Meet… Alan Sullivan
Marketing Manager for the Retail Division of Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare
What does your position involve?
I’m responsible for managing the marketing strategy and tactics to ensure that all our products are launched effectively and receive the required support to maximise sales throughout their product lifecycle. I also raise awareness of any new service capabilities we can offer to our network of retail partners. In all of our activity, we continue to build the Drive DeVilbiss brand and differentiate our brand identity from the other players in the industry.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The many challenges it brings and the creativity required to think up new ideas to achieve our sales and marketing objectives. This may include encouraging customers to visit our stand at an exhibition, working on content for a new display advert or email campaign, through to a sales promotion to help the sales team reach their target.
There are also those great moments when I’m out and about with the kids on a weekend and one them says: “Dad that’s one of your scooters.” I glance over and spot a family enjoying a day out and how a Drive product is playing its part. It’s during those moments it hits home: we can and do make a difference to people’s lives.
What is one of your proudest moments in the industry?
From the very first Trade Days exhibition in 2014, I was determined to put our stamp on the show. I’m pleased to say we’ve exhibited every year and we continue to have one of, if not, the busiest stands at the show. The exhibition was quiet this year, but we had some great new products on display and we are still on track to achieve a new show sales record this year.
One of the campaigns we’re currently launching is, again something I’m very proud of, our new InStore Independent Living catalogue. This catalogue was put together specifically for dealers as it targets the end user. So rather than just advertising the features and benefits of our products, this catalogue also helps the dealer to sell themselves. It considers all the benefits that they as a business bring to their customers, be it in-store demonstrations, ‘try before you buy’ schemes, great after-sales service, the ability to buy on the day etc. So, we’ve tried in this catalogue to sell their business in addition to selling our products. From their point of view when they’re handing out this catalogue, whilst it’s there to represent our products in the best way it can, it also drives customers back into their stores to help them sell their products as well. When they’re giving the catalogue out knowing that a lot of the references in there are about driving the customer back to their store, it’s great for them.
Since the launch of the new catalogue, the feedback has been excellent. It’s great to hear that customers are buying into the content of the new catalogue and truly believe it will help their businesses.
What is the biggest change you have seen in the industry?
When I entered the industry 18 years ago, the key channels to market were retail shops, direct sales operations and mail order. Over the years the direct sales model is no longer as prevalent, the emergence of the internet has been huge and some of the larger blue chip retailers continue to makes moves in the market. You do still hear the odd horror story of the direct sales model and its unethical sales tactics, but it’s rare compared to years gone by.
If you could bring one innovation to the market, what would it be?
For me, it’s a material, rather than just a product. I’m not a metallurgist but I would like to find a new superlight, durable and affordable material that could be easily used in the manufacturing process for several products including walking aids, wheelchairs and scooters.
What are your interests outside of work?
Spending time with my kids and making memories, be it days out at the seaside, trips to castles, days at the river or making tree swings in the local woods. As we all know, time is flying by so quickly and they grow up just as fast, so I’m determined to make the most of these years!
If you had to do any other job in the world, what would it be?
I’ve always liked the idea of being a film director, taking a story and its characters and being part of that journey to help bring it to the big screen. It would also be great to be part of the creative team thinking up and putting together the Christmas advert for John Lewis.
Describe yourself in three words
Passionate, enthusiastic, impatient
What’s your favourite song?
Sinéad O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2U
What was the last film you watched?
Solo: A Star Wars Story
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
The ability to control time, to pause, rewind and fast forward at will.
Favourite place in the world?
North Landing in Flamborough, it’s a place I visit regularly with the kids and I’ve been there since I was a child, so it’s a place I always go back to.