The Business of Contact Lenses

The Right Message in the Right Place at the Right Time

The Business of Contact Lenses

The Right Message in the Right Place at the Right Time

By Gary Gerber, OD

I recently stayed in a large high-rise hotel in a major city. Looking out my window, I saw a phone number painted on the rooftop of a smaller building far below me. My first reaction was, “What business could benefit by marketing to airline passengers flying over their building?” I next thought, “Hmmm. That can't be the reason. As big as those numbers are, they wouldn't be legible from an airplane—and besides, planes don't fly over this part of the city.” An instant later, when I saw the Hertz logo on the same building, I realized that the number wasn't there for air travelers. It was there for me and the other hundreds of guests at the hotel, who might also be looking out their windows and might also need a rental car.

What message are you sending about your contact lens practice? And like the Hertz phone number, is it the right message, in the right place at the right time?

Hitting Your Target Audience

Consistency and repetition of the core unique attributes of your practice are the hallmark of a good marketing program. However, those defining characteristics may need to be tweaked and adjusted for different media. For example, if your practice is centered on helping previously unsuccessful patients wear contact lenses, a radio spot might be more laser focused on that exact point compared to the content on your Web site or social media site. While testimonials are usually beneficial, they might give you more marketing push on the radio than online. Additionally, the demographics of those that hear or see your message might be different, necessitating some changes in content. For example, a radio listener may be older. So, previous failure due to needing a presbyopic correction might score more leads compared with talking about astigmatism.

When reviewing in-office marketing materials, just like Hertz, make sure that anything you display is in the optimal position in your practice both physically and psychologically. For example, a great place to display plano sunglasses and associated marketing items is in the same area where you show new contact lens wearers how to care for their lenses. It's at that time when they are most receptive to “finally being able to wear cool sunglasses.”

Make sure that things like posters or brochures are in a place where patients can easily see them, not covered by other items, and logically displayed. For example, patients would rightfully be confused by a poster for multifocal contact lenses that is right next to one for refractive surgery. And while I strongly agree that contact lens wearers need eyeglasses with their correct prescription, displaying a poster about AR lenses on the same wall next to a poster about daily disposable lenses is information overload. In cases like that, the net result may be for a patient to avoid information assimilation and tune out both messages.

Timing Your Message

Allergy season is upon us. If the practice above were focusing on alleviating allergy symptoms and extending wearing time for allergy-suffering contact lens wearers, they'd probably have more success doing it now than in the dead of winter. This timing concept usually spreads across any form of media. Meaning, if it's allergy season for those who get a direct mail piece, it's also allergy season for those who receive an email or visit your Web site.

You don't need to paint your office phone number on the roof of your building. However, given the principles above, if you practice next to a small airport with lots of hobbyist pilots, maybe you should. 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