Skip links

Stephanie Bradley on Blue Ocean Marketing

Episode Transcript: Stephanie Bradley on Blue Ocean Marketing

Crawford Ifland: Hello, everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Medical Marketing Podcast.

In this episode of Ask the Marketing Manager, we’re going to talk about blue ocean marketing strategy and how to take the high road with your competition. Our guest today is Stephanie Bradley, the Marketing Manager of Kugler Vision in Omaha, Nebraska.

Stephanie, welcome to the show!

Stephanie Bradley: Hey, thanks for having me. Really excited to talk some blue ocean marketing.

Crawford Ifland: So just by way of introduction, just tell us a little bit about yourself and about the practice that you work for.

Stephanie Bradley: Yeah, so I am the Marketing Manager over at Kugler Vision.

It’s a really exciting place to be. We are a fairly small ophthalmology office specializing and refractive surgery, led by the fantastic Dr. Kugler – and just a quick pitch here, if you haven’t heard his TEDx talk on myopia, you should definitely check it out if you are into ophthalmology, you will find that super interesting.

But some things that really make us different is that we are the only practice in our region to specialize in all seven different forms of vision correction. So if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, well, isn’t LASIK the only thing?

Well, LASIK is really exciting, it’s a great solution that has been helping people who are over 25 years now, but there’s actually six other ways that we can help people to get out of their glasses and contacts at every different stage of life.

So that’s a really phenomenal thing to be a part of – seeing so many people being able to change their perception of themselves and the way to see the world.

As far as just kind of touching base real quick on who I am…I’ve been with the practice since… Oh gosh, 2015. So we’re coming up on five years now, doesn’t feel that long at all.

I’m just really passionate about what we do and passionate about the mission. I have a background in graphic design as well as a marketing and brand strategy.

Before I came to Kugler Vision, I was a full-time freelancer, so it was kind of my decision to come here was when I talked to the Chief of Operations at the time, he just really, really intrigued me with just this completely different way that they approach patient care, it’s really a practice that’s completely focused on the customer service aspect.

So not only do we seek to provide those world-class vision results, but it’s really just making every single person feel special.

Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many times your team sees this happen, sees these people walk in unable to see, walk out feeling a heck of a lot better already…even if it’s old news to you – and by the way, I hope you never let it feel like that, ’cause it is still special – that’s a once in a life time for each of these people.

And that’s something we really hold dear and try to celebrate and elevate that experience each step of the way. That really caught my attention, I was like, I really want be a part of that.

Crawford Ifland: That’s great. So it sounds like you really focus on the entire patient experience, maybe more so than other practices do…

Stephanie Bradley: Completely. And it’s an ongoing relationship.

This is not the kind of place that you go, you have your basic or whatnot, you got your LASIK, your PRK, your SMILE, whatever is the right solution for you. You don’t just come here, leave and never get seen again. It’s an ongoing relationship.

Because we offer all of those different solutions, we’re able to help them when they hit their next milestone. Maybe 10, 15 years, they find themselves needing reading glasses because the inside of their eye has changed, that natural lens has begun to degrade.

Maybe even farther from them cataract, and we’re still here for them, we can help them, we let them know what to expect. It’s something that we call the VisionTrack, and it’s this holistic approach to caring for that patient along this continuum their whole life, so they can remain healthy with healthy eyes and wonderful vision.

Crawford Ifland: That’s great. So walk me through a typical day at the practice. What does your job look like on a day-to-day basis?

Stephanie Bradley: That’s is probably the hardest question to answer, actually.

We were actually just recently hiring for a marketing assistant, a few months back – we found a fantastic candidate, shout out to Holly, she’s amazing – but that was one thing that every single person in the interview process asked, it was was hard to answer because it’s different all the time.

In the marketing department, we really function as a full-scale branding and design agency, housed within this one small company. So there’s no shortage of things to do on any given day…

Well, okay, I should probably start from the basics real quick here: we have a marketing plan that we draft each and every year. So in quarter four this year, we’ll start planning for how our strategy is going to look for the next year. And of course, there’s room to be responsive, but you wanna make sure that you’re operating from a good road map, right?

