MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS IS ONE OF THE HARDEST PARTS ABOUT BEING AN EYECARE PROVIDER (ECP). THE WAY NEW CUSTOMERS ARE ACQUIRED HAS CHANGED SIGNIFICANTLY OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS, MOVING AWAY FROM RELYING ON PRINT ADVERTISING, TELEVISION AND RADIO TO THE DIGITAL MARKETING LANDSCAPE. THIS HAS LEAD MANY PRACTICES BEHIND WHO HAVE NOT TAKEN THE TIME TO UPGRADE THEIR DIGITAL MARKETING SKILLS OR WHO CAN NOT AFFORD TO SPEND THE TIME TO DEDICATED ONLINE MARKETING.
By Sarah McGoldrick
4ECPs IS A BUSINESS RESOURCE FOR EYECARE PROFESSIONALS FOUNDED BY EYECARE EXPERTS DR. SCOT MORRIS OD &TRUDICHARESTRO, WHOHAVEDEDICATED THEIR CAREERS TO THE IMPROVEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE INDUSTRY. THIS COMPANY PROVIDES SOLUTIONS TO THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACING PRACTICE OWNERS AND EMPLOYEES. THESE INCLUDE FINDING THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO JOIN YOUR TEAM, EYECARE BUSINESS TRAINING TO ELEVATE THE PROFESSIONAL SKILLS OF THE MANAGEMENT AND TEAM AS WELL AS MARKETING FOR PATIENT ACQUISITION AND RETENTION IN A PROFITABLE MANNER.
4ECPs operates 3 unique but complementary divisions: Jobs, Training & Marketing.
The job site connects employees with employers, our training site provides online, on-demand business training and our marketing division provides an all-inclusive, on-going marketing program that drives in new patients while retaining your current ones. Every decision we make is driven by providing a resource to the eye care industry and the people that work within it.
Charest shares some of the key things ECPs should be doing to ensure their business is on the cutting edge of digital marketing.
1) What is the greatest marketing challenge facing ECPs?
Marketing for small business has changed and eyecare is no exception. It is no longer a “do it yourself” project.The way to market to the consumer has changed and the way the consumer shops and buys has changed. Eyecare businesses that believe that their customers are nding them the same way they did 10 years ago… even 3 years ago… are now struggling to bring in new customers/ patients at the same rate. Eyecare con- sumers are spending more time online and how they research and communicate with local businesses is changing. The customer wants to conduct their own research before reaching a business so they are prepared. This is a challenge and an opportunity for ECPs and the ones that will succeed are adapting and thriving in the online arena.
2) What tools do you recommend to get ECPs comfortable with new marketing tools?
The way someone looks for an ECP these days is online. You need to be involved, active and comfortable in every platform and medium to really compete. Most ECPs not only do not have the technical web expertise, they de nitely don’t have the time commitment it takes to be seriously visible online. That’s why we recommend hiring an expert marketing company/ agency to help you develop and work with online tools. An optimized eyecare website is the most important marketing tool as everything other online activity will drive tra c back to a website. You can have a great looking website but if it doesn’t convert the consumer it doesn’t work. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest are all tools as they represent an opportunity to connect and reach your customer in a new and more engaging way than ever before. Google Adwords, Google display cam- paigns, Twitter Ads and re-marketing campaigns are also a few imperative marketing tools in competing in today’s online marketing area. Another important tool are communication platforms…
16 EYE FOCUS | December Digital 2015
automated email/ text systems that communicate ongoing with your customer/ patient to ensure your business stays top of mind.
3) Does old fashion marketing work? Flyers, print media etc.
That really depends on many factors. Geographical location plays a huge factor in whether print or yer marketing is still e ective. Rural and small town locations see stronger results in traditional mar- keting methods than larger metropolitan cities. If you’re in a rural location you still need a website but you may do less in Google Ad words and more in a community newspaper. Whereas an optical or optome- try practice in downtown Toronto should look to invest in digital options to really see active results. Not only is it important to track results of every marketing campaign to understand e ectiveness it is important to research what works in di erent zones in Canada.
4) What other tools do you recommend investing in?
When we talk to ECPs no matter what sector, Opticianry, Optometry, Oph- thalmology they all state the top chal- lenges are nding good sta , training sta and competing in a busy, changing industry. It was why we started 4ECPs, a company focused in creating business resources to assist eyecare professionals with some of their main challenges. Sta are an eyecare business’s greatest asset so investing in better recruitment tools such as Jobs4ECPs – an online job site focused on assisting businesses with nding quali ed employees quickly is a staple with many ECPs. We are also launching an eyecare business training portal in Jan 2016 – Training 4ECPs, which will assist o ces in training employees on everything from sales to hiring. We are also huge advocates of higher learning including putting sta through licensing programs such as Opticians and Opto- metric Assistant training. Networking with peers can also prove to be an in- valuable tool so nding opportunity or tools relating to communication such as LinkedIn groups and eyecare
forums can open new avenues of infor- mation on business growth.
5) Do you require a full scale ‘marketing plan’?
Having a strong marketing plan for the year allows your eyecare business to pro- actively prepare and plan for everything from budgets to collateral requirements. If you look at successful businesses in our industry their marketing is a full scale plan. They know when their promotions are, what is required and how to support them. They execute well, track results and plan for the next promotion. It is the same old adage…failing to plan is the same as planning to fail.
6) How often should marketing be reviewed?
All the time. You should be asking each new Patient or Customer where they heard of you and where they found your contact information. If you’re investing in radio or print, you should be asking your new patients if they listen or read those particular mediums. There are call- tracking software companies that can provide you a bank of phone numbers to place in various ads. This measurement allows you to evaluate the e ectiveness of your marketing e orts. Understanding which marketing to reinvest in will elevate your marketing e orts to a whole di erent level. Charest says it is important to not give up on marketing if a change isn’t experienced right away.
“Get marketing! Try it! Get advice… don’t wing it. Get involved and get social. Join blogs, online resources, social platforms, industry forums and start really learning what is going on in our industry and online,” she said.
“The more you understand about the eyecare consumer, the changing eyecare industry the more prepared you’ll be in the ongoing shift in communication with them and how to market to an ever distracted customer.”
Learn more about our new ventures at www.4ecps.com.