By Maria Higgins, OD
March 1, 2017
If you stand still, you wither. If you think people already know about you, you are stuck in time and stuck with outdated perceptions–a prescription for decline.
Effective and continually renewed marketing helps to continually define who you are and what your practice can provide to patients and prospective ones. New techniques–many of them low-cost or no-cost (except for your time) are powerful tools for adding patients to exam chairs.
For five years, I owned a practice called Unique Optique, located in an historic downtown in Frederick, Maryland, in the midst of a retail revival. I learned about the power of marketing, as I built a practice that sold only unusual, independent-brand frames.
I have since sold my practice, and now, as the owner of The Unique Technique, concentrate on helping other businesses market themselves.
Here are five low- to no-cost marketing resources that helped me grow my practice, and which I currently use to help my clients.
I spent about 5 percent of my practice budget on marketing, keeping those expenses down thanks to social media, and other economical resources.
The following tools will help you take your marketing to the next level.
Social Media Examiner
Social media examiner publishes great articles like this one on social media marketing, “8 Essential Elements of a Social Media Strategy.” Their advice is timely, relevant and well researched
How I used it: I signed up for their e-mail newsletters, and religiously read the e-mails. They keep me aware of changes in the social media world. They also have wonderful information on the individual platforms. In addition, they have a podcast with every social media topic you can imagine.
This article, “5 Ways to Find More Time to Blog,” helped me to carve out time to make a monthly blog. I had been having a hard time getting one published, and this helped immensely.
A Great Graphic Designer
A professional graphic designer can help you create ads, flyers, web sites, invitations, business cards, posters and overall marketing campaigns that look amazing. Bad or amateur graphic design is super-obvious and unprofessional. Make your practice’s face look professional and inviting by using a profession designer.
Cost: Can vary from $300 or less for small job, like creating a simple online ad, to $3,000 or more for a more demanding job, like designing coordinated materials for a large promotional campaign.
How I used it: My graphic designer made everything I did look professional. She came up with amazing ideas for the web site and all of my printed materials. I thought I had a great idea until she got a hold of it, and then it became amazing. The amount of revenue is not always able to be measured, but the effect on your branding is immeasurable.
We did a campaign to target the LGBT population around the time of pride. The cost from the designer was $300.
Local Chamber of Commerce or Business Organization
Your local Chamber of Commerce, or business networking organization, can help you get the word out to other businesses about what you do. The Chamber of Commerce often will host ribbon cuttings and grand openings. Your target market is a population who believes in small business like you do. Who else to target but other small businesses in your area?
Cost: There is usually a yearly fee for Chamber’s of Commerce. Business organization’s dues vary widely. My Chamber was $350 a year.
How I used it: My Chamber of Commerce had a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and had all the town’s dignitaries attend, in a place where I knew no one. My town had First Saturdays hosted by the Downtown Frederick Partnership that gave us all an excuse to have special events and parties. Usually you are listed in a directory of participating businesses. The revenue from the events was definitely increased over non-event days.
Pictured on Left: The Downtown Frederick Partnership held a Sidewalk Sale on a First Saturday. We made a Facebook event to spread the word.
Facebook and Instagram Ads Guides
Maximize your Facebook and Instagram ads, both in appearance, and reach, with the built-in advertising tools available on these two popular social media sites. Most practice owners do not fully understand all that ads on Facebook and Instagram can provide. Every event and sale should be posted on Facebook and Instagram. These guides will help you to make the best ad you can.
How I used it: Along with posting ads for promotions in my optical, I often used the advertising tools on Facebook and Instagram to market the special events my practice regularly hosted, such as our Alice in Wonderland children’s trunk show and our fashion shows (in partnership with other local businesses).
For our fourth birthday party, we had a Glow Party. The link below shows you the event page for that party. You can use the event page as something to share on other willing businesses’ pages. You can use it as a giveaway, entering those who respond that they are coming to the event. You can turn an event into an ad as well.
An online thesaurus, such as that found at www.thesaurus.com, can help you produce interesting and well-written content, which people love. Your content needs to be clever, fun, interesting and informative. Most optometrists are excellent at patient care, but may be lacking in the writing skills required to create clever posts or interesting marketing names for parties or events. This thesaurus site can help you make your writing more attractive. The other option is to hire a content writer to help.
Cost: None, unless you hire a writer.
How I used it: I used Thesaurus.com to come up with a name of the practice (Unique Optique), the names of our many events and parties (Glow for our Glow-in-the-Dark party), and to help me write better and more colorful blog posts.