So once those objectives are laid out and we know our basic tactics, each and every day has kind of a mix of administration work that goes within running the department: does everybody know what they need to do? How are things performing? And monitoring that…

But then also taking our next projects onto the next way to progress those. So on any given day, I could be doing some basic updating or optimization of our web pages, which is something you guys are really intimately connected with at Messenger – thanks for all you guys do by the way…

So I could be doing stuff with the site, it could be a copywriting, copy editing, doing design work for the various printed or digital pieces that we have, working on talent acquisition, trying to identify and outreach to influencers, we might wanna work with influencer marketing is something that we’ve really gotten pretty passionate about and have been excited to expand in in the last couple of years.

So it’s really varied… It can be anything from working with radio people on your next content to slogging through the next two months worth of blogs and articles that we come out with – it really could be a bit of anything

Crawford Ifland: So it’s really wearing a lot of hats.

Stephanie Bradley: Yeah, I’ve got a good hat collection going…

We also do our own in-house video content and editing. Now, we recently came out with some really great stuff that was in coordination with another production company, so we have had the opportunity to get some real video pros in there, but when it comes to just a quick piece of kind of raw content for social that something that we do as well.

Crawford Ifland: So a two-part question here. What would you say is the most challenging part of your job as a marketing manager? And then on the flip side of that, what’s the most rewarding part?

Stephanie Bradley: The first part, the challenge – and this is something that I think every single marketer, or at least every single good marketer, everybody, you kinda know what they’re up against struggles with – I think at the core of our job is changing consumer behavior, changing what somebody’s going to do that day.

I don’t think a lot of people wake up in the morning and be like, “Today is the day I’m gonna fill out a self-test on the internet about my vision,” right?

You have to find different ways of catching people’s attention, engaging them, meeting them where they’re at. And that psychology component to me, the component of influence, of meeting people where they’re at and trying to give them that nudge, that motivation to do something that’s going to ultimately improve their lives for the better…I find that really, something really cool and something really engaging.

And I’m somebody who likes a puzzle and a challenge, so I would say that just the fact that that’s what we’re trying to do is one of the most challenging things. I also find it rewarding when we’re able to figure that out.

And for anybody listening who’s just wanting kind of a puzzle, who likes that challenge, what we’re up against is helping to grow the category of vision correction.

Because if you look at just the numbers of it, at any given time, 40% of people are nearsighted. That’s a lot of people dealing with myopia who aren’t happy with their natural…

Crawford Ifland: I’m one of them.

Stephanie Bradley: Oh yeah, so I was one too, I had actually vision correction with Dr. Kugler, which is like the ultimate vote of confidence in your boss, right?

So I know where they’re at, and I know how it feels – it’s not fun to have blurry vision!

So there’s 40% of people with that. And then past that when your eyes in your eyes start to change with time in your 40s, 50s, 60s, eventually we get cataracts.

So as a whole, 100% of us are going to need some kind of intervention for our vision in our lifetime.

And yet, if you look at the percentages of people who are choosing -and by the way, safer and more long-term option – a refraction correction compared to short-term kind of renting their vision with glasses and contact, the vision correction procedures only have a 4% market penetration, which is a wild to me because it’s safer and more convenient…it’s a higher quality of life.

So I really feel like the blue ocean marketing, the changing that conversation instead of just doing the shouting match about whatever dollar per eye is super important.

Because when you change the conversation and you help put it in perspective for consumers, they’re able to better understand… the improvements to a lifestyle that they stand to gain.

But as far as challenges go, there’s not a single thing that that I do in my function or whatever hat I’m wearing, that I see is that something I have to do.

I love everything about it.

So I would say the challenges are more of those, the big picture challenges, it’s not really the day-to-day that… That really gets me down from that perspective…

Crawford Ifland: Yeah, and they’re fun challenges to try to tackle – these challenges, these projects to try to really advance both your practice and grow and expand that category, too.

