Pick up any newspaper or turn on the radio and you'll be
bombarded with advertising about laser surgery. The interesting thing is that
all the messages sound the same.
"Let me do your surgery -- I graduated
"I pioneered the LASIK procedure."
"I have the most special
"I've done thousands of
Unfortunately, when everybody makes the same
claims, patients end up not knowing who to trust.
Positioning your practice
For your marketing to be effective, your
practice needs to project a clear, unique image. This is called positioning.
One of the best ways to do this is to create
a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) -- a short phrase or tag line that
communicates what's special about you and your practice. (Some successful
non-medical USPs include: "A lot is riding on your tires," "You
deserve a break today," and "We try harder.")
The clearcut image that you establish in the
marketplace with the help of your USP should achieve two things.
differentiate you from
other practices in your market
give patients reason to
think you're the best choice in a crowded field.
Classifying your practice
You have three main options for
differentiating your practice from others:
Be the first. It's too late to promote LASIK this way, but you can
use this approach if you're the first to implement a new technique, or the
first to get an advanced piece of equipment.
Be less expensive. In many businesses, competing on price is a common
strategy. Unfortunately, most independent ophthalmologists can't afford to
compete with the bargain LASIK chains. For that reason, the third strategy is
one of your best options.
Be unique. With this approach you differentiate yourself by
altering how the patient perceives your practice. (This is called branding.)
Creating a USP is a key part of this strategy.
Creating a Unique Selling Proposition
To develop a USP, set up a brainstorming
session with creative office staff members. Once you have a list of suggestions
to choose from:
Make sure your USP ties
into the emotional gratification that your patient will experience. Patients
don't buy LASIK just because a celebrity did, or because they'll see better.
They buy it because they've felt handicapped by having to wear corrective
lenses most of their lives.
Keep the message
Try to use fewer than
Keep it vague enough to
be open to interpretation.
Make it punchy.
Make sure it positions
you as the patient's best choice.
Very important: Be sure
it makes your practice distinct from your competitors. This is the whole point.
A good example is the USP used by the
American Surgical Instrument Corporation (manufacturer of instruments for LASIK):
"Today's precision . . . tomorrow's vision."
Once you've created a USP, make sure all
your marketing and advertising reflects that message. Also, make sure staff
members are trained to treat patients in a manner consistent with your USP.
Otherwise all your work will be undermined.
As your message penetrates the marketplace,
you'll find that your practice is standing out in the minds of potential
patients. When they need eye care, they'll think of you.
Creating a USP isn't hard, so why
procrastinate? In the words of another well known USP . . . Just do it!
Susan Villamena is a principal and
co-founder of Practice Solutions Rx, a New York-based business development and
consulting firm. She specializes in working with non-selling professionals,
such as physicians, accountants, attorneys and architects, who want to build
their practices or enhance their skills. Susan can be reached at (914)
Ophthamology Management, Issue: December 2000