Smart marketers know to look for a good hook and run with it. Looking for proof that campaigns create buzz? Social media repeatedly proves how themed events get people talking.
Take a minute to reflect on your educational and community service opportunities as an HME provider. If accessibility and home modification products are music to your entrepreneurial ears, consider making them the Campaign of the Month.
For the HME dealer, aging in place innovations, cool equipment and tools, fresh designs and budget friendly themes in home modification can easily find their way into year-round marketing, community education and activity planning.
Get Set for Program Development
Look for event opportunities, or create opportunities, that play to your strengths. For example, in northeast Ohio near Cleveland, the Lakewood Division of Aging offers a series of free home-accessibility workshops.
Maximum Accessible Housing of Ohio designed the workshop series, which includes a traveling mobile unit for trying and testing different types of home modifications. Themes include "Aging in Place…On a Budget,” “Aging in Place: Focus on the Bathroom” and “Aging in Place: Focus on the Kitchen.”
The Ohio program’s early years, says the organization’s executive vice president Beth Glas, focused on the senior population only, but began to attract professional audiences, such as occupational therapists and physical therapists. Workshops and teaching became a growth opportunity for both the program and the organization, which now offers continuing education units. Glas says conversations and interested parties are growing.
Select the Products and Services You Will Feature
Contact manufacturers to obtain special promotional discounts, demonstration help, speakers, free giveaway items, videos, marketing materials and special displays. Request everything you will need from manufacturers. If you don’t ask, you won’t know what they are able to provide. Consider your suppliers your partners in the success of this and any of your campaigns.
Create a Marketing Plan
Marketing is often perceived as complicated (and certain aspects of it can be), but realize that a boosted Facebook post comes at a minimal cost and is easy to execute. For $20, you can reach between 1,000 and 3,000 additional people—or more depending on your audience targeting.
Facebook targeting options include country and state regions, current audience members (people who like your page) and their friends, and business interests. The tighter your targeting, the greater the impact of your social media promotion dollars. Multiple social media posts can be scheduled in advance, so you don't have to worry about posting the week of the event.
If you have video capability, consider Facebook Live and YouTube product demonstrations. For a better chance of reaching people who don’t have regular social media access, Glas recommends advertising through nonprofits, in addition to being a guest speaker, and let local radio and TV media outlets know about your event, as well as senior groups.
A fall community event can present an inexpensive opportunity to host a booth, which does not have to be elaborate, but does present an opportunity to show off products such as lift chairs, grab bars and bath accessories.
Constructing one or more mobile display units offers the chance for prospective buyers or their family members to see and hold products for themselves.
No matter where you hold your event, make sure to supply plenty of business cards, an up-to-date brochure and goodies to give away. Also, have a form on hand for interested people to fill out for more information about your store and the services you offer. If you have cell service or Wi-Fi, using a tablet to do this digitally makes follow-up quick and easy.
Compelling messages include the educational and community service aspects of your event, as well as facts and information about safety, fall prevention and combating the costs of long-term care.
Glas says conversations often turn to the labor-saving and the ease-of-use perks of these products—for everyone—not just seniors.
Explore ideas such as easier maintenance; less physical strain from reaching, squatting and bending; and, last but not least, “the coolness factor.” Educate yourself on the features and benefits of product lines in terms of safety, cost and how to bundle products for a home modification project.
Centralize Your Brand Message and Resource Materials
Make sure your employees know their in-house contact for questions, or provide them with a set of talking points to help them better communicate with customers. Use your store’s logo, color scheme and publicity photos consistently across all media, and emphasize your company’s social media etiquette.
Alert Your Referral Sources
Send email or mail flyers, reprints of your ads and/or a personal letter inviting your referral sources. You may want to go so far as to make it an open house, and offer beverages and snacks to kick off the promotion.
Practice Your Program
A dry run can work out the kinks and help you refine the action plan. Walk through the store to spot any areas that need resetting to better display products or signage.
Be Realistic About Your Efforts
Don’t expect your promotions to generate massive crowds. Customers in HME industry are not known for barnstorming events, but every promotion generates new customers and reminds past customers of the importance of your products and services. Plus, each event is good practice for the next. Collect Names and Email Addresses Make sure you capture all those new customer names and email addresses to add to your customer database. At signup, make it clear that they are signing up to receive occasional emails about similar events.
If this is your first attempt at a themed in-store or local traveling event, enjoy the experience itself and the new connections you will make. Grow from here.