Stephanie Bradley: Totally, and I think that just working with you guys for a little while now, I think we’re pretty similar as far as just, you identify something that’s a challenge or maybe something didn’t work, and we wanna deconstruct it, and ask, why didn’t that work? How can we improve it?

And I think that if you approach things like that as a marketer, you’re gonna be happy in what you do…so as far as rewarding, I think they’re most rewarding part of my job to me is just knowing that, I’m not trying to sell you. I’m not trying to sell you anything, it’s not a gimmick, it’s not a schtick – it’s something that is really going improve a lot of people’s lives!

I have never, ever heard somebody say, “Geez, I really miss my contacts, I can’t believe I did that.”

Without a doubt, every single time we always hear some version of like, “Man, I wish I did that sooner, everything feels so much better.”

And having actually walked through that myself, that’s the most rewarding part. Is just because it’s a challenge to kind of describe vision correction, how they’re gonna feel – they can’t test drive it.

So you’ve got to help motivate them to make that leap of faith, and to me, the most rewarding is when we just hear from our happy patients in the marketing department, we’re also monitoring the various platforms that we receive reviews on, so reading those, hearing those, seeing how happy people aren’t being able to reply to each and every one of them…

Which by the way, if you’re not replying to each and every one of your reviews, I start doing that, because it’s one of the most basic ways to show people that when they’re saying, the time they’re taking out of their day to help you, by the way, with the review is appreciated.

Just hearing all of that is amazing.

Once in a while, I’m fortunate enough to be able to speak directly with a customer, directly with the patient to do maybe a video testimonial or something. And I really find that super rewarding. I love just seeing the look on people’s faces when they talk about what it used to be like and what it’s like now. Nothing beats that feeling.

Crawford Ifland: That’s cool. So I want touch on a little bit about your marketing channels first, and then we can shift gears into competition and that blue ocean strategy…

Stephanie Bradley: But right now, what marketing channels does Kugler vision actively have a presence on?

Yeah, so I think right now, we’re all aware the world is looking a little bit wild, we’re recording this in the middle of a global pandemic. So we’ve had to adjust things considerably, but I’m going to answer this from the perspective of what things are usually like…

So usually, we have a pretty darn comprehensive strategy that takes us across multiple channels. So we do a lot of digital marketing, pre-roll, graphic banner campaigns and retargeting stacks, because first of all, for all your SEO in the world, if you’re not also trying to pick up that low-hanging fruit of people who’ve been to your site are primed and just needed a reminder to come back, you need to be doing it.

So there’s that, obviously a lot of work on AdWords – that PPC is really an important component, the search engine marketing.

And then also paying a lot of attention to search engine optimization, your SEO strategy needs to go hand in hand.

We are heavily invested in engaging or having our brand engage with potential patients on social media.

Something like vision correction lends itself really, really well to Instagram, which is actually probably out of the ones that we’re on, I would say it’s our least mature platform right now, but also the most important because it’s growing so much in popularity, so we’re working on growing that channel…

Facebook is probably our most mature social media channel, the older crowd is a more and more what you run into on Facebook…

So it’s important when you serve every single age demographic, it’s important to not just be engaged with them on social media, but to know the different way to use each platform: who is actually out there?

Skipping past digital, as far as just web-based things, we also usually have a full gamut of digital billboards across town. We used to do a lot more events. Those really served a purpose for our brand when we are really getting out there and needing to have more direct interaction with the community to get to know people. We have since in recent years, kind of pulled back from that a little bit more. But we have done everything from sponsoring events to being part of things in the community, like health fairs and stuff, but we don’t do that so much right now.

In 2020, we are excited to really launch back into, we had a television presence going. We partnered with one of the major news stations here locally and had some really great coverage through that with some really high quality video content that we work to put together with the production company…

Oh my gosh, I’m missing a big one. Sorry about that: radio.

