Marketing Anti-Allergen Services

February 10, 2004
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In the September 2003 installment of "The Rug Cleaning Specialist," we discussed mattress cleaning as an overlooked service. Now, let's look at marketing guidelines for allergy relief services.

Your company will need to develop a unique marketing plan for allergy relief services that reflects your operation, your market and the prospective groups on which you intend to focus. The specifics of the plan are determined by the individual; however, there are some guidelines that can help you during its development.

Customer purchasing motivations are quite varied and like an iceberg: the greatest portion of why people buy lies hidden beneath the waters of the subconscious. However, it is generally accepted that the single biggest purchasing motivation is to relieve current "pain." It is also thought the second buying motivation is to prevent future "pain."

In terms of allergy relief services, it is clear that real pain exists in the present for these individuals. The potential for future pain is also real, as allergy-related illnesses can multiply and more serious ones can develop.

One of the major reasons people develop allergic illnesses is overexposure to various allergens, especially those found in indoor air from pets and dust mites. It is now clear that allergies can, in fact, be controlled, and even prevented, by avoiding the triggers that cause them. This strategy is called environmental control.

Your marketing plan may be quite conservative or highly ambitious. In either case, an excellent place to begin is with your own customer base and those that contact your business for the services that you currently offer. Given that nearly 25 percent of the U.S. population suffers from allergic illnesses, you will have a large number of customers and new callers who will immediately identify themselves as potential purchasers of allergy relief services if you ask the simple question, "Does anyone in your household suffer from allergies or asthma?"

When you get a "yes" response to that question, you have the opportunity to ask further questions, such as:

  • "Do you know specifically what you or your family member is allergic to?"
  • "Have you heard of envir-onmental control?"
  • "Are you taking any steps to reduce your exposure to indoor allergens?"
  • "What results have you obtained?"

    These questions are designed to elicit information and create the opening for a conversation about anti-allergen cleaning and treatment. You will need to put together a brief presentation you can use on the phone to explain these services once you receive permission to explain the program.

    Use the brochures developed by your supplier during a face-to-face presentation to customers, which can also be used as mailings and leave-behind pieces.

    When speaking with people that do not have allergy suffers in the household, there is still an opportunity to discuss allergy prevention, particularly when there are young children in the home or a baby on the way.

    It will be very important that you can speak knowledgably about allergic illnesses in a general way and more specifically about environmental control. People with allergic illnesses often know a lot about them, and they are grateful for someone to talk to who can empathize with their problems and possibly offer solutions.

    One of the most significant steps in the sales process can be the use of the dust mite test kit (again, see "Mattress Cleaning: An Overlooked Service" in September 2003). This is a scientific test designed to confirm the presence of dust mite allergens in concentrations high enough to require cleaning. The test kit does not test for pet allergens. Surprisingly, many people with pet allergies don't identify their symptoms as "allergies."

    Given that allergy relief services need to be provided every six months (in some cases, every three months) these customers are ideal to offer maintenance contracts. If the customer chooses not to commit to a six-month cleaning cycle, contact them after the fifth month to schedule the next cleaning.

    When offering services as a preventive measure, these same procedures can be followed. Given that there may be less of a sense of urgency when there is no active allergic illness in the household, it may make sense to offer a cleaning package based on hypo-allergenic cleaning materials and allergy-preventive cleaning procedures like mattress cleaning. This will allow you to offer a very differentiated package from your competition, and address the concerns of people with questions about chemicals and toxins in their home. They may be chemically sensitive, but not allergic, to home bio-pollutants.

    The key to successful marketing is to give people a reason to buy your services that differentiates you from your competition. Most importantly, this reason must be relevant to them and their needs!

    Referrals will be a vital part of your allergy treatment business. You will find that there are people who will call you expressing their undying gratitude for your help with their suffering. It is critically important that you ask these people for referrals.

    Publicity is also a very important part of your marketing efforts. This new way of treating indoor allergens has a lot of media value. Don't underestimate the power of a feature story in your local paper or being part of a radio interview show in your market.

    Another excellent, credibility-enhancing source of referrals can be found in making presentations to schools and PTA groups, church groups, allergy-support groups (check with your local hospitals), fraternal organizations and the like.

    It also makes sense to add allergy-relief services to your current advertising efforts. This can be added to advertising you currently do, or you can create separate communications specifically for these services, like a newsletter.

    It is very important when marketing allergy-relief services to avoid drastic scare tactics, as this approach has proven to backfire. No one likes to be manipulated, and scare tactics often have this flavor.

    The main focus should be images that reflect the removing of pain. Allergic-illness sufferers are often quite restricted in their activities. They miss school and work, go to the doctor's office far more frequently, and feel pain because their children are suffering.

    You will find a good return on your investment of doing well by doing good.

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