Practice Marketing During a Temporary Closure Due to COVID-19
April 15, 2020
By Maddie Langston, IDOC Practice Marketing Consultant
I am writing this article in early April 2020. It’s probably safe to say that if you own or manage an optometry practice, your current concerns may primarily be your staff and financial planning, and that right now, practice marketing isn’t top of mind. That said, I do have some marketing tips for you to consider doing during this time period which will help you communicate operational changes to your community now and build goodwill with your patients—which will be beneficial to the practice when you decide to reopen.
If you’ve temporarily closed or truncated the hours of operation at your optometry practice after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation for people to postpone routine eye care exams or due to a “shelter in place” mandate by your local or state government, please update your community by communicating the short-term changes through your website, Google business listing, Facebook page and Yelp listing.
If you have a patient communication platform in place at the practice which allows you to send texts and email to patients, utilize those tools during this time to update them on operational changes at the practice. Some patient relationship management platforms have designed email templates and other materials specific to COVID-19 for your use. Take advantage of those tools and communicate ways they can reach you if they have an eye emergency or need to place an order for contact lenses.
Contact Lens Orders
If you have an online platform for patients to place contact lens orders, consider making that platform front and center on your website during this time, and don’t forget to let your followers know on your social media channels that they can place orders for contact lenses through your website.
Social Media Content
If you haven’t yet claimed the Facebook page for your practice, consider setting that up now and invite your patients to follow you for updates.
If you have established social media channels for your practice, I recommend pausing any standard eyecare and optical focused marketing campaigns you may have scheduled on social media during the next few weeks with the call to action for people to book an appointment.
Instead, use your social media accounts to talk directly to your patients, answer their questions and respond to comments or inbound messages. Many people are spending more time at home and they’re also spending more time than ever on social media, so you may have increased activity and engagement on your practice social media channels. It’s appropriate to be more personally involved with your social media and make it specific to your practice, and to talk directly to your patients and followers.
While I’ve always been an advocate for optometrists to record short videos on eye care for social media, this time is ideal for you to create and share short videos with eye care tips and practice updates. Your patients who follow you on social media will appreciate hearing directly from you. You can post longer videos on your Facebook page, but videos must be 60 seconds or less on your Instagram profile (unless you use live video or the IGTV app, in which case you can post videos of up to 60 minutes).
Consider sharing information with your followers on your social media accounts which is distinctly local in nature. Share posts which feature local acts of kindness, community programs for people in need and positive updates. Thank your patients and the community for their support and their patience.
Find ways to promote other locally owned small businesses. Follow their Facebook and/or Instagram accounts, and share posts with your followers. The next few weeks present an opportunity for you to create awareness of your practice as being local and entrenched in the community and to build some goodwill with other small business owners, who won’t soon forget the kindness and support you’ve shown them during this time.
Stay connected with your patient base and community during this time. People need the care you provide. Vision and eye health are precious.
Maddie Langston brings extensive experience in marketing and sales administration and has developed strategies to drive sales for various industries. Most recently, Maddie developed marketing programs for a national network of independently owned auto repair service centers. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Liberty University. Maddie and her husband Jim have a teenage son and two beagles. She enjoys reading, watching documentaries and hiking in her spare time. For questions or comments about this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.