Using health fairs to reach potential customers

Editor’s Note: Welcome to “Eye Catching: Let's Chat,” a blog series featuring contributions from members of the ophthalmic community. These blogs are an opportunity for ophthalmic bloggers to engage with readers with about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The series continues with this blog by Julie Gough-Nelson, marketing director, Shepherd Eye Center, North Las Vegas. The views expressed in these blogs are those of their respective contributors and do not represent the views of Ophthalmology Times or UBM Medica.


By Julie Gough-Nelson

Traditional marketing-such as newspaper, radio, and television advertisements-reach a certain audience. Digital advertising in the form of pay-per-click and e-mail marketing campaigns are the right choice to attract another type of client where they search for information.

Julie Gough-Nelson

Overall, with any marketing or advertising effort, the goal is to reach potential customers at the moment they are looking for information-and more importantly, when they are motivated to act on the information they have and schedule an appointment.

Health fairs sponsored for employees by their place of business can be a great way to reach current and potential patients that want to know about ophthalmology providers and practices where they can use their insurance benefits.

If you haven’t added health fairs to your marketing mix you should definitely think about it. Here are 5 reasons why these might be the right move for you.



1. Captive audience

Look for health fairs where an event promotion company is coordinating the event. While attendees to a company-sponsored health fair may very well have limited time to view all the booths at an event, typically, the promotion company is well-versed in these types of events and will see that tables/booths are set-up in such a way that all vendors are passed by all attendees.

You might also ask if attendance is mandatory or voluntary. Some events I have attended have required all employees to come to the event in order to receive that pay period’s paycheck. Others incentivize employees by offering raffle prizes for visiting a minimum number of key vendors.

Still, other events may require that all employees receive and submit a sheet signed by each vendor in attendance. Although at some events employees have a choice to pass quickly by your booth, by placing yourself near the key sponsors or near entrances, exits, snacks or other points of interest, will at least buy you a few minutes to deliver your elevator pitch. Therefore, you should work on what the “hook” is in order to draw people to your table.

You may ask them about their glasses, if you see they are wearing them, or ask if they wear glasses for reading or are wearing contacts if vision correction is not obvious. You might ask them if they are happy with the way they are seeing, or if they are happy with their current eye provider.

Be ready to share the highlights of the business that apply to your audience (for example, know their insurance providers). With traditional media, your audience can put down the newspaper, change the television channel, or turn off the radio. With your placement in the exhibit hall, even if people are not specifically looking for an eye-care professional, you still have a chance to grab their attention and draw them in to further conversation.


2. Large audience

Finding and reaching a large, targeted, yet diverse group of potential patients can be a long and cumbersome effort. What may take your business development or marketing team much time and effort to execute, can be brought to your fingertips by using an event promotion company to keep you apprised of health fairs in your community.

By using the event promotion company, you can save yourself the time of vetting their human resource departments to learn about the medical and vision insurances that their employees have, and even basic demographics about their employees like where they live in relation to where they work and whether your business is in close proximity to either.

An added bonus is that a large corporation with lots of business entities will maximize your return on investment. Instead of having to contact each location or business under the corporate office, you will have access to all businesses under the corporate umbrella.


3. Diverse audience

In Las Vegas, casinos are major employers of residents in the area. Three corporations specifically hold employee health fairs at each of their locations, about 30 hotels and casinos.

Between each company there are differences in the type of potential patients you will meet.

There will also be differences between each location under the corporate umbrella. The diversity means that while some employees in one business are young families that might be most interested in bringing their child to your clinic in order to meet with a pediatric ophthalmologist, others might have more disposable income, meaning they may be more interested in speaking with you about PRK over just a routine vision exam.

Still others may be an older crowd and cataracts may be their primary reason for needing to seek the consultation of an ophthalmologist.

As you craft your message, and perfect that hook or elevator pitch, you will need far more knowledge than just that of the employees medical and vision insurances. You will need to have a wealth of information to share.


4. Immediate information sharing

When a potential patient is at home searching for information about an ophthalmologist or clinic, he/she is free to click back and forth between competitors, being potentially swayed by the most up-to-date website, the most online reviews, or even promises of exceptional results.

It also means that the potential patient may not understand the information they are reading or viewing. This need for information to be clarified or simplified gives you a perfect opportunity to answer any questions they may have immediately.

Perhaps, more importantly, you have the chance to shape the potential patient’s first impression of the business in this face-to-face meeting. You will be the face of the practice at these events, so make sure you reflect the vision and mission of the business in each interaction. You can take the opportunity to highlight not only the credentials of the physicians or the services you offer, but also those non-tangibles that make your business unique, like the longevity in the community, or the ways in which you give back to the community.

Whatever it is, make sure it makes your business stand out against the competition, so that when these employees go home with their marketing materials, they won’t want to seek out any more alternatives.


5. Happy current patients serve as brand advocates

When you have done all you can to be in the right business, in front of the right potential patient that you want to attract to your clinic, and have told them all you can to ensure that they have the most accurate and comprehensive information possible, the very best thing you can do is to find those happy current patients that are willing to share with their co-workers their exceptional experience.

With a little friendly “peer pressure,” they will probably expound on all the many reasons that they continue to go back to your practice. Perhaps you will walk away with names of people that you can call on later to do video testimonials to add to social media or even the company website.

Perhaps you will have those very, very happy brand advocates that will bring their co-workers by the hand to your booth in order for you to explain why they need to have their cataract surgery done with a particular doctor, their doctor.

Don’t forget, that besides just trying to gain new business you really are also trying to reinforce to current patients that they have made a good decision by choosing you for their eye health.

Once you have found the right health fair fit for your practice, and are reaching a large, diverse, captive audience, then you can share your information and let current happy patients sell your business to potential patients while also reassuring those happy clients that they made a good choice when they chose you.


Julie Gough-Nelson is marketing director at Shepherd Eye Center, North Las Vegas.



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