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How to Attract and Retain Your Ideal Patient on a Budget

Visiting an optometrist is a fairly common practice as they offer patients a solution for bad eyesight, eye disease and help with detection of general eye problems. Research suggests that around 39 percent of adults in the USA consult an optometrist or ophthalmologist once a year.

Marketing your optometry business involves a careful analysis of marketing strategies and organizing a well through-out marketing plan. Here is how you can attract and retain your ideal patient on a budget:

Identifying the Ideal Patient

To make your optometry practice more effective and cover all your costs, it is imperative that you use relevant marketing tactics to attract the ideal type of patients. With the right patients coming in, you will be able to:

· Earn a higher return on investment

· Understand patient needs better

· Market your services in a cost-effective manner

Being able to target the right client base through better marketing strategies will enable your clients to have a better understanding of what services to expect. Having a good idea of what your customers want will also help you add value to your products and services.

There are 2 simple steps to identify the ideal target market:

1. Marketing Segmentation

Analyze the primary characteristics of your ideal patient. Start with segmenting the market into categories such as demographics, psychographics, geography and behavior. Evaluate where your target market stands to move closer to achieving a holistic overview of your ideal patient.

2. Patient Persona

Once you are done segmenting the market, you are bound to have a good idea about your ideal patient. Ask yourself what kind of patients you enjoy working with the most. List down some common attributes based on name, health attitudes, income, occupation, interests, habits, age and method of payment.

Figuring out the ideal patient does not mean you should refuse to treat those who do not meet your criteria. The goal is to make your business more profitable by prioritizing quality over quantity.

Marketing Tactics to Attract and Retain Your Ideal Patient

Good marketing strategies for your optometry business do not have to be expensive; they just need to be efficient. You should aim to market your products and services in a way that they provide valuable information to your target audience while increasing brand loyalty.

You can easily minimize your budget once you figure out details regarding your ideal patient and optimize your marketing tactics accordingly. Both traditional marketing and online marketing strategies are likely to benefit your business as long as you ensure you pick and choose the right ones based on the clientele you wish to attract and retain.

Conventional Marketing

Although the internet is gaining popularity as a marketing platform, it has not yet eliminated the need for conventional marketing practices. Some vital ones include:

1. Referral program

A patient referring your business to other people is not only an efficient marketing strategy but is also a compliment as it assures you that you are doing your job well.

Start a referral program by offers such as a voucher, discount, gas card or lucky draw token. This is a good way to show your appreciation and promote your services.

2. Take out time for local charities

Strengthen your brand loyalty by joining charities. This will help build trust and establish the reliability of your optometry business.

When patients will notice your efforts to give back to the community, they will have a higher opinion of your business. Your passion to help others is likely to make your customers keep coming back to you.

3. Broadcast or outdoor ads

An eye-catching advertisement or an infectious jingle will not fail to get noticed. Radio is an effective and reasonable medium to tap the local market.

A well-designed billboard ad is also likely to be retained by people. Whenever they will feel the need to consult an optometrist, they may recall your advertisement.

Online Marketing

In this day and age, the scope of digital marketing is growing tremendously. Having a noticeable online presence allows you to attract a large customer base and is easy on the pocket.

1. Email Marketing

Keep sending emails to your clients from time to time to reinforce their preference for your products and services. Ask people for their email addresses when they register with your services.

You can email people about new offers, newsletters, and reminders for yearly check-ups. Moreover, you can also market in subtle ways by sending out informative emails regarding eye health.

1. Website

Focus on developing a website that is designed well and provides people with valuable information about your products and services. When people search for an optometrist’s services, they are bound to use a search engine rather than a traditional phonebook, which is why it is important to have a powerful online presence.

Make sure the visitors on your website enjoy a good user experience. In order to be visible to the right kind of users, your website must be optimized for search engines.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process that ensures that the site is structured in a way to rank higher on the search engine results page. It involves tweaking your website to increase its loading speed, making it mobile-friendly and placing visible calls-to-action to convert visitors into customers.

2. Social Media Marketing The latest findings show that as many as 2.7 billion people are active on Facebook every month. The importance of maintaining your presence on social media cannot be overstated.

Make sure you are visible to your target audience on leading social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Routinely update your clientele about new offers and practices to keep them engaged.

Choose your marketing platforms wisely in order to attract and retain your ideal patient. Both conventional marketing and digital marketing avenues can be used in a cost-effective manner one you have a clear idea of your target audience and the way to reach them.

References:

1. Statista https://www.statista.com/statistics/917000/optometrist-ophthalmologist-visit-frequency-among-adults-us/

2. Statista https://www.statista.com/statistics/264810/number-of-monthly-active-facebook-users-worldwide/

Marketing is an Investment not an Expense in Your Practice.

Any successful corporate optometry business has a marketing plan.  You will not just become a sudden overnight success it can take 3-5 years to build a business, but a unique marketing plan can help you get there. Now, not only do you need great clinical skills to be a successful, but you also need to be aware of certain concepts such as marketing and entrepreneurship.You will need to develop a concrete objective and set realistic goals to be able to achieve that objective. This will have to go in sync with providing your patients with top quality service.

