Article Date: 8/1/2013

Marketing Dollars and Sense
financial foundations

Marketing Dollars and Sense

To gain big returns on your marketing investment, consider a four-step plan.

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DAVID MILLS, O.D., M.B.A.

Every successful small business, including optometric practices, must develop and implement a formal marketing plan for obvious reasons. But, most optometric practices do not have unlimited revenues to spend on marketing campaigns.

Here, I explain how to develop a formal marketing plan that ensures you are allocating your marketing funds in an efficient and profitable manner.

1 Identify the target market.

In optometric practice, the target markets are those patients in your geographical area who best match the services and products you offer. Since most optometric practices cannot provide every service or product mix that meets every patient’s needs, the more specific you define the target in matching your practice, the more successful your marketing efforts.

2 Allocate marketing funds.

External marketing should consist of 1% to 3% of your annual collected revenues.

Conversely, internal marketing is not typically allocated this way. For example, the purchase of a patient education system is captured as a capital expense and listed as an asset to the practice, which is then depreciated as with all other assets.

3 Deliver/repeat the message.

The most effective method of reaching your target market is repetition of your message. Develop the marketing schedule, and determine the key messages you want to convey in each program. Try to make each campaign message as specific as possible.

For example, many small businesses as well as optometric practices run annual “back-to-school” promotions. Although the goal is to attract these students, the targets of the marketing campaign are the parents. Well-placed radio and television advertising can succeed if you purchase air times that best match when parents are watching or listening — midday radio and television advertising might not be as successful as early evening. Using social media may also be successful to reach this group of decision-makers.

What you determine to be the best methods to reach the target market for one campaign may not be the same for all. For example: A marketing campaign centered on low vision service might not reach the target market if you rely solely on social media outlets.

4 Measure results.

In any marketing program, the desired results should not be only to increase patient numbers into the practice, but, more importantly, increase revenues per patient encounter. Be sure to collect data on how much your revenues changed during each marketing program to measure the success of each initiative. Compare the data to past comparable periods where you did not market to determine the financial impact, and see what changes are necessary. Another way to measure the success of a program is to ask patients whether they have seen your marketing campaign, and listen to feedback.

Well worth it

The effort you spend developing a formal marketing plan can return huge dividends. It defines how you connect with your patients, and that is time and money well spent. OM

DR. MILLS PRACTICES AT OCEAN STATE EYE CARE IN WARWICK, R.I., AND HOLDS A M.B.A. FROM PROVIDENCE COLLEGE. E-MAIL HIM AT MILLSD@NECO.EDU, OR SEND COMMENTS TO OPTOMETRICMANAGEMENT@GMAIL.COM.



Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: August 2013, page(s): 61