The leaves have changed into radiant hues and have begun to drop, football season is in full swing, and we’re already deep into fall. Over dozens of Medicare Marketing AEP seasons, healthcare marketers have come to view fall from a different lens. And now we’re in the middle of the Medicare Annual Election Period.

What makes for a successful AEP goes beyond strategy, beyond creative, and goes beyond media. It delves deep into an effective team, working well together. Collaboration toward a common goal doesn’t happen by accident.

In our experience, working with many clients, AEP success comes from a combination of at least six dynamics. Simply stated:

1.) Planning—There. I said it. While this may sound basic, every year as the Medicare Marketing landscape changes, it slows down even the fastest among us. Time and again we’ve seen how rallying EARLY around the metrics you’ve achieved for the AEP and marrying them with strategic trends in the market can be crucial to success. Why?

After the planning comes the real work. “Timing is everything” is a cliché for good reason. So much happens early in the season. We know that Medicare beneficiaries who are open to switching made up their minds months ago that they would do so. And as of October 1, they were flush with opportunities to do so. Backing into that timing and making “early” your priority is easier than it sounds. But you can do it.

2.) Collaboration—Boiled down, direct marketing equals sales! When AEP sales and marketing teams work closely together, fireworks can happen. Information sharing is a two-way street.

Based on their first-hand knowledge of the competitive landscape, sales teams have a unique perspective that can benefit creative. Face it, when themes persist in their work on the front line—they translate well into messaging.

The same cohesion is required to ensure that sales makes the most out of the opportunities that are generated by your marketing team. Sharing information early and often with materials and other resources will help to prepare the call center for the work you’ve invested so much in.

3.) Reporting—Determining what metrics matter for your AEP is the first step. Then put in the plan to make sure you can do it. In all of our years of AEP campaigns, I can confidently say that this can happen. But also, that it doesn’t always happen by flipping a switch. Be sure to ask for what you want while there is still time to figure it out!

4.) Optimization—CMS rules and timing don’t really allow much in the way of creative flexibility “on the fly”. But once you are underway there is still much magic to be spun through optimization. Regular analysis of your media and a mechanism for acting on it can make or break your performance. Don’t just “set it and forget it”.

5.) Embrace the Details—As I read this blog and compare it with the hard work of the season it makes me realize that so often success is in the details. The every single day details that we chase down to get right.

6.) Partnership—Partnering with the right agency can make all the difference. Look for follow-through. Look for energy. Look for experts!

Finally, remember that your goals are not met by AEP alone. Let’s get busy on making the most of the rest of the year.