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This may not be breaking news, but there is still a valuable lesson to be learned. In August 2016, I began to notice a new commercial related to eye care. It was somewhat of a media blitz. The subject- dry eyes. The company –Shire Pharmaceutical. As an optometrist, I realized the ad campaign was obviously in advance of their launch of Xiidra (lifitegrast) in the fall of 2016.
Aside from the anticipated potential of this new drug, the launch of this media campaign was a novel and inspired one. It has been one we can all learn from. Nowhere in their initial commercials or on their website was there any mention of their drug. The purpose of both the website and commercial was not selling the drug. Instead, they set out to educate the public about dry eye and its consequences. We benefitted from this campaign, as do our patients, since it helped direct people with symptoms of dry eyes into our offices for diagnosis and treatment options.
The campaign featured Jennifer Aniston as a spokesperson which, in my opinion, is a definite plus. She is popular with both men and women, though these commercials are obviously aimed at women. Directing it to woman makes sense since women suffer more from dry eyes than men. Women also schedule most of the appointments for family members and make decisions on health care and other purchases.
The website, https://www.myeyelove.com/, is consumer friendly. I suggest you visit it and see what it says and the way information is presented. Information is easy to understand. The website is simple to navigate. There are many videos that feature both optometrists and ophthalmologists. Both professions are depicted as capable and helpful. The advice is common sense. They encourage the viewer to seek out an eye care professional and have their symptoms evaluated.
Although I am not a fan of all the business to consumer (B2C) advertising done by pharmaceutical companies, I do like this ad campaign. It does not set out to sell their product, but instead to educate the patient and consumer. The company realizes that getting people into the doctor’s office will translate into more business for them. But, a second benefit is that their company’s intent seems benevolent instead of opportunistic. They are not seen as just making a profit from a patient’s misfortune.
They could have just marketed it to doctors, or chosen to market it like other companies have. But, they took the high road and took a novel and different approach. Kudos to them.
With the official launch of Xiidra, the commercials run by Shire Pharmaceutical have changed and are more like ads we have seen in the past. They run ads for Xiidra as expected, but interestingly, also continue to run ads for My Eye Love. They have a separate website for the drug but also maintain the more information and education driven site for My Eye Love. Both websites continues to be informative and easily navigated. Links exist between the My Eye Love website to the Xiidra site, but it is up to the visitor to choose to use the link. It would have been an easy, and cost saving, decision for Shire to discontinue the My Eye Love ads and website when they got approval to market Xiidra. Yet, they chose to keep both going. Another reason to admire them. I applaud their continued efforts on educating the public.
What can we learn and apply to our practices? Educate your patients. Provide quality care. Make your marketing approaches aimed at what the patient wants and needs and not on what you think they should want and need. Do not sell. If all your social media activity and personal communication in the office are centered only on selling and promoting yourself, you will lose your credibility as a caring professional. “Buy a new pair of glasses”, “Look at our new frames”, “Schedule a new exam” are ok in their place. Just don’t make it the only message you deliver. In a study done by SproutSocial, 46% of social media users unfollow a brand because they have too many promotional messages.
Don’t miss the opportunity to educate your patients and make a more meaningful connection to them. It is communication and connection that builds a practice and keeps patients loyal. Make sure your patients leave your office as an enthusiastic ambassador for your practice.
How do you educate your patients on a daily basis in your offices? How do you show your patients that your primary interest is in their health and well-being and not in what you can sell them? Leave your comments and suggestions below.