To thrive beyond just growing as an optometrist, you must see your eye clinic as an eye care business. See your patients as eye health consumers requiring an awesome consumer experience. If you are running an established optometry eye clinic with a clear vision or a growing eye clinic with a compelling mission or you are a rising optometrist with a unique value, embrace these strategies to thrive:
- Implement a purpose-driven brand strategy
- Enhance your business knowledge
- Develop some network of support
- Prioritize patient experience
- Don’t neglect employee experience
- Leverage well-researched marketing strategy
1. Implement a purpose-driven brand strategy
In fact, this should be the first step towards developing a thriving eye care business or any other business. This enables you to define who you are, why you do what you do and what unique values you offer. Your brand strategy is purpose-driven if every action is aligned towards the well-defined purpose for the optometric eye care practice. It may seem every eye clinic should have the same purpose after it’s all about eye care. If that is the case, why would any eye health consumer choose you over others?
Starting from yourself, you need to develop your personal brand. This should have started even before establishing an eye care business. Not still late. You can learn more by reading How To Develop Your Brand As An Awesome Optometrist. Beyond your personal brand, you cannot effectively project what does not have a personality or voice, or essence in the mind of your target eye health consumers
In the Guide to Building a Brand Strategy for Your Company, Upwork wrote,
Your brand strategy is an exhaustive plan that details every step you’re going to take to market and grow your company into a recognizable name.
You can immediately see that branding is beyond your optical inventory, logo, slogan, or even the beautiful interior of your eye clinic. Your brand is the perception consumers have of your eyecare business. To develop a thriving brand is to always seek to connect meaningfully and at an emotional level with your customers.
There are 7 Components for a Comprehensive Branding Strategy according to a HubSpot article – Brand Strategy 101: 7 Essentials for Strong Company Branding. They include
- Employee involvement
- Competitive awareness
2. Enhance your business knowledge
The world today is intricately connected as a global village. The implication of this is that everyone in every industry is competing on the same tuff. To make an effective impact, every endeavor has become a business though some are more purpose-driven and human-centered. Your eye care business is interwoven in this system.
If you, therefore, want to thrive, you must understand the business ecosystem and how to navigate it. Business knowledge becomes indispensable. You need not necessarily get an MBA unless you have the resources and special need for it. There are many short programs and free resources online to enhance your business knowledge. At the time of writing this article, I am 7weeks into a Tekedia Mini-MBA. This very rich and mindset transforming Tekedia Mini-MBA, from Tekedia Institute, is an innovation management 12-week program, optimized for business execution and growth, with digital operational overlay. It is 100% online with faculty drawn from the trenches. In fact, registration for the 5th edition of Tekedia Mini-MBA (June 7 – Sept 1, 2021) is open and you can find out more and enroll here.
Out of personal experience, I recommend other platforms such as coursera, edX, and Futurelearn. Another great free and open university is YouTube! Yes, YouTube. Every day people watch one billion hours of video on YouTube and 62 percent of businesses use YouTube as a channel to post video content, according to oberlo. Expand your business knowledge if you want to thrive beyond just growing as an optometrist
3. Develop some network of support
Just like no man is an island so no business can go alone. Success today is based on relationships and collaborations. You bring what you have and others bring theirs. Values are leverage for a win-win outcome. This is what networking can do for your eye care business. Many of us like to attend our professional conferences to remain updated in our fields and connect with colleagues. In fact, sometimes, it is a requirement for professional relevance. Beyond professional growth, if you want your eye care business to thrive, you must network with businesses and professionals outside the eye care industry. Business networking is the process of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with other business people and potential clients or customers, as defined by the BalanceSmallBusiness. The business blog further listed some of the benefits of business networking to include:
- Opportunities to give value to other business owners
- Benefit from other businesses
- More knowledge and perspective
- Interaction with like-minded people
- Awareness of the latest trends or technology in the business world
- Opportunity to connect with business mentors
Ways you can expose yourself to these opportunities and enhance your chances of building a thriving eyecare business include but not limited to
- Business seminars
- Business networking groups
- Professional Associations
- Chambers of commerce
4. Prioritize patient experience
You are in the eyecare business to give the best eye health value to patients. I personally prefer to refer to them as eye health consumers. Some may not have any clinical needs but the experience they have in your practice can become your best marketing asset. It, therefore, makes great sense to make the eye health consumer experience awesome. Every touchpoint of interaction in your eyecare practice adds up to the overall experience for the patient or consumer. It is your goal to make sure they receive a memorable and flawless experience from the first point of interaction to the last point of care. From how your opticians manage difficult customers, to how you listen to patients and receive feedback on every aspect of your eyecare practice, all add up to the overall consumer experience. Some ways to prioritizing patient experience include
- Making sure that patients and your staff communicate effectively.
