Why Your ECP Practice NEEDS a Good Web Presence
by Bob Main - Web Presence Coach/Consultant
Published Aug 2014
Well, let's face it. ECPs (Eye Care Professionals) have a lot to be frustrated about these days - reductions in reimbursements, online opticals, etc. However, there are also a lot of positive things happening to ECPs. One positive development is the opportunity/ability to compete on a level playing field with the big box retailers and online opticals for a relatively low cost. Wow, did I just say that? Really? How is that possible? They have mega dollars to market their businesses. How can the average ECP compete against that?
The key is to have a good online presence (professionally developed website, good social media presence, monitor/manage online review sites and a patient engagement program). This allows you to keep your brand name (a.k.a. practice/doctor's name) in front of patients, and potential patients between office visits. This is critical! Why?
Consumers are turning to the internet for everything these days – to make buying decision, to check out online reviews, to get educated about products and much more. And it is no different when it comes to eyecare and eyewear. Folks, let’s not be naive. The old days of patients just blindly (sorry for the pun) coming to Dr Smith are waning. To keep patients coming in, and to attract new ones, your practice must:
- keep your brand in front of patients between office visits;
- continually educate patients about trends in frames, new lens technology, etc.;
- use current patients to “spread the word” on social media about your practice;
- monitor and manage online reviews sites and respond to reviews (yes, they are talking about you online and they don’t need your permission!).
Bottom line – You have to stay connected and engaged with your patients and potential patients between office visits. I can promise you that the big-box retailers and the online optical companies are working hard to get and stay connected with your patients. People are on the internet right now as you read this, searching for eyecare and eyewear information. Do you currently have enough of an online presence that you are providing the information they are looking for? If not, this is a major missed opportunity.
You must use the internet and social media to provide the information internet-savvy patients (consumers) are looking for. And here is the really good news…… your practice has the potential to do a better job of it than your competitors.
How you ask?
- You already have the relationship with patients and they will read your online information.
- Your patients love you and will properly share the love with their online friends/family (if you provide the online vehicle to do it and ask them to).
- Your practice can be more personable with online communications and social media posts than a big impersonal company.
- And.... you are “the doctor/professional”! People still see eyecare/eyewear as a “medical thing”. Even if your patients are being tempted to try a less expensive route, you can use the internet and social media to show them why you can give better care and service.
The online optical companies and big box retailers are not the enemy. Ignore ‘em. You are your own worst enemy when you don’t give people/patients what they want. These days, people want to use the internet and social media to communicate, get information, get organized, get educated and be social. If your practice does not have a good, professional web/internet presence, you are missing a fantastic opportunity to compete (and excel) on a level playing field with your competition. Don’t blame the competition. It’s up to you.
So what is the solution? You could hire a company to redo your website and to trick-out your Facebook page. That's probably not a bad idea. There are plenty of good companies in our industry that can do the job. There are even companies that will manage your online reviews and automate your patient engagement program. Sweet!
But, regardless if you decide to get “adult supervision” or not, it is very important to get educated on the concepts of how the internet and social media can grow your practice. Why?
First, you need to develop an overall online strategy. To do that, you need knowledge about the internet, social media, online reviews, e-newsletters, etc.
Second, even if you hire a company to do some of the online work, you need to have “web knowledge” to be able to manage the whole process. And how will you decided what you can do in-house vs. out source without at least a concept of the whole process?
The real solution - Start getting educated at conferences, read articles in trade magazines, ask your vendors for help and ask your optical buddies what they are doing. You have made a great start by spending time on www.ECPWebCoach.com. I suggest you make sure to get on the Coaches list and be notified of new content we put on this site, upcoming webinars, web tip videos and a lot more.
But whatever you do, begin TODAY to get educated and make getting a better web presence for your practice a high priority. The internet eyewear and big box retailers are making it a priority.
When one of your patients (or potential patients) searches the internet tonight for eyecare/eyewear information, will your practice provide the information they seek – or will they have to go to another source to get it?
If you found this article to be useful, please share it with your optical buddies on a favorite social media platform or email them a copy.
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