By Aaron Neufeld, OD, FAAO
Sept. 16, 2020
A long-running pandemic can be a hard time to market any business, an optometric practice included. Here is how my practice is doing it, so our patients keep us top of mind, returning to our office for care and referring others.
Shift in Focus
Marketing has shifted focus over the last few months. Rather than just trying to get a potential patient to walk through your door, a practice now has to convince that potential patient that the office is a safe place to receive eyecare and that considerable effort has been placed into making the office compliant with virus containment measures from both the local county and the Centers for Disease Control.
Marketing in this current climate is a fine balance between establishing trust without appearing redundant or patronizing.
3 Key Messages During a Difficult Time
These are the messages that should be received by patients with your current marketing:
1) That your office is going above and beyond to keep the patients safe.
2) That your quality of service and products remains the same and has not been affected by the stress of the pandemic.
3) That you are able to provide patients with a warm and friendly environment in which they can be served as a patient and conduct business with you.
How We Have Been Reaching Out on Social Media
Social media is a major touch point for us in communicating with patients. Here are Instagram posts that worked well for us:
Products & Services to Market
In the Bay Area of California, where my practice is located, nearly all businesses have adopted the work-from-home model (since we are mostly surrounded by tech companies). Many of our new patients have a vested interest in a pair of computer glasses with blue light blocking technology. The most interesting part about this trend is that 1) most of these individuals did not previously wear glasses, 2) all of them know about the benefits of blue-blocking lenses. This means that external marketing, presumably from larger companies, has helped public education on this topic.
We recently launched a series of Facebook and Instagram ads targeting individuals who are spending significant time on the computer due to work from home (see photo to the left). This is one of about five different ads featuring parents or young professionals of various demographics working from home.
We released a few blog posts about eye safety during COVID that were well-received. They were also included as part of an e-mail blast. We try to limit e-mail blasts (only two done this year), because we’ve found that frequent e-mail blasts often annoy patients and may lead to being filtered into the spam folder.
Safety and security marketing is mainly done through appointing and confirming patients. Our receptionist will walk through the safety measure steps that we are taking upon appointing the patient and she will give a quick summary of how the check-in and exam experience will work.
Don’t Forget About the Importance of In-Office Safety Marketing
We have multiple in-office postings related to COVID and the measures we are taking. When approaching the door to enter our office, patients find that the door is locked and there are three signs on our door. Sign 1 informs patients that they must wear a face covering at all times while inside our clinic, and that if they do not have one, we will provide one at no cost. Sign 2 informs patients to call our office to be let in. This is to maintain social distancing and make sure patients feel safe. Sign 3 is our county “COVID preparedness certificate.”
Upon entering, patients are given hand sanitizer, get their temperature taken, are triaged for COVID-related symptoms and are offered a beverage for later consumption (after they leave). Posted signs in the front reception detail what we are doing in office to prevent the spread of COVID.
One of the positive permanent changes that COVID has brought on is our adoption of branded scrubs by all doctors and team members. Many patients have expressed positive opinions about our uniform change, with many saying that we are the most professional-looking office in the town!