Our Out-of-the-Box Marketing—Including How We Racked Up 30K Views on IG & FB

A branded dispensing tray in Dr. Pinkston’s office. He says that branding opportunities like this help reinforce his practice name with patients.

By Thomas Pinkston, OD

June 28, 2023

Our office, Haywood Family Eye Care, is located in Waynesville, N.C., a small mountain town in Western North Carolina. My business partner, Aimee McBride, OD, and I graduated together from UAB School of Optometry in 2012, and a few years later, joined forces as partners. Our goal is to provide a unique private practice experience that rivals any office in the country.

Part of that great experience is marketing, advertising and branding to attract and keep patients who value our services. Over the past few years we have found ways to have fun while creating marketing that reinforces the uniqueness of our patient experience.

The following is not all the marketing we do, but some of the more creative approaches that produced results for us in response from current and prospective patients.

Brand Acknowledgment & Reinforcement
Our brand needs to be visible and the patient needs to remember not just what we do, but who we are. We do this in a few simple and unique ways. In our waiting areas and optical we have video screens that rotate images with our branding. This reinforces the unique patient experience. In addition to our logo, these screens display unique videos related to eyes, our staff and even local videos of our beautiful mountains. The idea is not that the patient sits and watches the entire display, but as they glance up from their phone, our logo is visible and reinforces the experience our entire team is delivering. This idea carries through to our coffee cups.

Our patients are able to make a Nespresso coffee in our reception area after they are greeted and before their exam begins. Each cup has our logo and a unique saying to reinforce our experience. Finally, when a patient is dispensed glasses, they are dispensed to the patient in branded trays with chocolate to reinforce their personalized experience and our brand.

Videos that Educate Patients & Introduce Practice Team
Instead of plastering the inside of my office with the alphabet soup of vendors, we want to be unique and memorable to the patient. We have a small screen in the upper right corner of each exam lane. This screen has no sound, but rotates through content that includes “Meet the Team Member” with interesting information about each team member, interesting and relevant eye information and tasteful and vetted product media. It is important to note that these video displays are internally controlled and not provided by another eyecare company. Most of the content we create in-house, and includes our brand and logo.

We will use video and images from specific vendors that fit our other content. This is not as obnoxious or obvious as the old-school POP posters. For example, I may have a video showing a blinking eye with text about the advantages of daily-disposable lenses. This video may last 30 seconds. It will be followed by a video about a team member with information on how long they have been with our office, their favorite frame line, favorite music and an interesting personal fact. A few videos later, a video of a CooperVision daily-disposable lens will play. The patient becomes intrigued by the video feed with the personal connection to the staff, and the repetition of information on daily-disposable lenses delivered in a non-aggressive way has prepared the patient to begin to consider daily disposables.

When our technician brings up daily-disposable lenses, and then the doctor in the exam does again, the patient is more likely to consider this as an option. Many times I will have patients proactively say to me, “Tell me about X product I saw on your screen up there.” While this may seem insignificant at first, this product placement has an impact on our patients.

In addition, our team members appreciate being recognized as valued members of our team, and patients enjoy getting to know about our team, not just our office.

Coffee cups in Dr. Pinkston’s office feature branded sleeves, making it hard for patients to forget their practice’s name.

Creatively Turning Tables on a Vandal
Before moving to our new office location in 2021, our practice was located in downtown Waynesville, a small historic walkable district, for over 60 years. In 2018, we and other neighboring businesses started getting egged repeatedly. Initially we thought this was a few bored teenagers making bad decisions.

However, after a dozen or more incidents, we realized this was quickly becoming a larger issue. It was costing us time, money and mental stress. After each incident we filed the proper police report. And, yes, we did have cameras. Our local police department said they couldn’t do much without hard evidence, and  truly, they had more serious issues to deal with.

We decided to “hatch” our own solution. I strolled down to the local news station to pitch our story, and after their eye rolls and some convincing, they told me to come back to shoot a video interview and said they “may run it.” To my surprise, they ran it on the local Asheville TV station. Additionally, we took to social media with added creative liberties, including setting up shell casings to mimic a crime scene and photos of our likely suspects: Humpty Dumpty and the Unabomber. I even dressed up in a chicken suit and popped into the other impacted businesses to express my concern for my fellow fowl.

Our marketing helped turn a sour situation into a positive one, not only for us, but for the other businesses having this same problem. It helped us build camaraderie with other business owners and helped our team enjoy a difficult situation. For weeks after, we had established patients and potential new patients’ calling who were tickled by our situation and reaction. Our staff had fun fielding the phone calls, and after pleasantries, would always attempt to schedule their next exam.

In addition to generating great publicity, our problem was solved. The downtown eggings stopped for all of the impacted businesses after the story went public.

Partner with Local Influencer
Zeb Ross went viral on Tik-Tok and Instagram in 2022 after people began to edit videos of his clogging routines to rap and other music genres. Zeb has been a well known member of a local clogging group in our area for years. As a result of his viral fame, he was featured by the University of Tennessee Football program and was later featured on the Country Music Awards.

At the smart advice of my wife, I contacted him to see if he would be interested in partnering with our office for a video. I was lucky enough to contact him a few weeks before he was on the CMAs and became inundated with similar requests. I can’t calculate the exact ROI on our video, but we received over 30,000 views on Instagram and Facebook for less than a $1,000 investment. Patients and staff loved it! I had people in the community (who were not yet patients) approach me in public telling me they recognized me and needed an exam.

Bottom Line: Social media and marketing is not one size fits all. Be introspective about what you want your patients to say about your practice experience, and use your marketing to reinforce the experience you work so hard to create. Have fun with it, enjoy yourself, get your team involved and don’t be scared to get creative.

Thomas Pinkston, OD, is co-owner of Haywood Family Eye in Waynesville, N.C. To contact him:

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