For the past 15 years, Genworth has conducted an annual Cost of Care survey compiled from data across 440 regions in the U.S. to help educate people on the cost of different types of care in the communities where they're thinking about retiring. Then, every few years they do a Beyond Dollars survey focusing on the caregiver and the emotional and financial aspects they have to deal with in that role.
These reports are always published online, but this year, CMO Janice Luvera and Brand and Social Media Manager Danielle Steel Bolt wanted to find a more engaging way to share the data and learnings from these studies to tell a larger story.
“We wanted to figure out how we could take that information and tell a story around it with real people in order to present the data in a more interesting and engaging way,” said Janice.
They decided on spearheading a video series for their website and social channels to tell that story.
“From a social perspective, our goal is to be a helpful friend to our fans and followers, whether that's providing informative, engaging content or helping to resolve a customer service-related question,” said Danielle. “And videos that feature real people, not just our policy holders, to make it easier for people to see themselves in the information we’re sharing.”
According to Danielle, if they see themselves in the content, they might be more apt to take action — whether that's starting a conversation with a loved one about long term care planning, going to their website to do additional research, or taking steps to start that plan.
“We're hoping these videos on social help people take one of those actions,” she said.
For Danielle and Janice, this series was all about raising awareness of these key issues.
They partnered with Soledad O’Brien and her company, Starfish Media Group, to produce and create the videos.
Janice and her team went through the two different surveys and studies and gave the production team their key themes for the six individual videos: why people don’t prepare, the cost of care, aging in America, long-term care, young people and long term care, and being underprepared.
Then, the production team put out a casting call around the country to find real people with real stories about planning, caregiving, preparing, and the cost of care.
“They went out to their homes and filmed them telling their stories. Then they went to the studio, edited it, sent us rough cuts, and then we would go from there,” said Janice. “The whole process took approximately six months.”
Now they’re in the early stages of promoting the series across their social channels.
“If you look at what we're publishing across our channels, it's a combination of these videos, content on Genworth.com for people to get more information, and relevant third-party content,” she said. “We didn’t want the videos to be standalone, they are part of a cohesive narrative that helps tell the story we're trying to sell for Genworth.”
For the initial launch of the videos, they promoted the series on their internal channels.
And, after putting out the videos on their intranet and through internal communications, Danielle said they saw a lot of their employees sharing these videos and starting to tell their own stories.
“We found that we have the same stories as our policyholders, so we are all connected,” she said. “We really are the people that we serve, and that’s become a key point for us as well.”
On the external side, the videos live on YouTube, and the team has worked to develop content plans aligned with their new website rolling out and including paid promotion.
They are also looking to share these on third-party websites and through their partner organizations. “In addition to the Cost of Care data, we’re asking them to share some of the videos as well,” said Janice. “It's another way for us to connect with a totally different audience.”
Throughout this process, one of their biggest learnings was that, for videos like these, it pays to be authentic.
“These videos were especially interesting because, while Genworth sponsored it, it wasn't about us, it was about the people,” said Janice. “One of our big learnings was, it doesn't have to be about us. If we're really about the issue, we have to just serve up the issue and the people dealing with it.”
Janice said learning more about how these issues touch their own employees was important for them as well. Before they started this video series, they were already looking for how employees felt and understood their mission and vision. But, through the videos, it came to light that they’re just like the policyholders they’re helping. She said they knew some of this existed within the organization, but had always told the story from the policy holder perspective.
“Now we know that we’re just like those policyholders,” said Janice. “One of the things we're trying to do is help people find themselves in the stories so it becomes more relevant to them. We’ve seen that take place internally with those videos now, so we want to continue telling stories that aren’t just relevant to our audience, but also help them find themselves in the story.”
According to Danielle and Janice, a challenge they had to overcome in this series was figuring out how to talk about insurance in an engaging way.
“It's not a physical product, so we have to consider how we make insurance something that people can not only understand, but engage with enough to watch the whole video,” said Janice. “I think using the storytelling method went a long way to help us overcome the challenge of explaining something that's so misunderstood in a way that's both simple and engaging.”
As company in a regulated industry, Danielle and Janice also had to work with compliance to get their video series approved.
That means from the moment they conceptualize the idea of the video, to casting, to what statistics will be included, to how the sources are being cited, the compliance team is looped in every step of the way.
“The other thing that's really helped with that is the people we worked with on the legal compliance side have turned into advocates for the products that we're producing,” said Danielle. “From an internal perspective, it's nice to have those partnerships, not only to get the video completed, but to have that internal advocacy that can then help spread the word for you.”
For anyone else looking to develop a similar series, Janice and Danielle emphasized focusing on stories and finding the right people to tell them.
None of the people in their videos were paid for their stories. “That means they felt so compelled by the situations they were in to share what they had been through and what they’ve learned,” said Danielle. “I think that's very telling for long term care insurance. Nobody knows what it is and they don’t know that they need it — so they don’t know there are ways to plan for it. So it was a big deal for me to see people sharing their stories so openly in a way that can help others prepare.”
Janice said they also built out this series with the idea that a brand is not just about the products and the services that you sell. “It's really about who you are and what you stand for,” she said. “It's not just about a sale all the time and it's not really about you, it's about the people that you serve.”