Does LASIK marketing feel like Perpetual Purgatory?
Did you know…
there is a little known LASIK Marketing System that few practices have ever heard about and even fewer practices are actually using that could turn on a stream of bullet-proof LASIK opportunities?
If not, it’s time you found out…
Before you continue, I want to respect your time by stating right up front about what this is and giving you the “bad news” first. What you will read below won’t make you a million dollars quickly.
Most practices will read this and think “We can do this ourselves.” And most practices will never actually build it themselves and will quit before ever making one dollar with it, much less one million.
That’s the bad news out of the way.
Now, here’s how a bullet-proof LASIK marketing system works for any sized practice. One that could actually be the foundation for capturing a million dollars in LASIK revenue.
It challenges conventional marketing wisdom.
It adds a new marketing process to your marketing portfolio (if you HATE change, this is probably not a great fit for your practice).
It’s actually in service (not just a cool idea or an engaging concept).
It’s very logical, scientific even.
In fact, it’s counterintuitive to how most practices think about doing LASIK marketing.
Why was this LASIK Marketing System developed? Because I was a victim of “Conventional Thinking” when it came to marketing as I suspect you are.
You’ve been exposed to conventional thinking if you’ve ever been pitched by a marketing agency. After a while they all sound the same. Throwing lots of “shiny object projects” around as ideas for you to pay for. No matter who you talk to, they’re saying pretty much the same thing.
“You need social media marketing…
You need search engine marketing…
You need digital advertising…
You need billboard advertising…
You need to buy ads in our magazine…
You simply must get Reputation Management.
You need more traffic…
You need to do radio…”
It’s like going to an Ophthalmology Conference Exhibit Hall and every booth is selling Pred Forte!
Since none of us learned the first thing about marketing LASIK (or any other Premium Service) in Residency, we’re all learning the hard way. Many of you will agree that we’re getting our Marketing MBA $10,000 at a time…every time we pay for a new campaign that can’t be proven to get the result we want.
Half my marketing money is wasted, I just don’t know which half.
— John Wanamaker
This is a new marketing asset. It is made up of three complementary processes. Putting it into place for your practice is the first counterintuitive aspect because you don’t start with number one.
LASIK Marketing Success depends on having 3 systems, or process types, in place:
- LASIK lead processes (Attention & Interest)
- LASIK nurturing processes (Desire)
- LASIK monetization processes (Conversion)
Conventional wisdom (and many agencies) tell you the first two are where it’s at. Few, if any, go into detail about how or why you should add the third.
This is probably a good time to make sure you know the difference between marketing and sales. I found the perfect quote from Eli Goldratt (Theory of Constraints guy) to explain it:
Marketing spreads the corn. Sales shoots the ducks.
That’s why this blog was written. Executing the first two processes without the ability to monetize all the LASIK attention and interest they generate burns opportunities. The first two alone are less valuable than if you have the right Monetization Processes in place.
The missing piece is the process that handles the task of connecting what most of you are already doing with the actual selling of a LASIK procedure. Here comes the counterintuitive part: The LASIK monetization process is the last leg of the LASIK sale. It’s not about getting web page visits or social followers, or likes and shares. It’s not THAT kind of marketing process.
Counterintuitive Axiom #1: The Monetization System’s primary purpose is not to attract new patients with ads
Every agency in town pitches getting new patients. Why? Because that’s how we have been taught to buy. That’s what you have been told is the most important outcome. That’s what conventional marketing wisdom wants you to do…and they’re not wrong. It’s just not the only thing or even the first thing you should be do.
But…If you begin at the end, you’ll have a process in place that can handle every single LASIK inbound opportunity you get, no matter what you do upstream to attract LASIK patients.
Counterintuitive Axiom #2: Build the LASIK Monetization System first because it is the one closest to the money. AND… It can pay for the cost of building the other two.
When you think about the end-to-end buying journey of a prospective LASIK candidate, the “last mile” is where the most important step in the process lies. By reverse engineering and discovering exactly what would need to happen to make this process as frictionless as possible, you come up with a model for a world-class process that moves an inquiry to an eval and finally to a scheduled surgery.
