Editor's Note

Getting Creative with Retail Marketing

Providers should take every opportunity to develop and deploy retail sales and marketing campaigns.

As cash sales continues to carve out a crucial role in HME revenues, one thing is becoming abundantly clear: providers need to become retail marketing geniuses.

And I do mean geniuses. The more ways that providers can reach out to their constituents with clever, compelling marketing messages, the more they will get patients and clients to come to their retail stores and visit their online storefronts in order to purchase DME on a retail basis. Providers can’t simply unlock the doors in the morning and hope that patients will walk through them; they need to compel them to drive over, browse the shelves, and make a purchase.

This means that providers need to leverage every “hook” they can find to grab customers’ attention. Let’s examine bath safety as an example. Next month is not only the start of a new year, January also marks National Bath Safety Month. That means providers have all of December, plus the first 31 days of 2014 to get clients to make their bathrooms and those of their loved ones safer.

And there’s good reason to get them to do it. As HME professionals well know, the bathroom is a home safety battleground, and is regularly referred to as the most dangerous room in the house for groups such as the elderly, bariatric patients and people with mobility limitation that requirement them to use wheelchairs and other devices. More importantly, many of these dangers can be abated through the use of some simple retail bath upgrades.

There are many ways providers market leverage Bath Safety Month. Let’s take a look at several examples:

Special pricing. This should be obvious, but now is the time to structure some special discounts for bath safety products and services for January. For example, you could offer a weekly coupon discounting particular items each week of the month, or offer percentage discount coupons. The point is to incentivize customers.

Marketing communications. Your mailers and emails should regularly reference the upcoming event and start publicizing any special offers you might be offering, but don’t stop there. Offer your customers value; have each communications you distribute offer information that your constituents could use. It could be a bath safety checklist, or an outline on key places for installing grab bars. The key is that the information helps them.

Advertise. In the same way your customize your marketing communications, ensure that your advertising campaigns support your special offers and events for Bath Safety Month.

Offer seminars. The value of direct public outreach cannot be denied. In the same way you offer your referral partners in-services, host special seminars on bath safety at various locations through the month. Your road show could hit local senior living centers, libraries or hotel meeting rooms. The key is to get out there and share your expertise.

Attend public events. If your local community is hosting any fairs or special events, see if you can set up a booth to provide information on bath safety, as well as the rest of your company’s DME offerings.

Social media. Make sure to use your Facebook and Twitter presences to help organize and publicize these efforts. (You do have Facebook and Twitter accounts, right?) The value of these tools for helping get the word out can’t be denied.

Those are just a few examples of how you could use a special event to drive additional retail sales for a key cash sales category, but think of this: January is one month. You should create special marketing campaigns for your retail offerings for each month of the year. You don’t need a special month or national event to stage a special promotion or marketing campaign. You just need your thinking cap and a will to drive additional revenue. The coming year will offer you 12 opportunities to do just that.

This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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