Saturday, May 31, 2008

Q. Can you use marketing materials to cross-sell and up-sell customers?

A. Absolutely. For years, industry retailing experts have been preaching the gospel of cross-selling and up-selling in HME store showrooms.

Why would you show a naked walker when you could add an attractive bag to carry necessary items? Some providers set up wheelchair courses so clients can road test the equipment. One of my favorite examples of both cross-selling and certainly up-selling is at a major bathroom fixture manufacturer’s design store in Wisconsin. If a shopper missed the sign that indicated “barrier-free baths,” one would think they’d stumbled into sleek, chic and European-style baths. Who wouldn’t want one, especially a boomer who was building a retirement house or helping remodel a parent’s home to add safety and functionality features?

It doesn’t hurt to re-emphasize that print marketing materials should always show people using product. I would also suggest that a bit of education doesn’t hurt the bottom line, either. Are there other products besides the obvious that could make an oxygen patient’s life easier? Could you put together a tri-fold or add a page on your Web site that includes these? If your business sells bathroom safety products, take the marketing materials to the next level: Provide information about how much space is needed to accommodate a wheelchair. Rehab providers already know about such requirements.

Because few understand home medical equipment until they need it--and I would include referral sources in that group--providers should take every opportunity to educate, cross-sell and up-sell all types of HME to both patients and their caregivers. One way to do that is with a sales force that also understands retail; another is with your marketing materials--be they printed pieces or your Web site.

Carolyn Cole is vice president-corporate communications for The VGM Group in Waterloo, Iowa. Reach h