Marketing Your Optometry Practice
Optometry marketing is one of the most important things you’ll need to learn and do for your optometry practice.
There are many strategies on how to improve optometry marketing, and different techniques and avenues to do so. However, it can be difficult to determine where to begin.
Here, I'll cover some common optometry marketing strategies, along with some helpful tips to reduce costs and boost the return on your investment.
Brochures and Promotional Products
When marketing yourself and your practice, you are going to encounter busy people, whether patients or other businesses. Busy people usually want to be left with something to “read later.”
This is why you need marketing collateral. Here are some examples of excellent optometry marketing collateral for your healthcare practice.
- Branded, tri-fold, brochures about your practice
- Branded business cards
- Branded promotional products. If you’re an eyecare practice, this might be eyeglass spray or an eyeglass cleaning cloth with your logo.
These seem like a costly investment up front, but the $1,000 – $2,000 you spend will pay dividends down the line.
This type of optometry marketing collateral should follow a few guidelines:
- Must be new and relevant, so be picky when choosing your graphic designer!
- Must be eye-catching, made by graphic designers who resonate with your patient population.
- Must feel high quality. Don’t be cheap!
Your optometry marketing collateral will be used to market your practice in the following ways:
- When meeting random people interested in getting an exam.
- When asking patients for referrals.
- During lectures, meetups, or at career and wellness events.
- To leave at your front desk and exam room for anyone to grab.
Brochures can be given to potential patients in order to provide relevant information about the practice. Business cards can be used on a more impromptu basis when wanting to make a quick connection or giving to others to share with their families and friends. You can utilize branded merchandise to give to local businesses to introduce yourself as the new doctor in the area.
How do you design brochures, you ask? Here are two ways to get these developed.
- Design them yourself in Adobe Photoshop – this is a method I utilized because I had plenty of Adobe Photoshop experience. If that is your background, go for it!
- Hire a freelance designer – ask a friend or use a website like upwork.com or 99designs.com, which are very easy to use. Just make sure you give them the full details of what you want your brochure to say. Most of the designers aren’t healthcare experts, so I would recommend writing the copy for your brochure in a Word document and then providing that to the designer.
I made four brochures for the practice I started working at and used each one for a unique marketing scenario.
- About the Practice
- Technology in the Practice
- Your Eyeglass & Sunglass Options
- Your Contact Lens Options
Promotional products are best used if you are having an event at your office, or if there is a particular product that speaks to your patients. You can use ePromos for more help.
In eyecare, glasses spray and cleaning cloths are perfect for every patient, so it’s important to have that on hand. In other healthcare fields, finding a suitable promo product will be difficult, but your standard pens, chapstick, and mints are always fun!
Starting here is a great first step in marketing your healthcare practice!
Community Marketing Opportunities for Optometry Practices
Going Door to Door
Going door-to-door means exactly what you think; going from business-to-business in your local neighborhood to let them know you are the new healthcare provider in the area. Going business-to-business in your local community may not seem like optometry marketing, but it by far the best tool in your belt.
This can be a difficult thing to do, and you might believe you are portraying yourself as desperate for business, but if you communicate properly, you won’t seem like a salesperson at all.
Identify The Right Business
Don’t just go into any local business chosen at random.
Instead, call a few local businesses and attempt to talk to the HR team to inquire about the insurance they offer their employees. It’s pretty easy to find this out, and often the HR folks have no problem letting you know.
Be transparent when you talk to them and let them know that you are a new healthcare provider who is interested in supporting local businesses.
Sometimes a simple Google search regarding employee health benefits will bring up the information for you. Also, you can look at your practice management system for this information. For example, I know that one nearby business has a great VSP Signature plan because I get patients coming from there all the time. Therefore I will make sure I put them on my list to visit.
After you have exhausted the businesses that offer employees the insurance plans that you accept, it will be time to start visiting random local companies.