We really, really have always had a strong presence on radio, and I know that there are some people out there probably hearing in this and like, “Oh, radio is kinda going away, so many people have SiriusXM, they have all these other things that are listening to…”

Yes, I hear you. And that’s crossed my mind as well…however, there really is some strong usage of radio, if you just know how to use it and you know where to go.

So for us, we did a lot with sports talk radio, working with influencers there, identifying particular personalities and show hosts that we thought were great compliment to our brand that had a vision problem that we could help them with, and then getting live reads in their show.

So if you work with that talk radio segment, you have really engaged listeners. It’s not the same people who turn on the radio for a noise at their desk and tune it out…

And then I’m feeling really bucky right now on podcasts as well. We have some really talented podcasters, even here locally, actually a couple of awesome personalities who had their own show here on radio, and then recently moved to the podcasting format. And we got in on the ground up when they were pretty new on that for sponsoring them.

So really trying a lot of different things, and I know I already mentioned that influencer marketing is huge, if you haven’t investigated how to use influencer marketing for whatever your particular market is, it’s definitely a missed opportunity – it’s really something to take a look at.

Crawford Ifland: So like any other practice in a city of nearly half a million people, you’ve got some competition. So can you touch a little bit on what that competition looks like, maybe in each of your main digital marketing channels, like in PPC, when you’re doing things with SEO… What does your competition look like there?

Stephanie Bradley: Okay, so as far as where the competition is stuff, I’ve got to say as the SEM to PPC, I feel like that’s probably the toughest place as far as competition for serving your ads, competition for the attention there, just because as everybody knows that SEM and PPC is a super, super important platform.

Because nowhere else do you really have that easily demonstrated intent to buy – they’re searching for these terms because they’re already interested.

Their interest is piqued and they are looking for a solution.

And if you can be the one to answer that question for them, all the better! You have a leg up on potentially collecting that lead. And I would say that’s probably the toughest for making your mark on a good, affordable budget, because the more popular search term the more valuable and the higher people are going bid for it.

So I would say that’s the most challenging.

And of course, I’m sure most people who are operating in a town with a few other competitors are familiar with other people betting on your name, because everyone is trying to scoop up the impressions where they can…

I would say that’s probably the most challenging.

But a quick note on just competition at large: if your model is different enough, you kind of make that competition a little more…

I’m trying to think of the right word for it…you kinda neutralize that a little bit, now you’re insulating yourself.

Because you’re truly following the principles of blue ocean marketing, you could create that uncontested space… It’s about finding your own space and doing your own thing, and not really kind of falling victim to getting into that…it’s a crowded landscape out there for ads for people’s attention.

I can’t remember what the most recent that is, and what people’s attention span is on all of this, but it’s not long.

So if you’re just falling into the same shouting match that everybody else is, repeating the things that they’re doing, but saying you’ll do it lower? That is not the way to forge a new path for your business and to grow it.

Crawford Ifland: So we touched on that blue ocean philosophy that you have when it comes to advertising your services and engaging with your competition. Can you walk us through what that means and how that philosophy influences how you think about competition at your practice, like on a really tangible level?

Stephanie Bradley: Certainly. So if you haven’t checked out the book, Blue Ocean Strategy, it came out in 2004, I highly recommend it. It’s a great read. It’s by W Chan Kim, and it is a great book.

And basically, if I had to summarize it, instead of falling into the pitfalls of that tired, overdone, everybody’s doing it, kind of conversation about your industry, try to disrupt it by making your own path.

Find what is unique about you, about your business. Know who you are and know who your target market is, and find a completely different way to reach them.

So I would say the best visual that I can kinda compare it to is if you imagine the marketing landscape as an ocean, right?

Traditional red ocean marketing, all the other businesses are sharks, and they’re all getting to the same conversation: we’ll do it for $250 an eye! We’ll do it for this! We’ll do it for $200!

And all of these different promotions…It’s like they’re taking bites out of each other.

And before you know what the water is red with, not only are they bleeding from whatever that bottom line would have been, but the real, super unfortunate victim of that is consumer confidence.

People don’t know what to listen to, like, “Oh my gosh, I only this much over there? This is some kind of commodity. Can I trust it?”