Next, let’s take a look at the big picture before we dial in how it works and how you might adopt it for your practice.
Of course, if you’re in a hurry and want more detail, you can click here now.
Counterintuitive Axiom #3: The cost and effort to build all three processes suggests that you should have a priority for adding each in an order that helps you pay for the ones yet to come.
Why? Because most practices think marketing is advertising. However, when a prospect sees your ad and clicks it or calls from it then marketing’s job is done. Once the prospective LASIK case takes action and reaches out to you, it’s YOUR job (not the agency’s) to close the sale. Few agencies walk you through your options for making sure you will recognize revenue like you are taught to believe is possible when buying lots of ads.
Once a prospect calls, or self-books with your appointment web app, marketing’s job is a success. That’s how lead gen campaigns often work. Lead generation processes fill a “funnel” with opportunities. From there few practices have automated nurturing processes in place and there is practically nothing in place that actually helps your Refractive Coordinator turn the LASIK opportunity into a closed sale and a scheduled surgery.
Remember the scene from Jeremiah Johnson where the old timer asks Jeremiah if he can skin a griz and Johnson replies “Just as fast as you can find ’em” so, the old timer gets a bear to chase him into the cabin? (vid’s only 1:22, enjoy!)
(In case the vid didn’t play, he slams the door, trapping the bear inside with Johnson and yells, “Skin that one and I’ll get you another.”
That’s my favorite scene. That’s how I picture marketing processes that lack this final step for monetizing an opportunity. The lead generation process is saying “You skin that one and I’ll get you another.” But it seems like we don’t skin enough!
So, who am I? My name is Peter J. Polack. I’m a practicing cornea specialist and I have conversations about fixing LASIK (and all the other Premium Services) Marketing a lot.
John Pinto called me “a polymath” (I had to look it up too). I specialize in designing and testing ophthalmic marketing ideas. I’ve devoted over 1800 hours in the last 3 years to finding better ways of doing marketing at ophthalmology practices.
I’ve come across some very unique ideas borrowed from other industries that can make a huge difference in how practices might attack their LASIK revenue problem.
I’m here to share Three Mistakes That Sabotage Your LASIK Marketing and One Fix to Staunch Your Lead Loss.
For example (Spoiler Alert – Case Study coming in hot):
Visionary Vision Care was in LASIK marketing hell. Pain and frustration mounted at every marketing budget review. The partners felt there had to be a way to navigate their LASIK marketing jungle.
“What the (bleep)?! The phone rings all day but our LASIK numbers are down.”
“In the last 5 years we’ve spent over $1,000,000 (waaaay over a million, actually) on getting new patients but LASIK is either flat or falling.”
Fellow LASIK surgeons: The story below is inspired by real events. The names have been changed out of respect for the innocent surgeons and their practices.
If you bother to look, Visionary Vision Care is not on a Google (or any other) map. Nor is it listed on medical review sites. It represents hundreds of dissatisfied practices unhappy with the number of LASIK cases they see and their ability to generate predictable LASIK revenue. Visionary Vision Care is a mashup, make-believe practice whose problems are common within ophthalmic practices struggling to grow their LASIK sales.
Let’s see how this ends…
Visionary Vision Care has 8 surgeons, 2 doing LASIK. From 2018 to 2020 their LASIK numbers dropped ~20% each year. They hoped 2021 would be their comeback (and clawback) year. They spend 100% of their marketing budget on brand awareness and attracting new patients.
They suffered from lack of marketing know-how and lack of bullet-proof marketing operations processes. They have misconceptions they need to unwind and replace with marketing strategies & tactics rooted in ophthalmic marketing expertise.
They needed (and found) a way to staunch the flow of lost LASIK opportunities.
The root cause of their LASIK problem was found among the beliefs they held. Beliefs about marketing which were causing confusion, wasted effort, time and money. Once they examined things and adopted a fresh way of diagnosing the problem, they were freed from continually repeating the lackluster results they were getting.
