Optometric Management Tip # 498   -   Wednesday, September 07, 2011
Does your practice have a Director of Marketing?

Most optometric practices do very little marketing.  There is very little budget for it and there is no time to work on it.  I understand the dilemma; indeed many marketing projects end up as a break-even proposition after you deduct the costs of the promotion, the discounts provided, and the cost of goods.  So here is a new two-prong approach:  1) Concentrate on the many free and nearly free marketing opportunities that exist and 2) Appoint a marketing director.

I'll list some ideas below, but to make them work I advise that you delegate the entire process to a marketing specialist.  If your staff is currently very busy with other duties, consider hiring a new employee with the marketing job description.  Most practices will split the Director of Marketing duties with other tasks, but you need someone dedicated and interested in marketing.

Director of Marketing
I believe this new job position will more than pay for itself by driving new patient demand and generating additional revenue.  Don't worry about how many hours per week the employee will devote to marketing; you can figure that out as you go along.  Hire or appoint a full time employee with the understanding that the marketing role will be part time and other duties will include the front desk, pretesting or optical dispensing.  A full time schedule allows some marketing work to be done every day and it allows the marketing director to be available to follow-up on tasks and accept return phone calls.  Marketing projects need ongoing attention.

Keep in mind that four good things happen when you hire a new employee:

Hiring a new employee often jump-starts a practice and helps it grow; even more so if the marketing effort is increased in the process.

Here are some characteristics to look for when appointing a marketing specialist:

Marketing projects
Once you have someone dedicated to marketing and sales, all kinds of ideas will pop up.  Here are a few to get you started:

As you can see, there is a lot to be done and you need a dedicated staff member to embrace it and make it happen.  There is not much cost to any of these projects but patients will notice, word-of-mouth referral will increase and staff morale will get a boost.  Stop waiting for patients to find you on the list of vision plan providers.

Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management