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Market Your Independent Practice

It is essential to market your independent practice to make it stand out amongst others in your area. It is inevitable that all businesses have competition from national chains and new mass entrants. 

Don’t compete, differentiate

Your patients may be asking questions about the price of contacts or glasses. Focus the conversation not on the material sales of eyeglasses or contacts, but on the quality of care.

Comprehensive eye exams help early detection of health risks such as diabetes. Your digital marketing should focus on the value you provide as an independent practice.

A 2010 study by Bain & Co identified 3 customer segments that independent eye care practices may be seeing:

  • Independent Loyalists: Consumers who receive eye exams and purchase glasses or contacts from independent optometrists;
  • Hybrid Spenders: Consumers who receive eye exam services from one type of location (typically independent optometrists) and purchase glasses or contacts from another type of location (such as retail chains);
  • Chain Loyalists: Consumers who receive eye exams and purchase glasses or contacts from retail chains.

Here are five marketing tactics to promote your independent practice to reach these customer segments and craft your message to attract them.

Website/Blog

  • When patients need comprehensive eye exams, they trust independent eyecare practices more.
  • Tell your story of how your practice provides eye care that is customized.
  • Write blog posts about care focusing more on ocular health than selling your glasses.
  • Consider eye care offerings that are not available at chains like Ortho-K.
  • Write narratives on how you provide the convenience of care when there is an urgency. Customers can expect to get lenses without errors as you control the whole experience.
  • Offer convenient tools on your website for people to fix appointments and contact you.
  • Write articles on seasonal tips that your patients should be doing to care for their eyes – dangers of blue light exposure, allergy and eyes etc.
  • Education on new treatments or technology you offer for eye care.

Social

  • Differentiate yourself with photos. Photos are very often a marketing tool that is not widely used. Show your practice’s convenience and comfort through photos.
  • Set up a regime for posting photos a couple of times per week. If you use the Surefire Local Marketing Cloud you can syndicate these photos not only on social networks but across different directories like Yelp and Google My Business.
  • Share your blog posts on social to increase the reach and get SEO benefits.

Email

  • This is a great tool to use to build your customer loyalty. Combine the email campaigns with your direct marketing campaigns about appointments.
  • Tips on saving money at your practice.
  • New treatment offers.
  • Summary of your blog posts.
  • New doctors added to your practice and employee news.

In office experience

  • This is one area where independent eyecare practices can excel as they control the entire experience. Use this to your advantage to showcase your excellence.
  • Set up systems to have your office staff mention to customers where they can review you online.

Community

  • Independent practices are very much part of a community, so ensure your patients know that.
  • If you are participating in local community events, contributing to a good cause –  mention it on your website, blog and email newsletters.
  • Hold open houses and customer events. Use the content created from these events to attract new patients.
  • Look for local community directories—like the county chamber of commerce, small local online and offline newspapers, etc—where you can write articles, and then link that back to your website.

The number one reason you started the business was that you wanted to take care of the health of the patient’s eyes. That is what you do the best. Use the digital tools you have at your disposal to tell your story and retain existing patients and obtain new patients to grow your practice.

Use the digital tools you have at your disposal to tell your story and retain existing patients and obtain new patients to grow your practice.

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Shashi Bellamkonda
Associate Editor, Internet & Social Media Marketing for odsonfb.com. Shashi Bellamkonda, Speaker, and Digital Marketing Expert is Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Surefire Local- The Local Marketing Cloud. Bellamkonda is also the Adjunct faculty member of Georgetown University teaching Digital Marketing Strategy, Search, Social and Mobile and Marketing Analytics to Marketing professionals. Shashi is passionate about helping small business and has spoken on Small Business and Marketing at conferences like SXSW, IABC, PRSA, Mid-Atlantic Summit, MarketingProfs and Affiliate Summit. Shashi Bellamkonda was honored by the Washington Business Journal's 2012 Washington Minority Business Leader award. he was previously featured in Washingtonian's Top 100 Tech Titans list in the Community and Thought leadership category of the Washington Tech Titans list: http://bit.ly/ttshashi and the Washington Business Journal called him the Social Listener http://bit.ly/wbjshashi.