How do you become the name that means trusted vision care to your community? Well, it doesn’t just happen by chance. You need to make a concerted effort to gain a reputation as the go-to vision expert. With this 5-step plan you can establish your vision expertise and your relationship with the local community to propel yourself into “local trusted expert” status.
Step 1. Know Your Patient Demographics
Based on your location, you have a unique patient demographic which includes the general age, lifestyle, income, maybe even race and education level. In order to speak expertly to the population you serve, you need to step back and look at who you are talking to. What eye and vision related issues are most relevant to them? What’s the best ways to reach them (community events, television spots, social media, newspapers)? What’s the average age of your patients and what do they do in their spare time?
Create profiles of your target population including their demgraphics and other relevant details (e.g. are you in a ski town or a high pollen area?). Then you’ll know who you are talking to and what needs they have.
Step 2. Pick a Focus
Use the profiles you created to select a topic or specialty on which to focus. While you might think limiting your area of expertise will limit your patient base, this couldn’t be further from the truth. When you focus on an optometric specialty, whether it’s children’s vision, dry eyes, contact lens fittings or low vision, you create a general sense of competency about your skills and knowledge. You demonstrate that you’ve gone the extra mile to gain the knowledge and expertise necessary; that makes you stand out from the crowd and creates trust. Once you are considered the expert on one topic, that association will spill over into general eyecare. We’ve seen how focusing on promoting a specialty experience results in a general increase in bookings even for basic eyecare.
Step 3. Design Your Marketing Message
Once you pick a focus you need to get the word out that you are the local expert. You want to become the face of this topic. Highlight it on your website, social media, in-house promotions (flyers, posters, postcards etc.) and local news outlets. Create the imagery to be used on graphics and the copy that will show your expertise, then invite patients to learn more. Include a clear call to action in your promotions that prompts your audience to book an appointment.
Step 4. Reel Them In
Once your specialty is defined, you want to promote it heavily. Start with writing articles, creating some short videos for your website and blog, and by posting on Facebook and social media. You can also invite your audience to participate in live video chats and in-house events. We have helped clients with some very successful educational events, such as glaucoma screenings, dry eye treatment information sessions and more. Invite relevant patients and tell them to bring friends and family, then open the event to the public. As more and more people learn about your specialty, the word will spread.
Step 5. Reach Out
Once you have promoted it through your on- and offline presence, it’s time to reach out to the community to expand your reach. Participate in local health fairs, visit schools and nursing homes to give free information sessions or screenings, contact local news, distribute press releases or articles. Being where people can see your face and get to know you is key. This is where your presence will extend beyond your patients to give you the recognition and reputation as a community expert on eyecare.
Keep an ear to the ground for events, news, trends or timely issues for which you can share your expertise. It may require significant time and energy, but in the end it will pay off when you see an increase in appointments and greater trust and loyalty from your patients.
This article originally appeared in the September 2017 edition of GO/OD.