The 2014 HME Handbook: Retail
How to Ramp up Your Retail Sales Marketing
As competitive bidding, audits, capped rental and a variety of reimbursement challenges have made working with Medicare nearly impossible, more and more providers have worked to diversify their revenues. And, no other alternate revenue source has proved its merit like retail sales has.
Retail sales offers an excellent way to accomplish that, because they are straightforward cash transactions that don’t involve Medicare, private payor insurance carriers, or anyone else — only the provider and the patient are doing business in a retail transaction.
But while retail sales offer an opportunity to drive revenue through a provider’s existing customer base, as well as new clients, this is not a case of “if you build it, they will come.” Rather, providers must take every opportunity to develop and deploy retail sales and marketing campaigns.
The more methods providers can use to reach out to their customers with engaging, 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. Moreover, providers must start studying what retail products and related services will appeal to certain groups of patients. This is why providers need to ramp up their marketing skillset and start thinking both creatively and strategically, when it comes to retail marketing. Here are some key things to study:
A marketing impression is, in marketing parlance, is the moment a potential or existing customer is exposed to your branding or marketing messages. While you want quality customers relationships, marketing is also a bit of a numbers game. Your goal is to maximize the number of marketing impressions you can make with each marketing campaign or message. Sometimes you’ll be able to measure this directly, such as through email marketing, web advertising, and social media. Sometimes, you’ll have to estimate your impressions, such as through print advertising, event marketing and similar methods. The key is to drive impressions.
Your business has developed a tremendous amount of product, healthcare and clinical expertise and information over the years. This is why referral partners come to you to help their funded patients — and it is exactly why retail customers will come to you, as well. The key lies in sharing what you know. Develop marketing communications campaigns using media such as a email, newsletters, blogs and social media to provide customers useful health information while highlighting your branding and contact information. This way, every time you make a marketing impression with these campaigns, customers will associate that value with your brand.
One of the keys in driving marketing impressions is looking for “excuses” to send them out. A great way to do that is through special event marketing. Organize campaigns around specific holidays, and especially special healthcare recognition months, such as Women’s Health Month, Sleep Apnea Awareness Month, or Bath Safety Month. These are opportunity for you to not only drive up marketing impressions, but set up special event sales, pricing and product bundles to drive more revenues, as well.
Obviously, social media has almost redefined the way people communicate and interact with each other and businesses. In terms of marketing, it offers providers a unique opportunity to not only communicate to clients, but engage with them. Use social media to drive not only your value marketing, but also special sales events, or simply share interesting links and third party information they might enjoy or find useful.
Marketing is not limited to communications such as direct mail, email, or social media — there is no replacement for meeting something in person. The value of direct public outreach cannot be denied. In the same way you offer your referral partners in-services, host special seminars on your areas of expertise at various locations through the month. Your road show could hit local senior living centers, libraries or hotel meeting rooms. Moreover, leverage 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.
Lastly, like the old saying goes, it pays to advertise. While you engage in all your other forms of marketing, do not forget the value of traditional — and non-traditional advertising — to spread the word. Consider how you can leverage print, electronic and online venues to increase awareness of your business, and remember that many of your vendors might provide marketing and advertising support and materials to help you get started. Also, think about unique advertising opportunities that will be highly targeted to important DME segments, such as taking out ads in communications distributed by local senior centers, for example.
Points to Remember:
- The key to driving retail traffic is driving marketing impressions.
- You want to create marketing communications campaigns that give clients value they will associate with your brand.
- Leverage special occasions such as holidays and special health awareness months to drive more marketing impressions.
- Commit to social media and engage with your clients on a regular basis.
- Host seminars and have a presence at community events to increase your community outreach and make invaluable in-person connections.
- Advertising remains essential.
- A key in email marketing is ensuring the people you want to reach opt in to your communications. Otherwise, you could be classified as spam, and then you have real trouble on your hands. You want to ensure that the email marketing services you use employ some form of opt-in, such as email address verification, to ensure that recipients give you permission and that the person giving you that information truly is the intended recipient. Learn more at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opt-in_email.
This article originally appeared in the June 2014 issue of HME Business.