Developing a comprehensive marketing plan may seem like an intimidating undertaking for some ophthalmologists or practice administrators, especially those who lack experience, are busy overseeing a new practice, or do not have a dedicated marketing person on hand. This article outlines a few of our favorite tips to help streamline and improve marketing for your ophthalmic practice.
1. Designate a dedicated specialist to streamline your marketing.
Designating a single person to manage your marketing campaign is the first step to take in streamlining your marketing efforts. Failure to designate a primary point of contact to coordinate your practice’s marketing strategies can result in delays and a diffusion of responsibility among staff.
Confusion about marketing responsibilities, expectations, or goals drastically dilutes your practice’s effectiveness; by assigning all marketing-related tasks to one person (and ensuring that marketing is their only job), you will be able to free up time for your other specialists to focus on their core competencies, all the while getting deep, focused work from your dedicated marketing specialist.
2. Use a multi-faceted, multimedia approach to capture prospects’ attention.
Prospective patients are not one-dimensional in terms of their response to marketing tactics. Some demographics you’re trying to reach may respond to traditional modes of advertising, such as TV commercials or ads in newspapers and telephone directories.
Nowadays, the majority of prospective patients will turn to the Internet to conduct a search, which makes it critical for your website to capture their attention. Consider implementing the following on your website to have the best shot at converting visitors into leads:
- Informative written content about the conditions you treat
- Images of your facility and the devices you use to treat patients
- Information about your staff, practice, and your mission
- Educational videos regarding the treatment experience
- Prominent contact information and the ability to request an appointment online
3. Network at annual professional meetings.
Professional organizations such as the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) host annual meetings for their members. In addition to covering best practices and new treatments, these professional meetings often feature exhibitors who specialize in marketing for ophthalmic practices (like us, for example!).
By networking with these specialists, you can meet valuable contacts who can provide guidance regarding your marketing strategies.
4. Feature case studies of satisfied patients.
In previous articles, we’ve highlighted the importance of having “social proof” in your marketing and your website. Case studies that highlight the experiences of specific patients are an excellent addition to your practice’s website.
Such case studies and testimonials enhance your credibility as an accomplished ophthalmologist and help to earn the trust of patients who are nervous about receiving ophthalmic care.
Effective elements to highlight in your case studies include:
- Patient testimonials regarding the quality of your care
- Before and after photos of patients (this is especially effective with oculoplastic surgery)
- Stories from patients regarding the specific ways that ophthalmic treatment improved their daily lives – this is key for getting prospective patients to relate to the stories being told
5. Promote your areas of expertise.
Ophthalmologists who work with specific types of patients or treat specific conditions or diseases should highlight their key areas of expertise or specialization through their marketing activities.
Examples of areas of expertise within the field of ophthalmology include neuro-ophthalmology, ocular oncology, and pediatric ophthalmology. You can communicate your area of expertise through posts on your website and through networking with other eye care professionals in your area.
6. Turn attention to the technology and medical devices in use at your practice
There’s a helpful framework for deciding what information to share online. The four best types of information to share follow the acronym H-H-T-T: Humor, Heartstrings, Technology, or Telling a story.
As an ophthalmologist, you have invested in state-of-the-art surgical microscopes, femtosecond lasers, and countless other devices to provide your patients with the most advanced quality of care.
Believe it or not, patients tend to be fascinated with the technology used, and nearly all patients want to know that your technology is the very best available. Featuring photos of your facility and updated medical devices on your website is an excellent marketing tool, as it illustrates your commitment to patient care.
7. Ask your patients for feedback.
Don’t overlook the important role that patient feedback can play in helping you improve your marketing practices and your quality of care. By soliciting feedback, you can gain useful insights into how patients respond to marketing messages and how your practice can more clearly communicate the value that you offer.
Surveys and post-care interviews are incredibly insightful tools that you can use by asking patients to:
- Describe their overall patient experience
- Rate their level of satisfaction with the quality of care they received
- Describe how they discovered your practice
- Uncover the primary reason why they chose your practice
- Indicate whether they would be willing to serve as a marketing reference
8. Enlist the support of an industry expert.
While all of these tips and tools can be helpful in bolstering your marketing prowess, perhaps the best way to create an organized marketing plan for your ophthalmic practice is to seek the guidance of a professional marketing agency.
Because not all marketing agencies are created equal, you should make sure to choose an agency with the following:
- Years of industry experience in healthcare marketing (bonus points if they focus deeply in one specific area, like ophthalmology)
- Proven success helping ophthalmic practices or medical device companies like yours grow their businesses
- The ability to educate ophthalmologists about which strategies they implement and why these are effective for the practice’s goals
Clearly, there are a number of ways to help your ophthalmic practice become your market’s most trusted resource for high quality eye care. From soliciting patient feedback to showcasing technology and clearly communicating marketing responsibilities, we hope these tips help you to build trust with existing patients, engage new patients, and help your ophthalmic practice grow flourish.