Article Date: 9/1/2010

Marketing with Gratitude
marketing fundamentals

Marketing with Gratitude

Get back to basics, and make thanks a part of your marketing strategy.

LEAH COLBY, O.D.

Welcome to a new column designed to help you integrate basic marketing strategies and tactics into your practice. Many of these ideas have helped me take my practice from opening cold eight years ago to a privately owned, 5300-square-foot facility where I just hired our third doctor.

Why focus on basics? First, in today's competitive environment of eye care, it's important to focus on the little things that help set your practice apart from the competition. Second, in an economy in which patients scrutinize where they spend their money, these ideas offer real value. Third, in simple terms, these ideas work. Many of them have been shared by colleagues who operate highly successful practices.

Words of thanks

For the inaugural topic, let's really get back to basics and discuss one of the fundamental building blocks of any marketing plan: How do you thank your patients for their business? In our practice, we believe in educating our patients from beginning to end on the details of their vision, eye health and eyewear and thanking them at each step along the way. For such a small investment, (and in the case of a simple script or hand shake, no financial investment at all) we've found the benefits of giving thanks are sizable. Patients tell us they feel appreciated when they visit our office… that's why they come back.

Here are three "thank you" steps that our practice follows:

Step 1: At the front desk. Gratitude starts at the front desk with our patient coordinator and a script that the entire staff follows when they answer the phone.

"Thank you for calling EyeWest Vision Clinic and Optical, this is (name). How may I help you?"

Realize that your patients could have just as easily called your competitor to schedule that eye examination, so thank them right away for calling your office.

Step 2: After the exam. When I complete the examination — and before the patient leaves the exam lane with a certified optician to visit the optical area — I always shake his hand and thank him for his time and visiting our office.

Step 3: When presenting the eyewear. Although first impressions can make or break your practice, final impressions are equally as important. Because our practice sells premium products, patients often make a significant investment in their eyewear when they visit our practice. To acknowledge this investment, we present a "thank you" kit with each patient's eyewear that includes:

► a cleaning cloth with our logo,
► an eyewear cleaning instruction card,
► a Ghirardelli chocolate and
► a thank you card that explains the benefits of the eyewear.

(A PDF version of the "thank you" card, available for downloading, accompanies the online version of this article. "Eyewear Thank You" file can be found at Thank You Card 2010[1].pdf.) Working with your opticians, make changes to the card that best fit your clinic. After you've revised the copy, work with a professional printer to create a final version of the card. Then, have the printer make copies of the card, and start using them.

In closing, I'd like to offer the wisdom of St. Ambrose: "No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks." OM


DR. COLBY OPERATES EYEWEST VISION CLINIC AND OPTICAL IN ROGERS, MINN. SHE WAS NAMED THE "YOUNG OPTOMETRIST OF THE YEAR" BY THE MINNESOTA OPTOMETRIC ASSOCIATION. TO COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE, E-MAIL OPTOMETRICMANAGEMENT@GMAIL.COM.

Optometric Management, Issue: September 2010