Article Date: 6/1/2007

On-Line Marketing Tool Increases Practice Profitability
Practice pulse

USING MANUFACTURER RESOURCES FOR MARKETING AND PATIENT EDUCATION

On-Line Marketing Tool Increases Practice Profitability

■ When optometrist Robert J. MacAlpine left a retail optical setting and opened his own full service practice in Weymouth, Mass., in March 2006, he knew he'd have to effectively market his practice and provide patient education to achieve success.

So, as part of his marketing plan, he created pediatric marketing and education pieces for both his practice and for a recent health fair. He also created a newsletter that discusses services the practice offers and highlights the importance of anti-reflective coating, thin and light material options for optimum comfort and the importance of ultra-violet (UV) ray protection.

Here are some of the results of his efforts.

Increase in lens sales

Dr. MacAlpine says that because his practice is new, it's hard to judge whether the aforementioned tools have increased the amount of patients he sees, but he says he's definitely seen an increase in the amount of Transitions spectacles the practice has sold since implementing these marketing and education tools.

"Prior to using these materials, Transitions accounted for 20% of all eyewear being sold at the practice. Now, that number is 33%," he says.

Saving time and money

These tools have also enabled him to save time and money, something he really appreciates, since this is his first-owned venture, he says.

"The staff and I were able to produce very professional-looking print pieces at no cost. The only cost was the time to put everything together, but even that was minimal because producing the materials is so easy," he says. "Had I gone to an outside printer or sought an illustrator, I know it would have been very timeconsuming and costly. Having the materials on-hand allows me to spend more time addressing my patients' needs."

Dr. MacAlpine created these pieces using a vendor's online marketing program (Transitions Online Marketing Tool, or T.O.M.).

T.O.M. at a glance

T.O.M. is a point-and-click tool for creating and downloading printready documents, such as in-office materials, community/local ads, counter cards, a newsletter and more that you can customize to educate patients and send the message you want about your practice. In addition, Transitions offers free printing of these materials. (You can find the marketing tool at http://us.transi tions.com/professionals under the subhead "For Industry Professionals.")

"The fact that Transitions provides us with this tool enables us to disseminate vital information to our patients in a timely and professional manner," he says. "This gets them interested in evaluating the products we feel are necessary for optimum eye health, which not only leads to sales for the company, but well-educated patients."

Attention OM Readers:
Are you using manufacturer-provided marketing and/or patient education materials that have helped your practice thrive? If so, we want to hear from you! E-mail senior associate editor Jennifer Kirby at kirbyj@lwwvisioncare.com with your story.

Some doors remain closed

While Dr. MacAlpine is grateful for the T.O.M. tool, he wishes more manufacturers of eye-care products he believes in would offer similar services.

"I don't think enough manufacturers realize how positively patients respond to optometrists who truly believe in a product and as a result, actively try to educate their patients about its benefits," he says. "In several cases, we, not the M.D., are the primary source when it comes to the latest and greatest in technology…"

His advise for opening these doors: Make contact with the manufacturer's representative and immediately tell him why your practice makes sense for that product.

"If you're being ignored, it may be because the rep does not have the appropriate information about your practice. For instance, when I was having difficulty getting a contactlens rep to respond to me, I persisted until I had the chance to explain that 50% of my patients wear contact lenses and that I sell x-amount of dollars in contact-lens products per month," he says.

"I also explained that perhaps the rep's company's products were being under-utilized because of my inability to offer them at my practice." It worked.

"… By taking the time to pursue a product you believe in, you'll not only provide better service to your patients, you'll help your colleagues to open some doors as well."



Optometric Management, Issue: June 2007