Healthy Profits from Selling Health
It began when Preston McMurry "discovered" health care centers and hospitals actually spend money to promote!
In the States health care is a "hot" topic ... and has been for a number of years. Pres McMurry, Founder, Chairman and CEO of McMurry Publishing, Inc., was involved with the launch of a "private" magazine for a large hospital chain.
He looked at that one experience as something that could become an industry. And decided to take the idea to market. This is that story.
Founded less than a decade ago, McMurry Publishing has grown to become one of the half dozen largest private publishing companies in America.
Vim & Vigor is the flagship publication. It is a health care, fitness, and lifestyle publication. With stories and articles aimed at a marketplace of people who have been made aware of the need to take care of themselves. To eat right. To exercise. And how to enjoy life while eating right and exercising.
Each issue of the quarterly publication features a well know personality. Elizabeth Taylor. James Earl Jones. Mel Gibson. Oprah. Somebody the majority of the USA marketplace is going to recognize.
Inside is a story about that person and their "lifestyle". For examaple, James Earl Jones talks about speech therapy and stuttering ... something that bothers him to this day!
Each issue contains food ideas, complete with recipes. Each issue has a feature on physical fitness.
And, entirely four-color, each issue is 72 pages. Plus, the hospital or healthcare center, accepting the core publication, has 22 pages they can customize to their marketplace.
With local topics. News about their people. Stories of interest to their community. Special features on new equipment or services they offer.
Offers -- each issue has blow-in and/or bound-in response cards, with real offers. Subjects such as alcohol, drugs, heart disease, cancer treatments, childcare ... a special women's center are all addressed "locally".
To demonstrate they are a true private publisher, McMurry produces an in-house magazine for the University of Phoenix. The school uses Future as a tool to reach out to the community, to raise funds, to gain students -- to build relationships in all directions.
One Source is another privately produced publication from McMurry. It comes in over 50 variations for the Columbia Hospital chain. More than 3.5 million copies of One Source are distributed 4 times a year.
The Columbia magazine is a spin from Vim & Vigor. Smaller (24 pages), full color, with the same health care / fitness / lifestyle approach that the flagship carries. And all the personalization needed to make it local in its marketplace.
As Vim & Vigor grew in acceptance in the healthcare industry, McMurry become acutely aware of other opportunities. For additional publications.
Finding ways to expand
Because Vim & Vigor is truly the "Rolls Royce" of the industry ... it costs more than competitive similar publications in the field ... some could not justify the investment.
Yes, every hospital and every center has a public relations / community relations budget. For the most part they spend it on cheap newsletters and "Boy Scout" type flyers. Very little quality in the publication -- not too much in the message.
McMurry decided to address this marketplace with another magazine. Written Readers Digest style -- short articles, easy to read, quick to understand. This new launch is called Health Direct.
Well, that is what McMurry named it. Each hospital gives it whatever name they wish. The language on the cover can be, and is, personalized to the individual hospital mailing their version of Health Direct to their audience.
Health Direct is really a "News-A-Logue" -- 8 full color pages with a series of standard articles. Each participating hospital accepts the base articles. There are 3 places for "local" information ... and each article can be personalized at the end with a call to action. A local telephone number or other action data.
Like its sister, Vim & Vigor, Health Direct has a person on the cover ... this time not well known. Instead a design to get attention in the mail box. Something "wacky" as the folks at McMurry say.
Also like Vim & Vigor, Health Direct is delivered through the mail in a poly bag. Allowing for "out-serts" (vs. inserts). Cards, letters, announcements, special information about local happenings by the sponsoring hospital. Each a call to action.
Crossing the language barrier
Now there is a third publication in the group: Salud y Vigor. This is Vim & Vigor in Spanish. Well, not exactly Vim & Vigor, as it is written in total for the large -- and rapidly growing -- Spanish speaking marketplace in the USA.
The design is similar -- yet the colors and look and articles are all prepared with an eye toward the reader ... the Spanish language reader in the States.
Why is there a market for Salud y Vigor? Beyond sheer numbers -- many, many marketplaces, especially along the border with Mexico, but elsewhere as well -- Miami / New York / Chicago -- are serving this community already.
Yet, there was no Spanish language health care/fitness publication. Radio and television and newspapers -- Yes. A health/fitness/lifestyle magazine written and produced just for the Hispanic market -- No!
So, McMurry "discovered" this market. And introduced it to the hospitals. Currently Salud y Vigor is the "hottest" growth product in the industry. It has taken off like a rocket, with interest across the States.
Let's do it!
H ow does McMurry sell? Christopher M. McMurry, Vice President -- is responsible for marketing.
This dynamic gentleman is a "doer". He -- or someone he meets or works with, really anyone -- gets an idea. Chris responds with, "Let's do it!".
And they do.
Selling Vim & Vigor is a challenge. It is expensive when compared to the competition. There are 8-10 other publishers working the same marketplace ... all with lesser publications. Most of the competition offers only 24 page issues. Which, obviously, means very little local personalization.
So, they cost less. Some hospitals (not a surprise!) look at the Vim & Vigor cost and say "No thank you." So, how do you sell in this environment?
