Article Date: 9/1/2004

contact lens economics
The Secret to Successful Contact Lens Marketing
BY GARY GERBER, OD

Don't those credit card companies understand that "no" means "no"? I counted. This week alone, I received eight separate mailings enticing me to sign up for another credit card. Last week I got six. The week before that, another eight. Don't these guys get it? I'm not interested. (Actually, I do open all of my junk mail, but only in the hopes of learning a new marketing tactic that I can adapt and share with my clients. But I doubt the credit card companies had that in mind when they added my name to their prospect lists).

Yet you have to wonder, because direct mail is one of the easiest media used to measure a response: If companies keep sending all of those solicitations, then someone, somewhere must be responding affirmatively.

Keep Consistent

One of the tenets of sound marketing is that consistency and repeatability lead to success. It's a rare event that a one-time marketing message -- be it a letter, e-mail, TV commercial, etc. -- is effective with only one exposure. Marketing experts know that for a message to become commonplace ("Where's the beef?") they must budget enough to afford this repeatability.

Additionally, coming at a prospect from multiple fronts with the same consistent message is also important. "Can you hear me now" is heard on TV, radio and is also "heard" in print.

Go for Quantity

Accordingly, contact lens practitioners who are attempting to grow their practices can learn from the basic marketing lesson of executing multiple assaults. Namely, if you tried a marketing program that (apparently) failed, it may have failed because you didn't run it long enough -- not because the message itself was weak or ineffectual.

Take the case of trying to increase your patient's acceptance of a new technology contact lens such as continuous wear silicone hydrogels. You may have a point-of-purchase piece in your waiting room that your sales rep left there. You notice that even though you continually replenish the brochures, few patients ask for the lenses. This being the case, and space being at a premium, you remove the brochures. After all, they're not working, right?

Your colleague down the street has the same brochure, but he asked the company for extras. He enclosed them with his recall mailing. When patients called for their appointment, his staff asked if they had questions about these new lenses (second exposure). When patients came into the office, there were pictures of patients on a "rogues gallery" bulletin board who had switched from their glasses to these new technology lenses (third exposure). When the patient entered the exam room, another counter card was visible for the patient to see while waiting for the doctor (fourth exposure). Guess which doctor fits more of these lenses?

Repetition Breeds Success

Promoting contact lenses, at its core, is no different then Wendy's promoting hamburgers or Verizon promoting cellular phone service. The message you send to prospective patients has to resonate if you want patients to respond. And it won't resonate if no one hears it.

For your contact lens marketing to be effective, it has to send a consistent message and that message has to be repetitive. For your contact lens marketing to be effective, it has to send a consistent message and that message has to be repetitive. For your contact lens marketing to be effective, it has to send a consistent message and that message has to be repetitive.

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.

 


Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: September 2004