Beyond the Trunk Show: Getting Personal With Event Marketing

Lifetime Eyecare Associates created an event about dry eye.
EyeCarePro helped build a webpage and Facebook presence for the 20th anniversary of Colchester Eyecare.
Optical Effects Center helped patients understand vision issues via Presbyopia Workshops.
Kent Eye Clinic offered a glaucoma workshop.
NEW YORK—Looking to shake things up and really engage your patients? Take your marketing off the screen (or the paper) with a live, in-person event. Think out-of-the-box—beyond trunk shows—to create an event that benefits your patients, strengthens your relationships and highlights your expertise.

We have recently helped a number of clients launch successful optometric events such as glaucoma screenings and dry eye day events. These events can lead to higher profits per patient by promoting exams or procedures that cost more than standard services. A lot of strategy and planning goes into these events but they can have a huge impact on your practice by enhancing community involvement, creating awareness and building trust with your patients.

Events can be focused on products or services you offer at your practice or serve to build awareness about a particular eye health issue. Choose a topic that is relevant to your patient base and check the calendar to ensure you select a date that is free from conflicts with holidays or local events.

Targeted Versus Public Events
One of the decisions you need to make in planning an event is how exclusive you want it to be. For example, if you are holding an event related to a specific medical topic (like dry eye) limiting your event invitations to relevant patients will save on resources and create a more intimate atmosphere.

For example, one of our clients recently held a successful “invite-only” dry eye event. The event included education about the types and causes of dry eye disease, a live demonstration of dry eye treatment (lipiflow), a $100 coupon off treatment for each participant, and as further incentive, a chance to win a free treatment in a raffle (this is a good incentive since treatment is expensive). Of course, refreshments were also served.

Rather than publicize indiscriminately, their strategy was to target patients that had been diagnosed with dry eye or had inquired about the condition to keep the event relevant and personal. They targeted about 40 individuals and their families by sending out a personalized invitation via email and followed up with a phone call to confirm attendance. In the end, the event brought in 18 people (13 patients and 5 family members) and resulted in 4 lipiflow procedures that were scheduled.

Another client held a very successful “Dry Eye Day” that was publicized to their entire audience via multi-channel marketing such as email blasts, Facebook posts, website pop-up ads and slides as well as printed signage. The event included free screenings and a discount on treatment performed that day. Appointments were required in advance. About 25 people attended the first event which was so successful that they scheduled a second one.

These events took some strategy, time and planning, yet each of the approaches taken by the respective practices ended up being highly profitable. The key to a successful event that will be highly attended and bring in a profit is knowing your patients and creating an event that meets their needs.

Daniel Rostenne is CEO of EyeCarePro, which helps optometrists grow their practices with online marketing, web and mobile sites and call tracking services.