Create and promote a practice Vision Benefit Plan and fill your appointment book, help other local firms

BY Tom Bowman

Published in the July/August 2014 issue

Many marketing ideas only bring in patients one at a time. This slow-drip approach isn’t especially effective, and it can be a drain on your budget.

But what if you could create a marketing tool that truly tapped into a huge underserved market — including families whose children have new vision care benefits — and filled your appointment books much more quickly, too?

Small business owners and managers typically have two distinct challenges: hiring good employees, and keeping good employees. The best people also look for companies offering the best benefits. But extra benefits are expensive — and they often involve a lot of extra administrative headaches.

That’s where an in-house Vision Benefit Plan comes in. Offer one, and you can help fellow local small businesses while building your own market share.

The best Vision Benefit Plan would be one where there is no charge to the business to offer it to their employees. That alone should grab their attention!

There may be “fine print” in major vision plan agreements that say you give up the right to offer a custom vision benefit plan through your practice. However, most vision plan companies focus their attention on businesses that have over 400 employees, which means that there are a lot of local businesses that vision plan companies will never attempt to reach. They are yours to capture.

A small business with 25 employees could add that many or more new patients to the practice. Employees will typically utilize any benefits that their employers provide for them. Pitch your practice as a family vision care specialist. (The Affordable Care Act’s essential benefits for kids get them in your door; your vision care plan can keep the parents there, too.)

As you create your Vision Benefit Plan brochure, consider these points:

  • Tailor savings so they help your patients but won’t hurt your bottom line like some existing vision benefit plans do. Consider giving a simple 25 percent savings on both goods and services.
  • There are no discounts on planned-replacement contact lenses “due to our already low prices” that rival those found online..
  • Have a local printer create a punch-out membership card on the brochure that each member gets..

Who will promote your program? It could be a staff member, or you might hire an outside source. A radio advertising salesperson could add your vision plan service as another option to what they currently sell since they are meeting with business decision-makers every day. Of course, you should promote it on your website and social media, too.

Consider paying outside marketers on a commission basis: something like $100 for each company that they sign up, but no commission is paid until the first employee from that company comes in for services. This will help ensure that the marketer meets with a decision maker who will tell each employee about the vision plan and its benefits. That’s good money for the promoter — and an incentive that they make sure the services get used.

The promoter should call the decision-maker of each company and briefly explain what the plan has to offer. Then they’d set an appointment to field questions and deliver promotional materials.

Participating companies would either hand the Vision Benefit Plan brochures to each employee or add them as payroll-stuffers in their next paycheck (and leave some extra brochures for new hires). A poster by the time clock, newsletter items and announcements at staff meetings are other ways to remind employees of their new vision benefits.

Your own Vision Benefit Plan helps local small businesses and brings new patients to you. It’s a win-win marketing method you can start today..

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