highest risk members for social isolation, for that, and we made over 30,000 connections with 30, 000 members to say,” How can we help you right now?” which was very transformative. I think as marketers, we’re always driven by that simple question to our consumer, those that we serve, how can we help you? That’s what we’re here for at the end of the day and how to create that connection. So, I think it was actually a time that marketing got to really shine and say,” This is exactly what we do.” Right? We connect. Let me put my provider side hat on. It was fascinating as a marketer because every single day, the business model was changing, where overnight front doors of physician practices close. We’re now virtual first. Now, all of our care is virtual. We’re doing it between computers with people. As that goes on, now we’re vaccinating people. Now, we’re testing. All of this is happening at that time. And so, as marketers, you’re always very tethered to the business outcomes and what are we trying to achieve, and have never experienced that the model, the business model is changing weekly in front of you. So, for any adrenaline junkies, it was a very great adrenaline time of “really, what are we doing”? What are we pivoting to? What is the content we need now this week? Because now we have to explain to patients, “This is how you get your care. Welcome to a whole new way.” And it’s overnight, so you had no warning. So those are the things that I think really as marketers and I think many brands and many industries were able to shine during the pandemic time. Hopefully, we’re taking a lot of this with us. What did we learn and how can we continue to optimize and evolve in those areas?
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah. I love the way you explain it, Kim. The passion is truly there. You can tell that you love what you do. I want to talk about… You’re right. A couple things you mentioned there. The way people receive their health advice, doctor visits online, to me, it makes it easier. It’s changed. Maybe I’m old school. I always like going to see my doctor, right? Because that’s such a personal thing, right? It’s a personal thing. You’re mentioning different things, but there’s a pivot. I’m glad because my wife and I, we welcomed our second child, a lot of those visits online, and then, of course, in person. What you were saying there, the adrenaline junkies, the way people look at it, how do you think people’s relationship with health in general changed during COVID? I could tell you how mine did, but I would love to hear your take.
Kim Lauersdorf: It’s interesting because if I think about it visually on a continuum of,” I’m not engaged in my care,” to the other end really being,” I’m highly engaged in my health and my wellness,” I feel like many things in our world during this time a polarization happened and it was either really positive. Actually, COVID opened my eyes. I never even realized this. I never even thought about what my other chronic diseases could be. What are my other comorbidities that could make this really bad for me? I want to engage, right? I want to get healthy. I want to get in the gym. I want to be putting everything that I can into my health. And then I think you absolutely have the other end of that spectrum, where people shoot into the, “I’m going to withdraw from care, right? It’s not safe to go into the ER. It’s not safe to go to my doctor’s visits. I’m not staying up on. I’m fine, right? It’s no big deal.” It’s not which we’re seeing actually now coming into the healthcare system that people are sicker than they were two years ago. We’re now seeing diabetes coming much more prevalent because of what’s happened. We call it delaying care, is how we talk about it. So, I think you really had this polarization of it was an eye- opening revealing moment for folks, where in others, it was a, “I’m just going to keep putting my head in the sand. That seems safer than knowing.” So, Vincent, which way did you go? You said which way you went.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Well, yeah. So, I’ve always been a… My wife would call me a hypochondriac. So, me, I have health insurance. If I see something’s wrong, I’m at that doctor’s office. I have three of my doctors’ text messages. For me, Kim, it was a little bit of caution, because my wife and I, living in New York City, we had to leave. Her doctor was in the New York City hospitals at the time, April, March of last year. You should go to… Is there another area? We had to go to Pennsylvania, where in- laws are. None of the Pennsylvania hospitals would take us. They would at first, and then they said,” Oh yeah, sure. Come on. We would love to have you. Where are you from?”” New York City.” Oh, no. New York City, it was kind of the scarlet letter back then, living in New York City, the eight million people here, right? But for me, I think it opened a lot of people’s eyes in the sense, where I feel like a lot of people were always hesitant to get certain types of insurance, right? They’re like,” Oh, maybe I need this type of insurance now, maybe life insurance. I need this.” So, I need to beef up my health insurance. I have to make sure that I have the best health insurance. So yeah, for me, I’ve always been a little extreme when it comes to that. It didn’t change me working out because as I mentioned, I broke my arm running, so obviously, I don’t work out, but for me, it just made me more aware and really focused on my children and future, and being even more cautious. But yeah, that’s kind of how I went.