Large, Professional Businesses
I would suggest visiting those businesses with a professional and educated workforce. For example, if you choose the local deli that is employing high school kids on summer break, you might get poor results. Instead, try the building of software engineers! They likely have families, disposable income, understand the value of maintaining excellent health and most importantly they likely have a medical insurance plan.
After you have exhausted all the higher end businesses, you might want to visit the mom-and-pop stores. These are places like local dry-cleaners, retail stores, boutiques and independent stores. It will be very easy to get these folks to understand that you are a local family healthcare provider, here to serve your community.
This message resonates with mom-and-pop businesses, since they had to go through the “startup” life too.
Lastly, I would go into your corporate chains. The McDonalds, Starbucks, Subways and CVS stores. These locations generally have high volume foot traffic, so you will never know who you might make an impression on.
Make a Plan
Be sure to give yourself time to drive to each location, and try to map it out so that you don’t backtrack over and over and waste gas.
I suggest Google Maps as a tool to pinpoint all of the places you visited on your journey. This is helpful for three reasons.
- It shows a track record of which businesses you visited
- It helps you understand your local community from a visual perspective
- If you're not the practice owner, you can show your employer how hard you are working!
Get Your Pitch Right
Your pitch might not be great at first. It will likely take some trial and error and a few visits to perfect.
Everyone will have a pitch that is unique to their personality. It’s key that you make this about you as a person and not about the business. The people you talk with must feel that you are personal and friendly. Also, don’t be too canned and generic, people see right through that. Be honest, be true, be real.
Legal Due Diligence
Technically your pitch can be seen at soliciting. If they have a sign on the door that says no soliciting this is something to watch out for. I have had only two issues where I was told: “I am sorry sir, we don’t accept outside visitors to come in unless you have someone specific to see.” No matter what, be kind and understanding and obey their directions. For me, it never became an issue.
Still, you should check your local laws on this. You do not want to “ignore” a No Solicitation sign posted a door.
Some things NOT TO DO
- Don’t go to people’s homes
- Don’t make it a sales pitch, instead, let them know you are “introducing yourself around the community”
- Don’t go to schools during school hours
- Try not to associate what you are doing with “soliciting”
For example, California Law for optometry states:
The sending of a solicitor from house to house or the soliciting from house to house by the holder of an optometrist license constitutes a cause to revoke or suspend his or her license. Added Stats 1937 ch 423, as B & P C § 3096. Amended and renumbered by Stats 2005 ch 393 § 10 (AB 488), effective January 1, 2006.
Also, the California law says not to solicit on school hours – see section §51520. PROHIBITED SOLICITATIONS ON SCHOOL PREMISE
Meetup.com is awesome and is most powerful if you live in a big city. It can be a great tool for optometry marketing.
Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. More than 9,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities.
How do you use Meetup.com?
Meetup.com allows you to enter your zip code and find groups that meet on a regular basis for a particular interest. You then go to those Meetups and do whatever it is that you do. It basically connects you to people to form relationships.
There are two ways you can use Meetup. Personally, I am all about the second method.
- You can be a jerk and just go to Meetups to hand out business cards and really just solicit yourself
- You can go to Meetups and be a genuine person interested in participating. This way you build genuine connections and genuine leads
Lead Generation Groups vs. Interest Groups
I have found two types of Meetups to be helpful.
One is your Lead Generation Group. These are often the groups like “LeTip” and “Exceptional Entrepreneurs.” They cut right to the chase and say “we are a group of people who all do business, let's all refer each other business in our small social circle and help each other out.” To be honest, this isn’t my favorite type of Meetup. I don’t think I fit well in the groups being a doctor, something about it seems fake to me, but I know that if you dedicate yourself it will work.
Here’s an example of one – Exceptional Entrepreneurs Business Networking
The other type of group in your interest groups. These are the ones that I like the most. It is basically a group that meets for a particular hobby. You can arrange relevant community workshops with this group as well! Hosting free workshops on topics you’re passionate about is a great way to both give back to your community and establish yourself as an authority.
