One option for the hospital programs is for the hospitals to purchase a book for every newborn.
To initiate this program:
- Make an appointment with the person responsible for hospital premiums. This can be the marketing director, the head of public relations, or even the director of obstetrics. You will have to call and find out. (If you already have contacts in the hospital, you may want to talk with them first.)
Note: The baby books are considered premium items because the hospital is giving the books to the parents. It's possible the baby book program can be part of the reason new parents choose to have their baby at that particular hospital.
- Make a sample book, personalize it with the hospital's name and the contact person's name. You may also want to include the name of the doctor who is the chief of staff, or the name of the head nurse.
- Determine how much you want to charge the hospital for the books. (Consider your cost of book, delivery cost to the parent, and your profit.)
Note: Be aware that in order to gain a hospital contract, you may have to charge less than your normal retail price.
- At your meeting, bring the sample books and any additional information you have on the hospital's premium policies. Read the birth announcements in the local paper and contact new parents for information on how they were treated at the hospital. Take a couple of baby brochures with you in case someone in the meeting wants to order a book for themselves. If you have received any positive press, take in copies of the articles. Any articles that describe hospital incentives and their success will also help make the staff aware of what it is your product can do for them.
- Make your presentation. In order to be effective, find out what the hospital is currently doing for new parents. If you know that information in advance, you can explain the benefits of a baby book program in addition to what they are doing now. You may want to mention some of these selling points:
- Point out that the name of the hospital is mentioned in the book.
- Tell them how quickly you can make and deliver the books. A big selling point may be that you can get the books to the hospital before the patient is discharged.
- Make it clear they are getting a discount if they are. You can show the staff your normal catalog price lists and brochure price list for comparison.
- Explain that the baby book is more cost effective than other premiums if you have the data to support this.
- Point out that the book promotes reading.
- The book is a lifetime keepsake.
- Point out that you can insert a customized page about the hospital and the services it offers into every book given to the parents. (You can have these pages printed in bulk, conforming to the regular page size of a Create-A-Book, for a very low cost. They may wish to design their own insert using the hospital's letterhead or logo.)
- Once the hospital is interested, they may have to check their budget to see if they can afford the program. They may also have to get approval from the hospital board for the project. Set a date to call and find out if the project has been approved.
Note: If the hospital is interested in the program but does not have the budget to provide the books free to their patients, suggest a different type of program. (See programs listed under sponsorship and brochure methods.
- Once the project is approved and the hospital has agreed to a specific cost for each book, you may want to have them sign a letter of understanding. Board members change and hospital policies are subject to renegotiation. If you do not have something in writing defining a specific time period, a change in trustees could mean the loss of your account. Most hospitals will want a written contract. The hospital may prepare the contract or you may need to write one.
Note: If you prepare your own contract, be sure to include the following:
- The inclusive dates for the program.
- Who the agreement is between, (your business name and the full name of the hospital).
- The terms of the agreement, price per book and billing cycles.
- Your turnaround time for fulfillment of completed products delivered to the patients.
- Who is responsible, you or the hospital, for the initial order forms. (If you provide them, make sure you include this cost in the price of the book.)
Implementing the program
Once all the documentation has been taken care of, you should order inventory to make sure you have enough on hand. The hospital knows how many newborns they have each month and it's a good rule of thumb to keep 1.5 times the average on hand.
Now that you have the approval to initiate the Hospital Baby Book Give-Away, you will have to work with your contact to set up the program within the hospital. Find out whether the hospital needs you to provide the baby book forms or just the layout so they can print their own. Make sure that the right people on the staff know to give the order form to every new mother when she is admitted. Have someone on the staff gather the order forms back up when they are completed and check the information with the patient. (Candy Stripers or Sunshine Volunteers are great for this type of customer service.)
Set up a time when it would be convenient for you to pick up the order forms daily or for them to fax it to you. Have the nurses include the patient's discharge time so you can make sure you have the book at the hospital before the patient leaves. Have the patient put her permanent mailing address on the order form in case she leaves before you can get there, and also so you can increase your customer data base.
Deliver the books on time. Have the staff or yourself make a special presentation of the book to the new parents. Celebrate the event and interest the new parents in a long term relationship between your company, the growing child's reading needs and the books.
Keep track of birth dates and send reminders every year about new products or new titles.
The baby book program does build a mailing list of qualified customers. Parents will continue to buy books for their children as they grow up. They know that if their child is encouraged to read at an early age, they become life long readers and will be more successful in school and with their career.
NOTE: You may have to wait through the billing cycle before the program can be implemented. Many large hospitals operate on a thirty or sixty day cycle. If they approve your offer and want the books right away, you may have to purchase them, deliver them and wait awhile for payment. Be prepared for this before you approach a large hospital.
Maintaining relationships and the program
Here are ways to stay in touch after the program is underway:
- Send a thank-you note to your hospital contact, sponsor or auxiliary president. (EXTREMELY IMPORTANT)
- Call your local newspaper about the program to see if you can get a feature article written about the program in the local section.
- Send news releases to every radio and television station operated locally. Then follow it up with a phone call to make sure they received it and verify when or if it will run. If a local celebrity has received a baby book from the hospital, ask if you can use their name in the media.
- Keep your contacts up to date on new products so you can expand the account if applicable. Brainstorm with them on new ideas that will help increase the interest in the books, thereby bolstering sales for fund raisers.
- If your friends or relatives receive one of your baby books from the hospital, remind them to send thank-you notes to the staff for their book. This helps the hospital believe in the program and hopefully continue or increase it.