from the top
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:
- We know that ultraviolet protection is a year-round necessity, but many patients think they only need it during the summer.
- Your contact lens promotion may have been more successful in the spring than in the middle of winter because during the spring, many patients become more introspective regarding their body image.
- In a broader sense, perhaps overall market conditions were unfavorable. Consider general economic conditions and news events as they relate to your marketing message. A huge interest in either local or national events can easily usurp any well-thought-out marketing calendar.
- Many marketing ideas neglect the changing scope of managed care activity in a community. If a large group of potential patients has (or doesn't have) a particular plan, you should note this fact in the setup of your program.
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.
Gerber is the president of the Power Practice, a company specializing in making
optometrists more profitable. Learn more at www.powerpractice.com
or call Dr. Gerber at (800) 867-9303.
Optometric Management, Issue: March 2003