Think about setting up free workshops with interest groups on optometry-related topics. During the workshop, you can teach people about eyecare, educate them on the importance of eye exams, and answer questions!
How I make this work for me
It’s simple actually.
I make genuine friends and we form a solid friendship. From there it is only logical we support each other’s businesses. Worst comes to worst, we just stay friends.
I would not go to the first meeting with your sales pitch and cry for help to get new patients. You need to go and be genuine, contribute value to the group, invest your time and help out. It is only natural at that point where people will have a desire to use your services.
I like to volunteer and help out in my community. I like giving back and helping those who can use it. Do you? If the answer is yes, then this optometry marketing avenue might be your biggest source of patients.
Basically, all you need to do is sign up for an opportunity, arrive and help out. From there, form relationships and build friendships with people. As you show your face you will build trust with the “regulars.” They will understand that you aren’t there for your own personal benefit and genuinely care about helping out and volunteering. The natural progression of the relationship will likely lead to them becoming patients and referring friends and family.
How to find volunteer gigs
Simple, go to VolunteerMatch.org and enter your zip code to find volunteer gigs that suit your interests. Remember, you do this to be genuine and help out, not to score patients, so do something you LOVE.
What I am doing for volunteer work
I rock climb, both at the gym and out in the back country. I absolutely love it. The gym where I climb allows its members to volunteer to host children’s birthday parties in exchange for free day passes. Basically a birthday is booked and I come to help regulate the party, supervise the kids and teach them about climbing. You can imagine this is a nice setup because birthday parties = parents and parents help make medical decisions for their kids. When I form a relationship with the parents during the party, it is only the natural progression that they would learn about me as an optometrist and want to bring their kids in.
I also love animals. Recently, I rescued 2 cats, Motor and The Baby, from a local rescue shelter here in San Diego. Almost every rescue shelter is a non-profit and they thrive off of volunteers. The rescue shelter was glad to have me help out and this puts me around lots of families who want cats! The families get to know me well and once again, it is natural progression for us to form a friendship and a doctor-patient relationship.
Help out, become a regular, be genuine and you will bring in new patients to your practice. Use your business cards and brochures to leverage your messaging.
Online Marketing and Search Engine Optimization
Google My Business
This is tricky, so pay attention. Get it wrong and you can kiss your goal of having great optometry marketing goodbye!
When someone opens Google to search for a keyword, whether on Google search engine, or using Google Maps from their mobile device, you want your business to come up, right? Well, it’s not going to come up, or if it does, it won’t rank very high, if you’re not keeping up to date with your Google account.
- Google My Business – this is your business page on Google Maps. When I go into Google Maps on my phone and type in my former practice, I come up on Maps so that people can find my practice. Here is more information on how Google My Business works.
Being on Google My Business will help with your organic search results and drive traffic to your practice. If someone searches you or your practice on Google, it’s really important for your practice to actually show up on the first page!
How to get your Google My Business listing
You are going to be in one of two situations.
- You have a listing on Google Maps but you have not claimed your listing
- You do not have a listing on Google Maps and you need to create one
If you do have a listing already, do the following:
- Go to Google.com/maps
- Try to find yourself – use your business name, doctor name, whatever it takes
- If you find your business, you should be able to click “claim my business”
- You will then be asked to verify that it is your business — they can mail a letter, or call with a pin number you will have to enter
- Complete that step and then you are now the owner of this business listing
Another way I have seen this done is to simply claim the business directly by following Google’s instructions. This may be a bit more simple and cuts right to the chase.
If you do not have a listing, do the following:
*Please make sure you do not already have a listing because if you do, you will be creating a duplicate business and that is not good!
