The changing face of vision marketing

July 15, 2008

LASIK still holds the top spot as most popular elective procedure, but in today's market, it's not enough to sustain a thriving practice.1 Moving forward in this progressive world of vision care requires continued reinvention. We'll share marketing trends and offer insights to help you get more patients in the door create a more personalized patient experience and deliver what your target market desires.

The vision market is changing and evolving. What are you doing to keep up? LASIK still holds the top spot as most popular elective procedure, but in today's market, it's not enough to sustain a thriving practice.1 Moving forward in this progressive world of vision care requires continued reinvention. We'll share marketing trends and offer insights to help you get more patients in the door, create a more personalized patient experience, and deliver what your target market desires.

The importance of diversity

It is becoming increasingly clear that practices that diversify tend to have more staying power than single-focus centers. LASIK stole the show in the earlier part of the millennium, but patients today seem to be gravitating toward comprehensive vision centers, as opposed to LASIK-only centers, and shopping around for refractive options.

The refractive market is relatively young, but evolving technology can help vision practices find success even as demand for LASIK drops. As the field of vision correction advances, patients are given opportunities to achieve better results while facing fewer risks. Although adoption of technology may increase procedure costs, you can position benefits in terms of safety and results to win patients.

The new premium IOL is one example of how marketing-savvy practices are making up for lost LASIK volume. By investing time and management into offering and promoting IOL upgrades, you can enhance vision quality for your cataract patients while dramatically increasing revenue simply by replacing a standard lens with an advanced one. Simultaneously, marketing the same procedure (as refractive lens exchange) to your presbyopic patients with a youthful-image approach contributes to the growth and new market share you need.

Bring back the 'wow' factor

Another way to gain market share is by ensuring that your staff is prepared to personalize the patient experience to the greatest extent. Create a culture of quality by making sure to cater to each patient during all steps of the process. Instill enthusiasm for vision correction by emphasizing its life-changing qualities. Discuss how a particular refractive procedure can enhance the patient's life in a variety of activities like sports, driving and reading. In short, amp up the "wow" factor at your practice by rolling out the red carpet for all types of patients.

Cindy Haskell, COE, of Gordon Binder & Weiss Vision Institute in San Diego, strongly believes that emphasizing sight as the most valued sense can position vision correction as one of the top five life moments. To create a positive patient experience, she recommends "practice branding for the senses," a method of image marketing that focuses on the importance of natural vision. She encourages staff members to communicate this feeling of celebration and anticipation to keep patients focused on the most important aspect-the amazing vision results.

"To put the 'wow' factor in terms people can truly appreciate, I describe the overwhelming reaction that occurs when our LASIK patients discover they can read the clock on the wall right after surgery," Haskell said. Use this air of excitement at every consumer touch point-from print, radio, and television advertising to your patient brochure, to the initial phone call, to your practice atmosphere and décor.

Patients today are split on technology-some will ask for a laser or IOL by name, and others just want to know that you offer custom LASIK. What seems consistent is that the technology "wow" factor has lost some impact in the wake of patients' inundation with high-tech terms and deep discounting. To bring back the excitement, don't focus strictly on a brand name or its advanced design, but on how these features benefit the patient.

Paint a realistic picture

With the "wow" factor approach, it is easy to get carried away and focus strictly on best-case-scenario results. But the centers that achieve and maintain success in their market practice what they preach and don't over-promise. Ensure your patients have realistic expectations by delivering accurate risk assessments and clearly communicating the full spectrum of post-operative scenarios. Let your low complication rates and satisfied patient feedback speak volumes. Discuss technology and physician experience as risk management tools and focus on gaining patient trust with an informative yet low-pressure approach.

Trust marketing

Compared with other elective procedures, vision correction is arguably the most life-changing choice. Marketing procedural values and benefits gets you halfway with a prospective patient. Winning trust with a truly personalized experience, diversification, advanced technology, and realistic expectations will help you close the gap and motivate your patients. In the marketing realm, creating a positive, comfortable and stress-free experience is priceless.

Reference

1. Mahdavi S. Building the foundation for a successful lens-based refractive practice. Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today. March 2006.