Kim Lauersdorf: Yep.
Ajay Gupta: Yeah. It sure sounds like you probably have a couple more doctor visits left this week, Vincent.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Oh, definitely. Definitely. I go to see my doctor for my arm. I need my six-week X- ray. I think one week I had three different doctor visits for my hamstring. I know, I’m falling apart, Kim, falling apart, but I lost the race. Even if I won, did I really win? Anyway, go ahead.
Ajay Gupta: Kim, to talk about marketing some more, what’s your marketing stack like? Do you have preferred tools and software that you like to use that our other marketers might benefit from?
Kim Lauersdorf: Yeah. So, I feel fortunate. We have a pretty great marketing stack that we’ve built on. And so, really, as an organization, we’ve invested in Salesforce, and that we’ve put marketing cloud in, sales cloud in, service cloud in. The real intent around that was to get a 360 view of our members as they engage with us. So, having that as really the foundational infrastructure across the whole entity gives us a real advantage to know what is the member experiencing at any moment and how can we react and connect to that? And then other components that are really critical for us are our website infrastructure. We sit on Adobe Experience Manager and different components of the Adobe suite, and really integrate that with our Salesforce platform so that we can react to leads coming into the website, to different engagements that we build on the website. So, those are really the key components. For us, I think this is a critical piece, and I know in the healthcare space, this has always been challenging when I speak to peers, we’ve also been really fortunate to build a marketing database that connects with our larger database that runs the infrastructure of the organization. But part of that advantage has made us very nimble in the way that we can connect with members and patients, the way that we can analyze our results in ways. I know this is very complicated and we’re very fortunate to connect it into our enterprise data marts and databases. So, those are our keystone tech stack that really helps us deliver more and more personalized experiences, more and more engaged, responsive experiences, and experiences that get smarter as they go through the journey and those components.
Ajay Gupta: Kim, moving towards the soft skills of marketing beyond the tech stack, what do you think are some of the important skills that the modern marketer should have in order to be successful today in marketing?
Kim Lauersdorf: Absolutely, first and foremost, I think for marketing success, you have to have curiosity. You have to have that questioning spirit, that why, right? Why does someone think that? Why did they do that? That leads to the infrastructure of testing and understanding. How do we connect? Is this the best thing? It’s often, and I don’t think I’m unique in as a marketing organization, people will come to us with,” I need a flier. I need an email. I need to put this on the website,” and that is the,” Okay. We actually need to take this conversation back a few steps. We need to talk about curiosity. We need to talk about problem solving.” Bring us a challenge and marketers will play all day long with the challenge. Your flier is not going to be the most impactful. Here’s what you need to do. So, that curiosity with that problem solving nature, I think, is core. Another, I think, key aspect of a marketer today, because I always challenge my team that it’s your job to know the customer better than anybody in this organization. It’s your job to represent them in meetings. It’s your job to bring that in. Because all day long, the business brings us the important business components. We have to marry that with what customers are looking at. So, I would say the next attribute that I think is even more critical in today’s world for marketers is authenticity, and that is knowing who you are, knowing who your customer is, knowing that we live in a world that we are confronted with a lot of different activism opportunities for brands and a lot of different people that we represent both inside our organizations and outside, and you need to be that authentic advocate, so having that voice. So, those to me are the things that I always look for in team members, because I can teach you disciplines, right? I can teach you skill sets. But at the end of the day, as a marketer, you need that curiosity. You need that authenticity. You need that problem- solving nature and you need to be that advocate day in and day out. Does that lead to challenging conversations? Some days, yeah, but that’s because you’re standing on your skills, your understanding of the customer and you’re doing the right thing with those attributes.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Kim, I want to pick up on something you mentioned there. You talked about activism. You’ve seen an increase in companies talking about brand activism. What role do you think companies should play in that? And then let’s go right directly to EmblemHealth. What role are you playing, your company is playing in those to drive those values?
