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Case Study: How a Nonprofit Developed Marketing Materials That Spoke to Its Culturally Diverse Audience, Bringing in New Members

by Jennifer Natsu  |  
June 5, 2007

Company: San Francisco Health Plan
Contact: Scott Paro, Production Specialist
Location: San Francisco, CA
Industry: Nonprofit, B2C
Annual revenue: Confidential
Number of employees: 100

Quick read:

A nonprofit health-plan provider serving lower-income San Francisco residents was designed for and by the residents it served. The health plan said it took "pride in speaking the language" of its local residents—but the community has large Hispanic, Vietnamese and Chinese populations, as well as other ethnic groups. It was therefore important to provide plan information in several languages.

The company hired a translation service with local knowledge, skills in dozens of languages, and medical expertise to translate its materials. It then designed a marketing campaign geared specifically to its multicultural, lower-income audience.

The community has responded in an overwhelmingly positive way, with people walking in off the streets to comment on the great advertising campaigns. Phone inquiries are up significantly, and the campaign is bringing in new members as it reaches a wider non-English speaking audience.

The challenge:

The San Francisco Health Plan (SFHP) is a city-sponsored health plan providing health insurance to more than 50,000 San Franciscans. It was created by the city and county to provide high-quality medical care to the largest possible number of low-income residents, particularly young adults; one of every four city children is insured by SFHP.

Many of its members have limited English skills, and communicating with them has been a challenge. According to the SFHP Web site, 23% of its members speak Chinese, 14% speak Spanish, 3% speak Russian, and 2% speak Vietnamese.

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