Article Date: 1/1/2011

Give Back to the Community
marketing fundamentals

Give Back to the Community

Part two of our discussion focuses on events aimed at adults and families.

Leah Colby, O.D.

Having lived and worked in the same locale for the past eight years has really impressed upon me the value of being a visible member of my community. Whether I see patients at church, at the local kids’ soccer game or at a restaurant, it makes an impression on my patients when they see me support our local community in the same way they do. Even if you don't live in the same community as you practice, a variety of ways exist to maintain a “visible” presence with the adult patients in your practice.

Here are several examples:

Patient fundraisers. Through the years, patients have approached our practice to contribute to fundraisers to help those suffering from serious illness or injury. From church bulletins and other local sources, I often hear of patients who are battling cancer and other diseases, as well as those who suffer from debilitating injuries. Through our staff, we also hear by word of mouth those who have fallen on hard times.

If we learn of a patient who is battling a serious disease, we send get-well cards signed by the staff. We also participate in fundraisers. Whether you donate a pair of sunglasses, prescription eyewear or a gift certificate, any little bit helps.

When we send gift certificates, we always include our office brochures, business cards and a map of our location. Through the course of a year, we donate an average of 50 pairs of sunglasses to various silent or live auctions. These donations often bring in new patients to our office.

Cause-based marketing. This huge area of marketing has become the “norm” in most businesses. As a practice, we get feedback from our staff and our patients that help us decide which non-profit organizations (causes) to support. At every trunk show, we donate a portion of our proceeds to our non-profit choice, which has included the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and our local school sports booster clubs. This past Christmas, we donated $5 to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation for every child who had an eye exam through our practice in December.

Community celebrations. Regardless of their size, many communities sponsor summer festivals or a “Neighborhood Night Out.” This summer, two local neighborhoods invited us to contribute to their “Nights Out.” By donating $100 to each event, we were able to sponsor the kids’ inflatable bouncers.

We also support our community's festival. Most festivals offer various dollar levels of sponsorship, and they publish your name in promotional literature. Our festival hosts a parade where, for the past two years, we've rode on our own float. We pass out candy and “chip clips” emblazoned with our logo and phone number. We also attach our brochure to the clips — an effort that results in new patient visits each year. Our staff and their kids ride on the float and get a kick out of rolling candy to the spectators. In summary, what costs a few hundred dollars in production and candy always converts to new patients for our practice.

Who pays your salary?

I have always emphasized to my staff that I don't pay their salaries — our patients do, and it's important to give back to the people who give to you. Becoming more visible outside the doors of your practice improves the business that happens inside of them. OM


Optometric Management, Issue: January 2011