- Visit this website – https://www.google.com/business/
- Click Start Now
- Follow the prompts to fill out your business information
Setting up your page
Once your page is set up you can now:
- Add critical information like phone, email, address, and open times
- Turn on a chat feature so people can message you from Google
- View analytics that show searches, views, and actions for your business
- Manage Google reviews
- Link Google Analytics to your page
- Create Google ads
- Manage this all from the Google mobile app
Getting new customers from your page
Why go to all this trouble? A regularly updated and accurate Google My Business page can start ranking in Google. This means your practice could start showing up at the top of search results when people in your area search “optometry.” That’s HUGE potential for your business.
But unless you’re the only OD in town, you’ll never rank very high in Google if you don’t make the effort to get your page to the top of search results.
Here are a few ways to get there:
- Ask satisfied patients to leave you a Google review (aim for 50+ reviews)
- Respond to every single review—whether positive or negative
- Post a few times each week (just like you post on Facebook!); remember that Google posts disappear after seven days, so you need to post regularly
- Add photos of yourself, your practice, and your happy customers
- Add a well-written description (the “From BUSINESS NAME” section) to tell patients what to expect
- Add an “Appointments” link so people can instantly book time with you
Your end goal is to have your optometry practice on the Google My Business page. During all of this, you may be required to create your first ever Google Account. Often this is regarded as your Gmail account. This account will house all of the things you do on Google and therefore everything I talk about in this section today will be under this account.
Once you have your Google Pages set up, you should nurture it and care for it. Don’t simply set it up and think you are all done.
What are Google Ads?
When you go on Google and enter a search, you see two types of results.
- Organic Results — these are search results based on your search terms. Google’s algorithm simply associates your search terms with the content that is out there on the website and then delivers what they feel is the best match.
- Google Ads Results — these are results based on your search terms, but they are delivered to you because people pay for them.
How do you use Google Ads?
You begin by logging into ads.google.com. You will see a dashboard that has all sorts of options on it.
To use Google Ads, you start by creating a campaign. Each campaign consists of ad groups and each ad group consists of keywords. The goal is to organize your campaigns into topics, and your ad groups will all be about that particular topic; furthermore, your keywords will be even more specific to that topic. Your ad groups can contain as many ads as you want and the ads rotate among the keywords you have.
For example, I want to do a campaign related to students home from college for contact lens exams.
- My campaign topic might be “Students and Contact Lenses”
- My Ad Groups might be “Soft contacts / Rigid contacts”
- My Keywords might be specific to each ad group: so I might use soft contacts, Acuvue contacts, contact lens exam San Diego etc. For the rigid contact lens Ad Group I would use keywords relevant to rigid contacts.
How do you set up a budget?
Simple — there is a field you will fill out to enter your daily budget. From there, Google Ads will make sure to stay within that daily budget.
Google Ads allows you to bid on clicks for your ad. There are many bidding options and each serve a different purpose. For example, you can set the bids for each click, or you can have Ads set bids to help maximize clicks within your budget. Depending on the volume of advertisers bidding on a specific term, the cost of a click can change from minute to minute.
Features and Tools
There are a few things about Google Ads I really enjoy and help target customers better.
You can set your ad to only show to people in a certain location
As optometrists, we really only want to target certain zip codes because that is where our patients come from. This allows you to choose where your ad will appear and even estimates how many people your ad will reach in a given zip code. This feature will optimize your ads to only appear to patients that are within your target market.
This feature will show your address in your ad. This is useful on Google Maps and mobile devices and will come up if people are searching for you while they are driving or ready to visit your office.
Site links Extensions
This feature allows you to place a link to relevant content that exists on your personal website. For example, if my ad is about surgery co-management, I want that person to visit my page about surgical recovery on my website.
This is my favorite because you can track it! Basically with this, your phone number will appear below your ad. If the user calls from a mobile phone, you can see how many calls were generated from each ad and how long the phone calls lasted. Also, it will generate a fictitious number so that Google can track how long the call lasted, and which ad caused the phone call to happen. They don’t record the phone calls, they just show you how many calls, when and how long they lasted.
