Article Date: 6/1/2002

View From The Top
Make a Name for Yourself
Surely your practice has one strong point -- so why not advertise it?
By Gary Gerber, O.D.

When patients hear the name of your practice, does anything stir in their consumer psyches? Do they have an immediate, instinctive cerebral response about who you are and what you do? Do they know what defines your practice and separates it from the pack? Do they recognize your brand?

Think about Campbell's Soup. The name alone conjures up a bowl of perfect, red steamy tomato soup. You can even picture the kids sitting at the table with smiles on their faces as they're about to partake of this delicious American icon. Now think about how you could brand your practice to gain recognition on a similar level.

ILLUSTRATION BY BOB KAYGANICHJ

Why have a brand?

A recent British study involved more than 800 women who had regular headaches. Some of the women were given aspirin that had been labeled with a widely advertised brand name. Another group was given the same aspirin in a plain package. The study reports that the branded aspirin worked better in the patients than did the unbranded aspirin.

The study's authors went on to describe how the above phenomenon was not the placebo effect, but something they referred to as the "meaning effect." We might therefore conclude that patients will perceive branded practices as delivering superior care.

Learn from the big guns

Corporate optometry has already discovered the power of branding. Want your glasses fast? Go to Lenscrafters. Fast or slow, good or bad, is not the issue here. The point is that they've built a strong brand focused on this particular theme. Here's how you can do the same thing in your practice.

Finding a theme

Start by asking your patients why they chose your practice and, equally important, why they continue to come back. You might find that it's because of your location, office hours, on-time appointments, unique frame selection, cutting edge technology, you being the home town doctor or a host of other reasons. Once you discover a common theme that attracted these patients to your practice -- and kept them coming back -- make it your corporate mantra, your reason for being, your brand.

Let's say that a patient tells you that he really appreciates your always seeing him at his appointed time. If you hear that enough times from enough patients, consider exploiting that and making it your reason for existence.

Different ways to advertise

Consider branding yourself. Create a subtle tag line for your practice, such as:

Dr. J. Jones -- The eye doctor who respects your time.

Or create special promotions, such as:

"Our patients tell us we run our office like a Swiss watch. Make an appointment in July and if we're behind schedule, we'll enter you in a drawing to WIN a Swiss watch."

Or, even be so bold as to totally reinvent your practice and change your name. For example:

"On Time Eyecare."

Once you've found your brand, continue to use it. Campbell's soup didn't become "M'm! M'm! Good" over night. It's been that way since the 1930s. Once it found a strong brand and position in the marketplace, it's never wavered.

Next month, I'll discuss how to use strongly branded products to build your practice.

DR. GERBER IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE POWER PRACTICE, A COMPANY WHOSE MISSION IS TO MAKE OPTOMETRISTS MORE PROFITABLE. LEARN MORE AT WWW.POWERPRACTICE.COM OR CALL DR. GERBER AT 800-867-9303.

 


Optometric Management, Issue: June 2002