view from the top
Plan Before You Advertise
Learn how you, like Dr. Aye, can survive
Gary Gerber, O.D.
Last month I told you about a client (Dr. Aye)
whose practice suffered from negative advertising. When Dr. Aye first opened his
practice, he spent years positioning his practice as a discount eyeglass store.
Now he was faced with the challenge of attracting more medical eyecare patients.
This month I'm going to tell you how we helped him accomplish this new goal.
Learning about the patients
First we interviewed Dr. Aye's existing base of
medical eyecare patients. We asked them why they trusted him to care for them
and why they didn't go elsewhere. They essentially told us that they'd been
long-standing patients and never really thought of Dr. Aye's practice as an
"eyeglass shop." Interestingly, most patients who had a shorter
relationship weren't medically based.
Next we drafted a direct-mail letter and sent it
to a small sample of existing patients. In it, we reinforced what the patients
whom we interviewed had told us (namely that patients who had a long
relationship with the doctor were comfortable with him expanding his medical
Photo by Laurence Dutton
Time to get serious
Next we called patients who received the letter
and asked pointed questions to see which aspects of the letter stuck with them.
We then took the most salient points and created a newspaper ad that ultimately
replaced Dr. Aye's original eyeglass ad in the same newspaper.
This strategy worked because we based it on sound
marketing principles of research, testing and sampling: We carefully identified
the problem, tested the concept and wording and finally ran the ad full force.
Similar to treating patients, we first diagnosed the problem and then initiated
Sharing my marketing lessons
Dr. Aye's story brings to the fore the following
- You can't be all things to all patients, so
choose your practice's mission, philosophy and position carefully before
setting out on a campaign.
- Discounting and positioning your practice as
an eyeglass store isn't necessarily bad, but doing so will decrease the
amount of patients who might seek out non-eyeglass services.
- Relative to the above comment, find a niche
that your competitors haven't and exploit it!
- You can actually lose revenues by sending a
message about services you don't want to concentrate on. For example, Dr.
Aye was advertising discount eyeglasses instead of complete scope care. By
not advertising eyeglasses, he saw more medical care patients.
Sleep on it
Short of working with marketing professionals and
consultants, one technique to perfecting your ads is to show them to patients
who are already affiliated with your practice and ask their opinions. Again,
approach your marketing as scientifically and with as much thought and logic as
you would a complicated glaucoma case. Look at all of the data before making a
It's also helpful to lay an ad aside for a few
days before you submit it. What looks great today and appears to gel perfectly
with your practice might not be so pretty once you distance yourself from it.
Also, consider the viewpoints of prospective patients who might infer things not
readily apparent to a doctor.
Dr. 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: November 2003