Article Date: 6/1/2009

Avoid These Areas of Marketing
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Avoid These Areas of Marketing

Your experience may differ, but we've found these eight areas rarely pay off.


I'm a little nervous writing this month's column since it's risky to make global comments about the success of a marketing technique. What works in one region, usually, although not always, works in another. So, based on my experience, I want to share what marketing efforts generally don't work. I stress the word "generally" because as the saying goes, your mileage may vary. If your spouse or significant other sells some of these products, don't be offended. Our job is to spend marketing dollars wisely and maximize ROI. With that "disclaimer," here's our list of the top eight marketing tactics that are rarely worth what you pay for them.

1. Yellow Pages advertising. While still the mainstay of many practices' "marketing campaigns," Yellow Pages usage has plummeted dramatically, eclipsed by Internet search engines. The same goes for so-called "Yellow Page" search engines. Stick to optimizing your Web site with the proven leaders, which are still Google and Yahoo.

2. New mover lists. When you first moved, you were likely more concerned with making sure the air conditioning worked and finding your way to the grocery store than finding a doctor or dentist. So, why would your prospective patients be any different? When new movers are ready to find a new O.D., they'll ask a friend, relative or coworker to make a recommendation. Make sure it's you.

3. TV. I'm hesitant to add this to the list. After all, if it's a well-crafted message and part of a bigger, coherent, well-thought-out campaign, TV can be very effective. However, for most practitioners, this is rarely the case. The message is usually so broad and lacking an acute focus, that in an attempt to appeal to the masses, it appeals to nobody. Honing in the message to target a few well-selected prospects works much better.

4. Billboards. As with TV, they can work, though rarely do. The message for most O.D. billboards is bland and non-memorable, causing the billboard company to be the only one who profits.

5. Poorly constructed Web sites. Most practice's Web sites we've examined are poorly done electronic brochures that lack a vibrant and memorable message. And, they include typos, misspellings and poorly composed pictures. You're better off with no Web site if this describes your Web site. Remember: Comparing your offering to a competitor takes only the click of a mouse.

6. Anything in a grocery store. This includes shopping carts, cash register tapes, bags, benches outside the store and checkout conveyor belts. Do you recall anything you've ever seen displayed on one of those mediums?

7. High school yearbook or community sports programs. From a purely marketing perspective, this is a bad spend. From the perspective of being a supporter of your local teams and the goodwill it can create (with the person selling the space, not the public at large), it's a good spend.

8. Vision screenings. Putting aside the issue of "a screening isn't a substitute for an eye exam," screenings rarely rate high on our list. This is because the assumption, "if I find problems, (which you will), I will inherit a new patient," is false. The person with the problem probably already has a relationship with a doctor who isn't you.

As noted, I'm not saying the methods on this list never work, just that they rarely do. We don't recommend them with any degree of confidence to our clients. OM


Optometric Management, Issue: June 2009