Kim Lauersdorf: Yeah. So, in short, the role that I believe that companies should play is the role that your employees, your customers and your community need you to play. That may seem a little simple and basic, but that definition may be very different from company to company. So, being a healthcare company, let’s start with that at the foundation, everybody deserves healthcare, right? It is a basic right. And so, on just the business that we’re in, we have to be equity- driven, right? So that’s just in the foundation of our DNA. Then as you start to pull the layers back on that, we serve New York City, the most diverse city in the country, right? We have to understand that landscape. We have to represent that landscape. And so, for us, it was really interesting early on in the pandemic, as we’ve talked about virtual care and we were watching telehealth explode in a way that… Frankly, telehealth has been trying for decades to explode in that way and couldn’t because of consumer adoption. So, you watch this explosion happen. And then we, knowing who our members are and who we serve, we actually step back and went,” Is this a good thing that this is exploding in this way?” Our hypothesis was we already know, and the pandemic actually helped reveal in greater degrees, that health disparities exist between populations. One of our hypotheses was,” Oh, no, if we rely on technology, are we going to widen that gap in health disparity, or are we going to close that gap? How can technology help us close that?” And so, out of the gate, in the pandemic, we actually surveyed the New York City population on access and found very eye- openly and quickly that a third of low-income population in New York City and a quarter of our black and African- American population in New York City did not have reliable internet access at home and only had a single device in their home. So, now remember when the pandemic, schools at home, works at home and we were very cautious that we’re going to limit, and again, broaden that divide in the health disparities. So, what do we do as a plan? How can we not lead us down this path? And so, one, we created Wi-Fi hotspots. We have sales vans that drive around all day. We have our neighborhood care centers. They have free Wi-Fi. That’s very intentional. We knew the second that we could open our doors we needed to. When we reopened the doors, we made sure that every single one of our neighborhood care centers had a telepod, a telehealth pod, which was a place that I live in New York City. I live in a studio apartment with six people possibly during the pandemic. How the heck am I going to have a wellness visit? How the heck am I going to have a therapy visit? You can come into our doors today and have a pod, where you can have that engagement. So, how can we make sure that yes, we’re going to represent? So, that activism for us became very much technology driven during the pandemic of how do we make sure that technology is an accelerator, not a decelerator in people’s health. So, I think those are some examples of how, and I’m sure all of us face it. It’s really important for the employees that you have today, right? It’s a key component of keeping their engagement, keeping them apprised of what is passionate to them. So that’s equally important when you go into activism of yes, what are your customer need, but what do your employees need to be able to, I’ll be corny for a minute, I can never pass up a good pun, but proudly wear that emblem as EmblemHealth each day, right? That’s what you rely on for brand success. So, that’s a lot of what should drive your activism hard as well.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I love hearing that. Kim, I know this is one of those like future questions, who really knows, but is it technology? What do you see as the future of health insurance?
Kim Lauersdorf: I think the future of health insurance has to be a massive reframing. You actually hit on it, Vincent, when you talked about the type of consumer you are. So, right now, because of the way that health insurance was begun, it was to keep you from a catastrophic event, to keep you from being broke if you had a catastrophic event, much like life insurance or your home insurance, right? A lot of people get health insurance and cross their fingers that they don’t ever need it. That’s actually wrong in consumer engagement because that is driving people, unlike you, Vincent, who are staying at home, getting sick, getting sick, getting sicker, getting sicker, and ending up with higher and higher healthcare costs. So, I believe the massive future of insurance has to be this pivot, which is ironic because we call our people members, they’re not customers, they’re members, I think the massive pivot needs to be to this reframing of you getting into a membership. At the core of it, what is a membership? A membership is designed to be utilized. I get a gym membership to use it. Now, I understand that that’s not always consumer behavior. I’m not advocating that consumer behavior, but I get it to use it, right? I join a club. I join a whiskey membership. I join, let’s go all the way back to Columbia Records and get my CDs, 10 of them for a buck to utilize it. And so, I think that mindset has to transcend the health membership space and then start advocating for it because you should be using your benefits. You absolutely should be seeing your doctors. You should take advantage of digital health wellness platforms, because overall, that’s going to drive your health to a much better place, and it’s going to drive down the rising costs of healthcare. So, that’s my new advocate position for the future of insurance.
Ajay Gupta: Kim, any tips on how to choose health insurance? It’s such a complicated and complex process.
