Article Date: 7/1/2005

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Timing Is Everything

Like a good punchline, your marketing efforts can cause an uproar or fall flat.

It's not just what you say, or how you say it . . . but when you say it. I've had countless clients tell me, "We tried marketing to new movers and had an abysmal response. We had the company who generated the new mover list send out a letter. We sent out more than 300 per month and have had no response in a year!"

Moving Day

As a consulting company experienced in marketing, this doesn't surprise us in the least. After all, put yourself in the new movers situation. After going through the stresses of moving, packing, unpacking and settling into your new home, unless you had an imminent ocular emergency, "Visiting our friendly office" is the absolute last thing on your mind.

Of course, this assumes the new comer even saw your message, which was likely buried with hundreds of merchants' flyers attempting to contact the mover about their particular services. So, while your message may have been carefully thought out and your ad professionally designed, your poor timing was the cause of your marketing dollars going to waste.

'Tis the season

Another timing situation to capitalize on is the seasonal variations that patients live through. Think about marketing your allergy treatment services just before and during your area's peak allergy season. The "just before" message lets patients know, "It's almost here." The "during" message says, "Now that it's here, here's what to do about it." Similarly, dry eye marketing will probably work best during winter's drier air than at other times. References to "during this time of the year" help reinforce that you, too, are aware of your patients' seasonal plight.

The same goes for back-to-school marketing. It's helpful to budget for two back-to-school mailings. Schedule the first to arrive just before school starts and target those who have a proclivity towards prevention. Send a second after school has been in session for a few weeks. The message this time should concentrate on, "Now that school is in session and the hectic back-to-school season is behind you . . ." A side note: it's usually more productive to target back to school marketing to mothers instead of the family or child.

Use it or lose it

Many patients take advantage of medical/flex spending accounts to cover eye care expenses. Adhering to the rules of optimal marketing timing, have two communications ready to launch. The first reminds patients the end of the year is coming up and that they can use any funds left in their accounts in your office. The second correspondence should go out right at the beginning of the patients' calendar year. This time, remind patients they have additional money in their accounts that can be used towards services and products they may not have gotten last year.

Sunglass marketing is the one enigma to timing your marketing. UV exposure is constant. So that aspect of sunglasses lends itself towards year-round marketing. However, if you are selling the fashion aspect of sun-wear, you may want to tie your marketing efforts to a beach or ski motif.

Sometimes, even the cleverest marketing piece doesn't perform as expected for one simple reason: it wasn't launched at the right time.  Be sure to consider "when" along with who, what and where.

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: July 2005