By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD
April 10, 2019
How long has it been since you thought about your practice’s approach to marketing? Here are essential ways the consumer environment is changing, and how your marketing strategies should respond to those changes.
The marketer’s mantra is to reach the right audience with the right message at exactly the right time. Over time, how we do this has shifted. It’s moved in three interesting ways.i We need to make sure our marketing efforts are moving in these ways too.
Move from “Spray-and-Pray” to “Deep Patient Connections”
Effective marketing has moved from ‘Spray-and-Pray’ to ‘Deep Patient Connections.’ We’ve all experienced ‘spray-and-pray’ marketing – robocalls, banner ads and pop-up ads – and we all find them annoying. But they work because they are still being used.
What works better is creating Deep Patient Relations. Our patients want us to care about them. Rishi Dave, former director of marketing at Dell said, “Today’s consumers are entirely self-directed.” Rather than market to them with a message that is not targeted to them, or is a message they do not need at this time, we need to be more aligned with our patients – making sure we are reaching the right audience with the right message at the right time. The key to creating Deep Patient Relations is to empower natural patient journeys, giving our patients the information they need when they are most likely to need it.
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To do this, we need to know our patients in great detail. This is called Relationship Marketingii. Starbucks does a great job of this. They know what you like and how you like it made. To be effective at Relationship Marketing, we need to be both relevant and timely.
We should have this same level of detail about our patients. If you have not already started creating patient profiles, then start building today. Start with product or service purchase data. Behavioral data, such as product or service purchase is critical to Relationship Marketing. This data already lives in your practice management software. Use this data to target-market with the right message at exactly the right time. Then, use each office visit as an opportunity to have your patients verify the accuracy of their data.
The better – and more accurate – your patient profiles become and you use the information in your contacts with patients, the deeper your patient connections will be.
Move From Selling to Storytelling
Our patients have become more sophisticated consumers. We’ve all experienced the patient pulling out their smartphone in the optical and price-shopping the frame choices they’ve made. Old selling techniques are not as effective today as they have been in the past. We need to change our approach in the optical. Follow this three-point outline:
• Tell a 30-second story about the company that makes the frame that is interesting and, if you can do it, emotional.
• Tell a 30-second story about the frame they are holding in their hand (what makes it unique, better, the perfect match for the patient).
• Tell a 30-second story about why they should purchase that frame from you.
This approach is not limited to the optical. Think about using this approach with testing equipment. As a relatively easy exercise, do this for the Optos.iii The story of why the company was founded should bring a tear to every eye. What the test is going to do for the patient is easy to tell. “And we do this test on every comprehensive exam because we want to make sure we give you the best care.”
Move From Guess-Work to Actionable Data
Marketers always talk about how only 50 percent of marketing dollars are effective. The problem is that we do not know which 50 percent. We can fix that problem with measuring.
Measure every marketing campaign to determine your Return on Investment (ROI). Subtract how much the marketing campaign cost from how much the marketing campaign brought in. If you do this for every marketing campaign you run, then you can know what to do next year. Do more of the marketing campaigns with a high ROI and do less of the marketing campaigns with a low ROI. Using this approach will help you to use your marketing dollars most effectively.