Whether you are just starting out or have an established practice, all Optometry practices should focus their growth goals–and marketing efforts, according to which stage they’re in within their Practice Lifecycle. (Lifecycle Marketing)
Each stage of a Practice Lifecycle, from cold-start to succession plan and comes with unique challenges. Each stage also requires different strategies in order to achieve growth and success.
So, what are the lifecycle marketing stages? Instead of telling you, I’ll show you by introducing you to Dr. Erica Smith, OD. Together we can follow her journey, along with the challenges she’ll face and how she ‘ll overcome them as she progresses through each of the 5 stages that form the Lifecycle of an Optometry Practice.
STAGE 1: Just Starting Out
Dr. Smith has just graduated from optometry school and has decided to open a practice. She hits her first and most important hurdle that all new businesses face–successfully opening. Start-up costs are prohibitive, and without a digital presence and marketing plan that helps her fill her appointment book, her practice may not last a year.
To overcome this, she adopts a lifecycle marketing strategy anchored by an informative website that helps her earn patients’ trust and answers their questions about her services. Dr. Smith begins targeting her local community through SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Google Ads to start reaching patients when they’re searching for an OD, and wins them over with social media campaigns tailored to her services. And it works; she starts building her patient list.
STAGE 2: Just Needs a Digital Presence
What if Dr. Smith skipped Stage 1 and still found some success? Not recommended, but impressive. Her established practice relies on word-of-mouth bookings from referrals, but that means she will still need a strong digital presence. Without it, her patients will eventually age-out, with fewer new patients to take their spots.
Dr. Smith will need to build her online reputation to get bookings. To do that, she’ll need a website that tells her practice’s story. She decides to upgrade her website and optimize it to showcase her services and unique values. Now she’s able to articulate her value to website visitors, and most importantly, start capturing appointment bookings.
STAGE 3: Needs ANY Type of Patient
Now that Dr. Smith finally has a strong online presence, she’ll need marketing outreach to start booking ANY type of patient appointments. General eye exams are the logical first step, but how will she reach these local patients with her marketing?
Dr. Smith needs to increase her online reach by using SEO to improve her Google search ranking for local general eye patients. Then, she’ll need to share beautifully designed marketing campaigns with her followers to motivate them to book. She decides to hire a marketing expert to do the work for her, so that she can focus on looking after her current patients rather than creating strategic campaigns. Her strategy does the trick, and she starts booking general eye care patients.
STAGE 4: Needs High-Revenue Patients
Dr Smith has achieved success and moves to the next lifecycle marketing stage. However, she notices that she’s losing out on high-revenue optometric specialty and optical patients to her competition. To serve these high-revenue patients, she will need to stand out from the competition. Reaching them takes a different approach than marketing to general eye care patients.
To overcome this challenge, she knows that she needs to overhaul her brand image and reputation in order to attract those specialized patients that will help increase her revenue. She makes sure her website and brand reflect all of her new services, and utilizes specialty SEO to reach these new patients when they’re searching Google. She has her marketing team create campaigns with emails, landing pages and social media posts for these specialty services as well. Success—she immediately notices a bump in new appointments, and return on investment.
STAGE 5: Ready to Expand–or Retire
At this stage in her practice lifecycle, Dr Smith has succeeded in building a very successful business and has achieved a high level of status amongst her local community. However, it’s getting to be “that time,” and she needs to make a life-changing decision: retire or expand. Expanding her practice requires an expert specializing in business expansion if she wants her new locations to succeed. On the other hand, to retire, she will need to sell her existing practice at the highest price possible to do so comfortably.
Either way, she’ll need appropriate lifecycle marketing to help her increase the value of her practice, maximize her profit, and make sure all of her services are performing to the best of their abilities. To do this, her marketing company custom brands her online presence to reflect every service offered. Similarly, an campaign pairing SEO and customized strategy is put in place for every service to motivate and book EVERY type of patient her practice services.
Building your optometric business effectively requires appropriate lifecycle marketing at every stage. There is no “one size fits all” approach, because every practice is unique. As you plan your campaigns and digital outreach, make sure that your messaging reflects the goals that are right for where you – and your business – are at the time.
Need optometry lifecycle marketing for your practice? Visit EyeCarePro’s website to learn more.