Because it shapes everything that they think they know as they try to research and really confuses the value of the service.

So for Blue Ocean Marketing, you’re just gonna swim away from all of that and forge your own path.

And for us, that’s really been going to that full-service, customer service-oriented business. It’s completely different than anything out there.

If you imagine a doctor’s office right now, it is not like that. It’s more like a spa: you come in, you have this really individualized attention. We try to really cater to your needs before you even know you have them.

Someone’s going check you in, know you by name already, take your coat. If you’ve been into our office a couple of times, we haven’t taken notes as far as what your favorite beverage is that we offer, and we bring you everything that we can.

And every single piece of that experience has been tailored to make you feel comfortable, make you feel confident and taken care of.

Even the little details…we moved to a beautiful 10,000 square foot, very modern facility in 2017. And even the little things, if you were sitting in our waiting room – which by the way, we have very short wait times, so you might not get the chance to – you’ll never hear a phone ring.

Everything has been moved to the back, so there’s nothing that’s going to be distracting or jarring in that.

And so that’s aside from the fact that obviously we’re really confident that we have the best in the biz. Our team is amazing, the service they provide and our results are continually rated very high, we have a very high patient satisfaction.

It’s kind of ruined doctor’s offices for me because I won’t name any names, but they’re always like, “Okay, come 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork…”

Come on, everything can be digital now. To need to out piles of paper I’ve filled out 10 times before and then get called back 25 minutes late? That doesn’t happen here.

So we’ve really disrupted the way that people view what an experience at a doctor’s office should look like. And really making things convenient wherever we can.

And what’s one thing that’s really cool that we’re doing right now that has really changed things…and I can’t speak with absolute certainty that nobody is doing this, but I certainly haven’t seen it, I haven’t seen any marketing on it: we are offering a lot of telehealth options right now and virtual consultations.

And frankly, this is something we were working on months before this pandemic hit – it just happened to be good timing that we were able to roll that out, to speed up that roll out to meet people’s needs right now for the “new normal” that we’re all in.

So, Blue Ocean:

  • Change the conversation.
  • Find what your niche is.
  • Make yourself different.
  • Be apart from the pack.

And also for us, it’s two things: we have that Blue Ocean Marketing perspective.

But also something that I really want to tout, and I highly suggest that every company takes a look at this and do some introspection: we conduct ourselves rigorously with our ten corporate values.

This is not something that we came up with overnight – we had a whole committee, we talked about this over multiple, multiple work sessions and brainstorming, and we came up with ten corporate values that we conduct ourselves by in every single interaction.

And some of those, for example, are integrity –  we hold that very highly – teamwork, just conducting ourselves with that rigorous honesty, being above-board.

And that really translates heavily to what my department does, because we already mentioned we’re not trying to sell you anything. This is not a gimmick –  this is a life-changing transformative experience, and we want to represent it as such, but we also don’t over-promise.

You have to be honest, forthcoming, and share the facts. But in the end, marketing vision correction is about…you gotta have that heart-mind connection.

It’s really kind of a decision of the heart, you want to motivate people and make them feel what their life could feel like if they could just make this move to really improve their quality of life…

And then the head part comes second – and that’s making sure that you’re putting out great quality content that can educate them, so that when they do get ready to make that leap, their head can help them rationalize it, and both the heart and the mind or happy when they move forward.

Crawford Ifland: That’s great. So there’s no denying that we live in a very online age – and probably now more so than ever. And when you think about the behavior and all of the things we use the internet for, we’re really no different when it comes to healthcare and researching our options…

Stephanie Bradley: I read a stat that something like eight out of 10 patients turn to Google or another search engine when they’re either looking for a new doctor or doing research on a specific medical condition that they might have.

So I imagine when patients come to your practice, you get a fair amount of people who have already done their research and for one reason or another, they’ve chosen you over one of your competitors down the street…so when you talk to them about their choice, when you’re getting to know them a little bit better, what are your patients say? In their own words, what do they see as setting your practice apart before they’ve ever really had an interaction with you?

