Article Date: 11/1/2006

contact lens economics
Market Your Contact Lens Practice — Over and Over Again

BY GARY GERBER, OD

Last month I said we need to recognize that technology that seems commonplace and mundane to us might seem earth shattering to our patients. This month I'll talk about one of the most overlooked and easiest to use marketing weapons in your arsenal: Repetition.

Many of us struggle unnecessarily to constantly come up with new marketing ideas and messages. If you're constantly marketing to your patients because you want to keep your name and message in front of them, that's great — as long as you do indeed keep your name and message in front of them. If you continually change your message, then you're doing more work than you have to and you're not taking advantage of the benefits of repetitive marketing.

Repetition Breeds Recognition

For example, while you may grow weary of the recall postcard you've been using and feel that you'd like to freshen up the message, be aware that you see these cards daily and your patients (hopefully) see them only once a year. If you've been mailing the same cards and they've been working — and that assumes you've been measuring the results — why would you change them? If you do, you potentially lose the visual recognition you've built through the years by sending the same card.

This is the reason why companies rarely — if ever — change logos or company colors. Coca Cola's image has looked nearly the same for years with only minor tweaks to its logo, colors and look and feel. BMW, Starbucks, Chevrolet, McDonald's and just about any other big company you can think of have their own distinct look and feel. Just saying their names conjures up vivid graphic images. That magical conjuring is only possible because they've all been consistent and repetitious in their marketing.

But Can't I Always Do Better?

Maybe. What if you've mailed a newsletter to your patients four times a year for the last 10 years and each month after mailing it you see an increase in business. Should you tamper with success? If you historically see a 20-percent bump in patients after each newsletter, how do you know whether making a change to the look and feel and freshening it up won't cause a 30-percent increase? You don't, unless you try.

Test and Tweak

In this case it's advisable to go slowly and to carefully test your new idea. In this example I would recommend that you make the changes but mail them only to a small percentage of patients and then carefully measure your results. If they're favorable, mail the changed newsletter to the rest of your patient population. If not, you haven't lost that much traction by only doing one new type of mailing to a very small segment of patients.

Another technique you can use to freshen up a potentially tired look is to make changes slowly. Graphic artists can help you morph a dated image into a new one in small stages. Instead of a wholesale change from a dated logo and colors to a new one, you can plan to make changes over a few months or even years. This will allow your current look and feel to keep working for you and still allow you to move things forward.

Proceed with Caution

If you consider changing your marketing, be careful and resist the urge to make the change for change's sake. Don't assume that because you're tired of how your marketing looks that your patients are also tired. After all, Campbell's soup has been "M'm! M'm! Good!" since 1930! CLS

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: November 2006