Define your product, grow your practice

May 1, 2010

Many doctors want to increase the number of patients and the profitability of their practices but don't know where to direct their marketing efforts in a society increasingly splintered by multimedia.

Key Points

Atlanta-Many doctors want to increase the number of patients and the profitability of their practices but don't know where to direct their marketing efforts in a society increasingly splintered by multimedia. Gary Gerber, OD, founder and senior consultant, The Power Practice, Franklin Lakes, NJ, has a tip: don't worry about it.

Distinguish what you sell

Similarly, he said optometrists offer products, such as contact lenses, progressive lenses, and eye examinations; but they sell peace of mind, a better quality of life, and the emotional benefits of choosing a certain product.

Understanding this distinction can help clinicians get an edge on the competition; since, in almost all markets, there will be many others who also sell contact lenses.

"If you can sell the ability of contact lenses to change your life and give you freedom and self-confidence, you won't be competing with as many practitioners," Dr. Gerber said.

Campaign tips

Dr. Gerber also offered tips on carrying out a campaign. First, remember that effective marketing is always consistent and repetitive. "Stick with your core message and make sure it percolates through all of your marketing," he emphasized.

He also noted that marketing encompasses many strategies or tools besides use of mass communication media. For example, telephone surveys can double as sales tools, audio and videotapes can be recorded during in-office seminars and given to prospective patients, the practice can sponsor an award or event, or it can offer free products or services to certain groups. Doctors can also use e-mail marketing to reach current patients, although it needs to be carefully designed and tested to avoid being targeted by spam filters.

"Very few doctors do this, yet they have the capability of doing it very successfully," Dr. Gerber said. "There is a high chance that if it comes from a doctor, it won't be deleted like regular spam."