Article Date: 8/1/2001

contact lens economics

Don't Keep Contact Lenses a Secret

BY WALTER D. WEST, OD, FAAO
AUGUST 2001

Marketing programs for your contact lens practice don't have to be difficult to plan or implement. Seasonal contact lens marketing strategies are available for every practice that you can easily plan ahead and execute in a timely fashion. You and your staff are certainly capable of identifying and planning these marketing programs for your practice, but it could be more efficient if you delegate this responsibility to an eager contact lens representative.

Consumer Marketing

Contact lens manufacturers are putting their money where their mouth is. For years contact lens sales representatives have visited contact lens practices across the country to encourage practitioners to fit more contact lenses. Problem is, practitioners were then and are now the true "end sales force" of those companies. If practitioners aren't fitting patients with contact lenses, the manufactures aren't "selling" contact lenses, easy as that.

Contact lens manufacturers now regularly promote contact lenses to the public by means of print and electronic media. These promotions are to a great degree educational and encourage utilization of specific product. Along with the willingness to promote contact lenses to the public, manufactures provide point-of-purchase and educational material for practitioners to use in their offices. The more proactive contact lens manufactures are now offering incentive rebates to patients to encourage utilization of specific product or specific quantities of product. Safe to say that we as practitioners now have everything we need to motivate even the most timid of prospective contact lens wearers.

Practitioner Marketing Responsibilities

Now that the contact lens manufactures have taken such an aggressive posture, it is time we as practitioners put forth more effort in presenting contact lens options to our patients. In fact, all of the print and electronic media, point-of-purchase marketing information and consumer rebates are all but ineffective if practitioners don't educate individual patients about contact lenses for vision correction. I often hear practitioners say that the reason they don't fit more contact lenses is that they are not interested in "selling" contact lenses to patients. I'm not interested in "selling" contact lenses either, but I am interested in educating patients on the topic of contact lenses.

Opportunity Knocks

Many patients across the country sit in examination rooms, interested in contact lenses because of information they received from mass media campaigns. Most never end up as contact lens wearers because their practitioners do not recommend contact lenses. You must provide your patients with information about contact lenses as an option for them. Carry national contact lens promotions through to your patients. Recognize that patients are aware of the dramatic growth in contact lens designs and innovations that make contact lenses an option for more wearers every year. Also, recognize that patients continue a relationship with your practice only because they perceive you as their best alternative not only for care, but learning about eyecare-related topics as well.

Dr. West practices in Brentwood, TN, and lectures nationally and internationally on contact lens and practice management topics.


Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: August 2001