You’ve seen Mr. Spectacle for three examinations over the last five years and, every time, you’ve brought up the prospect of him wearing contact lenses. Each time you do, he expresses a genuine interest and he’s always impressed that at every visit you have something new to discuss. Yet, after all these discussions, he is still wearing glasses. Certainly, in recent times, patients do have economic considerations. But, we know from experience that satisfied wearers rarely drop out for financial reasons.
From Maybe to Yes
So, why are patients so reluctant to pull the contact lens trigger? Simply because we are handing them an unloaded gun and not giving them reasons for making the switch from glasses to contact lenses immediately. With these patients, few of us ever assign any urgency to help push the patient toward saying, “Yes!” To the contrary, we often tell them, “You don’t have to decide right now. Think it over and let us know what you think.” What they think is, “Well, I guess I’ll just wait till next year. What’s the rush?” While it’s clinically true that there is rarely a rush or urgency to start wearing contact lenses, we can certainly put a few bullets in our marketing gun to nudge the patient ever so gently.
Make it Time-Sensitive
The concept of urgency or immediacy has a time component to it. So, consider adding the following possibilities to your marketing message.
When broaching the topic with such patients as the one mentioned above, introduce some sort of time-sensitive offer. Something along the lines of limited-time special pricing on a yearly supply of lenses could work. Or perhaps, offer a limited promotion tied in with Rx eyeglasses. Time-sensitive offers for plano sunglasses can be effective, as can offering a limited-time extended trial period. You might even try a combination of the above and test which option works best for your patient population. Make the limited-time offer patient-specific, so it could be worded like, “If you are fit with contact lenses within 30 days of your examination, the price of an annual supply of lenses will be X instead of Y.”
Drive the Message Home
Just as is the case with most marketing ideas, you should approach this from multiple fronts. Phone scripts, in-office signs, information on your website and real-time patient discussions need to all be in synch regarding your message. Consistency adds credibility as prospective patients start to internalize, “This is just how it is.”
How can you bring this plan to fruition?
• At the close of a phone call, a staff member could say, “I notice the last time you were here that you talked to Dr. Jones about contact lenses, but you were never fit. Make sure to ask him about lenses again—we have a special promotion going on right now. If you want to get lenses, now is certainly the time to do so. Let me email you the link to our website, where you can find more information about this special program.”
• When patients are directed to your website to learn more, they will see the details of the promotion, along with an expiration date.
• Upon entering the office, visible yet tasteful signage should espouse the same message, with the same expiration date. When appropriate, a one-page document outlining the promotion could be handed to the patient too—again, with the same dating.
• As a staffer escorts the patient to the exam room, he or she can mention the offer one more time: “Did you see the offer we’re running on contacts? Do you think that’s something you might try?”
Be Subtle but Consistent
To ensure that this approach doesn’t turn from promotion to harassment, role-play a typical patient encounter from the patient’s perspective. Once your signage and documentation is in place, walk through the process as though you were a patient. The messaging should be subtle, yet persistent and consistent. Rely on common sense; the first time the patient says, “Thanks, but no thanks!” you have to stop. The in-office signs of course will still be there, but there shouldn’t be any further discussion. Each of these occurrences, rehearsed and properly presented, can move your patient from “I’ll think about it,” to “I’ll do it, and I’ll do it now!”