Visionary Vision Care was willing to take a new perspective and “unlearn” some ingrained rules. It wasn’t a big leap of faith. It was just a logical shift from flawed assumptions to more suitable approaches for solving LASIK marketing problems.
It’s these three flawed assumptions I wish I’d learned in Residency (and Fellowship).
Flawed Assumption #1: “Advertising is marketing”
Marketing is bigger than just buying ads. It requires strategy, planning, measurement and management. It is done by setting up “marketing operations” and putting funded projects (or campaigns) into portfolios. Marketing operations involves a set of tactical processes aligned to the same outcome…could be many types of outcomes (brand awareness, page visits, social followers, leads) .
Ads are only one tactic deployed to achieve an outcome. Just like you manage a portfolio of investments for yourself and your family, your marketing portfolio is how you manage your investments in marketing. Ads are a marketing tactic and good ones are like bait. But shiny objects alone won’t maximize the return on the marketing money you spend.
Buying thousands of dollars of LASIK ads is what many practices do. Ads can certainly drive traffic. Sadly, advertising alone is “required but insufficient” for predictable revenue. Ads are considered successful if they convert 2% of the prospects who see them. Prospects who are willing to call right away.
Sadly, it gets worse. Of that 2% who call will book surgery. Of those not yet ready to buy (the other 98%) were left twisting in the wind and were lost opportunities. The opportunity losses mount up.
Visionary Vision Care was getting ~8000 inbound calls per month. Of these, 300 were LASIK inquiries. 6 booked surgery, 294 became lost LASIK opportunities because they weren’t ready to buy. Of these, many would not be eligible and could, instead, be offered other vision options. Visionary had no way of monetizing these 294 opportunities.
Suppose 150 would have scheduled their surgery within the next 6 months if they’d been contacted and educated. At $4500 for both eyes, well… you do the math.
What happens when YOUR phone rings?
Flawed Assumption #2: “Spending Plans are Marketing Plans”
Many, many (MANY) practices have their administrator/marketing director and/or CFO come up with an “Annual Marketing Budget”. You know, an Excel sheet where expenses are the rows down the side (Print ads, TV, Radio, Periodicals, Website, SEO, Facebook Ads, Community events, etc.) and Months are columns across the top. As long as the proper expense is made in the right month the plan is “successful”. As long as you don’t go over budget, partners will accept this process as how marketing is done and will happily put it out of their minds.
Learning to craft a marketing budget actually mapped to marketing challenges and opportunities would have served them well. Instead, Visionary Vision Care learned the hard way by making many questionable marketing investments that “seemed like a good idea at the time.”
Flawed Assumption #3: “The Right Marketing Campaign Will Save You”
Campaigns won’t save you. Systems will. Most campaigns are run as a “one in a row” tactical, point solutions, or even worse, as a “one and done” effort.
An ad is designed.
A call tracking number is bought.
A budget is set and off it goes.
Or, maybe a postcard is designed.
An offer is printed on it.
A list is rented and off IT goes.
The campaign’s mission is usually brand awareness – when prospects are ready for LASIK, your practice will be top of mind. Sadly, even if it works and the prospect calls on the unique call tracking number, what happens if they don’t book that “Free Eval” you offered?
The lack of a Marketing System is why campaigns are often underwhelming.
So, What is a Marketing System?
A Marketing System has four elements:
- Enabling Technology/Tools
- Marketing Operations Processes (often provided by expensive agencies)
- Marketing Assets (content, media, branding, etc.)
- Marketing Thought Leadership (strategy, tactics, creative, operations, etc.)
A Bullet Proof Marketing Ecosystem has 4 “critical-to-success” processes:
1 “Internal & External Lead Generation Processes”
+ 2 “The Pre-sale Nurturing Processes
+ 3 “The Right Hand off”
+ 4 ‘The Sales Process”
Today there is much buzz about marketing “Funnels”. Marketing Funnels are a hot topic with most agencies that do digital marketing. They have even built graphics to show how prospects flow through a funnel and these diagrams are in many webinars today.
