and Specify Your Marketing Message
GARY GERBER, OD
of your ad says, "We offer a large selection of contact lenses." Your prospect
reads this and thinks, "Oh, really? Didn't I just read a similar message from
the tire store? Or was it the
cell phone store? Maybe the grocery store?"
With the thousands of marketing impressions your patients receive,
putting out vague statements centered on "the best" or "the biggest" will set your
marketing efforts up for failure. Messages espousing superiority in whatever category
you choose selection, price, clinical expertise or technology are
no longer believable because prospective patients have seen it or heard it, and
not gotten the goods delivered many times over not necessarily from your
office, but from advertisers who promised "the best" and didn't deliver. These negative
consumer experiences are now affecting your ability to reach prospective patients.
What's the Patient Benefit?
Be specific and explain in concrete language what sets your practice
apart from the pack. Use terminology patients can relate to and grasp without having
to invest any time or cerebral energy. Otherwise, they'll gloss over your content
and move on.
For example, "Because we stock 25,000 contact lenses in our practice,
we're able to fit 98 percent of patients the same day they're seen" is more compelling
than, "We have a large inventory of contact lenses." Similarly, your "Well-trained
staff" will sound better trained if "Our staff has 26 combined years of experience
and undergoes more than 65 hours per year of ongoing training and education." In
fact, these statements which are all features of your practice can
be stated as patient benefits and become even more compelling and meaningful to
Continuing with the inventory example above, take a look at what
25,000 lenses means to a prospective patient. First, is that a lot or a little?
Sure sounds like a lot to us, but to a patient, perhaps they think 1 million lenses
is the number that qualifies as a lot. So, use the concept as a patient benefit
instead of a practice feature.
"We know you're busy that's why we keep 25,000 lenses in
stock. Having enough lenses to fit 98 percent of patients the same day means you
can spend your time enjoying your lenses instead of sitting in our office."
The benefits of "We offer evening hours" might not be readily
apparent to patients who need the advantages given to them more directly. "Located
across from the commuter train station, we're open until 8 pm so you can visit us
on the way home from work."
Stay on Message
These concepts don't only apply to advertising. The way you and
your staff communicate with your patients in your practice verbally, with
point of purchase materials or telephone scripts, etc., should have the underlying
theme of specificity of benefits in place.
When a prospective patient calls and asks, "What are your hours?"
your staff should relay the same specific message when they answer, "We know you're
busy so we're here when you need us. We're open until 8 pm, two nights per week."
Get to the Point
David Olgilvy, the godfather of advertising, warned copywriters
to avoid puffery and challenged them to write pointed copy that sells products.
Olgilvy's advice rings true in a contact lens practice, and astute practitioners
will ensure that all of their patient communications are to the point and stated
in such a simple way that patients easily relate to their benefits.
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
Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: June 2006