"Most dealers are set up for failure," says Ed Gannon, former director of HBO & Company's CyCare Business Group, in Dubuque, Iowa. How so? Companies often expect their independent dealers to shoulder the job of creating new-product demand.

Before introducing SpectraMed, a $5,000 software program used to manage small medical practices, Gannon asked his dealers what they wanted from CyCare. "To a person, they said, 'If you focus on the national campaign, we'll take care of regional activities," he relates.

The 160 dealers agreed to give up some margin to help fund a national advertising campaign. Gannon tested potential ads on doctors and surveyed two years' worth of magazines before selecting nine journals. The ads included an 800 number to call for a free video--a project Gannon funded by trading in an unprofitable $10,000 trade-show booth.

All leads from the national ads were passed on to the dealers. In the first four months, they sold nearly 500 units--giving CyCare its best year ever.

Copyright 1998 G+J USA Publishing