Managing Your Brand: Evaluating and Building Your Practice Brand

Thankfully, we’ve survived 2020, but in order to thrive in 2021, practices will need to stand out more than ever. Using marketing to build and maintain a strong brand presence is crucial to retaining existing patients and attracting new ones. 

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What is Branding, Anyway?

Put simply, your brand is how your practice is perceived.

A lot of this depends on whether you’re a general eye care practice, offer medical specialties or have a strong focus on your optical. It also depends on who your ideal patient is.  Do you focus heavily on vision therapy and sports vision services?  Do you serve an elderly population who require services for age-related eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration? Once you know what makes your practice unique and which patients you should be targeting, you’re ready to carve out your brand.

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Why Do I Need A Brand For My Optometry Practice?

According to Google, top-of-mind awareness of well-branded products and services saw an 80% increase over their more poorly branded competitors.

In other words, when your patients are thinking about which optometrist to visit for their next pair of eyeglasses or their child’s back-to-school eye exam, they are much more likely to think of your optometry practice than a poorly branded competitor.

Now that you know the importance of a strong brand, which type of practice you are, and which patients you want to target, it’s time to make your brand reflect this. It can be tempting to be a one-size-fits-all practice, but patients are more likely to book an appointment with a practice whose values and messaging resonate with them. The more segmented and targeted you are in your efforts, the more ideal your results will be.

Here's a Great Example: Check out our Friends at ClearVision!

ClearVision has always been community focused, the community they've built with their vendors, suppliers, customers and employees, and their branding shows it.

First Touches: Branding Your Optometry Website, Social Media and Google Reviews

No matter your target demographic, all of the content you post on your website and across social media platforms needs to represent your brand. Make sure your SEO, website content, social media and Google review strategies are in place to provide a unified, branded experience for your patients.

Branding Website Content and SEO

Your onsite SEO should also promote your brand. Your homepage, blog content and top-tier pages should be keyword-rich and contain metadata and image alt-tags aimed at your ideal patients and the services you offer. 

Good onsite SEO encourages Google to see your site as a helpful destination for patients searching for optometry practices with your branding and expertise. The better your brand is presented onsite, the higher Google should rank you, further reinforcing your branding efforts. In the words of Amanda Milligan, at Moz.com, “When users see that you’re ranking at the top for a certain keyword or topic, there’s an assumption you made it through the algorithm for good reason, and know what you’re talking about.”

All of your website content should also be used to promote your brand, positioning your eye care team as experts in what they do. Looking to bring in patients with Dry Eye or Low Vision? Be sure your homepage has images that reflect these topics, and articles and blogs that mention your expertise in these areas. Branded content above the fold is especially effective, as it’s among the first things patients see when entering your site. By emphasizing subjects that target your ideal audience, you’re both building authority and increasing awareness of your brand.

Social Media Branding

For social media, you’ll need to consider which platforms are most helpful in reaching your audience. While older demographics focus more on Facebook, younger generations are more spread out across platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. 

Determine which platforms are most effective for reaching your target audience, and post there regularly. Some of EyeCarePro’s clients successfully brand their practices on social media by posting pictures of staff wearing the latest designer eyewear, writing about eye doctors serving underprivileged communities, and sharing information about in-practice holiday raffles.

In 2020, 87% of consumers read reviews of local businesses before becoming a customer, which highlights why Google reviews are a great opportunity to put your brand front and center. 

Maintaining Your Brand with Google Reviews

Google Reviews also allows you to evaluate your branding from a patient perspective. If you’re trying to brand your practice as a great place for Pediatric Eye Care and Children’s Eyewear, and you’re receiving rave reviews praising your practice for your wide selection of Ray-Ban Jr. and Elle Kids frames, you’re likely on the right track!

Negative reviews can also be an opportunity to promote your brand. Respond respectfully, and maintain your brand guidelines. Invite the unhappy patient to reach out to your practice directly so you can fix the issues raised in their review. You can refine your brand by finding where you fell short of patient expectations, and where your practice can improve in the future.

Branding the Patient Experience

Of course, the branding experience must continue once someone becomes a customer. This includes everything from your practice signage to the office layout and staff interactions. Optometric practices that base their brand on a wide selection of the latest designer eyewear should ensure that the first thing the patient sees when walking in is their optical, stocked with all the eyewear brands discerning patients would expect. Ads for these eyewear brands should be displayed around the office and at the reception, and staff should wear their favorite frames from among your selection.

If your brand offers a smooth and easy experience for every patient, your staff members need to know that. Write up branding guidelines that clearly outline things like how to speak with patients, how to post to social media, how to do follow-up, etc. Once the staff commits to these guidelines, every step of the in-office experience should promote your brand.

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Post-Appointment Follow-Up

The branded patient experience doesn’t end with the appointment. No matter how your practice brands itself, post-visit follow-up is an important last stop for the patient experience.

Practices centered around their opticals should turn around their prescription and frame orders as quickly as possible. Once eyeglasses come in, an email with images and text that reflect the practice brand can be sent to the patient, or a staff member well versed in the practice’s branding guidelines can call to ask them to come in to pick them up.

Similarly, optometric practices that brand themselves as specialty or medical practices should periodically and proactively check up on patients after their treatment, to see if they have any questions or concerns. This can be an excellent opportunity to show that your practice is not only professional, but caring as well.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to follow up with patients who enjoyed their experience, and ask them to leave your practice a Google review. The more reviews you have, the stronger your branding will be!

A properly branded practice will be well situated to take advantage of the promise of a new and better year. From first touches on your website, social media and Google reviews, to the patient experience in-practice and after the visit, a well crafted practice brand will help you retain existing patients and expand your patient base into 2021, and well beyond! Here’s to a Happy New Year!

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