In the times where technology and marketing have become the backbone of pretty much everything, optometry businesses that keep on coming up with innovative ways to market to their potential patients and referrals are the ones who stay relevant and succeed. Think about marketing an a different way. Do you ever wonder why well known companies like Coca Cola continue to advertise? It is an investment to differentiate itself from Pepsi and in turn creates a brand experience. Branding has been discussed in great detail in this blog. Understanding how successful companies marketing themselves can help you create a brand experience so your office can compete in the eye care industry.

 

Look at marketing as an investment

If you wish to make money then you will certainly have to spend money. This is especially true when it comes to business. It may be a bit difficult to take some money out of your pocket to pay for all the marketing expenses, but it can bring returns that will make sure your practice flourishes in the long term. The professional marketers will help you figure out the best way to accomplish your goals and keep track of how much you are receiving as returns. Basically, you need to view investment in marketing as an investment in the long-term prosperity of your business.

Do something different if you want different results

Some optometrists may refuse to acknowledge the growing field of technology and would rather stick to the older ways of advertising or following the crowd. Think of creative ways to get your message across in your community. Guerrilla marketing techniques are creative cost effective ways to market yourself. Digital Marketing has grown and will continue to grow, but think beyond the traditional Facebook ad or google ad. There is fierce competition to win the battle of the rankings on google.  Google is very important, but don’t forget about the 2nd largest search engine YouTube!

New Age of Referrals

Another method of increasing your marketing fluency is through referrals. Work on establishing a good working relationship with your patients and subtly urge them to refer you to anyone near them who may be in need of an optometrist. People often tend to trust the word of their family and friends who may have tried the service previously. The New age of referrals is via social media reviews.   It is almost necessary for business owners to be alert about how they are being reviewed on social media, sites, and forums. This is important because this also plays into the entire referral concept. If the people close to the potential patient have not tried an optometrist then they will resort to looking online for suggestions, or if they do hear a name such as your office they will make sure to have a look at your reviews before making their visit.

You can encourage your customers to give you positive reviews online, some optometrists have software that will email or text  the patients as they depart from the office. In order to be successful in this day and age, you will have to get rid of the older methods that have no value anymore and try something new. Strategically think of marketing as an long term investment for massive growth. You don’t just want to throw the fish net and see what you can catch but be able to attract the fish that you are looking for!

A Different Approach on How to Compete with Online Retailers

E-commerce business has grown tremendously over the years and will continue to innovate and revolutionize how our patients seek knowledge, choose providers and purchase health care products. Emotional branding could be a different approach on how optometrists can compete with online retailers. It can be a way to provide the best customer service as consumer trends change and seek more of an experience than price orientated as focused on by the baby boomer generation.

Understanding what might trigger a patient emotionally to buy products or seek services from your office can be a way to combat online retailers and create loyalty and retention.   Tapping into the emotions of your patients from the first interaction to promote your service or products is called Emotional Branding.   Your brand image is very powerful. It triggers your patients to engage with you. Once you have them engaging with you, emotional branding builds those lasting relationships that creates patient retention, loyalty and trust.

 

Call to Action Plan on Emotional Branding.

 

  1. Storytelling– The patient brand experience depends on it.  The way you create emotional engagement is critical to getting the results that you want whether it is making a sale, creating patient retention or building a reputation. Create a story of you! Let your patients or potential patients know who you are. A Parent, animal lover or sports fan whatever it is promote it in the office, via eblasts or social media to create a personalized approach to your brand strategy. Engage your patients and learn what has attracted them to you. Understand the lifestyle of your patients and promote products or services that your patients will benefit from. You want to know what triggers them to choose your office. Promoting yourself through storytelling is a powerful way to get patients talking about your office and referring others. Storytelling creates a  brand story that educates patients, inspires them or makes them feel something. Those feelings create lastly impressions that keep people coming back and not going to your competitor. Let your patients know about your volunteer work as an optometrist, your struggles and accomplishments, provide a “human effect” that online retailers can’t compete with. Your goal is to make them feel or experience something during the interaction.
  2. Emotional Drivers– Once you have successfully promoted your brand through storytelling and understand what your patients want. You can determine which emotional drivers influence your patients.  Some emotional drivers in your optometry office include being healthy, improving appearance and self confidence. Knowledgeable ODs can use these drivers to cultivate personalized approach to the treatment plan, recommendation of products and ultimately a defensive strategy to online retailers.
  3. Consistency – People don’t like change if they are comfortable and happy with your services. They are used to a certain experience and value. Develop a brand specific strategy that is inviting to your patients. Whether it be that your services are provided on a timely manner or a friendly environment for families, being consistent will differentiate your office from online retailers. The value and emotional experience that your patients feel outweighs e-commerce pricing. When returning patients ask about your vacation or children you have successfully accomplished the art of emotional branding.

 

Podcast

Creative Marketing with Dr Asma Alsalameh

Corporate Optometry Nation
Creative Marketing with Dr Asma Alsalameh







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Dr Asma Alsalmeh sits down with the Corporate Optometry nation podcast to discuss creative marketing techniques to grow your optometric practice in corporate optometry. Being a sublease OD has its advantages with the corporate optical having the ability to market at a high level. Many corporate opticals will only advertise materials and promotions but not the eye exam. As a business owner you need to acknowledge that marketing is an investment in your practice not an expense. Listen in to the newest podcast to learn how this OD took a new sublease and found opportunities to expand her business with creative marketing techniques at an affordable price!