Reach the Right Audience for your Marketing Campaigns
If you've ever conducted an advertising or marketing campaign for contact lenses, you were probably not overwhelmed with the results of your efforts. While a number of factors likely contributed to the campaign's poor performance, this article will address what I believe is one of the most important reasons why contact lens marketing campaigns fail: an improperly targeted audience.
What Lenses Do Patients Want?
Historical demographic information about contact lens wearers focuses primarily on the entire population and is very broad in scope. Until recently, eyecare practitioners haven't been able to readily access demographic information for consumers who express an interest in a particular brand of contact lenses. (Visit ResMarkConsulting.com to request a free copy of Contact Lens Brand Demographics: A Guide to Who Wants Which Brands). This meant that if you wanted to narrow the target audience for a particular contact lens brand offering, you had to guess the target demographic.
In reality, because eyecare practitioners don't have targeted demographic information readily available, what typically happens is that everyone gets sent the same broad marketing message. Response rates for this type of campaign tend to be very low because the message misses the mark (is off target) for a large portion (segment) of the recipients.
Too many practitioners have made this mistake, decided that direct marketing is too expensive or just doesn't work and subsequently given up trying to promote contact lens wear in their practice through ongoing marketing activities.
The fundamental problems here are a lack of understanding customer segmentation and its relationship to targeted marketing as well as a lack of benchmark demographic data to use as a target. I'll explain the importance of customer/patient segmenting and why targeting improves marketing results.
Why Segmentation Works
Imagine you have $1,000 to spend on a direct mail campaign. For simplicity's sake we'll assume your cost per piece is $1.00. If you mail 1,000 pieces (all the same) to the first 1,000 patient names in your mailing list, you shouldn't expect more than 10 appointments (a 1 percent to 2 percent response rate with a 50 percent conversion rate). This means each appointment costs $100.
If you segment your mailing list to meet certain target market criteria (sex, age, prescription needs) and create three or four highly targeted, product-specific direct marketing pieces, a response rate of 10 percent is not uncommon. Applying the same 50 percent appointment conversion rate yields 50 appointments, each costing only $20.
Of course, segmenting and targeting takes more work (which is why most small business owners/marketers don't do it), but this example highlights the benefits of completing the task.
Customer segmentation is the subdivision of a market into discrete customer groups that share similar characteristics. Customer segmentation can be a powerful means to identify unmet customer needs. Companies that identify underserved segments can then outperform the competition by developing uniquely appealing offers.
Customer segmentation procedures include:
* Deciding what data will be collected and how it will be gathered.
* Collecting and integrating data from various sources.
* Developing methods of data analysis for segmentation.
* Establishing effective communication among relevant business units (such as marketing and customer service) about the segmentation.
* Implementing applications to effectively deal with the data and to respond to the information it provides.
You essentially already collect all of the pertinent customer data: age, sex and prescription. You can garner additional information from a patient's history and/or lifestyle questionnaire (income range, family status, etc.). The most common problem you'll face is how to access this patient data to create segments.
If you're still running your practice using paper files, the first thing that you need to do is purchase or create a customer/patient management database. Consider hiring a computer-savvy high school student who could create and maintain a database for you on a part-time basis. The more data points for each patient you can capture, the more accurately you'll be able to drill down to find the perfect segment that, on paper, should ideally meet your target group criteria.
Traditional targeting follows an analysis of your customer base to find your most profitable segments and target those segments for your marketing campaigns.
Reverse engineered targeting follows an analysis of the profitable/growing consumer segments and targeting the prospects that should respond similarly to the current market trends based on shared similarities (see example in sidebar).
Once you've completed the tasks of analyzing your target market and segmenting your customers/patients, the next step is to position your offer. Positioning is an attempt to show a product or service in a manner that meets certain desired wants or needs of your target audience. For example, a female post-menopausal daily disposable wearer is probably more interested in the benefits of comfort and moisture as opposed to a teenage daily disposable wearer who is more interested in the ease and convenience of a wear-once-and-throw-away modality.
The goal of positioning is to underscore one or two characteristics that make a product or service stand out in the minds of consumers as the answer to their wants/needs. Positioning should be the result of in-depth consumer market research - finding out what consumers want (benefits) and how a product/service can meet those needs.
While most independent eyecare practitioners don't have the resources to conduct their own market research, the bulk of the consumer research has already been done by contact lens manufacturers. Look at their various marketing and advertising campaigns to see how they position their products to various segments. Combine that information with what you know to be common sense and position each offer appropriately.
Get More Bang for Your Marketing Buck
A focused, targeted marketing campaign will help you achieve a higher success rate and higher return on your marketing investment compared to a broad marketing message that you send to everyone (and that you target to no one in particular) just to see what sticks.
How Targeting Leads to Success
Mr. Jones, a hypothetical 38-year-old spectacle-wearing patient, was recently online researching Night & Day (CIBA Vision) contact lenses. If you knew this and proactively marketed Night & Day contact lenses to him, chances are high that he would respond favorably to your direct marketing communications highlighting the benefits of Night & Day contact lenses.
Knowing that 70 percent of the online searches for the keyword phrase Night & Day contact lenses were conducted by a male searcher and that the top two age brackets were 35 years to 49 years (23 percent) and under 18 (21 percent), would significantly narrow down the potential target audience for proactive marketing communications about this lens product.
David M. Pearce is president of Responsible Marketing Consulting Services (www.resmarkconsulting.com ), a consultancy for eyecare professionals who want help marketing their practice. Mr. Pearce can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 877-RESMARK.