Hands down, 100%, our reviews.

Last time I counted, we have over 600 positive five-star reviews from actual patients. So when you’re looking at a fairly small team in an ophthalmology practice, that’s a pretty darn good number.

We’re really proud of that, because each and every one of those is a happy person who has not only had their life changed, but think about the last time you wrote a review…what motivates us to actually stop what we are doing and spend a minute to completely just to write a review? To help somebody else, right?

It’s not just to help our business, but it’s to help their fellow person like, “Hey, here’s something cool, I want to share this with you.”

Crawford Ifland: It’s usually either a really good review and you had a wonderful experience, or it’s the worst experience ever, and you wanna warn others.

Stephanie Bradley: 100%. You’re either super upset or you are super happy, there’s really nobody just like, “Well I wrote a review and say like, how okay this was.”

So we’re really proud of those reviews.

And they’re across multiple platforms. We have some really, really good Google reviews. I would say those have been probably the fastest-growing subset platform for reviews for us.

We have a ton on Facebook, and then we actually also, we had some Yelp – and I think anybody marketing could tell you Yelp is kind of a tricky landscape – but we’ve got that growing as a platform too.

And we hear from, I don’t have a stat for you as far as percentage of people that we hear tout those reviews as their reason for coming in, but it’s significant.

We hear about it a lot from people, and we’re really, really grateful to our patients who take the time to review as well.

Crawford Ifland: Now, I want to touch on the reviews a little bit. Because with numbers like that, it’s obvious that you have lots of patients that are coming through the door, whether it’s once or several times – they’ve had that really great experience and they do actually want to help you out and help others who are doing their research.

Stephanie Bradley: What is your process for gathering new reviews look like? Does it mean asking patients or do all of those come in organically?

I’m really glad you bring that up. I would say a couple of things.

So yes, we do ask for reviews. Because it’s one of those things where you’ve got to know them.

Or at least not me, ’cause I had the market environment and the function of my job is to be invisible. But our awesome people that we have in the clinic – our doctors, our technicians, who all have fantastic… Just their demeanor with the patients is so great, they’re all so empathetic, they build some lovely good relationships…

So it means a lot more, I think, coming from an actual person that you built a relationship with, he was just like, “Hey, if you feel motivated to do this, if you don’t mind just taking a quick second to write a review… We’d still appreciate it.”

So we do ask, but I also really want to caution people…there’s a term “review gating” – if you haven’t heard of it, I highly suggest looking into it, because you don’t want to be review gating.

And that’s kinda like where you make yourself some sort of gatekeeper between people being able to put their input out there or not. Don’t do that.

I mean, just put out your best possible service. Give them the best possible experience they can have, and they’re going to have good things to say at all you’re doing by asking and don’t pressure, but all you do by just simply asking is giving them the opportunity to easily share that experience should they choose to.

But you have to be prepared to also stand by your team and stand by your word, and you have integrity if they do have something negative to say. And take it to heart. Learn from each thing that they have to say.

And just because we don’t have a ton of negative reviews or anything, but if we did, we would give them just as much respect ingredients, the people who were writing really positive ones.

Because every single bit of input you get from people is a chance to learn.

But I do highly suggest asking for reviews because as long you know that you’ve given them the very best of yourself, the very best of your practice, there’s no reason not to just put it out there. It’s a quick favor they could do. And don’t bribe them or anything, if you want to give them a little thank you or something after just for like, “Hey, thanks for doing that. That was really nice of you” go for it, but it’s not like, “Hey guys, write us a five star review and you’ll get a t-shirt…” Don’t do that.

Crawford Ifland: No quid pro quo here.

Stephanie Bradley: No, no. You’re  better than that. There’s no need to do that as long as you’re giving people the great experience they deserve.

Crawford Ifland: So I want shift gears and talk a little bit about cost. Because if you think about it, a procedure like LASIK is expensive for a lot of reasons, and I imagine that that cost is a big concern to many patients who are walking through the door…

Stephanie Bradley: So when a patient comes to your practice and they’re saying, “Hey, we’re on board, we really love this, we wanna take the next step,” but they cite price as a concern, how do you deal with that?

