How Not to Market an Eyecare Practice: A Lesson from Dr. Emil Chynn

Posted by Janelle Pauli on Wed, Sep 11, 2013 @ 18:09 PM

Dr Emil Wife Search

Okay, here we go. For the love of marketing, and of this industry that we adore, we couldn't not post this blog. We see so many fabulous examples of community and marketing within this industry. We are always impressed by the ways that eyecare providers embrace new tools like social media and content marketing. And, we're always on the look out for doctors that are taking a creative approach to promoting their practices and finding new angles to get in front of the public. For the most part, we've only found great examples of "Marketing Dos". But, we have found a doozie of a don't while listening to Dr. Emil Chynn on the Howard Stern show this week. We couldn't keep it to ourselves.

Here's the deal if you don't already know Dr. Emil Chynn: he is an ophthalmologist practicing in New York. He holds degrees from three Ivy League schools. He's a huge proponent of LASEK and not cutting the eye for LASIK surgery and claims to be a renowned speaker on this practice. He's also using an unconventional method to search for a wife...on his practice's website. And on the Huffington Post, and on CNN, and on the Howard Stern Show

Posting a "wife-search" on a medical practitioner's website seems unconventional enough, but there's more. Dr. Chynn is offering thank you gifts to people that play matchmaker and help him get dates. Some gifts are in the form of cash, and some are for actual procedures in his office. Yes, he is offering a finder's fee in the form of cash and medical procedures in exchange for matchmaking - provided the dates meet his lengthy list of requirements for a potential wife.

Curious about what type of finder's fees you might get? Here you go:

  • 1st date set up: $100 (for you or the charity of your choice)
  • 2nd date: $200 or a free Latisse worth $300
  • 3rd date: $300 or a free Botox worth $500
  • 4th date: $400 or a free Juvederm treatment worth $1,000
  • 5th date: $500 cash or a free LASEK in 1 eye worth $2,000

Maybe you're thinking, "So, what's the big deal? He wants a wife and he's creative!" Well, you are far more open-minded than we are and we admire you for that. Look, we love it when businesses aren't afraid to push the boundaries with their marketing. But we think it's one of the most absurd things we've ever heard. And it's not just because we find Dr. Chynn's list of requirements in a potential wife ridiculous and offensive, even though we do. For example, some of his requirements include:

How not to market a practice
  • Skinny, dress size 0-2
  • Caucasian (not Black, not Hispanic, not Asian, because he is unfortunately only physically attracted to white women...)
  • Age 27-35 (ideally 28-34)
  • Christian
  • Has spent significant time in another country outside the U.S. (and no, a spring break in Cancun doesn't count, sorry ladies)

We believe that good marketing is creative and genuine, and that the best marketing is actually helpful. It's about engaging with your target audience and creating meaningful interactions so that you can provide real value. Clearly, we think he missed the mark. Without further ado, let's dive in and see if we can learn something from Dr. Chynn:We've got a few problems with Dr. Chynn using his wife search as part of his business model. And it's clear that his wife search is in part a publicity stunt, uses charity for self-promotion, and diminishes his professionalism.

Creativity is Nothing without Context

Just because a marketing tactic is creative doesn't mean it's right for every business. If this approach was being taken by a radio DJ, for example, it might work! But for a medical professional? It just doesn't make sense. Sure, it gets attention, but it's not the right kind of attention at all. You have to make sure that the tactics you use are appropriate for your business and the image you want to portray.

However, when used in the right context, something like a publicity stunt can be excellent. Take Jimmy Kimmel for example, he knows what he's doing. You've probably seen the "Epic Twerk Fail" video that went viral on the Internet last week. And a week later we came to find out that Jimmy Kimmel was responsible for the whole thing. This publicity stunt makes a whole lot of sense! Jimmy is a comedian who hosts a late night talk show. He posted a viral video that would make people laugh. And comedy and laughter is all part of the Jimmy Kimmel brand. See? It has context!

It Should be About Your Audience, Not Yourself

If you want to engage your audience, you need to make it about them! All that this stunt does is highlight Dr. Chynn's needs and wants. The thank you gifts (if you can even call them that) are ridiculous at best. All this does is get attention for Dr. Chynn, and not the good type. Make your marketing about your patients and what they want or need, then they will respect you.

On this note, don't make charity a promotional ploy. It's tacky.

Don't Ever Devalue the Services You Offer

You don't ever want your marketing to make your audience think that what you offer isn't valuable. If they do, they won't respect the services or products you offer, and they won't be loyal to you in the long-run. Sure, Dr. Chynn has gotten some attention, but it's going to be fleeting. Instead of being the doctor that's renowned for his use of LASEK, he's that ridiculous doctor that was searching for a wife in exchange for free Botox. He's completely devalued what he does and lost credibility. There's no attention in the world that's worth that.

So what is acceptable to post about and show on your website? Company personality. You can absolutely have fun with your website and show off your human side. And a little bit of controversy can definitely be a good thing, just make sure it's relevant!

Think About the Long-term Goals

Dr Chynn Wife search

We have to believe that Dr. Chynn didn't have a long-term goal in mind when he decided to try to capitalize on his wife search. We are sure that somewhere deep down, he wants to be recognized as a respected physician. Unfortunately, when you Google his name, all you see are links to articles about his hunt for a wife and his ridiculous criteria for a suitable mate. We couldn't even find a single link that supported his claim that he is a frequent speaker on the topic of LASEK. That isn't to say that it's not our there, but it's hidden now. Maybe his endgame is to leave the profession and be a reality star. If that's the case, he might have found a good approach. But if it's to be a successful ophthalmologist that is respected by his patients and peers, he's taken one gigantic step in the wrong direction. Always make sure that your marketing is in support of your long-term goals.

Here's the bottom line. What is Dr. Chynn's publicity stunt doing to help his practice or his patients? What about his profession? The answer, in our humble opinion, is nothing - zip, zilch, nada. It's lazy, it isn't helpful, it's self-serving, and it's ill-advised.

You've got two choices: 1 - market yourself with integrity and know that it might take some patience. 2 - venture out with a publicity stunt to get quick attention, but ruin your reputation in the process. Which is better, one or two? (Get it?)

So, have you ever felt like you don't  know what to do in terms of marketing? Or like you don't do the best job at it? Give yourself a break! You are probably doing it the right way and maintaining integrity, both for yourself and your profession. It's easy (apparently very easy) to pull off a ridiculous publicity stunt. It's more challenging to market yourself in a meaningful way. But, it's worth it. Kudos to all of you hardworking, independent optometrists for not making "desperate marketing" part of your mix.

And to think we thought our "Are You Faxing Kidding Me?" campaign was pushing the envelope! Check out the ebook!

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Tags: Marketing and Social Media, Tips & Tools

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