Posted on January 26, 2009

How To Create A Productive LASIK Contest that Generates Leads

LASIK Marketing Series Volume 1 – January 24, 2009
How To Create A Productive LASIK Contest that Generates Leads

Creating interactive contests has been a new method of getting a large quantity of eye surgery leads. This marketing concept has been thoroughly tested by ophthalmology practices all over the United States and done with various types of web development companies. In a down economy contests simply do better at interrupting people and gaining their attention than running an advertisement in the newspaper. In a down economy people are looking for ways to save money. Possibly winning a contest would be a great way to establish vision correction goals without the overwhelming cost. Due to the fact that so many people register for these contests we can be certain that many people still want to have corrective eye surgery but probably do not come forth for financial reasons. This could perhaps be the case in any type of economy.

The Benefits

The benefits of this contest can be truly remarkable. The return on investment on a project like this if run properly can be high. The main benefit that will be derived from this contest is the sheer amounts of interested patients that can be placed into your lead follow up system. Secondly, you will gain vast community branding throughout the entire process. When people think of the eye doctors they are going to remember your practice. Thousands of people will be going to your website to vote for the best entrant and thousands of people will now become aware of your brand. This is a great opportunity. Additionally, your practice generosity will be remembered for years to come. Community goodwill is always a good thing.

Creating The Offer

The first step in creating a successful contest is to create a compelling offer. The offer must be exciting and attention getting. The most popular giveaway item has been to give away a FREE LASIK eye surgery. Although this works very well sometimes creating a theme can be even more powerful. In most cases where there is a radio station involved it is quite easy to negotiate a station giveaway. If you are going to buy spots on the radio to promote the contest ask them to donate a package. Some of the packages they may give would include sporting events, concerts, spa tickets, vacation giveaways or coupon packs.

Preparing The Website

Your website will perhaps play the largest role in the entire contest and needs to be ready for action. The contest will be your admission pass to get thousands of viewers in your local community to your website. If the website is in need of repair and possibly a facelift make sure to do this well in advance. Once the contest has been established there are 4 main components that your website will need to have:

1. An essay, video or photo uploader system – Each entrant will need to do some sort of action to become a viable contest winner such as write an essay, upload a photo, or upload a video. Essay systems are by far the easiest way to do this, however a photo or video based contest can be quite exciting. The biggest issues with uploading videos or photos and displaying them on a website is sizing. The average person may struggle with resizing either video or photos. If you decide to take the technological challenge here make sure to consult your web development company and create a plan to handle this situation.

2. Establishing the website voting system – The voting system is an integral part of the entire success of the contest. The voting is typically done by the people in the community, friends, family or business associates. The voting system should be prepared so that only 1 IP address can vote. This will prevent excessive double voting making the contest fair. In the rules and regulations there should be a clause that states double voting could result in voiding the entrant. Additionally the IP tracking clause should also be mentioned. The voting system will need to display all the essays or photos in an easy to understand manner so that voting is quick and easy.

3. The Importance of the HomePage Callout – The website doing the contest should have a callout at the TOP of the website, very bold, very readable. When people hear about this contest from word of mouth or through the radio station it should be clear when someone hits the domain where they need to go.

• If you have a hard to type or hard to remember domain name please make sure to use an easy to remember domain as a redirect. Always use a proper 301 redirect in this case. There will be multiple ramifications if you do not follow this protocol.

4. Web Leads Database – The website collecting the website entrants and leads will require a simple database to collect all of the leads for a CSV or excel file export. This leads database should be online and accessible 24-7. At the closure of the contest all leads should be exported into a CRM software for follow up.


• If you do not have a CRM or lead followup system contact Bill Mercier at OptiCall. This company has put together a very nice system customized to ophthalmology.
• If you require a web leads database contact Onur Birsen at Glacial Multimedia Inc. to inquire about how to do this part.

Promoting The Contest

Promoting the contest is typically where most practices have failed with this type of marketing contest in the past. Promoting the contest is not something that can be done without full attention. Without proper promotion any practice will waste marketing funds. Setting up the contest is one thing but promoting it is entirely different. Listed below are some suggestions for promoting this type of contest in order of importance.

1. Radio Station Co-Marketing Offer – As previously mentioned most of these contests integrate radio. Radio can be very powerful when used in this way. It is amazing to see how many more people will respond to this over a standard LASIK radio commercial. The radio station can provide you with a spot schedule to compliment the giveaway of both the practice and the station. Choosing a radio station can be tricky but you typically want to use a station with wide coverage and large listener base that matches your demographic target profile. Once you have chosen a station make sure to address the issue of spot frequency. Consult your radio station representative about this or perhaps a LASIK marketing consultant. The Wizard of ADS is quoted as saying that you will need a radio frequency of over 21 per week to make any impact. That means that the spot must air more than 21 times per week and preferably when people are listening. AM/PM drives are far more effective. Resist the temptation to buy daytime spots. Many reps are motivated to sell the vacant time slots. That is not for this type of contest. We must get the word out. If you do no other promotion than radio the contest will work but the more promotion the better. Promotion does not always mean that money is involved. Put on your creative thinking hat and find a few FREE marketing ideas.