Google is VERY helpful
This stuff is complex, so if you have a question, just click the gear wheel on your Google Ads Dashboard and click HELP – LIVE CHAT. I utilize this monthly and it teaches me about how to do better with my campaigns.
Keep in mind, this is how Google makes their revenue, so they donate a ton of resources to making sure you keep spending money with Ads!
Resources if you are serious about Ads
Professional Marketing Opportunities
Optometry Lead Generation Groups
When it comes to getting patients in your optometry practice, there is a pretty quick and easy way to make it happen. Join what I call a Referral Club and others call a Professional Leads Organization or B2B (business to business) lead generation.
I’ll be honest, this isn’t my favorite form of optometry marketing, but it gets the job done, especially in the early days.
These groups consist of members who come from all walks of life. Some are in the insurance business, accounting, printing/copying, contracting, personal training and other professions. Sometimes these groups only allow one of each type of professional in order to decrease competition. Their goal is to provide each other with business leads.
For example, I might have a patient who is starting a business, and so I would give them a referral for a CPA. At the same time, that patient might have a client who complains they can’t see their computer and would send them to me.
It is a very nice and easy system and the groups usually meet once per week. The group typically holds you accountable for generating leads and keeping active. They give you a chance to present and get involved.
This is one of my absolute favorite forms of optometry marketing when it comes to bringing new patients into my practice.
Here is how I define lecturing:
Lecturing — involves doing a public speaking seminar, at a public venue, on a specific topic, with the purpose of delivering value to your crowd in hopes of converting them into patients of your optometry practice.
Where can you lecture?
- Yoga Studios
- Invite people to your practice waiting room
- Holistic Shops
- Churches, synagogues, temples, religious headquarters
- Wellness fairs
- Food Establishments
You would be surprised how many people would welcome a doctor willing to share knowledge. Many people who I have spoken with are very much willing to have me come in to lecture.
Supplies to Bring
- Business cards
- Starbucks gift cards
- Amazon gift cards
- Vouchers for free items at your practice
- Samples of products you are talking about
Also you might want to consider doing a “screening” at your practice. Why not consider doing a glaucoma screening with your Cirrus OCT? Maybe ask your sales rep to help you out: that’s what they are there for.
Topics to Lecture On For Optometry Marketing
Here are some of the lectures I have done and plan to do. Notice a trend? I would suggest you lecture on whatever you are passionate about. Passion will bring patients, and patients will make you successful.
Oh and just so you know, I back every single lecture with clinical studies so that it’s relevant and as scholarly as can be!
- 10 Nutritional Recommendations You Can Do Today to Improve Your Eye Health
- How Meditation Directly Effects Eye Health
- Pediatric Vision is More Than Just 20/20
- Why Butter, Coffee and Dark Chocolate are Essential for Healthy Eyes
- How LED Light From Your Smart Phone is Causing Damage to Your Eyes, and What To Do About It
- Why Your Eyes Hurt So Much After A Long Day at Work – Computer Vision Syndrome
You might only get a few extra patients in your practice from lecturing each event, but a couple of patients here and there who then go on to refer their friends and family to you will add up exponentially over time.
Co-Management with Other Physicians
If you don’t have a relationship with a primary care doctor you are really missing out on new patients.
Think about it. These individuals do exactly what you do: see patients. They are the perfect source for getting new business.
Let me ask you this — how many times have patients told you their other health problems during your case history? This same thing happens to other doctors!
You need to begin to tap into the healthcare system. It’s easier than you think.
The Steps to Take
- Begin by going to “doctor locator” for each medical insurance you take.
- Do a search for doctors who also take the insurance you take. This is important to let the doctor know there won’t be any insurance problems and that you both accept the same plans.
- Limit your search to a very strict radius. Location is absolutely key — too far and other doctors won’t bother with referrals. Plus, it’s a really easy sell when you tell them, “I’m right up the road from you, neighbor!”