And how do you communicate the difference between your practice and maybe that discount LASIK center across town who’s offering $250 and how do you do that?

People’s perceptions are their realities, right?

And we want to be empathetic to that.

And certainly the worst possible response you could ever have to anybody’s concern is like anything that amounts to a “nun-uh”, right?

Because if they say it’s expensive, then it’s expensive to them.

And we get it, but we do really try to illustrate the value that goes far and away beyond the dollars and cents of it.

So I would say the first thing that we approached that at is, for example, if someone’s calling you on the phone and just saying, straight up, “Well, how much is LASIK?”

Okay, let’s take a step back there. Let’s try to reframe this conversation, right, because as we’ve already discussed, we offer all seven different kinds of vision correction.

It’s not just, “Hey, I’m calling up to get the LASIK”…it all starts at that consultation. You really need to get them in the door, they need to actually see your experts, and find out if that’s really what’s right for them.

Because the cost can vary based on procedure, just because the different techniques and technology it takes to do that.

So it’s kind of like, you don’t really need to get into that a ton until you even know if that’s what’s right for them.

But past that, do make people aware of the comparative cost.

So if you look at the cost over an entire lifetime of basically “renting your vision” –  your glasses, your inconvenient contacts, because by the way, nobody again, nobody loves poking their eye every morning and putting a fungus-coated disc in there. That’s not fun.

So if you compare what they are sending monthly, yearly, and how much that adds up over an entire lifetime to live with a quality of vision that they’re not even raving about, and then compare that to one simple procedure that can fix that, that can give them long-term good vision that they’re happy with, that’s more convenient?

When you really look at the numbers, you can see why you really can’t afford not to do it.

So really, at this point, it’s really just sort of them, can they shift the way that they’re looking at it? Can they shift their perspective from kind of this thing that’s become their status quo, this expense that they’ve decided to swallow and be okay with every single month?

And you show them what it could be like if they just could stop the cycle.

A lot of people, I think, see the value in that and are able to move forward.

Really quick, two other tools to be aware of: we do offer financing. And of course, we’re going to let them know that that’s an option that can really help, I think that with good financing and understanding the value, we can make it affordable for people on most budgets. So it’s really something that is workable.

The last time I looked at the stat, I want to say for most people, LASIK pays for itself within five years, and of course, that could be a little slower or a little faster, depending on what you personally are spending.

But we offer a really great calculator on our site, actually where you can put in how much you particularly spend and how many years until you’re 65 or however old you are when you can expect to need a cataract surgery, and you can actually see right there what your personal savings number would be.

So all of these things combined is usually a really helpful thing to try to turn that conversation around and help these people to see the value and to feel more confident and comfortable with the choice to come in and learn more.

Crawford Ifland: So it sounds like really reframing the conversation around value and also seeking to educate the patient on other ways they might be saving, that helps a lot as compared to just competing against others in your market just on pure dollars and cents alone.

Stephanie Bradley: Certainly. And they also have to kinda look at…when you are talking about an elective medical procedure – this is not just LASIK, this is not just vision correction, it’s anything – whether you’re doing cosmetic surgery, whether it’s a nose job or LASIK, doesn’t matter what it is.

Your competition isn’t necessarily the guy down the street doing it for a different amount that you’re doing for – your competition is life.

You are competing against…”Oh, I really wanted to go to Cancun next year,” or “Jimmy needs braces.”

It’s everything else in their life that’s getting in the way and convincing them that they can’t invest in themselves.

You gotta find ways to show them, “Hey, you’re already spending this…”

I may have a Starbucks addiction…if I put together how much I am spending – which, by the way, I’m not gonna do that right now because I’m sure it will just make me sick.

But if I look at how much I’m spending on lattes every single day for a year…that is definitely more than a reasonable monthly fee for financing vision correction.