* Over 35 spots per week is highly suggested

2. Press Release – Your practice should issue a press release for ALL Local newspapers especially the small town couriers in the surrounding areas. You can easily get a mention or article in these types of papers. If the story is newsworthy they will run it. The press release can also be submitted online to PR newswire.
3. Letter to Patient Database – Write a letter or email to your patients telling them about your doctor’s willingness to give back to the community and this new contest opportunity. If they are a happy patient, ask them to tell all of their friends and family about the contest.
4. Radio Station Interviews – Do weekly lunch hour interviews with the radio station DJs. Have a series of questions to have them ask and prepare to create HYPE. Discuss the benefits of LASIK and the quality of the practice. This is a PR moment waiting to happen.
5. Internal Marketing Signage – Make sure your office displays the contest offer. Mention the contest to patients that may have children in the LASIK age range. Provide handout cards so they can give it to a family member.

• Be creative and come up with new a better ways to promote the contest. Please feel free to send us any new ideas.

Monitoring the Contest

Keeping an eye on the contest is going to be a required part of the practice marketing leaders job. There are various facets that need to operate simultaneously. The radio station will need to be kept in check. Make sure they are running the spots at the correct times. In my experience radio stations run spots at the wrong times over 50% of the time. This might be an opportunity to negotiate some more frequency. The website will need to kept in check and tested daily to make sure the uploaders are functioning correctly. Your contest system should be equipped with an approval system so that entries are read and approved prior to post on the website. This will eliminate the jokesters or people wishing to use profane language. You have to remember that you are a medical practice and precautions need to be taken in these instances.

The Winner Announcement Day

Make sure to seize the opportunity on the day when you announce the winner. Make sure to do a live on air broadcast of the winner and any second or third place finalists. The radio stations have a way of sometimes making these events seem bigger than they are in reality.

Preparing The Follow UP WEB

This stage is undeniably the most important part of the entire contest. This is why we do the contest in the first place. If done correctly your LASIK contest will generate a decent amount of leads. You will need to create the follow up system that will involve as many of these leads as possible. The first step in your follow up system.

Export leads into CRM – Once the contest is over it is time to start the follow up with your leads. Not every lead will be a NOW- buyer so you must assess your level of seriousness with each buyer. Make sure to export the leads into an easy to use lead tracking system.

Create profiles on each entrant – Once you get the leads exported start your lead profiles by updating each record. At this point in time a personal phone call is an excellent way to assess their level of interest. If they are interested but have financial excuses make sure to discuss your 0% financing offer and a potential discount coupon. You have a legitimate reason to make a phone. Do not be afraid of this call and make sure to qualify your reasons for the call to the candidate.

Determine the tools of your follow up plan – After you have your profiles and before you make too many calls make sure to have an offer plan or coupon in place. Each entrant should receive something along these lines.

*Create coupons or cash offers.

Start the educational spectrum – After you have understood who are your now buyers and which people might get surgery, make sure to start a plan to deal with the selling cycle. Each lead can be given various offers, education, articles and promotional materials to maintain top of mind awareness of your practice. Doug Sims, President at Fast Track Marketing is an expert in explaining the educational spectrum and LASIK sales cycles. Contact him at [email protected]

Legal Ramifications

Consulting with a lawyer prior to running this type of contest is advisable, however, neither ASCRS nor AAO has made any claims that these types of marketing activities are in anyway a violation of the law or medical standards. Your contest system should make NO false claims and make no promise of perfect 2020 vision.

Sampling of Cases (e-mail me for graph)

• If a practice can close 20% of 100 leads that is 20 surgeries. 20 surgeries even with a $500 off coupon will lead to a very healthy return on investment. Some practices may do better but the important thing is to review your possible ROI calculations ahead of time before making an investment. These practice contests can be done at a decent cost comparative to a few print ads and the lead totals are far superior.

Practice Expectations

The eye care practice must be prepared to work with each lead after the contest. A system needs to be developed and meticulously followed. Practices will need to have a leads follow up database; a callback system in place and valid offers after the contest is over. Many practices will give a $500 off LASIK coupon to try and convert some leads. At the very least the practice should have a follow up plan that works with the educational spectrum of informing people. If a practice does not follow up with patient leads do not expect to get the benefit of this contest. Some patients may get the surgery immediately and other may wait a year. The important item here is on-going communication and professionalism enacted by your practice during this process.