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Practical management EP 9: Understanding the difference between branding & marketing


In this week's podcast episode with Maria Sampalis, OD, hear how to differentiate between branding and marketing.

Maria Sampalis, OD, owner of Sampalis Eye Care in Cranston and Providence, Rhode Island, sat down with Optometry Times®' editor Kassi Jackson to talk all-things practice management.

Editor's note: This transcript has been edited for clarity


Alright, so we've talked about branding, we've talked about increasing net revenue. Now let's talk about marketing. And marketing and branding can kind of get muddled. So how do you help practitioners understand the difference and the importance of each one?


Yeah. So you know, branding's import; it's what other people say about you when you're not around, and the regular reputation is in the community and how people feel about you as a doctor and as your company as a whole.

But marketing super important, too. And a lot of doctors don't market.

I mean, a lot of practices should be marketing from 1-4% of their revenue, using [inaudible] marketing efforts—established patients and attracting new patients.

I think we all focus on a new patients, which is important, but we also—less cost is to get the established patients, "I've always seen you, but haven't been there in a couple of years." So eblasts are super effective, you can do that with your recall with your EMR—that's affordable, and you can do that in-house. And either doing a promotion or just saying, "Hey, we haven't seen you in a while," or, "We have availabilities the next couple of weeks, during [a] slow time of the year." Those email promotions are important.

We've done some postcards, too, out there for established patients we haven't seen. That's been important. And even just downtime. You know, our front desk sometimes will just call patients and say, "We haven't seen you in a while and I think you're due for eye exam."

The other thing, too, is the marketing is very important [and] you want to stay on top of it in your practice, too, even if you don't have exact—you know, you posted on on Facebook, and you didn't get 10 patients making an appointment. Sometimes it's just getting your name out there. And sooner or later they'll follow and just getting you known as the expert in the industry.

For $10, boost a Facebook post to show that you're the eye care professional, that they need to see, maybe they'll consider you for next year [inaudible] if they like your page—because that's important. Having them like your page, you can present great content, kind of differentiate yourself from other practitioners in the area. And it's free marketing once they like your page. So that's also very important.

Now the other thing, too, is when you want to attract new patients, a lot of it, as well—that I've been getting new patients—is really from word-of-mouth referrals [and] the new way to do so is reviews. So we've been focusing a lot on getting great reviews out there about our office, and a lot of the new patients will find us because we had good reviews. So that also brings you up in the SEO rankings on Google. So that's been important, as well.

And then you know, also just putting the time in to write content for your blog so that brings you out as well as the expert in the industry. The more blogs you do the farther ahead you are than your competitors locally in the area, then that's been important, as well.

And marketing can be really guerilla marketing where it's very affordable, cheap thing to do, or you know, you can pay whether it's Google, postcards, attracting new patients, or just sponsoring a local soccer team, just giving back to the community.

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