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How do I…

Promoting the role of the optometrist

Independent practice owner of Loftus Opticians, John Prouse, shares marketing tips on how to educate the public about eye care and the optometrist

John Prouse

Marketing is everything and everything is marketing…but what does that really mean?

Many of us often think of marketing only as a form of gimmicky advertising, such as buy one get one free or a 50% off flash sale. However, as an independent practice owner, I have found educational marketing to be much more effective than only limited offers.

After much trial and error, as well as analysing and learning from previous campaigns, when I began to succeed in educational marketing, my practice really started to take off.

Optom is the word

I don’t want to teach my grandma to suck eggs, but as you will know, optometrists have a plethora of optical knowledge. However, the trouble is that we don’t communicate it enough. What is common knowledge to us, is often a revelation to our patients.

This hit me like a thunderbolt when I was having a conversation with a local veterinary surgeon. She asked me: “Can you detect many health problems with an eye test?” There I was talking about hypertension, diabetes and brain tumours to a highly educated professional when I thought, “What must the general public know about this?” Not a lot as it turns out. 

"The content rarely has any traditional promotions included, except about the eye care membership plan that the practice offers, which simply reinforces the importance of eye tests"

But as a business owner, what can and should you do to change this? One of my most successful ‘marketing’ campaigns was a household leaflet drop where I created a simple newsletter that detailed the top 10 reasons why everyone should have an eye test.

By gosh, the phone started ringing afterwards and I knew I was onto a winner. 

From that moment on, I started to roll out these types of campaigns once every six months, and now I run them every quarter. For my practice’s VIP patients, I also send them a monthly newsletter. 

The content rarely has any traditional promotions included, except about the eye care membership plan that the practice offers, which simply reinforces the importance of eye tests. The newsletters always focus on a health-related topic, be it either general health or ocular health, and the feedback is tremendous – as daft as that sounds, I literally get fan mail about my newsletters.

And although I’m a technophobe at heart (I’m actually 35 going on 70), I have dragged myself into the 21st century and mastered both email and webinar marketing. I use these platforms to educate my existing patients and ‘leads’ –  people who have not yet been into my practice, but have requested information via my practice’s website – about the importance of eye care and the role of the optometrist.

Overall, these types of newsletters have proven to be a win-win situation for me, increasing footfall and profits into the business, while educating existing and potential patients. 

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