- Make a list of everyone you want to meet with.
- Contact each doctor ahead of time to see if there is a convenient time for them. Keep your pitch in their favor. It is ok to say things like, “I have a ton of patients with x, y, z condition and I need someone to send them to, can we meet?”
- Drive over to their practice, keep it short and sweet, but go equipped with business cards, brochures, and marketing materials.
- Be very friendly to the staff — they are sometimes the individuals who refer the most! Make sure they know you by first name.
- After a successful relationship, feel free to send them holiday and thank you gifts.
Other things to remember
- You are doing this to help your patients
- You are doing this to help your community
- You are doing this because you want to build personal relationships with other great doctors
- Find doctors with unique practices. For example, naturopathic/holistic practices, concierge practices, etc. This worked out really well for me.
- Find doctors with some common interests as you! Sharing things in common is great to build the relationship.
- This will be hard, so don’t get discouraged. I went to about two dozen offices before I found one PCP willing to co-manage.
- Avoid group practices – they are extremely hard to sway their decisions. Maybe save these for later?
- Avoid HMOs, for obvious reasons….
- Avoid doctors in medical buildings with an OD present — they likely already work together.
- Believe in yourself! There is always room for someone new!
- Seek small, independent, privately owned practices.
The Fat Stack of Business Cards Trick
If I put a big red brick, the ones they build chimneys with, in your front right pocket and told you to walk around with it all day, how long would it take for you to get rid of that brick?
It would take me about 0.2 seconds.
What I want you to do is put a FAT STACK of your business cards in your front right pocket, enough to really annoy you. I want it to be so big that hurts to sit down, drive a car or make any physical movement. Then, throughout the day, your challenge will be to make yourself more and more comfortable by removing that annoying brick in your pocket.
Give one business card to each person you have an interaction with. Strike up a conversation with them, be friendly and enjoy your pocket becoming more and more comfortable.
The idea here is that we all carry around business cards, but we seldom give them out to people. First off, it is socially awkward and secondly you feel like a salesman! That is really the worst feeling and I don’t blame you.
Yet at the same time, for every 20 or so business cards I give out, I get about 1 patient. That’s really not too bad! Of course you will need to make a creative pitch. Make it genuine and authentic, and of course don’t be a creep.
Opportunities to hand out business cards
- Restaurant waiter / waitress
- Gym front desk person
- Personal trainer at the gym
- Grocery store clerk
- Taxi drivers
- Sales reps at clothing stores
- People in your apartment complex
- Your local gas station
The options are limitless! Just keep in mind, you need to start making personal connections and that annoying stack of business cards will force you to do it!
Facebook is a great avenue for optometry marketing and does not have to be time intensive. You should seek to post 2 to 3 times a week and focus on engagement and less on “likes.”
Posting on what you are passionate about is always a great strategy. People and patients want to connect with a real person who share similar interests. Show them that you are more than just someone who examines eyes all day!
The anatomy of a great Facebook post is one that conveys an emotion. What you are posting should connect with your audience. Oftentimes, a picture can incite a great response from your audience. If a post doesn’t have an image, your readers will likely scroll right past it. Try using real pictures of your practice: that is what people want to see!
A voice is important. Sometimes people feel like they need to develop a persona. If you allow your personality to come through, you can give your patients an opportunity to connect with who you are.
Picking Your Platforms:
The general consensus is that Facebook and Instagram are key. These two platforms command a large audience and will allow you to connect with a large population of patients who make buying decisions.
Facebook Advertisement Platform is a great way to boost your posts. You should be extremely specific though on the ad settings to make sure those who will engage with your posts will see your advertisements.
The Value of Optometry Practice Marketing
There are many other methods and means of marketing your optometry practice. It is impossible to cover them all. Doing a little bit of research on your patient demographic and the location of your practice (which you likely already have done prior to opening) will help you determine which marketing strategies will work best!