Setting SMART Marketing Goals for Your Ophthalmic Practice


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Well, it’s February, which means the year is already 10% over. Statistically, that means only 42% of people who made New Years’ Resolutions have stuck to them. The other 58% of people have long-since fallen off and abandoned their goals.

Why? Put simply, because setting goals is a hard thing to do. It’s one of the most difficult things marketers regularly have to do – you have to strike a balance between ambitious and not-too-lofty; between boring and downright crazy.

With a new year comes new goals, both personal and professional. There’s a psychological component to a new year, one that brings with it fair amounts of over-estimating our capacity for change and being over-zealous about the things we want to change. The new year is a time to reflect on the past year: to re-assess missed opportunities and improve upon them. It’s also a time to find new opportunities and capitalize on them.

In order to help you set (and achieve) the healthiest marketing goals possible for your ophthalmic practice this year, we’re going to talk you through the best strategy we know to succeed: setting SMART goals.

What are SMART Goals?

SMART goals are unlike the lofty goals you’ve set in the past. SMART goals are tied to metrics in every category. SMART goals are:

  • Specific: don’t just say, “I want more visitors to my site.” Set a number.
  • Measurable: don’t fumble around in the dark wondering whether or not you’re hitting your goals – measure them!
  • Achievable: there’s a fine line between ambitious and ridiculous. Set reasonable expectations.
  • Realistic: best honest with yourself, and know what you’re capable of.
  • Timed: set a realistic time frame to achieve your goals, and know that it will take lots of effort and hard work to get there. Michael Jordan didn’t become Michael Jordan overnight.

By giving every aspect of the goal a tangible, measurable component, you’ll have a much better shot at succeeding.

S is for Specific

Practices often want to achieve multiple marketing objectives simultaneously, but each objective needs to have its own plan to be effective.

If you’re trying to increase patient visits and physician referrals, you’ll need separate plans for each. How will you increase patient visits? What does “more physician referrals” mean?

A poorly-written goal would be “I want to increase patient visits.” A well-written, specific goal would say, “I want to increase the number of patient visits our practice receives by 5% each month this quarter.”

M is for Measurable

Milestones and metrics are the name of the game. These can take a number of different forms, but common ones include revenue, number of patient visits, number of website hits, and so on.

There can often be multiple measurable aspects of a SMART marketing plan. If you want to increase patient visits, you may want to measure not only how many patients are coming in each month, but how patients are scheduling appointments (through your website, paid marketing channels, etc).

If there’s a quantifiable metric to measure (website traffic or clicks on a Facebook ad), that’s a good thing to measure, too. If your patient visits suddenly drop in a given month, try looking for any changes in the other metrics you’re measuring to help identify the source of the problem.

A is for Achievable

We’ve all heard that quote: “Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars…”

While it sounds nice and makes for a good motivational poster, it’s terrible marketing advice. If you’re Elon Musk, go ahead and shoot for the moon (or Mars). But if you’re the typical ophthalmic practice marketing professional, you’re going to want to set achievable goals.

Be honest about your practice’s capabilities, resources, and about how much staff power you have at your disposal. It’s ok to be honest and admit that you don’t have an army of salespeople working at your practice. If it’s just you or a small staff, that’s ok – be sure to set achievable goals for yourself and your resources.

R is for Realistic

While Realistic is similar to Achievable, the main difference between achievable objectives and realistic objectives is resource planning. You may have the momentum to see a significant jump in patients, but if you don’t have the staff to accommodate your new appointments, the goal isn’t realistic.

Realistic goals take into account the resources you have on hand and the capabilities of your practice. Ignoring the resources and capabilities at hand can lead to burnout when you don’t achieve your goals as easily as you had hoped to, so it’s important to be realistic.

T is for Timed.

Any good marketing plan must have a beginning and an ending. When you’re setting goals for your practice, it’s important to specify a time by when you’d like to see those goals realized so you can set milestones (see “Measurable” above) and check your progress.

Timing your goals also helps you push past them and set new goals if you’re outperforming. If you happen to achieve your goals ahead of schedule, reflect on what you were able to accomplish in the previous time period and set a new goal with a corresponding time period based on what you’ve learned.

Make it Hairy

My goals should be…hairy?

Yep, you read that right: goals work best when there’s a balance between a SMART goal and a “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal” (a phrase coined in the book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by James Collins and Jerry Porras).

By their very nature, the best, most worthy goals should make you a little uncomfortable. They shouldn’t be easy to achieve; rather, they should be big, hairy, and audacious. Each time you set a goal, think of how you can make it just a little bigger, a little trickier, or a little more audacious – harder goals will give you more to strive for and more satisfaction once you’ve surpassed them.

Where to start?

Maybe you haven’t yet set marketing goals for your practice this year, or maybe they’re not quite set in stone. That’s why we’ve assembled some marketing resources for you to help set SMART (and hairy) goals for 2017:

View all of our Marketing Resources

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