Effective Marketing Combines Right Mix of Media and Timing
BY GARY GERBER, OD
Our consultants routinely hear these tepid comments when they ask practitioners to describe their marketing efforts. "I tried newsletters and they were pretty good." "Newspaper ads were so-so." "E-mailing patients was okay, I guess."
Generally, these doctors tried one type of media (print, radio, Internet), got a fair to poor response and then bounced to another type. Let's take a closer look at why this happens and how to formulate the right combination of media for your practice.
Don't Ask Too Much
Mixing media can be a recipe for a marketing disaster. For example, if you're using e-mail to communicate with patients, don't ask them to suddenly respond by telephone. Similarly, asking prospects who see your newspaper ad to "learn more by visiting our Web site" may be asking too much. It's probably easier for them to call you. These are fine lines that you need to carefully consider. Don't put too much of a burden on your prospects to respond or they won't.
Mixing Messages and Media
Be critical about how you mix your media and messages. As seen in our previous lukewarm examples, a small subset of patients respond to newsletters and some to the newspaper. That shows that not all prospects will respond equally to all messages, let alone messages in different media. The obvious example here is that only patients who have computer and Internet access view e-mail. Of course, viewing is one thing and responding is quite another. Similarly, those who spend hours online are less likely to respond to magazine ads.
Keep the media in mind as you configure your message, too. A high-tech, graphic-rich environment might work best online. Telling the same story in a 15 second radio spot is very different. To ensure continuity and build your brand, you want to get the same core message across, but you have to do it much more succinctly on radio than online.
Toggle Back and Forth
If you don't have the budget to use multiple media simultaneously, which is usually the preferred route, then choose two and switch back and forth between them. A few months later, after carefully measuring which had the lesser response, drop that media and substitute another. For example, you could try:
Week one = newspaper
Week two = radio
Week three = newspaper
Week four = radio
Let's say after trying this for about eight weeks, you find that the newspaper is underperforming. At this point, continue the radio but substitute a mailing campaign and continue that for another eight weeks.
Also be careful to track synergies. In this example, it's possible that while newspapers didn't work well with radio, they might have worked better together with a mailing campaign.
Consider the Message
The key to this is to realize that different triggers within different media motivate different subsets of prospects to contact your office. Of course, you must consider the message (are you selling what people really want/need to buy?) as well as the construction of the ad itself. All the toggling and media mixing in the world can't overcome a poorly designed message or compensate for you not having a good story to tell.
So, the next time you want to increase the volume of daily disposable or continuous wear lenses you're fitting, keep in mind that, like baking a cake, the right mix and timing of ingredients will yield the best results.
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 DrGerber@PowerPractice.com.