Article

The Business of Contact Lenses

Finding Your Marketing Point of Focus

The Business of Contact Lenses

Finding Your Marketing Point of Focus

BY GARY GERBER, OD

Your practice home page says, “We have 23 years of experience fitting contact lenses. Our optical boutique features the top fashion designer eyewear. Our staff is knowledgeable, caring, and well trained” (by the way, dogs are trained, staff are educated). It continues with: “We accept most insurance plans and have convenient hours, plenty of parking, and affordable fees. Our equipment is state of the art.”

Question: Is there anything that you don’t have or do? Sure seems like a complete list. What’s the problem? A loss of focus leads to a lack of credibility.

The Food Service Analogy

Could a high-end steak restaurant add cheeseburgers and BLTs to its menu? Of course. But, if it did, it’d lose internal logistics direction focus on preparing steaks. What may start as “It’s OK if the bread for the BLT is a little soggy from wet lettuce, because it’s only a BLT” could morph into less commitment, caring, and concern for its flagship steak products. As a result, a new lower bar has been internally erected. Externally, from the customer-facing side, the steak place just became a little less special with the addition of random items to the menu.

I don’t like chicken. Regardless, after a speaking event in Oakland, CA, a practitioner insisted on taking me to Bakesale Betty. He said it was an icon in the community, and the very long line out the door and down the street was a testament to that. And, my being annoyed at waiting in line (for anything), let alone a chicken sandwich I really didn’t want, was offset by my wondering how Betty pulled off this seemingly impossible marketing and branding miracle. This kind of pent-up demand for a sandwich was unfathomable to me.

I’ll admit it, while I still don’t like chicken, it was pretty good! But you are probably wondering what the point in all this is. Betty doesn’t promote a large menu or talk about her convenient location or talented cooks. She sells really good chicken sandwiches—every time, all day long.

What’s Your Signature Dish?

What’s the chicken sandwich that should be on your web site? If it’s the full smorgasbord of features listed above, you’ve got a marketing problem. To pare down the list, consider this simple fact: By virtue of your very existence and the letters after your name, prospective patients already have a preconceived cursory expectation about your practice.

For one, because they know that you’re an eyecare professional, they think that you possess, at a minimum, the necessary clinical acumen to take care of them. While they might not expect the best technology, like the rest of the world around them, they expect that you’re at least practicing in the 21st century. As far as your “caring and well-trained” staff, do you really think they’d expect otherwise? For that matter, would they expect inconvenient hours, exorbitant fees, and horrible-looking, dated frames?

The solution is to find your marketing point of focus, the few things that you want to own in the minds of your patients and prospective patients; truthfully, one is best, anything more is less effective. Practitioners are often hesitant with this because they think, “If I try to own dry eye, I have to give up high-end eyeglasses.” That’s only partially true. If you successfully build your dry eye practice, your eyeglass sales will likely suffer. But, with planning and fiscal forethought, the incremental income from your dry eye practice should eclipse any lost eyeglass business. And using this approach doesn’t mean that you’re out of the eyeglass business completely. Betty sells dessert with her sandwiches. CLS


Dr. Gerber is the president of the Power Practice, a company offering proven and comprehensive practice and profit building systems. You can reach him at www.PowerPractice.com and follow him on Twitter @PowerYourDream.