Article Date: 9/1/2007

Whole-Practice Marketing
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Whole-Practice Marketing

Breaking big marketing goals into smaller steps yields great success.

GARY GERBER, O.D.

External marketing is about making more money. Whether it's sponsoring your town's little-league team, meeting the local school nurse or running a newspaper ad for a trunk show, the goal of marketing is to generate new revenues, right? Well, yeah, sort-of.

Baby steps

Take a step back and analyze the goals of your marketing efforts to make them more productive. On a micro level, marketing can, and often should, have different goals. Eventually, those smaller goals will collectively lead to more money in your bank account. View each of these goals as three smaller segments, each with their own individual goals.

Here then, are three main categories of marketing sub-goals that individually, aren't intended to instantly generate profits. But, when used together and in the proper sequence, they may provide the proverbial result of "the whole that is greater than the sum of its parts."

1. Build brand awareness

A marketing campaign that supports the core beliefs and mission of your practice rarely generates immediate income. Until prospective patients are comfortable with what you stand for and recognize you, they'll be reticent to contact you. When supported by advertising, this type of marketing is often referred to as "image advertising." Within this realm are things like increasing logo recognition or having prospective patients immediately internalize those features unique to your practice. For example, when done successfully, the prospective patient should look at your logo or images in your ad and immediately know, "Oh, he's the high-tech eye doctor on Maple Street," or, "he's the guy who fits a lot of contact lenses," or "she does those special tests for kids."

2. Create credibility

A task on which you should work concurrently with building your brand is building credibility. Credibility creation is another component of the marketing mosaic. To build credibility, focus on relentless public-relations efforts to keep your name and message before the public. These include public-speaking engagements, submission of eyecare-related topics to local newspapers and — if persistent and perhaps a bit lucky — news program appearances to discuss eye-health-related topics, new technology or products. You can also build your own "news network" by driving prospects to a news section on your Web site.

3. Inspire patients to take actions

Once you establish the brand and your credibility, get the prospective patient to take action. This is often where novice marketers impulsively rush things. Many O.D.s misinterpret that action to mean, "spend money in my office." As stated above, yes, that's the end goal. But at this point, a more appropriate goal may be to have the prospective patient call the practice, visit your Web site or attend a seminar. The so-called "call-to-action" doesn't necessarily have to be, "open your wallet," at least not yet.

When you follow these three steps, not only will patient's wallets open, but they'll tell their friends to open theirs. After all, you have delivered what you promised and in today's world of quickie, shotgun marketing, that isn't always the case. OM


DR. GERBER IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE POWER PRACTICE, A COMPANY SPECIALIZING IN MAKING OPTOMETRISTS MORE PROFITABLE. LEARN MORE AT WWW.POWER-PRACTICE.COM OR CALL DR. GERBER AT (800) 867-9303.



Optometric Management, Issue: September 2007