It all starts with the senses
We all know the human body has five major senses: sight, hearing,
taste, touch and smell. These senses stimulate the emotional centers of the brain.
But many doctors don't appeal to them in their marketing efforts. Marketing is not
just about getting the facts out it's also about stimulating the emotional
centers inside all of us. Because for the most part, we make decisions based on
Consider your local market. It is not uncommon to enter a store
now and smell the aroma of bacon, pizza or some other food being prepared. That
sense of smell triggers the emotional portion in your brain, causing a physiological
response. Stores are acutely aware that stimulating your sense of smell will trigger
a hunger response in the brain and hopefully cause you to purchase more goods. Would
the store have sold more if it had just told customers that "brand X" of bacon or
pizza was voted #1 last year by consumers? Probably not, but by stimulating the
emotional centers of the brain, customers also have a physical drive to purchase
Leave no sense untouched
So how does this relate to optometry? We have to understand that
we are in a very unique position as health care providers: We not only sell our
services, but we also sell merchandise, i.e., glasses and contacts. So we must walk
the fine line of making professional recommendations and stimulating consumer/patient
behavior to purchase our products. We must influence the mood of the moment. This
begins with the first phone call the patient makes to schedule his or her appointment
and continues throughout your professional relationship with the patient. In other
words, it must be in everything we do.
Most of us enter our offices through a side or back door, but
when was the last time you entered through the front door and took a good look around?
It's what your patients do every time they visit your practice. Are your décor
and furniture still in the '80s? Are there stained ceiling tiles or walls that need
to be painted? Is it visually stimulating? What about smell? How about the sounds
your patients may hear? Is there pleasant music or is the phone constantly ringing
or are there no sounds at all? These may seem like trivial things, but believe
me, your patients take note of them.
Putting it into play
Recently in our office, we've tried to begin stimulating all the
senses and we have enjoyed some of the best months our practice has ever had. By
this I mean more referrals, an increased patient base and greater profits.
Do patients tell us they referred a friend because of the free coffee, or the delicious
aromas? No, they don't but I believe our overall picture here is what's done
it. Here's how we appeal to the five senses.
Sight: We began by putting out fresh flowers in several areas
of the office, especially at the reception desk. It was amazing how many compliments
we got. Staff is in clean, pressed clothing.
Smell: We light scented candles and scatter them throughout the
office ("fresh-baked cookie" or "Frazier fir"during Christmas). Again, patients
would comment about how "good" it smelled in our office. The fresh flowers contribute
here as well.
Sound: We have music softly playing in the office and cable T.V.
in part of the reception area.
Taste: We've added a small buffet and set out free coffee for
our patients. We bought a single-cup coffee maker, so the coffee is individualized,
hot and fresh with each cup. Patients love it!
Touch: Finally, every patient is greeted and parted with with
a warm, friendly handshake or a pat on the back. We want our patients to feel appreciated
when they choose our practice for their eye care needs.
Stimulating the senses may seem like a trivial thing, but there's
truth to the adage,"It's the little things that count."
Young serves as an adjunct faculty
member at the Southern College of Optometry and has worked as a clinical investigator
for the FDA and ophthalmic manufacturers.
Optometric Management, Issue: November 2006