Here's how an extreme marketing makeover fuels practice growth.
BY SUSAN M. ABRAMOVITZ,
identified its target market as women, ages 30 and older, who are typically
the healthcare decision-makers for their families.
2005, Haag-Streit USA, Ideopia and Optometric Management co-sponsored "The Extreme
Marketing Makeover," a contest to help O.D.s learn the value of marketing. Of the
3,000 entries, Dr. Scott Mann of Invision in Salem and Christiansburg, Va., won
a package that included $35,000 worth of Haag-Streit equipment and a one-year marketing
plan, valued at $100,000, from Ideopia.
The game plan
The "Makeover" began with a thorough examination of the practice
and its market area. It yielded a plan with the following goals.
► Achieve 10 to 15% growth in both
offices by: attracting new patients; encouraging loyalty in current patients; increasing
eyewear sales (multiple pairs, specialty lenses); and increasing the average per
patient sale from $275 to $315 or more.
Increase cash flow in both offices.
practice used marketing that spoke directly to its target demographic.
Add private pay patients so the
practice is less dependent upon insurance.
Develop a referral network of
patients as well as professional sources.
Build the eyewear business by:
selling more eye wear and contacts; adding upscale women's lines; adding sunglass
lines and selling 150 to 200 pairs per year; promoting specialty lenses, i.e. sports
eyewear; bringing in outside prescriptions; maintaining 95% or better in patient
satisfaction ratings; building medical credibility in the patient's mind; and updating
the Salem office in a cost-efficient manner.
Facing the challenges
Invision had to overcome several marketing challenges. The practice
faced an aging and insurance-dependent patient base, especially in the Salem office.
It faced competition from lower-priced, big box retailers which, coupled with insurance
restrictions, compromised the practice's patient retention.
lacked awareness in the market area due to little or inconsistent advertising and
was plagued, as many practices are, by the patient perception that eye care is a
at A Glance
Untargeted. Patient base primarily elderly or insurance dependent.
Brand research and planning.
Fashion conscious females 30+ who make healthcare decisions for family. Educated.
Little to none.
Logo, Web site, radio, billboards, stadium signs, direct mail, merchandising, interior
and exterior signage.
Income increases 15%.
Drive all marketing decisions with new brand strategy, including graphics, colors
and tone of copy.
Brand permeates everything from signage and staff uniforms to point-of-purchase
(POP) materials and paint colors in the offices.
Implement systems; postcard reminder mailings.
Patient recall and pre-appointment is consistent.
Facilities (Salem office)
Dingy, outdated. Decorating highlights included sports memorabilia.
Removed equipment and decorations that didn't match branding.
Paint, carpet, POP, plants, banners, in-office signage and meticulously clean patient
coffee bar. Sports collection moved to Dr. Mann's office.
Average income per patient: $275.
Average income per patient: $350+.
The battle plan
At the start, Invision defined its most lucrative target market.
Through research including psychographics and demographics, Invision and Ideopia
identified the target market as female, ages 30 and over that is, the family's
healthcare decision maker.
The research also yielded a tidbit that would directly drive the
creative work. Women in the region were twice as likely to have cosmetic surgery
than the average American woman. This told us that these women were fashion-conscious
and had disposable income. We would have to "super-serve" them with meticulous medical
care and high-end, fashionable frames. Ideopia developed the slogan, "Eye Fitness
+ Fashion," to speak directly to this market.
In adopting this target market, Invision understood that its patient
base would change. A solid marketing plan attracts the right people. As an example,
Invision's seasonal and trunk show direct mail program was refined to go only to
the target market. The practice reduced direct mail costs by 66%, saving thousands
of dollars, while the historically high patient response to these mailers remained
The commodity mindset
years of discounts, eyecare providers have trained patients to make decisions based
on price alone. In line with the health-conscious target market that places a higher
value on service, Ideopia encouraged Invision to raise prices to be equal to or
slightly higher than competitors.
Building medical credibility
At the conclusion of an eye examination, Invision patients receive
"The Eye Fitness and Vision Report" that documents findings, along with nutritional
and preventive advice.
As Invision doctors hand the report to the patient, they ask for
names of family doctors so that they can forward copies. The doctor-to-doctor communication
tells the patient that she has received important medical care. It places Invision
squarely in the medical arena. It also demonstrates professionalism and creates
an avenue for referrals.
Zero-in on the brand
The first creative step for the practice was to design a logo
to attract the target group. We chose unconventional, upbeat colors, which draw
attention. They are prominent wherever they are used.
The staff was so excited about the new colors that they decided
to wear uniforms and alternate the orange and green of the logo during the week.
Invision adopted the logo colors in the offices as well. Paint
colors are complementary, and splashes of the logo colors are used throughout the
The media plan for Invision included billboards and radio. The
billboards built brand recognition and were placed in high-traffic areas as well
as in close proximity to the office. Striking graphics and few words delivered the
message in seconds. The billboards ran for nine months during the make-over, and
recently Invision has reposted them.
colors draw attraction to the practice.
Radio reached a large number of women while they were in their
cars. The radio schedule ran for nine months and has extended life as the "on-hold"
messages at Invision.
Invision developed a Website to educate patients on eye health
as well as the practice. It includes interactive activities, such as a fashion selector
for frames, a guide for children's visual development and a quiz about equipment
used in exams.
Using a secure login, patients can pre-register for appointments
to save time in the mother's hectic schedule. Patients can also order contact lenses directly through the Web site.
Our goal was to make sure that everything a patient sees from
Invision had the same feel and tone, including patient brochures, reminder postcards,
appointment reminders; and care information for contact lenses and glasses.
Perception and reality
The purpose of advertising is to drive customers to make an appointment.
When they actually visit, it's crucial that their experience is consistent with
their expectations. At Invision this meant replacing inventory with the designer,
high-end frames the new customers would demand. It also meant a facelift for the
A comprehensive marketing makeover is most demanding in terms
of time, effort and money. As Dr. Mann notes (see "My Experience," left), the process
is not for the faint of heart. But in the end, this serious investment creates a
for more information on the Invision
Ms. Abramovitz is president of Ideopia, an advertising, interactive and brand strategy agency
with a special focus on the ophthalmic field. For more on the makeover, visit
|Based on our strengths, Invision targeted its
message to health and fashion conscious women. This guides decisions from the frame
vendors we use, to our office's vibrant colors and décor, to the music (Starbucks
channel on XM).
Our consultant, Ideopia, encouraged
us to give our office a facelift that would appeal to our demographic. The response
has been overwhelming. We create happier patients, which results in higher spectacle
sales, greater patient retention and more referrals.
We now embrace the concept of branding
(think Coca Cola). We use our new colors and logo in marketing through external
and internal signage, quality surveys, stationary, documents and staff uniforms
(use uniforms! Patients comment on how professional our staff looks).
Our new equipment from Haag-Streit
and Reliance Medical Products makes our examinations more efficient and reliable.
The Octopus perimeter, Haag- Streit slit lamp with imaging software and the Reliance
chair impress our patients with their state-of-the-art look.
This process is not for the faint-hearted.
It takes money and time and forced us to take an honest look at our practice. But
our practice is much stronger due to the strategic and creative efforts of Ideopia
and hard work by our staff and doctors. Scott
Optometric Management, Issue: December 2006