Article Date: 3/1/2003


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Revamp Your Marketing Plans
Don't lose heart because your marketing plan didn't work. Just try it again.
Gary Gerber, O.D.

Are you fretting over marketing ideas that have gone bad? Have you tossed them to the wind or given up all together? Well don't. Most marketing plans do succeed. But it's what to do about those less-effective ideas that I'll discuss here.

Determine the end result

Let's say one of your marketing projects falls on it's face. What you do next may help determine the success or failure of future marketing ideas. We counsel clients to carefully analyze the marketing pieces they send out -- before and after they execute each one. To help maximize success and increase the efficacy of their marketing dollars, we show them how to test each marketing item before they use it.

Say a doctor wants to do a mailing and offer an incentive to buy eyeglasses. He sends out 100 pieces that offer a $30 discount and another 100 pieces that offer a free anti-reflective (AR) coating. The discount pulls better, so he sends that offer to his remaining 2,000 patients. Had he only sent the AR coating offer to all of his patients, it wouldn't have worked out as well.

However, even with careful testing, planning and thinking, the "art" rather than the "science" of marketing may prevail with a less-than-favorable result. That's when you examine the external details.

Consider the climate

Analyze the climate in which you launched your project. For example:

Work with the competition

If your local competitors are heavily advertising LASIK, then try to determine the frequency of their ads and plan a potential orthokeratology (possibly positioned as the un-LASIK) campaign at the same time. This way, you'll benefit from your competitors' advertising.

Don't chuck it

Don't label your last marketing piece a failure -- repeat it with each of its flaws in a repaired and reconfigured state. We encourage clients to catalog and save all of their marketing materials. Someone should also formally grade and critique each one. I usually do this for clients, but you could critique your own, as long as you're analytical. That way, you can make the good ideas great and you can repair or discard the marginal ideas.

Just as one contact lens won't fit all of your patients, not every marketing idea works for every practice. But, also as with contact lenses, altering the parameters can turn an unhappy patient into a practice evangelist who refers 15 friends. Keep this in mind the next time one of your marketing efforts results in an unfavorable outcome.

Dr. Gerber is the president of the Power Practice, a company specializing in making optometrists more profitable.  Learn more at or call Dr. Gerber at (800) 867-9303.


Optometric Management, Issue: March 2003