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Retail playbook for caretailers, part 3: How to market your HME retail business

"Build it and they will come." Remember that line from Field of Dreams? In other words, if you build a home medical equipment (HME) retail business, customers should come. But you also need a savvy HME marketing plan to keep customers coming back.

Most important aspects of your HME marketing plan

As with any good marketing approach, knowing your target audience and putting yourself in their shoes is one of the top ways you can respond to their needs. Yet some HME retail providers neglect this step.

It's not enough to just carry the right products and communicate that you're selling these products; there are other considerations involved. After all, marketing to the elderly, baby boomers and Generation X requires more than a one-size-fits-all approach.

The elderly (over 65)

  • Like simple, to-the-point communication that is not overly trendy
  • Are receptive to the benefits of a product rather than hype
  • Are more responsive to personalized campaigns

Baby boomers (56+)

  • May be caring for their elderly family member
  • Are tech-savvy despite reports to the contrary
  • Are the wealthiest population segment

Generation X (41 to 56)

  • Are juggling career, kids and parents
  • Value convenience and personalization
  • Excellent technology adopters

Listen and communicate appropriately

As an HME retail business owner, it's your job to listen and communicate appropriately with the population segment to which you're marketing.

If you're too far ahead of their trends, you won't get buy-in, and if you're too far behind, your customers may look elsewhere to adopt products early. The fine line you balance means you must make a lasting impression with your messaging to all three population segments.

That includes how to approach your customers, what sparks their interests and when they're most receptive to the information (quarterly, biannually or seasonally, for example).

Understand your campaign performance & use data to track it

You won't know which campaigns are really effective and which ones aren't unless you track them carefully, and use the data you have to understand how you can improve. Every marketing campaign should have a call to action (CTA) that you can verify with data. For instance, after a seasonal brochure goes out to your customers, how many purchased the seasonal products featured in the brochure?

You can track overall sales of seasonal products or individual customer profiles with a specific customer ID number. This way, every time you have a sale, send an email or brochure, place an ad or engage in any type of marketing campaign, you'll be able to gauge the effectiveness of that campaign.

When you collect the data to see how your campaign performed, the key is making appropriate changes. For instance, if mailed brochures aren't reaching Gen X effectively, this warrants rethinking how to reach this market with a different campaign. Perhaps email or targeted online ads where they're likely to visit is best.

One thing HME retail businesses owners should remember is that previous customers can sometimes get lost in the shuffle of campaigns to land new customers. When in fact, research shows:

  • Landing a new customer is purportedly five times more expensive than retaining an existing one
  • Success rates for selling to an existing customer are 60% to 70%, whereas success rates for getting new customers to buy are only 5% to 20%1
  • 44% of companies focus on acquiring new clients, while only 18% focus on retaining them2

Having a sense of your customer lifetime value (CLV) can help guide you in continuing a strong marketing campaign aimed at your loyal customers. Studies show the most effective strategy in keeping CLV is to increase customer satisfaction. Research shows a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profitability by 75%.2

Stay on your customers' radar, so you'll be top of mind when they need something. Develop a marketing calendar to help you plan seasonal messages as well as personal (birthdays, milestones), promotions of new products, sales, end-of-year reminder programs and answers to feedback like personalized thank-yous and apologies for problems.

What's more, rewarding loyal customers and thanking them for referrals goes a long way toward enhancing customer retention and focusing on what you should do in your marketing efforts. 

Continue your reading. Our complete ebook, Think bigger: A retail playbook, goes into more detail on this and other ways to channel traditional retail ideas to help grow HME retail profits.


© 2021 McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc.