How Not to Market an Eyecare Practice

Posted by Janelle Pauli on Mon, Sep 14, 2020 @ 14:09 PM

We see so many fabulous examples of community and marketing within the eyecare industry. We are always impressed by the ways that eyecare providers embrace tools like social media and content marketing.

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. But, we want to bring back the story of Dr. Emil Chynn from 2013 as a learning lesson.

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 claims to be a renowned speaker on this practice. He also used an unconventional method to search for a wife on his practice's website about 7 years ago. And on the Huffington Post, and on CNN, and on the Howard Stern Show. 

A Lesson from Dr. Emil Chynn's Story

Posting a "wife-search" on a medical practitioner's website seems unconventional enough, but there's more. Dr. Chynn offered thank you gifts to people that play matchmaker and help him get dates. Some gifts were in the form of cash, and some were for actual procedures in his office. Yes, he created a referral program for his patients with rewards 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 rewards he offered? 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

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. Without further ado, let's dive in and see if we can learn something from Dr. Chynn: 

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. You've probably seen the "Epic Twerk Fail" video that went viral. 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 for a comedian like Jimmy and increased views for his talk show.

It Should be About Your Audience, Not Yourself

If you want to engage your audience, you need to make it about them. The thank you gifts don't truly serve his audience. 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. Instead of being the doctor that's renowned for his use of LASEK, he might have gained unwelcome notoriety for years to come. He devalued what he does and lost credibility.

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 to eyecare or health.

Think About the Long-Term Goals

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. Unfortunately, when you Google his name, the articles about his hunt for a wife, feature on a reality TV show, and his cringe-worthy criteria for a suitable mate still show up 7 years later. Always make sure that your marketing is in support of your long-term goals.

Here's the bottom line. What is your marketing material doing to help your practice or patients? What about your profession?

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

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.

Get lasting, integrity-building, and free marketing advice from our ebook OD Handbook: Small Business, Big Profits.

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Originally written in September 2013

Tags: Marketing and Social Media, Resources

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