This is the final article in a four-part series aimed at helping practices connect to the 40- to 65-year-old demographic. Advances in technology have provided new options for the treatment of presbyopia, and personnel must now learn to adapt marketing efforts to reach this patient group. The previous three articles emphasized ways to educate, organize, and prepare for presbyopia-correcting procedures within the clinic. This article is dedicated to taking your presbyopia message outside the practice to create an effective marketing campaign.
If you heeded the advice in the earlier articles, you started by educating your staff on the unique characteristics of the presbyopic patient and the procedures available to them. You then adapted your clinic to appeal to this technology-savvy group and looked for ways to reach out to existing patients. Lastly, you identified patient ambassadors and invited them to record their thoughts on the experience. These videos should be recorded somewhere quiet in the clinic, such as the consulting room. If the camera has an external microphone socket, a lapel microphone will provide better audio.
When your staff and clinic are fully trained and all internal communications and activities are in place, you are ready to begin external marketing campaigns.
follow the rules
Rule No. 1: Know what you want. If you do not know what constitutes success for your practice, you will never know if you have achieved it. Two crucial components of success are defining your practice’s goals and setting a budget. Determine how many contacts you would like to receive, how many of those contacts you hope to convert to consultations, and how many will finally become patients. Your staff and capacity may be suitable to receive and process only a certain number of inquiries, so you need to take that into account when choosing which media or activity to engage in.
Rule No. 2: Develop your external action plan. From more traditional to cutting-edge, there are a number of ways to attract new patients. Print media tends to be expensive, and it may be difficult to target the presbyopic market without forcing the age issue on people. Presbyopes in general consider themselves younger than their chronological age.1 Therefore, avoid using images of senior citizens (65+ years of age) when targeting presbyopes.
You can often interest a journalist in writing about the presbyopia-correcting services your practice offers or garner other special public relations hits, as stories about vision solutions based on the latest technology are more interesting to the media than procedures such as LASIK that most people have already heard about. Public relations packets for the media and microsites dedicated to the advanced technology can be key strategies for public relations.
Additionally, never forget your existing patients and anyone passing by. A clinic that hangs a large banner at its entrance can generate a number of consultations purely from people passing by who happened to see it. E-mail campaigns also create an easy way for patients to respond or forward the message to someone else. Do not do everything at once, however. Evaluate all the options and select the top five tactics most likely to help achieve your goals, following through with a clear, strong call to action.
Rule No. 3: Dare to be different. Innovative marketing methods can include e-mail or text message campaigns rather than a traditional direct-mail campaign or creating a mobile rather than an HTML website. Additionally, try hosting an open house rather than presenting a traditional seminar. Invite eight to 10 prospective candidates to each open house, which can include a 30-minute presentation with interactive discussion as questions arise, such as what presbyopia is, why presbyopic patients need reading glasses, and what the most modern technologies are. Following the discussion, each attendee can undergo an initial screening for suitability. As scans come off the printers, the surgeon should talk to each patient about whether they are candidates. Staff should be available to book consultations.
Social media and search engine marketing and optimization are other innovative marketing methods.
Rule No. 4: Test, measure, and modify. The only way to know if your marketing campaign is working is to measure the inquiries it generates. Create dedicated phone lines and e-mail accounts for your campaigns and generate a strategy to track the initial source of inquiry, where contacts are coming from, the busiest days of the week, and exactly how many leads each marketing campaign is producing.
Remember, listen to your patients’ needs and expectations. Using your ambassadors to build a focus group is an excellent means of getting feedback and other valuable data. Although presbyopes tend to be early adopters of technology, nobody likes to feel like a guinea pig. Use descriptions such as advanced technology or latest and greatest rather than new when describing surgical presbyopia-correcting strategies.
Once you have tested the campaigns, the next step is to analyze them and measure their success. How many new inquiries did a specific action generate? How many consultations took place, and how many surgeries were booked? Aim for 70% or greater of the inquiries converting to consultations and 80% or greater of the consultations becoming patients.
Once you know what is working and what is not, you should identify any problems and create and implement solutions. Modify your campaigns or further train your staff to maximize your channels and optimize your call to action.
Develop a successful marketing campaign by defining specific goals, being innovative, choosing the best tactics, and carefully analyzing the results. Take the first step this week: Investigate a specific phone line and e-mail account for your campaigns so that you can measure their success.
David Allamby, MD, is the Director of FOCUS Clinic, London. Dr. Allamby states that he has no financial interest in the products or companies mentioned. He may be reached at e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Claudine LePrince is the European Marketing Manager at AcuFocus, Inc. Mrs. LePrince may be reached at e-mail:email@example.com.
- Ashi Corp. 2007 Survey, sample size: 1,736, male and female.