E-mail's Gold

Edition: August 2001 - Vol 9 Number 08
Article#: 1015
Author: Repertoire

NAPLES, FL--Your customers' e-mail addresses are gold. Used judiciously, they can open up a new, efficient way to market your company and products.

E-mail gives you the opportunity to communicate with your key customers on a regular basis, said Darren McMaster, president of Imagine Medical, San Antonio, TX, speaking at the recent Annual Management Conference of IMDA. (McMaster is also the creator of Rep911, an Internet-based meeting place for distributors and manufacturers. See article in this issue of Repertoire.)

Don't waste their time, though, he said. Instead, use e-mail to inform your customers of new products, safety regulations, CME/training opportunities, conventions, etc., then use links to bring them to your website.

How do you collect e-mail addresses? Offer a free online newsletter, product samples, sports tickets or other gift in exchange for them, advised McMaster. When all else fails, simply ask your customers for their e-mail addresses. They'll almost always give them to you.

Hand in hand with website

E-mail works best in conjunction with a solid website strategy, said McMaster, whose company designs websites.

Like e-mail, your website offers a way to communicate with hard-to-reach doctors and nurses at any time of day or night. You can offer training and product promotion. Consider including some of these features on your site:

•Sales sheets and product literature.

•Links to manufacturers.

•Instruction manuals.

•Complete contact information for your company and sales reps.

•Insurance aids and billing forms.

Consider pushing the envelope even further, said McMaster. For example, by offering surgery and/or meeting scheduling services, your reps will know when they're needed to deliver surgical instruments or inservice training.

Although it's been said before, don't forget these basics about website layout:

•Provide easy navigation. Allow viewers to access any place on the site from the home page.

•Size down graphics. Not everyone has a T1 or cable line.

•Update it frequently. If you don't, people won't come back.

•Include appropriate information only. If you're a medical distributor, drop the latest sports news or recipes.

Top Ten Signs That You Have an Old Website

10.A visible hit counter on the home page.

9.A repeating background image.

8.The first page has your logo but nothing else.

7.At least one box with a big red ''X'' through it, signaling that the image is not on the server.

6.A link to amazon.com.

5.An ''Under Construction'' logo on at least one page. (If you are, in fact, under construction, simply leave the pages off.)

4.Three big buttons on the home page: Contact, Home, About Us.

3.72-point font.

2.It takes 15 seconds to scroll to the bottom of your home page.

1.The word ''webmaster'' appears somewhere on your site.

Source: Darren McMaster, Imagine Medical