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Here’s my advice on making the absolute most out of every event.
The views expressed here belong to the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Optometry Times or UBM Medica.
As summer winds down, we have entered the final four months of festivals, parades, health fairs, and trade shows for this year. As a first-year business owner, I have found it extremely beneficial to partake in these events and get out in my community.
Previously from Dr. Denton: 6 tips to navigating the insurance game
Whether your business has been around for six months or 50 years, it’s hard to deny the positive effect of supporting your community.
It’s just as important to be intentional about your participation so that the time and money invested doesn’t go to waste. Here’s my advice on making the absolute most out of every event.
I always evaluate opportunities in terms of return on investment (ROI). If you’re thinking in terms of ROI, it will help guide you in decisions made later. Consider these questions:
• What is the entrance fee?
• How many giveaways am I investing in?
• Am I giving something away as a door prize or raffle gift?
• How long will I need to be out of the office or pay someone else to man the booth?
Considering these factors, I come up with a number of new patients who need to be generated from this event to make it worthwhile. When the opportunity to set up a booth or display is presented to you, think hard about the cost, the opportunity, and if the event is a good fit for your business and the brand you’re creating.
Related: 6 steps to open a practice
Some events just are not. Stay true to your practice’s vision.
Two examples for consideration:
•One health fair that I attended has a low entrance fee, the attendees have the insurance that I take, and I have already seen a fair number of people as patients. Because I know there is a large potential pool of patients and it won’t take a great deal of money to attend, I go big on giveaways. I give away several pairs of sunglasses and give away plenty of non-raffle items with our logo. This health fair results in a high rate of conversion to new patients.
• Another local event has a higher cost of admission. Because the public is welcome, my participation with any particular attendees’ insurance plan is unknown. It is less likely that I will end up converting anyone to my patient at this event, so I go smaller with the giveaways. I go because attendance is high, and I focus on building brand recognition with attendees. This particular event nets very few new patients from the attendees, but I also make a concerted effort at this event to network with the other businesses present-resulting in new traffic to the business.
My three goals when attending any event are:
• Increase brand recognition
• Gain new patients
• Collect potential patient information
There is a temptation to just show up, set up a static booth, and call it a day. Don’t give in to that temptation.
In just over a year, we have collected 1,000 email and physical addresses for our office mailing list.
How? We give away something at every event. To enter to win, a person has to submit his name and information. Afterwards, we input the information into a demographics list. If you consider that it may take a few “touches” before a patient decides to schedule with you, a list is a wonderful tool.
We make personal contact at the event, then the person is on our mailing lists. Once on the mailing list, the person receives additional information from us, including newsletters and invitations to our in-office events.
We have online appointment scheduling at our practice. If Wi-Fi is available at an event, you can bet I will have a tablet with our scheduling page pulled up. I include a sign that says, “Schedule now” and it works!
How many times have you been out and about, and someone says, “Gosh, I have been meaning to schedule with you, I’ll have to call sometime next week and get in.”
Imagine handing her the tablet and saying, “No need, you can access my schedule here.”
Related: 4 steps to opening a practice cold
I know that is vague. It’s not easy to find out what people want. Try to give away something with your logo that people will actually use and their friends and family will see. Water bottles and cups go over well. So do mirrors.
Giving away something people want is a moving target and varies based on geography as well as patient demographic. If you spend some time thinking about your patients, what would they find useful?
Not only is it beneficial to your practice to collect information from possible patients, it is also helpful to use the opportunity to encourage them to engage online with your business.
Consider a sign or poster showing some of your unique social media content. Include on the poster the logos of all social media networks your practice participates in.
Related: The ROI of an MBA for an OD
One of my best trade show ideas was a photo wall with glasses as props. I had tons of people stopping by all day to take photos with their friends. I also gained content for my social media pages in the process. I have seen wheel-of-fortune-esque spinning wheels work well, too.
If possible, try to make your booth have the same feel as your office. Everything associated with your brand should have the same aesthetic and feel. When you have a brand-new office, it’s hard to get people to visit it, so bring your office to them. If your booth is aesthetically pleasing and interesting, who knows, you just might get them to stop by your actual office!