Peter J. Polack, MD, FACS, focuses his blog on adopting process-centric marketing for today’s busy ophthalmic practice.

BLOG: Marketing your practice in the time of a pandemic: Survive and thrive by shifting your focus

This might seem to you like an odd time to be talking about marketing, and you’re right.

What started as a blog with an emphasis on getting your marketing “house” in order because of what I saw several months back as an approaching slowdown in the economy — hence, the working title for the first post being “winter is coming,” (with apologies to all the Game of Thrones followers) — has now morphed into something even more critical.

As the threat from the COVID-19 pandemic gathered steam several weeks ago, it became apparent that “winter is here.” Change was coming. Period. And now this recession (depression?) has hit, a lot faster and a lot harder than anticipated, and no one was really prepared for it. But with it comes an opportunity to reassess what is working and what is not.

Look upon this blog as a kind of marketing manifesto: critical things to do to get a handle on your marketing efforts now and to help your practice emerge from the crisis as healthy as possible.

But first, some propositions before we continue our discussion:

Marketing is not just advertising. It is communication. How are you communicating with your patients right now? (More about that later.)

With uncertainty and reduction in practice cash flow, every dollar we have is precious.

Even with telemedicine grants and SBA loans trickling in, most ophthalmology practices will see a decline in revenue for the rest of the year and possibly until next spring if and when a vaccine becomes available.

Now is the time to put together a response plan for this decline in discretionary spending, which will extend beyond this immediate downturn and will probably stay in place once things start returning to (the new) normal.

A big part of that plan will (in fact, should) include a revised marketing strategy.

Your marketing strategy should strive to make your marketing measurable; as best as possible, every marketing activity should be able to prove its value.

My mission with this blog is to help you survive and thrive by expanding your marketing capability and adopting new processes without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The way you have done marketing needs to be reevaluated, and it needs to transform from a (possibly) internally contentious, delegated expense to a valuable investment.

By making a minimal change in the way you run some of your marketing, you could make a significant impact later — sort of how a small change in an airplane’s vector can lead to a huge change in its course. Did you know that when flying from LA to Hawaii, an airplane is off course about 95% of the time? The pilot’s job is to neither overcorrect nor undercorrect. The same is true for marketing. These days, your marketing destination must be trackable.