Most independent eyecare practices don't have the biggest marketing budgets set aside to launch campaigns. Without an ample marketing budget, marketing for optometrists can become increasingly tricky, time-consuming, and ineffective.
Many practices might think that it's ok to carry on without any marketing, but in today's business world that's not conducive to growth. With little to no budget, there are several things you can be doing in your practice to get creative and generate some buzz surrounding your practice.
If you're an eyecare practice in a small town, maintaining a strong sense of community is a great way to build your customer base. If you're able to spend a little money you can sponsor a local event, such as a 5k run/walk or a little league baseball tournament. Any community or charity events going on are a great way to build positive brand awareness. Also, look for different ways to volunteer in the community. When you or your staff volunteer at different events, wear a shirt with your practice's logo on it so that you can spread the word. Does your community have a Chamber of Commerce? Find out what it takes to become a member so that you can network with other professionals in the area.
You may already have a website for your practice, but is it easy for your patients to find? Search engine optimization is important to consider when building your website. If you don't come up on the first google search page for eyecare practices in your area, it's likely that many people won't even consider your practice as an option.
Once visitors get to your website, can they easily find the information that they're looking for? Are your contact information and office hours readily available, or do they have to dig to find it? Make sure that the most important information is upfront and that you're keeping your content up to date.
If you're looking to build your customer base, try creating a referral program. Maybe for every new customer, you get who is referred to you by a current customer, that current customer gets a $20 gift card to another local business. Providing incentives for word-of-mouth referrals is a great way to show appreciation while gaining new patients, and supporting other local businesses.
Signing up and being active on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter is completely free - other than the time it takes you to post and manage the content on your pages. Maintaining up-to-date social media pages for your business is a great way to stay in front of current and future customers, and it's a great avenue for showing some personality and having a little fun with your patients. Remember, people like doing business with people that they like, so if visitors can connect and build a relationship with you through social media, it's likely that you will be top of mind when they are searching for an optometrist.
Whether it's on your website, social media, or within a sponsorship make sure that your messaging and branding are consistent across all of your marketing channels. Does your office have a logo? Make sure that you use it on all materials. Having a recognizable logo within the community will help build your brand awareness. Plus, if you decide to sponsor a local community event, it's likely that your logo will be placed on event materials, like a t-shirt. So make sure that your logo is recognizable on its own.
You probably ask your customers for emails when they become new patients, and you might already be using those emails to send patient reminders for appointments. Try creating a quarterly newsletter to email out to your patient list. This might be all that someone needs to remind them to schedule their next appointment. The newsletter can include anything from eyecare tips to team member bios to community events.
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Editor's Note: This post was originally published on July 1, 2014. It has been updated for relevance and richness of content on June 28, 2021.