Provider experiments with advertising

Sunday, March 13, 2011

CONCORD, Calif. - Almost a year ago, provider Mike Kuller opened his first retail location, Allstar Medical Supply, and began gauging its impact. So what has he learned?

Kuller, who's also president of Allstar Oxygen Services, which bills Medicare, has learned that newspaper ads should stress discounted products.

"Our competitor's ads showed products on sale, while our ads showed a customer being helped and emphasized our showroom and easy access," he said. "Our competitor seemed to be thriving."

So in January, Kuller began stressing discounts in his ads in a monthly newspaper for the local area and in a weekly newspaper for a nearby retirement community. The result: His business doubled.

But Kuller's not quite sure it's because of the newspaper ads, because also in January, he began advertising on TV.

"We ran about 60 spots per week for three weeks," he said. "We targeted women 55 years or older who are caregivers. The ads were on Home and Garden, Hallmark and the Travel channel."

Making things even less clear: Kuller polled his customers on how they learned about Allstar Medical Supply and the majority of them said from driving by the location.

"Few people said they heard of us through the newspaper or TV ads, but they must be playing into each other," Kuller said. "We're going to continue with the ads through March to try and saturate the market with awareness about us."

At the very least, Kuller has learned there's merit to the mantra location, location, location.

"We're in an old Blockbuster in the downtown area and we have a nice sign," he said. "Those were definitely good investments."