Kim Lauersdorf: It is a complicated and complex process, and I will not stand here as an insurance executive and defend that. I always encourage my teams every year, go to your open enrollment benefit sessions, listen to the questions that people ask. It is complicated. So, I think the tips that I would share is one, really think about your life circumstances. So, congratulations, Vincent, on baby number two. That is a key life circumstance that you really want to make sure your health insurance is prepared for. If you know you’re going to have an upcoming surgery, you are going to really want to make sure that your plan is prepared for that. If you have a specific condition, chronic condition or know that,” Hey, I really want dental too,” look for a plan that has dental and vision embedded into it. That’s very common actually in health insurance plans and I don’t think a lot of people realize that. They think I need to add on dental and vision. Sometimes you do, if depending on what type of things you want to be doing or type of care that you need, but often it’s actually baked in to your health plan as well. So, the first is to really think about what are you going to need from your health insurance in the next coming year. The second lane then, going with our theme of membership, what are you going to utilize and make sure you have it. For me, chiropractic care, acupuncture care, those are part of my recipe of my health and wellness, so I always make sure that’s in my plan, right? I’m going to utilize those services. Those are important for my health journey and what I need. So, if you look ahead to what do you think you’re going to need this year, then definitely, what are you going to use, because it’s there to be used, those are the pieces that I would recommend people as you’re going through open enrollments. I know it starts in New York on November 16th. So, everyone will be looking very soon.
Ajay Gupta: Kim, a little bit unrelated to healthcare, so this is our staple question here. So, I’m sure with your job title, you get a lot of LinkedIn messages and given how much of a positive person you are, we’d love to get to know what’s the message that you really hate? And then the second one will be easier for you; What’s one that gets your attention?
Kim Lauersdorf: So, if I go on the hate, and you’re right, I’m a very positive person so I have always resisted firing back on some of these email that come through.
Ajay Gupta: This is your chance.
Kim Lauersdorf: Which I can never, ever stand the “I know you’re busy” line. Of course, I’m busy, but you don’t have to tell me what I’m experiencing. I know you can’t find me in your inbox. And so, there’s often this strategic sales ploy to say,” I know, Kim. I’m just trying to help you,” but it actually comes off as you are not actually responding and respecting the fact that I am busy and maybe I did see your email and I didn’t respond on purpose. The ones that will always grab my attention are the ones that clearly have done their research on me and have pulled in a fun fact. There are multiple people who have sent me emails of,” I’d love to see your baseball card collection,” and I’m always like,” Wait, who is this and what are you talking about? So, those pieces that get into the you’ve read my LinkedIn account. You’ve read something I’ve written, right? That’s easy. That will at least get me to open it. And then at the end of the day, not unique to any marketer, any of these that they come across, it’s need- based for me, right? It’s what I’m going through as an organization, what I can control as a marketer, right? There’s a lot of infrastructure technology that we put in from an enterprise standpoint that I’m not putting in at a marketing standpoint. So, once you’ve got my attention, then it really is about what’s the value? How does it connect? How does it help me drive forward? I don’t envy anybody advertising to marketers on any day. I think many of us delete our cookies, remove our footprints. Everything that we leverage for our work, we also, I think, build fortresses around ourselves as marketers on most days, but I think that is just please don’t tell me I’m busy. I’m well aware.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That’s the first really, because that line, that line, a lot of people say, Kim, with that… Because we love it. That’s a question that every single one of our hundred guests have received. Don’t tell me I’m busy, I like that, because a lot of them are like,” Oh, this is how we could help,” or they’ll get your name wrong. I said this a couple podcasts ago, my name is Vincent, not Vinny. I don’t know who that is. That’s not someone who exists in my world. So, Kim, just a couple last questions from us here, what role or what has some of the skills you’ve learned have played a pivotal role in your career? I saw you spent a lot of time on the agency side. It could be some experiences there. It could be some experiences at EmblemHealth. What is of pivotal some skills in your career or a role that you had that was vital to where you are now?