Crawford Ifland: It reminds me of a quote – Netflix CEO Reed Hastings once said that his main competition was not all the other streaming services, it was people falling asleep.

Stephanie Bradley: That was the main competition: sleep, not actually all the other people out there!

So I think you’re right. framing it in terms of, “Hey, all the other things you do with your life,” how can we reframe that conversation for a patient and get them to understand that there really is tremendous value in what we’re offering, and hey, is it does pay for itself over time.

Certainly. And a personal note to the Netflix CEO, though –  I just want put out there that I feel personally attacked when it asks if I’m still watching.

Crawford Ifland: It is the most passive aggressive comment ever…

Stephanie Bradley: Like, I might as well say, “Hey, would you like to read a book now?”

Crawford Ifland: Yes, I know I’ve been sitting on the couch for three hours…

So Stephanie, just stepping back for a moment and thinking about marketing in general: if you had one piece of marketing advice to offer to other managers who are out there in private practice – regardless of their specialty – what’s kind of the one salient point? What’s the one takeaway that you would offer for them?

Stephanie Bradley: Well, at the risk of sounding redundant, but I’ll repeat it in a way because it’s so important…it’s not like a silver bullet, it’s not like a sexy new saying like, “Oh, we should be doing…”

  • Just know yourself.
  • Know your business.
  • Know your consumer.

Because if you haven’t taken the time to really analyze who are we as a business? What are we offering that makes us so special? How are we doing it differently?

Know yourself inside and out, so you know what you’re trying to convey. Because if you look – just go through social media and look at a big brand and then look at your local businesses – you will see the gamut. Who clearly knows themselves, has a brand voice, has a clear, consistent message, when you look at their stuff, you’re like, “Oh yeah, I feel like I know what to expect” and who is just all over the board.

If you look at what you’re putting out there and you’re putting out the stereotypical, “here’s a kitten sunglasses on Friday saying happy like TGIF”, like, no.

Know who you are and be true to that.

If you don’t have a brand style guide, make one. Yeah, it’s a labor of love. It takes time.

I wrote our brand style guide, and I will say it’s probably the thing I’m most proud of in my life as far as a professional contribution to an organization, to a mission that I care about.

If you don’t have one, write one. If you don’t know how to write one, research and reach out to somebody who you feel like you love their stuff…

A lot of marketers out there, we’re total nerds. We love what we do – get me talking about marketing, and I will talk your ear off…

So just find someone that you like their stuff. Ask them for advice.

Most people started out getting advice from people, and they’re happy to give it back. So ask the questions.

And then past that, also know your consumer inside and out. Because if you don’t know who you’re talking to, nothing you do is going to be effective.

It takes so many touches right now for consumer to actually make a move and go for whatever product or service you are working to get the word out about. And if you don’t know who you’re talking to, you’re just kinda doing a “spray and pray”with that message.

So really just find that time, do some introspection, do your research, and a lot of stuff will fall into place from there.

Crawford Ifland: I love that. Well, if any of our listeners will wanna learn more about your practice, where can they find you online?

Stephanie Bradley: They can find us at

We just actually completely re-did our website. We launched the new mobile-friendly version in late 2016, and we’re continuing to work and optimize that each and every day as we go.

Which by the way, just one last thing – while we’re on advice for other marketers, if you’re not happy with your website, get on that.

I mean, that is the first thing people see before they walk in the door, and it needs to be a good impression.

If your website looks like it’s from 1992, people will think that the quality of work you do is not in 2020 either. So work on that.

And then just never, never be satisfied.

Stay hungry, stay motivated, keep learning, keep doing new things – because that is not only what’s going to make your each and every day rewarding and interesting, engaging…it’s going to translate that passion to your customers as well.

Crawford Ifland: I love that. Well, Stephanie, I really appreciate you taking the time, I hope other marketing managers out there can really learn something about Blue Ocean Strategy and some other marketing tips from our conversation. So, thanks so much for joining us today!

Stephanie Bradley: Take so much, Crawford – always a pleasure to talk with you.