Article Date: 11/1/2003

contact lens economics
Patients Love Their Contact Lenses -- Read All About It
BY GARY GERBER, OD

We all have contact lens patients who have communicated to us the various ways that their lenses have affected their lives. We've all heard comments such as, "I love my new contact lenses!  Thank you!" "My golf game has improved!"

"My son has had such a positive change in his personality since getting his new contact lenses!"

Indeed, it is uncommon to hear the opposite. Practitioners who have marketing know-how recognize that they should save and "exploit" glowing reviews such as those above for the powerful marketing tools that they are.

Here are some ways to build your practice by riding on the coat tails of your patients' influential comments.

HIPAA Aside, Ask First

Ask permission first. Even without HIPAA concerns, you should still ask your patients' permission to use their comments. Once you receive this (in writing) consider the following strategies:

* Set up a program to make digital photography part of your fitting process. Take images before (with eyeglasses) and after (without eyeglasses) you fit patients with their lenses. Then display these photos prominently in your waiting area.

And, if your patients don't mind, consider displaying short narratives, in each patient's own handwriting, that accompany each portrait.

Once you set up this gallery, you can get a lot of extra marketing mileage from it. Put it on your Web site, office brochures, etc. Remember: If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a picture with an endorsement is worth at least that many.

You can also videotape patients who allow you to interview them. But rather than asking simple yes-or-no questions such as, "Do you like your contact lenses?" ask open-ended questions such as, "How has your life changed since we fit you with contact lenses?" or, "What has it been like skiing without having to wear your eyeglasses?" As with the photo gallery, you can link these short video clips to your Web site, run them on in-office video loops, e-mail them to patients or put them on a DVD and send them to prospective patients.

Display any narratives or "fan mail" from patients in a stand-alone book form. Some of my clients include these narratives, or "achievement anecdotes," in a readily accessible photo album format. Typical achievement anecdotes are stories about new found success in sports and changes in a child's personality from shy to extroverted. Scan these and keep them on your office computer. When your patients or a shopper asks for information about lenses, include these with anything you send or e-mail.

You Have to Start Somewhere

If you don't ask, you don't receive. Virtually every successful patient is a source of some comment. If your practice is new, don't be shy about asking patients to write a short sentence or two about their new contact lenses. Most people are more than happy to share their comments.

Let the Old Bait the New

If you are going to embark on an external marketing campaign, hunt through all of the above for unique sound bites or short, direct and to-the-point quotes that you can include in your ads.

One client used a patient quote as the cornerstone of a successful newspaper and direct-mail campaign. As is the case with most successful marketing, the words of an end user (a patient in our case) are usually more effective and credible than anything we can dream up ourselves.

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 at DrGerber@PowerPractice.com.

 


Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: November 2003