Article Date: 9/1/2010

Take a Bite From Apple's Strategy
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Take a Bite From Apple's Strategy

Deliver a powerful — and consistent — message to your patients

GARY GERBER, O.D.

I bought my first iPod about six years ago. I bought an iPad last week. My iPod doesn't do anything but play music. I primarily bought the iPad to read e-books, although I understand it can play music with more panache than the iPod.

After using the iPad, what struck me between my O.D.-consultant eyes was that while dramatic differences exist between the two devices on the inside, what's on the outside is at the marketing and branding core, unchanged and nearly identical. Yes, the iPad is bigger and doesn't use the iconic click wheel. But beyond that, the plain, yet elegant design is the same.

A familiar design

That minimalistic, clean look is pervasive through everything Apple, Inc. makes (e.g. their logo, website, stores, etc.). That familiarity of design was immediately evident the first time I tried an iPad. And on some subconscious level, it was probably one reason I bought one.

No. I'm not a "crazed Apple fan boy," and this article isn't about being an Apple fanatic. It's about recognizing the impact of consistent messaging and branding on your practice. While the "inside" of your practice (the evolution of your clinical skills) evolves and develops, make sure the "outside" stays the same.

Even if you have no aspirations to sell iPad's or iPod's, here's how you can use the above concept to your practice-building advantage.

Set the stage

Let's start at the beginning by clearly defining your practice. Use that definition to visually set the stage for everything that will follow. For instance, are you the down-home folksy doctor? Next, ensure that everything — and I mean everything — is in visual marketing synch with your defined position.

From a macro perspective, start with the physical plant of your office, both inside and out. Peeling paint and stained carpeting have no place in any O.D.'s office, let alone one that claims to be the high-technology practice.

The color scheme you use to decorate your office, dress your staff, use in your logo, put on your stationary, etc., also needs to continually convey your main theme and message.

An eye for the details

Getting down to minutiae, you'll notice that the fonts and colors used throughout Apple's messaging are consistent. Achieve the same consistency by meticulously and methodically reviewing all your patient-facing content from your website, intake forms, prescription pads and patient information hand-out sheets to your inoffice signage, super bills, receipts and anything else patients might see. Remember, it's not the font on the AR lens education sheet that is important. It's the sum total of everything the patient has seen up until that point that adds to his overall experience.

Pay close attention to everything your patients sense — including what they see, hear and smell — to ensure all the senses are aligned. Assign a staff member as your Marketing Messaging Compliance Officer, "MMCO" to take to heart the above recommendations.

Your practice may not grow as big as Apple, but whenever the fourth-generation iPad is launched, you'll be more than able to afford it if you do follow this advice. OM


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

Optometric Management, Issue: September 2010