What is Marketing?
How do you market your optometry practice successfully? Although there are many ways to define marketing, we believe the best way to define it is “a set of activities designed to solve a business need.”
How To Market Your Optometry Practice
In order to market your optometry practice successfully, you need to be able to accurately assess what your practice needs are, and create a strategy to solve them.
But, how do you identify those needs? First, let’s break down how marketing is commonly defined, along with the ensuing strategy, and then we’ll dive into the correct approach to marketing your optometry practice.
How Not to Define Marketing
If you were asked what kind of marketing you need for your practice, it’s possible your response would be similar to many other optometrists. “I need better rankings on Google, or maybe more Facebook posts!” Perhaps you would consider a website update, or increased Instagram engagement. While these are all important and worthwhile tasks for your practice, do they define marketing?
Here’s why they don’t. There are an infinite number of things that can be done for your practice. You can indeed improve your rankings on Google, and make new posts on Facebook to no end. You can give your website a new, chic facelift as often as you want. But at what point do you know you have succeeded with your marketing? When you don’t have attainable goals that solve a specific need, it’s difficult to measure your success. Therefore, these items are more useful as a means, rather than an end in themselves, to meet larger marketing goals.
So, what would be a more productive way to answer the question of what your marketing needs are?
A Better Way To Define Marketing: Solving A Business Need
The better way to answer the question of “what is marketing”, is by first understanding that not all businesses need all types of marketing. The brand new optometry practice that just opened up, and simply needs to fill their books with appointments, is not going to need the same type of marketing as the two or three-doctor practice that has plenty of bookings, but could benefit from booking more high revenue specialty or optical patients.
And these are in turn not going to need the same marketing as a multi-doctor, multi-location practice that has multiple exam lanes to fill, doctors with various specialties, and more than one community to service. Each practice will start out at one of these stages and may well evolve to the next stage at some point in the life of the practice. With the evolution of the practice comes the evolution of that practice’s business needs, and thus their marketing needs must change as well. We like to categorize the different evolutions of a practice into three stages. Let’s take a closer look:
How To Market An Optometry Practice (Stage One)
In order to get started with optometry marketing, practices need to understand their business needs. From the moment an eye care practice opens up, it really has a single goal for the first few years of its existence: fill the books with patients! Initially there may not even be recurring patients or recalls. After a few years, the ratio of new to recurring patients begins to even out, and the practice is on its way to a successful Stage One optometry practice.
At this stage, most practices aren’t picky about the type of patients that come through the door. Any patient who generates revenue is perfectly capable of helping to keep the lights on, hire more staff, get more equipment, and cover other types of overhead and practice expenses. So what would this practice’s marketing needs look like?
Let’s first identify what a Stage One practice should not do. Aside from being cliche, saying, “we are the friendliest, most professional and skilled eye doctors around” even if it's true, is exactly what their competitors are saying, and therefore it won’t help them stand out to prospective patients.
Rather, a Stage One practice should use marketing to position themselves as experts in as many specific patient needs as possible throughout the year. The practice should choose a specific patient group to target every month, and make sure all their marketing efforts, from SEO to Facebook and Instagram posts and email campaigns, align with the chosen campaign. For example, a Stage One practice might choose to market a Back to School campaign in July and August, and their social media feeds, blog posts, website content and email blasts would reflect this. In November they might choose Diabetes Awareness as their campaign, and then focus on Use it or Lose it in December.
So while previously, the practice may have done marketing tasks, they were not tied to a specific strategy. Now that marketing has been defined, it’s clear that these same tasks (social media, search engine optimization, and website updates) are all aligned to the business’ need: driving new patient growth for the practice.
Stage One marketing would cast a wide net across multiple patient demographics, addressing various needs, or pain points. This will drive new patient growth quickly and efficiently, generating many new appointments for the practice.
Download our FREE Stage 1 Cheat Sheet
How To Market A Specialty Optometry Practice (Stage Two)
Once a practice starts to get a solid patient base, their books are likely to be filled with patients. At this point, the practice can begin to be more discerning with the type of patients they see. While for a Stage One practice, the business need was simply to fill the books, and any patient was sufficient, the practice has a new need: generate more revenue. In order to do this, the practice is now seeking a specific type of patient. Perhaps a doctor at the practice specializes in Specialty Contact Lenses or in Vision Therapy. Perhaps the practice is in a community with a great deal of elderly residents, and focusing on Low Vision would be a lucrative decision. Whatever the practice’s specialty may be, patients who need these services offer much higher profit margins, and Stage Two practices are positioned to pursue these leads.
In order to market effectively, a Stage Two practice must adopt a strategy that matches its business needs. At this point, a Stage Two practice would not implement the general, month-to-month strategy a Stage One practice would use. The patients targeted in a Stage Two strategy require more complicated services. These services may be much harder to find, less well known, and more expensive. In some cases, patients may not even be aware that the service they need exists.
Download our FREE Stage 2 Cheat Sheet
Therefore, a Stage Two Marketing strategy must focus on educating each target market about the solutions they offer. Content about each specialty should include an overview of the service, symptoms and treatments, as well as the process patients should expect from the practice. In order to do this,the practice must spend a significant amount of time educating and sharing information across their social media, blog posts, and website.
Because of the complexity of the subjects, it will take more time and more marketing touches to bring higher-revenue specialty patients in the door. A Stage Two marketing strategy will target, educate, and market to these patients to grow the revenue of the practice.
How To Market a Multi-Location Optometry Practice (Stage Three)
An optometry practice that has successfully filled its books with patients, and can successfully demonstrate revenue growth by targeting specialty patients is now ready to expand to what we call a Stage Three practice. Stage Three practices are typically multi-doctor, multi-location practices. Of course, the business needs of a practice that has many locations and doctors are vast. Quite simply, these types of practices need everything that a Stage One and Stage Two practice need, but more.
Stage Three practices need all the patients they can get, because they have a lot of mouths to feed, and a lot of exam lanes to fill. With that many doctors, there are also bound to be some with specific specialties.Therefore, when deciding on a marketing strategy to meet the many business needs, a Stage Three practice should emphasize both broad-based and targeted marketing. The practice should also make sure to focus on marketing for multiple locations. To do so, the practice will need to include regular content creation, Google ads for each location and consistent engagement across social media as part of its marketing strategy.
A Stage Three practice will grow and flourish by aligning its marketing strategy with its unique business needs.
So, What Does This Mean For Your Practice?
If you’ve identified your practice’s stage of growth, you might have found yourself nodding in agreement as you read about your practice needs. If you’re unsure which stage of growth your practice is at, we can help you to pinpoint your practice needs.
Once you are comfortable with your practice’s stage of growth, and you understand the business needs, you can begin to implement the marketing strategies necessary to solve those needs.
Need some assistance getting started? EyeCarePro has constructed all our Optometry Growth Plans according to each specific stage of practice growth. Schedule a 30 minute call and we’ll help you identify which stage your practice is at, and what marketing strategy will help you meet your business needs! Get Started now, or give us a call at 866-886-4442