Kim Lauersdorf: Yeah. I mean, if we have any more youngins listening to this along the way, I would highly, highly recommend starting your career on the agency side. There is just an acceleration of knowledge, experience, personalities, styles, management processes. It’s bootcamp, right? Every single day, it’s different clients and all of that. So, if I really had to think about my pivotal moments, it definitely goes back to the agency days. I was very fortunate to spend many, many years at gyro. It actually got to a point, I’m sure many of us have gotten to that point in our career, where it’s like,” Okay. I’m ready for my next challenge. I’ve done what I can do. I’m ready for my next challenge.” I was really fortunate to have who now is a dear friend that I was having drinks with at the time, who worked at the agency and had actually been brought in to build out the healthcare agency. We were having drinks one night and I’m just saying,” Wendy, I got to go. I need my next challenge.” She said,” Well, come build this with me.” And so, literally, Wendy and I off the sides of our desk went to work and building a healthcare agency within the walls of our agency. That time has thought me a lot about female- led leadership. It taught me a lot about building, creating those entrepreneurial spirits, when you’re the leaders and you’re doing the meeting invites because you’re building this out of nothing. And so, that heart, that gumption, that, I think, was pivotal. And then obviously, and now I know you guys can hear it, I caught the healthcare bug in that moment. Once you catch that healthcare bug of the work that you do every single day, having such an impact on people’s lives, that was the key for me and has definitely been that, whether that’s a fork in a road or left turn in the road or U- turn, whatever, however the journey is defined in that way. It’s definitely kind of the moment that, that, that put me on the path I’m on today.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I love it. I love it. Kim, final question, because we’re talking about… Well, I want to understand some of your hobbies, what you like to do, but how do you stay healthy?
Kim Lauersdorf: How do I stay healthy? I would say it’s a combination of nutrition, first, movement second, and then the third area I need to keep working on is rest. So, for me, nutrition has been a key part of my health plan for over a decade. I have a thyroid condition. Thyroid is very much connected to gluten intake. So, I’ve been gluten- free for over a decade with the goal, and thankfully, knock on wood, have been successful to not have to be medicated in that sense. So, for me, nutrition is always at the core of my health plan. When I wander off of that nutrition path, I feel it quickly. I feel it in inflammation. I feel it in my body. I feel all of that. So, the second area is movement, exercise. My wife will probably lose a bet if I mention Peloton, but that has been a key part of get moving, whether that’s get on the bike, whether that’s lift and yoga, whether it is walking the two beautiful bloodhounds that I have, the motion, the movement, especially in a virtual world, where we sit at a desk all day long more so than ever. And then I’m working, so I’m going to use this as accountability time. I’m working on the rest parts, the recovery parts, the slow down parts and let it all heal and sink in. So, that’s my formula. That’s working-ish.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I love it. And then some hobbies, what do you enjoy doing? You said you try to work out, which I get it. Hint, I need to work out more. I get it. But what some of your hobbies? What do you like to do in your spare time?
Kim Lauersdorf: In my spare time, so whether this is the marketing juices or the fact that stories are the lifeblood of the world, I can never get enough stories. So, it’s reading. It’s podcasts. It’s binge- watching shows. My wife and I may disagree from time to time. She likes to rewatch shows. I’m like,” But I already know that story.”
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah. Yeah. I’m the same way. I’m the same way. I love to rewatch. I’m a re-watcher.” You already saw it.” I’m like, “Why didn’t pick up that last part? You didn’t notice that last part that he said.” So yeah, same way.
Kim Lauersdorf: We need new stories. We have to fill our brain with new stories.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I know.
Kim Lauersdorf: So, that is always right. Yeah, that’s the great part, right? You throw podcasts in your ear these days and go on a walk and take the journey with you. So, that is consumption of stories is really, I would say, at the core of what I love to do in my spare time.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That’s awesome. Kim, we really appreciate it. You can see, but the people who are going to be consuming us or watching us, you can see how many times I smile. We had an amazing time. Please check out EmblemHealth. Now, when I drive down that highway and see it, it’s going to mean even more to me, seeing that, and I’m going to smile even more. Ladies and gentlemen, the VP of marketing at EmblemHealth, Kim Lauersdorf. I’m Vincent. That’s Ajay. This has been another episode of Stirista’s The Marketing Stir. Thank you so much for listening. We will talk to you soon.
Vin: Thanks for listening to The Marketing Stir Podcast by Stirista. Please like, rate and subscribe. If you’re interested in being a guest on the podcast, email us at email@example.com. And thanks for listening.