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Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing people.”
according to Peter Drucker.
Eye care practice is ubiquitous now. Many optometrists now resort to outreach programs more as a survival tactic. Sometimes these are poorly and unprofessionally organized. In the recent past, such a case of an unprofessional and very embarrassing eye care outreach even got to the legal courts.
There has never been a better time needing a lot of creativity than in the Nigerian optometric eye care industry than now. Eye clinics are springing up at a faster rate. More optometry graduates have fewer places even for an internship. The brain-drain, though not unique to the eyecare industry is increasing at an alarming rate.
With a population of almost 200 million, Nigeria has only 4,000 registered Optometrists, according to Nigerian Optometric Association. More compounded by the fact that 80% of these registered Optometrists are in private practice.
These data amongst other economic factors have consequences which include but are not limited to
- Persistent quackery
- Many unreached
- Poor awareness
- Traditional treatment
- Poor or no eye health education
Nigerian Optometrists must be creative enough to reach beyond their immediate environment. They must employ innovative means to attract patients from far and wide, engage with them, offer health values and retain them.
Digital marketing is one indispensable solution to closing these gaps. The world has gone digital. Especially with the rise of social media, utilizing digital strategy to attract, engage and retain eye health consumers is a must consideration for any eye clinic with vision.
If as an optometrist you can use creative digital marketing strategies to close any market gap in a way that solves problems, your eye care business will be at a competitive advantage.
Nigeria had 92.3 million internet users in 2018. This number, according to Statista, is expected to rise to 187.8 million in 2023. As in 2018, this internet penetration is just almost half of the population at 47.1 and would amount to 84.5 percent in 2023.
Internet user penetration in Nigeria from 2017 to 2023
Screenshot from Statista
Internet penetration is a trend that will continue to grow. It remains a huge enabler for the creative delivery of eye care services in profitable ways.
Expert Definitions of Marketing (Digital Marketing)
For the purpose of clarity, any marketing done online or enabled by any digital platform is known as digital marketing. In digital marketing, a good strategy for your business starts with a defined target audience. Only then would good planning and strategy be utilized to reach them through several digital channels.
Digital Marketing is simply marketing through digital avenues. Understanding marketing will give you a better perspective of digital marketing strategy.
According to the American Marketing Association,
“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
Philip Kotler, a Marketing Guru and the father of marketing defines Marketing as,
“the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit.”
Additionally, the Chartered Institute of Marketing summaries marketing as,
“The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating, and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”
Looking carefully at the above definitions, you would notice one focus theme – value for customers and of course for the marketer. Moreover, you can also notice that the whole process of marketing has always been to connect with your audience. In today’s digital world, this simply means meeting and interacting with them where they are: online.
Digital marketing is the only way for modern optometric eye clinics in Nigeria to sustain visibility in a society where people spend a major junk of their time online.
How You Should View Digital Marketing as an Optometrist
For an optometric eye clinic, a healthy view of marketing would be all strategies and tactics that will help attract, engage, and retain eye health consumers in satisfying ways. Of course, it should be profitable for your eye clinic.
In their renowned book on Marketing – Principles of Marketing, Philip Kotler and Gary Armstrong gave the most simple definition of marketing as
“managing profitable customer relationships”
No higher calling to managing relationships than the call to be an optometrist. As a primary eye care specialist, you should understand marketing as all the activities that help focus your eye clinic business on a desired sustainable path. This could be in the way of attracting new patients, engaging new and old patients, expanding your eye care practice scope, and ultimately increase revenue.
A politician who seeks to make the world better can engage with voters to earn trust and action. That’s marketing. A journalist who writes on a course of personal belief which in turn results in a positive change in government policy. That’s also marketing.
An optometrist with genuine empathy for a new mother could inspire her to maintain good hygiene. If the mom receives great value and recommends your practice, that is also marketing.
To be in the place where potential patients and eye health consumers live today, is to expose your eye clinic for growth. Marketing no longer simply means the traditional push style of just reaching out to sell.
Digital Marketing has come to enable a means of attracting consumers by developing and providing relevant content of value. This is a pull method that HubSpot popularized as inbound marketing. You give value and engage consumers without selling. This is the type of professional digital marketing method that will grow your eye clinic. It will help you attract, engage and retain patients.
Look out for my next blog post in which I will detail the digital marketing strategies optometric eye clinics should embrace.
I will be glad to know what you as an optometrist thinks about digital marketing. Do you believe it is a professional strategy for eye clinic growth?