Having grown up in a bilingual environment, I benefited from learning some of the subtleties of the French language. Some things just can’t be perfectly translated and the one that comes to mind today is “raison d’être” – the reason for being.
As an emerging startup company, we started because we wanted to solve a problem which was to give Optometrists greater access to marketing technology by making it more affordable, and easier to use. Having met lots of optometrists, practice managers and optical dispensers during my years in the industry, there were many moments of inspiration which support our raison d’être. Recall letters sent using Word design templates from the year 2000, websites that do more harm than good, Facebook pages that started with good intentions, but are now riddled with negative spam reviews… our conclusion is that Optometry professionals need help in the digital marketing era.
Along the way, it is very easy to get drawn into spending most of the time building new customer relationships, taking feedback, listening to needs, creating proposals, and generally just getting stuff done! I can see that the same challenge exists for Optometry practices when it comes to fulfilling their common purpose of providing quality eyecare for their communities. Competitive pressures get in the way – the priority to act, defend, self-promote becomes top of mind in order to stay in the game. The business of healthcare services is one that is changing rapidly with mobile and social technologies, in addition to cloud-based everything these days… from online appointments, to email, SMS, and printed patient recalls, to digital marketing and ensuring compliance with privacy policies and industry standards.
And that is what brings us closer to our customers, our job is to make sure that you have the time and focus to fulfil your raison d’être.
The shift to DIY marketing tools and affordable software for the small business market is significant. This is a “win” for Optometry professionals because you are now equipped! You will be able to test the waters, exploring the learning curve of everything that is shiny and new. But, be mindful of the daily distraction… this all takes time away from your raison d’être, your patients.
We have found that there is an ideal balance between equipping practice staff with new effective business and marketing tools, and selecting a service provider to get your programs up to speed, put the proper safeguards in place, identify the ongoing maintenance processes, and the number one thing that practices today are missing… developing CONTENT!
Patient newsletters that fizzle out, a few lonely blog posts from 2014, half-built websites, inactive social media pages, out-dated window posters. These are just some of the examples of areas of good intentions, but suffer from a lack of time to execute and maintain. We see it every day and it reminds us of our raison d’être – to ensure that practice marketing ideas and plans are well executed.
In the marketing profession, we are mindful to lead by example and as such we will leave our readers with something of value – our tried and tested top 5 “Tips and Tricks” – ways to enhance your practice marketing and patient experience.
1) Personalize your communications – In email, SMS or letters, use merge fields to personalise your messages. “Dear Valued Patient” generic salutations ironically send the wrong message, and savvy patients will notice providers that communicate using modern methods. We’ve built a whole company around it.
2) Know your effective mediums – Phone, SMS, Email, Letters, Social Media. Each one has their place for patient engagement. Know which ones are the most effective to build and retain patient relationships… not just for the next appointment but for the long term.
3) Maintain your brand – Be mindful that each platform that you use to promote your practice likely has its own set of design guidelines, and image sizes. Patient recall letter templates, Facebook cover photos,
4) Embrace the Patient Reviews Process – This fully transparent process empowers patients to read about other patient’s experience at your practice. Take pro-active steps to engage your patients on the feedback process.
5) Have a marketing calendar – Having a plan is the starting point. A 12-18 month calendar will help your practice map out your practice messages in advance. There are many supplier resources available, but plan out what is right for your practice, and your patients.
OptomEDGE provides marketing services to the Optometry industry. Founder Robert Springer has over 10 years supporting practices with their marketing activities, working as marketing manager for several major optical suppliers. Contact us today for a quick chat about your practice opportunities!
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