Practice Management

Expand your specialties by meeting patients where they are

For many optometric practice owners, designing a marketing strategy is the most daunting part. While ODs have every intention of expanding their patient reach, it's challenging to know where and how and when to begin.
Published 8.8.2023

It might seem like a no-brainer that in order to grow any business you need to build your customer base by branching outside of your existing business, but this concept has a tendency to be overlooked among independent eye care providers.

Coffee talk

Let’s pull back a little bit from eye care and think about this a little bit differently. Imagine you own a small coffee shop that offers specialty brews that aren’t readily available anywhere else in town. Maybe these coffees aren’t for everyone, but the people that need it love it and will tell everyone where to get it.

Would you offer these specialty coffees only to those customers already physically in your shop? Or would you look for ways to reach new customers and market what you have to offer by partnering with local bookstores, bakeries, farmers markets or other places where discerning coffee drinkers might congregate?

If you’re carving out a niche in the coffee game, it’s not enough to make a good cup of coffee - the people have to know what makes your coffee shop different. Your goal, then, is to get in front of the coffee consumer in your community and communicate why they should get their coffee fix from you.

Along those same lines, you may be providing excellent care to the patients in your chair through specialty dry eye, vision therapy, or ocular aesthetic services when the opportunities present themselves; but are you doing anything to generate demand for your specialties within your community?

Bringing your specialties into focus

You know your patients will benefit from the services that you offer, but most patients don’t know these services exist or that they can get them at their local independent eye doctor. If you don’t make the effort to shout your specialty services from the rooftops, how will the patients that need you find you?

Sadly, too many otherwise successful practices neglect opportunities to network within their community and educate their audience and therefore struggle to expand their reach. Many managing optometrists or OD owners are reliant entirely on vision insurances or other competitor organizations to do their marketing for them, often not realizing that doing so comes at a cost.

If you’re going to build a successful specialty eye care practice, meeting patients where they are is perhaps the most important part of marketing to understand. Doing so can act as the foundation for all of the marketing and communication that follows.

Take myopia management for example: how strong is your referral network with local pediatricians, schools and coaches? Consider how you can access patients in need by meeting them where they are, then design a strategy on effectively communicating the importance and benefits of your services especially to those people already engaging with your target audience.

Marketing matters

For many optometric practice owners, designing the strategy is the most daunting part. While they may have every intention of expanding their patient reach, they may not be sure how to execute it or simply don’t have the time.

This was the driving force behind launching my ocular health literacy business, Dr. Reghetti Designs. I’m honored to help fellow optometrists bridge this gap by developing patient-facing resources that are factually correct, aesthetically pleasing, and quickly branded for immediate use.

From my experience, the more creative you can be with where and how you market your optometric specialty, the greater your ROI will be. The image below maps out some ideas on where to reach potential patients for the most common optometric specialties.

Where are your specialty patients?

Caitlin Reghetti
Caitlin Reghetti, Optometrist/Founder Dr. Reghetti Designs
Dr. Caitlin Reghetti graduated from The Ohio State University College of Optometry in 2013 and currently works at an innovative, multi-doctor private practice in northeast Ohio. Her passion for patient education and writing inspired her to start Dr. Reghetti Designs, an ocular health literacy design business that creates customized patient education assets and office forms for fellow optometrists.

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