Here’s one that may look familiar:
Funnels were supposed to fix the potholes along the path to purchase. Unfortunately, the designs you see everywhere are misleading. They talk about getting prospects into the TOFU (Top of Funnel) by attracting them then dropping them further down to the MOFU (Middle of Funnel) by engaging them and finally converting them to a sale at the BOFU (Bottom of Funnel). They are too simplistic. The measurements you need are often not applied to them.
Here is one deadly flaw in funnel thinking. A Marketing Process does not close the sale. A SALES Process closes the sale. For a successful sale, you need to think differently. You need to measure differently.
The better metric for marketing is to measure opportunities generated.
Because when the phone rings and the operator picks up, marketing’s job is done. The elicited inquiry has arrived. Marketing has made the phone ring. If the operator is rude or untrained or just indifferent, marketing isn’t at fault. If the Refractive Coordinator has a crappy phone presence, marketing didn’t lose the sale because marketing cannot make the sale. Marketing is not in control of how the sales process proceeds.
This is why the “Handoff” is so important.
Think about the relay baton. The race is lost if you blow the handoff. Same here – the conversion is lost if you blow the handoff.
Does this sound familiar?
Since starting their practice, Visionary Vision Care partners have learned marketing the hard way. They’ve kissed a lot of frogs and wasted a lot of money. They’ve trusted the wrong people. Sometimes it seemed like no matter what was done, nothing really changed.
Marketing seemed more of a ‘Dark Art’ than a scientific method for practice growth. As ophthalmologists, they practiced evidence-based medicine. Why couldn’t they practice evidence-based marketing?
Agencies only wanted them to do branding and bigger ad buys (don’t they make commissions off of media buys?).
Visionary Vision Care staff throws out random campaign ideas and when they’re approved nobody knows if they worked. Staff wastes time on pet marketing projects (doing campaigns they like, not what needs doing).
Visionary Vision Care spent their marketing budget on the same things every year. They never looked at other possibilities to invest in. This rule was only broken when the appeal of a “shiny object” campaign dazzled them. Then they worked it into the budget…
Visionary Vision Care sounded and looked just like the other local practices. Their message was forgettable (“We treat you like family.” or how about “Your vision comes first. You’ll see we care.”)
Their refractive coordinator was trapped explaining the same 10 things to every patient. Instead of explaining surgery options and outcomes or making sure the patient knew about other services available, like dry eye. Time spent doing face-to-face patient education turned into fewer evals booked because Coordinators were busy educating. Fewer evals, fewer surgeries.
Visionary Vision Care’s agency didn’t actually understand ophthalmology. They had no real knowledge of what they did as providers and surgeons. The agency didn’t know that ODs don’t do LASIK and didn’t understand any of the LASIK decisions patients must make.
No one knew what actually happened after money was spent. Nobody knew which LASIK marketing campaign was working and which was a big waste.
The marketing director and partners could not see the buying journey that their LASIK patients took before they scheduled surgery. Visionary Vision Care wanted to track the entire path taken until the patient surgery date was set, and after (because LASIK marketing doesn’t end with surgery).
The marketing staff worked hard and were always busy but busy doesn’t mean efficient, or effective.
Visionary Vision Care’s agency wanted them to spend money driving prospects to book appointments by calling in but nobody had any idea what happened to them once they called. How many calls became evals?
Nobody had a plan for keeping a LASIK caller from shopping other practices. Was this even possible?
Nobody knew what happened to a “lost” LASIK sale. Were they offered another type of surgery or even optical? Did they accept?
One surgeon to another…
if there was a more scientific way to do LASIK marketing would you want to know more about a marketing system that gives you a proven path to staunch the flow of lost LASIK opportunities without having to disrupt any of your ads or agency services?
Discover The Real Reason Your LASIK Marketing May Be Costing You A Fortune.
Keep Your Money From Being Murdered!
Check out this simple plan right now.