You become very aggressive. You make offers -- like a Montblanc pen. Like 50% off on your trial issue (most contracts are for 2 years, 8 issues, some for one year only -- some for longer than 2 years).
A strong direct mail campaign to the Executive Director and Vice President or Marketing Director at each institution is designed to get attention. JUMBO envelopes. Color, just like the publication, Vim & Vigor.
The Montblanc offer is the first in a series of first class contacts. One about every 6 weeks ... until an answer is received! Future premium offers include the world's finest radio, a Bose, and a Sony Watchman television.
Why such a strong hook as an expensive pen, a fine radio, or a personal television? Because, the commitment is literally hundreds of thousands of dollars. To get attention from a marketplace that thinks they know Vim & Vigor (they probably do know of it ... they do not know what it can do for them), the premium approach is being tested.
This is a very persistent campaign -- directed to the people in the hospital who can make such a major, consideration buying decision. And it is being controlled and measured very carefully!
Trying an old idea with a new twist
A t the same time, another campaign is in full swing. In the past, sample issues of the magazine have been sent, just like to the receiving marketplace, in a poly bag. With an "out-sert" letter and response card. For the most part this did nothing. Almost zip response.
That approach has been changed. Sample issues are now enclosed in a paper envelope. With strong teaser copy. Yet, you do not know what you're getting until you open the package.
In addition to the sample issue there is a strong offer and a fax-back form. The covering letter and the fax-back are all personalized with the CEO/Marketing person's name. The toll-free 800 number is LARGE. The package "screams" for a reply.
And ... there is an offer here, too. A current best seller business book. Or a traditional book of quotations -- ala "The Forbes Scrapbook of Thoughts on the Business of Life" There is a constant effort Asking For The Order.
Selling a Spanish publication to a non-Spanish reader
Now we come to Salud y Vigor. How do you launch this new publication, to a marketplace that is cost aware, probably does not read Spanish -- and yet sees a community obligation?
You talk returns. Not costs ... but opportunity. And you prove it with an offer of an independent research report. That shows what benefits you can expect when you talk to this unique market -- the Spanish speaking marketing in the USA.
The launch direct mail package was a 5 page single sheet all personalized letter. In a 6X9 outgoing mailing envelope -- also totally personalized.
The personalization includes more than just the standard name and regional identification ... it includes real, live money numbers, too.
For Stockton, California, the teaser copy reads; "Where can you find another $2,228,846?" A reference to the financial potential in the Stockton marketplace from just the Hispanic marketplace.
Inside the letter tells the reader there are 10,627 Spanish speaking families in Stockton. The average household size is 3.8. That every year there are 2,368 Spanish speaking hospital admissions, 14,540 bed days, and $12,382,472 generated from this community.
And ... if you capture only 9% of this market each of the next 2 years you will generate additional revenue of $2,228,846.
So, the mail package comes full circle. And "proves" with facts and figures that Salud y Vigor is a publication that will help you gain additional business in your region.
Every marketplace -- obviously -- had a different set of figures. Personalized to their region.
What happened? What happened was within 30 days 2 hospitals signed up. (With 6-figure contracts!) Since the first mailing, 4 more have signed and 9 more are talking. And this off just the first mail package!
A follow-up JUMBO post card was sent to the same audience about 40 days after the full package. A reminder piece. It did nothing. Meaning it did not generate any new, measurable action.
The continuing follow-up plan is to do full letter packages. With reprints and covers from Salud y Vigor, to "live" copies of the magazine. Seeing is believing.
Step by step, city by city
A nother program Chris McMurry and his sale team use is titled "City-By- City". Here's how it works.
A major potential city is selected. One without Vim & Vigor currently being distributed by a local hospital. The largest potential 10-12 hospitals in that city are selected, 2 or sometimes 3 key names are pulled, and a very personalized direct mail letter package is sent.
Followed by a telephone chase call, made by the sales person who is going to take this lead through to a sale.
Purpose: to qualify and set an appointment. All sales are made person- to-person. On site. With the key players from the hospital ... including the Executive Director, a Marketing person, probably the President of the Board, a key doctor, and maybe several others.
The City program is just beginning. The goal is to find 6 new pieces of business in the next 12 months.
Recently I had the opportunity to sit with Pres McMurry. It is not hard to see why this gentleman was selected "Small Business Man of the Year" in Phoenix last year. He has vision!
His current vision is to grow from the 6 different publications now being produced by McMurry, to 16 ... by the year 2000. This is very doable. In fact, my own guess is, it will happen sooner.
Why? There are 2 reasons. First is the growth over the last 2 years has been straight up. Since this is a private company, I am not going to share numbers. Let me just say they have tripled in size in 2 years.
Second reason is the Mission Statement of McMurry. Developed by Pres -- and believed by everyone at McMurry: "Our Mission is doing Business for profit -- first yours, then ours. We do this by creating publications that are appreciated by discriminating readers in the finest homes and offices everywhere."
Yes, it certainly sounds like the year 2000 is going to be a great year for McMurry Publishing.
by ROCKINGHAM*JUTKINS*marketing, all rights reserved.