Optometry courses do not teach much in the way of how to run a successful practice. There are many aspects to building and maintaining an optometry practice and leaving the success of your business to chance is not a good option. Instead, investing some thought into a few well-considered marketing strategies could be what helps get your optometry business on a better financial growth path.
What is Marketing?
Marketing can be defined as “the activities a company undertakes to promote the buying or selling of a product or service.”¹ Most people would understand marketing as primarily involving advertising.
In short, marketing strategies are those actions that draw people to your practice and ideally keep them coming back. There can be any number of reasons why a patient chooses to attend your practice. It may be because you’re the only optometrist within a 100km radius in rural Queensland. It could be because your selection of frames is just their style, and they know they’ll always be spoilt for choice when it comes time to update their spectacles. Or the service and care delivered by your optical dispensers and optometrists are truly exceptional.
However, patients are only going to be able to experience your exceptional service and care if they know your practice exists. And even if they know you exist, if they don’t know you offer excellent service and care (or particularly trendy frames), they may still not be inclined to give your practice a chance.
It is said that there are five core components when it comes to devising a marketing strategy, all helpfully starting with P:²
- Product. This refers to your products (glasses and contact lenses) and services (eye tests and dispensing). Your frames and eye care services should fill an unmet need in your target market, which helps to differentiate you from other competing optometry practices.
- Place. How can your patients access your products and services? You may make your contact lens ordering available online, offer telehealth consultations, or stick to physical face-to-face interactions only.
- Price. Pricing is more than offering dirt-cheap frames and! Instead, remember that your pricing strategy should reflect the value of your services and products whilst not being so astronomically ridiculous that no one comes back. Your pricing will influence the perception of your practice’s brand.
- Promotion. Promoting and advertising may be what more people are familiar with when they think of marketing. Promotion aims to persuade potential patients and customers that what you’re offering – your frames and eyecare services – are desirable and worth parting for with their hard-earned money.
- People. All people who are involved in your practice are important. This includes your optical dispensers, fellow optometrists, practice manager, suppliers, local reps, and even other referring healthcare practitioners. By maintaining favourable relationships with everyone who plays a part in your business, you cultivate a positive environment for your practice to thrive.
5 Marketing Tactics for Your Practice
Marketing strategies for your optometry clinic can be as conventional or creative as you want. The effectiveness of any given idea can depend on the timing, its execution, and the demographic you’re targeting. Here are 5 marketing strategies to get you started.
1. Make your online presence loud!
The internet is the only place that didn’t go into lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic across Australia. During that time, internet activity increased by up to 70%. Even now, many businesses depend on online traffic over foot traffic to survive.³ Your online presence can include a well-designed and functional website, an active social media account, search engine optimisation (SEO), reviews, sponsored ads, and a local business listing.
These online marketing strategies don’t need to cost much if anything at all. Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram are free, though you can pay to boost your posts or put up a sponsored ad if you wish. When executed well, websites and social media sites can increase awareness and incoming enquiries, bring in new patients, and enhance relationships with existing patients.⁴ Ensure all information about your practice you put online is accurate, such as opening hours and your contact number.
2. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for reviews.
Reviews can play an important part when bringing in new business. However, many optometry practices (and many businesses in general) are not as active about asking patients and customers to write a review as they should be. You can consider running a promotion, such as a lucky draw at the end of the month, for all patients who write an online review. Think about it – if you had to decide between two clinics located equally conveniently for you, one had a three-star review on Google and the other had a 4.8, which would you choose?
3. Build relationships with other HCPs in your area.
Networking with other healthcare professionals (HCPs) can be a great way to bring new patients into your practice. Consider introducing yourself to the GPs in your area, emphasising your same-day urgent appointment guarantee and how you are so diligent in sending a report after every diabetic eye test. Other HCPs to reach out to include ophthalmologists, endocrinologists, and paediatricians.
4. Run a referral program.
Another significant source of referrals comes from your patients themselves. Whether they do it intentionally or not, happy patients are one of your most effective marketing strategies, as they loudly laud your exceptional service and care to their friends and family. And best of all, it’s free! However, you can give this free advertising a little boost by running a campaign. For example, consider offering a discount on the next frame or contact lens purchase if they refer a new patient to your practice.
5. Print or broadcast advertising.
While larger corporate optometry businesses have more cash to throw at radio, television, or billboard ads, small independent optometry practice owners may be less inclined to spend this way. However, consider investigating the cost of a printed ad in your community newspaper or even the newsletter of the local kindergarten or school. A community radio station may also charge a lower fee to broadcast a short and snappy ad.
If marketing is not your forte, consider engaging an agency to devise and implement a strategy for you. Alternatively, ask your millennial optometrist to take over the business Instagram account, and you can delegate the TikToks to your GenZ optical assistant. Whichever approach you choose, marketing your business should not be left to chance.
You can also contact us for your marketing services, be it website design and development, social media management, blog writing, or graphic design services. We can also help you conceptualise and create your in-store marketing collaterals, such as posters, notepads, Rx pads, and business cards. Learn more here.
- Investopedia. Marketing in Business: Strategies and Types Explained. https://www.investopedia.com/. 2023. Available at: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/marketing.asp#:~:text= Marketing%20refers%20to%20activities%20a,to%20consumers%20or%20other%20businesses. (Accessed October 2023).
- Rock Content. What are the 5 Ps of Marketing? Core Principles to Build Your Strategy. https://rockcontent.com/. 2023. Available at: https://rockcontent.com/blog/5-ps-of-marketing/#:~:text=The%205%20P’s%20of%20marketing,their%20importance%20for%20your%20brand. (Accessed October 2023).
- Vapiwala F. Digital Marketing – A Saviour for Businesses in Times of a Pandemic. IJRESM. 2020;3(9):159–161.
- Jones N, Borgman R, Ulusoy E. Impact of social media on small businesses. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development. 2015;22(4):611-632.
Weave. 19 Optometry Marketing Ideas to Help Grow Your Practice. https://www.getweave.com/. 2018. Available at: https://www.getweave.com/19-optometry-marketing-ideas-to-help-grow-your-practice/. (Accessed October 2023).
Optomly. The Ultimate Optometry Marketing Guide. https://optomly.com.au/. 2019. Available at: https://optomly.com.au/optometry-marketing-guide/. (Accessed October 2023).