By Peg Corwin
Meet Abbe Sennett, owner of Medical ID Fashions and Featured Business Owner at SCORE Chicago this week. Learn how she started and what tips she has for your success.
What is your company’s elevator pitch?
We save lives with fashionable medical ID bracelets that convey critical medical information to emergency responders.
What inspired you to start your business?
Having been inspired by patients struggling with alzheimer’s or dementia, cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, kidney dialysis, leukemia, lymphedema from breast cancer, organ transplants and my own scary medical experiences, by not wearing a medical bracelet, I saw the critical need to protect myself in medical emergencies.
What’s more, I also saw too many medically challenged people refusing to wear a life saving medical ID bracelet because it was considered ugly, and draws too much attention to their critical medical condition.
To overcome this problem, I created a fashionable medical bracelet that helps hide its true purpose, all the while keeping people safe. Today, doctors are calling me, expressing their thanks because patients are actually starting to wear what they should have been wearing all along.
Our medical bracelets are designed to look like attractive designer bracelets, thereby avoiding any social stigma. This prompted many people to wear one for the very first time. And with over 350 designs, customers have over 350 reasons to buy our fashions.
Who are your clients, and give an example of how you served that person or business?
Ours is a “people business” with many first time buyers who need a combination of compassion, expert guidance and a fashionable bracelet.
This is exemplified by one of our customers:
“When initially told I needed to wear a medical bracelet, I was beyond resistant. I told people that I was already branded with scars and did not want to walk around with an ugly bracelet that I felt was a neon sign flashing ‘Look at her!! She’s sick!’
“Your bracelet changed that. I am not wearing a neon sign … I am wearing a beautiful piece of art.”
In 2016 we launched a new Beginners Guide to Medical Bracelets. We also have features specific pages for specific diseases. These include pages tailored to individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia, breast cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease (often pacemakers) and kidney disease, both dialysis and transplants.
What works to bring you sales?
Web Sales Strategy: We tell people we have “designer bracelets”, different from the “typically ugly” IDs. This positioning helped our website rise organically to number 1 and 2 on Google pages within 2 years. Compared to our major competition, operating for 25 years and spending over $700,000 yearly in Google, we are now challenging them with only a tiny fraction of their budget. Google advertising is our primary method for getting business.
Email Sales Strategy: Recently, with major help by Peg Corwin at SCORE, we’ve launched an email campaign using over 2000 customer names. According to our mailing service, we have a better than double the optimal “opening rate”. This shows that our customers are very interested in seeing new products that offer advantages over their previous purchases.
Medical Alliances: From the beginning, we have made connections with medical associations and research groups as a way to give back to the medical community for saving me from cancer and heart complications. This experience helps us relate to the same issues as our customers. To help more lives, we give $2.00 to these organizations.
Who are your Mentors and how they have helped you in your business?
The two SCORE mentors that have guided us through the many pitfalls of growing our business are Jerry Folz and Peg Corwin. Jerry helped us right from the beginning and continues to make significant contributions to our business and marketing efforts.
When we decided to enter social and email marketing and also improve Google Adwords, Jerry suggested we speak with Peg Corwin. Peg’s state of the art knowledge has been extremely valuable. It’s great to have two top SCORE experts keeping us on track.
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs?
Pursue an area that you know something about. Try to find some way to be different. Be creative. Look for a benefit that is not being fulfilled. Do it better. And if you want to succeed, be ready to work 24/7.
Keep your expenses down until you can put what you save to use for important things that will move your business forward. Consider using skilled interns where possible. If they prove valuable, they may become your first employees.
Do a lot of research. Talk to people that know more than you like SCORE experts. They have the right people for what you need.
What is your website for further info?
Our business mentors can help you, too!
Disclaimer: SCORE Chicago helps small business owners manage and grow their businesses. We help startups write business plans and launch. Nevertheless, our involvement should not be considered as an endorsement.