- Listen to patient queries and attend to them promptly
- Treat every patient as special
- Establish great phone skills for patient interaction
- Keep the practice up to date
- Create different avenue to interact with the clinic
- Encourage teamwork
- Serve beyond expectations
5. Don’t neglect employee experience
If the patients are king then the employees are the kingmakers. Happy employees translate to happy consumers. Getting the best staff for your practice starts from seeking those who fit in your business culture. In fact, human resource experts suggest hiring for attitude over skills. In the optometry eye clinic as a healthcare facility, skills remain a requirement for fit but never neglect attitude. You train and equip with skills but it is almost impossible to create a new attitude in an adult.
According to Culture Amp Blog, when employee experience is not neglected, the organization and in this case your eye clinic benefits in such areas as
- Employee engagement is the measure of the relationship between employees and an organization.
- Staff recruitment as the majority of seekers tends to research to know what it is like working in your eyecare business.
- Retention as most employees will tend to commit long term if they fit with the practice culture.
6. Leverage well-researched marketing strategy
Though a digital marketer, I believe the best marketing strategy should not be restricted to digital marketing. Digital marketing should be embraced alongside other traditional marketing strategies. To some eyecare professionals, marketing may sound unethical but there is virtually no way to avoid some form of marketing today. It is better if strategic and focused on creating value to attract, engage and retain eye health consumers.
A well-researched marketing strategy that is aligned to your eyecare business brand purpose is bound to generate value for both consumers and the optometric eye clinic. A well-researched marketing strategy is to find out where your ideal customers are, defined a persona, determine the problems they wish to solve, and of course, note what will give them the ultimate patient experience. It would not help to just do what you see others doing or try to show presence on every social media platform. It is more strategic to know who you want to serve, where to meet them and how best to offer them value
Some of the best comprehensive marketing strategies optometrists can use to drive eyecare business growth include
- Omnichannel marketing
- Multichannel marketing
- Inbound marketing
This entails using digital and/or traditional marketing channels to send a relevant message to a brand’s customers regardless of the customer engaging with the brand, nor the channels used to engage, according to an Omnisend Blog Article. An example is a situation where a patient while shopping in your eye clinic receives an email or SMS message about a special offer. In fact, this is a way to also match up with the growing number of online optical retailers.
This type of marketing, on the other hand, according to Emarsys Digital, refers to the ability to interact with potential customers on various platforms. A channel might be a print ad, a retail location, a website, a promotional event, a product’s package, or word-of-mouth. An example is where you use different channels, traditional and digital to reach consumers but not necessarily integrated. All can be different interactions at different points.
Starting with the opposite of inbound marketing is outbound marketing defined by Hubspot as the traditional method of marketing seeking to push messages out to potential customers. Outbound marketing includes activities such as trade shows, seminar series, and cold calling. It is costly and the ROI is much lower than inbound marketing. With Inbound marketing, your strategy instead of pushing your message into a crowd as often as possible, you rather attract highly qualified customers to your eyecare business like a magnet.
3 Sure ways for a successful inbound marketing strategy include:
- Content creation, helping you attract, engage, and retain customers with value.
- Search Engine Optimization, helping potential customers discover your content.
- Social media strategy, helping amplify your content.
Your eye clinic is an eyecare business and if you want it to thrive you must run it as a business against the benchmark in other industries. Today’s eye health consumers are now more than patients. Like in other business industries, they want to enjoy awesome consumer experiences. In other to afford them this ultimate experience and position your eyecare business at a competitive advantage, you must
- See your eyecare business as a brand and Implement a purpose-driven brand strategy
- Equip yourself for business by enhancing your business knowledge
- Leverage different perspectives and give value through business networking
- Take patient experience or rather eye health consumer experience as a priority.
- See your staff as the engine block of your business and so never neglect employee experience
- Attract, engage and retain eye health consumers through a well-researched marketing strategy.
Take these steps and you are on the path to running your optometry eye clinic as a thriving eyecare business. Need help starting or just need to explore ideas and discover growth possibilities? Book a free discovery session.
Some of the references that may help you get more information
- Tekedia Mini-MBA (Jun 7 – Sep 2021)
- What is omnichannel marketing? A guide for success?
- 5 Powerful phases for building a unique eyecare business growth.
- What is business networking and what are the benefits?
- What is employee experience?
- How to develop your brand as an awesome optometrist
- 7 Components that comprise a comprehensive brand strategy