Beware of Stale Tales When Marketing Your Lens
BY GARY GERBER, OD
"Our (fill in the blank) offers a large selection,
friendly and knowledgeable staff, high-quality service and affordable prices." If
you filled in the previous sentence with "contact lens practice," try
it to "electronics store" or "tire and auto parts center" or even "pet shop." You'll
see that the sentence is so bland and generic that regardless of the business entity
it refers to, it still makes sense. That's because, at very least, consumers expect
these most basic traits in their transactions with any business.
Yet these hackneyed phrases do nothing to support something
special that the business or your practice might really have to offer patients.
In fact, they're so overused and unnecessary that they commonly take up valuable
advertising real estate that you could use to say something meaningful that genuinely
sets you apart from your competitors.
Stand Out on the Page
Consider a Yellow Pages ad with these typical bullet points:
Fit all types of lenses
Most insurances accepted
Is there even any rudimentary contact lens practice that can't
lay claim to those four features? If you have one, take a look at your Yellow Pages
ad and see how it compares to the above bullets, as well as to your competitors'
ads. Putting yourself in a patient's place, is there anything compelling enough
in your ad to cause you to think, "This practice is the one I'm going to!"?
Flaunt Your Specialty
The challenge you have in communicating an effective ad message
is to find an attribute or quality that you possess and your competitors don't.
Once you find it, it's a good idea to exploit it to the exclusion of everything
else. For example, if you really do have the lowest fees in town, say so. If you
have technology that's not available elsewhere, then flaunt it. And flaunt it to
the exclusion of the other worn-out phrases.
If you're using wavefront aberrometry to assist you in fitting
contact lenses, then "friendly and knowledgeable staff" and "convenient office hours"
are fluff detractors from what could be a powerful marketing piece.
Instead of talking about your huge lens inventory, zoom in on
how you use space-age technology to assure a customized perfect fit. From here,
expound on the benefits of that fit. For example, "Vision you won't get with off-the-rack
lenses and comfort that rivals an old pair of slippers."
The Net Result
If you advertise "We accept most insurance plans," you shouldn't
be surprised if your practice is suffering from the modern contagion of contact
lens practices a high gross, high volume, low net practice. After all, you're
soliciting patients that put you in that exact place.
This comment isn't intended to give advice regarding which plans
you should join or drop or to tell you how to set your fees. It's pointing out that
if you advertise and promote that you "accept most insurance plans," don't be surprised
if most patients who walk through your door have insurance.
Set Yourself Apart
The easy part of marketing a healthy and profitable contact lens
practice is deciding whether to take an ad in the newspaper or to mail a letter.
The hard part is deciding what to say and finding those core traits, characteristics
and features that your competitors can't claim. If you can't find anything, keep
looking or be prepared for your vanilla message to result in a middle-of-the-bell-curve
Dr. Gerber is the president
of the Power Practice – a company offering consulting, seminars and software
solutions for optometrists. You can reach him at (800) 867-9303 or
Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: December 2006