VM REPORTS: Optometric Business Innovators Marketing By Staff Tuesday, June 14, 2011 12:08 AM RELATED CONTENT VM and Review of Optometric Business Salute ODs Identifying the 2011 Innovators Digital Media Business Management Optical Dispensing Contact Lens Dispensing The Patient Experience Influencers Alphabetical List of Honorees STEPHEN F. BOLICK, OD Founder & CEO Eye Care Associates www.eyecareassociatesnc.com Raleigh, North Carolina “We hold fast to our practice culture, which is that first and foremost we are taking care of patients—not customers.” Stephen Bolick, OD, founded Eye Care Associates (ECA) in 1978 and today it employs 26 associate doctors in 19 offices throughout central and eastern North Carolina and offers “World class care. Personal service. Just around the corner.” As CEO he provides the strategic vision for the practice’s patient-centered growth, as well as their ever improving quality of care, personal service and community engagement. Some may argue that a practice as large as ECA isn’t as adaptable as a smaller office during unforeseen challenges, like the recent economic downturn. Not so, stated Bolick. “Our patient retention programs and consumer messages were tailored to include more value-oriented concepts, while our doctors and staff redoubled their efforts to maintain communications with existing patients, as well as become more engaged in community outreach efforts.” But a large successful practice also requires more support. “Our marketing strategy is a collaborative process between myself, our president Bob Brodney and our director of marketing Brian Hoyle.” Though Hoyle ultimately takes the lead on plan implementation, ECA’s approach is so collaborative that people at all levels within the organization are eager to share an opinion, comment or feedback. JOHN TODD CORNETT, OD Partner Premier Vision www.pvamarillo.com Amarillo, Texas “Maintaining focus on creating top of mind awareness of our brand requires a significant and coordinated message and program.” The sum being greater than the parts is a major underlying theme of Premier Vision. “We have worked diligently to create a recognizable brand,” said John Todd Cornett, OD. “As with any brand, the practice is no longer dependent on one or two principal players and has greater value in the long term.” The Premier Vision brand is a five-doctor, full scope optometrist practice all tied together by a professional logo and a history of external marketing. “Doing so has allowed us to become a destination optical,” added Cornett. “We have experienced growth through the downturn as we continue to focus on the things that separate us in the marketplace.” Things like creating The Center for Dry Eye Relief at Premier Vision in 2008. “As a part of that marketing, we created a Dry Eye Index that’s part of a local weather segment and airs about five times a day,” said Cornett. It creates an enormous number of daily media impressions. Premier Vision has also created a brochure about Omega 3s. “We realized that our philanthropic donations totaled the profit we generated from the sale of Omega 3s, so this year we created a patient education card explaining how we give the profits to feed hungry school children and fund gifts for needy children at Christmas.” LARRY GOLSON, OD Owner, CEO Envision Eyecare www.myenvisioneyecare.com Asheville, North Carolina “Educate, Inspire and Entertain.” Philanthropy is an important part of Envision Eyecare’s identity. It also happens to be a great marketing tool. “In our area, there are many nonprofits that operate to fulfill various needs,” said Larry Golson, OD. “We frequently donate time and resources to these organizations not only to market our practice, but to help a good cause as well.” Charitable associations aside, Envision also uses other forms of marketing. “We also invest our efforts in social media via our blog, Facebook page and Twitter account,” added Golson. “We track each of our efforts as diligently as possible and shifted our approach over time from print advertising to internet and charitable donation-based exposure.” Though, as a five-year old practice which started shortly before the economy turned, kicking off a social media campaign was a challenge. “We started by having a drawing for an iPod Touch,” stated Golson. “We emailed our patients to let them know if they joined us on Facebook and Twitter and subscribed to our blog, than they would be entered into the drawing. It helped jump start our social media efforts by having a substantial amount of our patient community following us.” Envision also engages staff involvement. “We appreciate the fact that this type of marketing takes time and consistency to develop and at the onset, the entire staff discussed the importance of social media in terms of current and future marketing trends.” MICHAEL JOHNSON, OD President, Owner Eagle Vision Eye Care Optometric Group www.michaeljohnsonod.com Sacramento, California “I believe our office is one of the finest around. Our slogan is ‘Eagle Vision Eye Care, taking vision care to new heights.” According to Michael Johnson, OD, the biggest challenge is keeping the whole staff, including himself, educated “on the latest and greatest.” “But we strive hard to be on the cutting edge,” he said. Continuing that self-imposed level of excellence, Johnson recently hired a staff member fluent in Russian. An unusual move for most businesses, Johnson wanted to better serve the large Russian and Ukrainian population surrounding his practice. During the recession, Johnson developed in-office promotions to increase his capture rate on glasses and contacts. In 2008, he brought in optical displays from EyeDesigns to give his frames the boutique treatment. And most recently, Eagle Vision Eye Care finalized a promotion through Groupon where consumers spend $100 for $200 worth of eyewear at his practice. Johnson and staff also go out of their way to interact with patients daily on Facebook, keep up on VSP’s Business Essentials, the Management and Business Academy and other trade publications and even added an in-house edging program to allow for one day turnaround on glasses.