Does laser eye surgery marketing work?

Why most laser eye surgery marketing tactics DON’T work!

If you asked me, I would almost have to tell people that laser eye surgery marketing doesn’t work because of the number of clinics that I speak to every single week approaching me telling me that story. I talk to clinics worldwide, and when I say global, people think that we’re this massive, enormous company, but we’re incredibly niche. What that means is, I speak to clinics that have anywhere from two upwards of 50 staff members, so an extensively broad range there, but clinics that have tried an array of marketing tactics.

We’ve identified that there are 73 tactics that tend to work in marketing, but those tactics are not necessarily needed for every single clinic and certainly not at every single point in time.

What we have, are people coming to us saying, “Well, I’ve tried tactics 23, 30 and three, and for some reason, this isn’t working. So, therefore, marketing, LASIK marketing, laser eye surgery marketing doesn’t work.” And that’s fair; what they did, didn’t work. Often what’s missing is strategy. So there are tactics, and there’s a strategy in marketing.

And if you take a tool, but you don’t have the skills, if you don’t have the blueprint, you’re not going to be able to build a very successful house. And I think it’s very similar to marketing. I guess because people have access to these tools, they can use Facebook, Google Ads, can build a website, and they can send an email and think, “Well, I’ve done it. I’ve done the marketing.” And the reality is, they haven’t done it, they’ve just used a tactic or a tool, but they didn’t have the know-how. They didn’t have the strategy.

How is laser eye surgery marketing done right?

So laser eye surgery marketing, when it’s done right, and by right, I mean when it follows a customer value journey when it considers the patient avatar and their emotional needs, and what it is that the precise action, the precise tool that is required to move that person from the before state to the after state and the eight steps in between, there are specific tactics at every single one of those eight steps that will nudge them between the stages.

That’s what’s usually missing. And if you have those tools in place to nudge somebody from aware, to engage, to subscribe, to convert, to ascend, to promote. So going through all of the stages, basically popping them out the other end as a referring patient, then you’ve got what you need to create a system that generates patients for you at a reasonable cost per lead month on month.

What’s the biggest problem in laser eye surgery marketing?

Now, no business, including laser eye surgery businesses, failed as a result of starvation. And what I mean by that, it’s not because they didn’t do anything, okay? There are lots of people out there who want laser eye surgery. And, as long as you open up a shingle, you’ll have people coming to you for laser eye surgery. What most clinics suffer from is an overabundance of things. Too many shiny objects, too many different tangents, too many things to try here and there, and trying something for one month, dropping it because it doesn’t immediately work, and directly moving on to the next thing. And what you’ve got there is kind of this maze-like approach, which instead of cutting through to what matters most, you’re following these twists and turns and corners, and you’re not getting to your destination in as quick enough time as possible because you’re trying to do too many things at once.

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How do we know what works in laser eye surgery marketing?

What I find most valuable to people in your position is the clarity of what to do first, when to do it, and in what sequence.

And you’ll be surprised to find out that typically 20% of the things you do will generate 80% of the results, it’s a known principle.

And the fortunate thing about our system is that because we work with so many laser eye surgery practices around the world and have done so for now 20 years, we’re able to get an excellent feel as to what works and doesn’t work.

My goodness, if we haven’t by now, then there’s got to be something wrong with us. So we’ve seen a global application of these options. We’ve seen a long-term application of all the different things that have come up over the years and all the new shiny objects; we’ve gone through them all. And so we’re now really clear as to what things work and what things don’t work and in what sequence. So if you’re looking for that kind of clarity, you need to go to somebody who has that breadth of experience and depth of knowledge in your specific niche. And I think we’ve got that.

What gets in the way of many practices when trying to grow?

Laura: What would you say are some things that we know get in the way for practices? That we see come up? I’m starting to think like we know that you mentioned having a knee-jerk reaction. So I think that that’s a common problem that a lot of marketing takes some time to get some traction. And if you make decisions and sometimes it’s a good decision, but it’s not showing in your metrics that it’s performing, you might say, “Oh, it’s not working”, and move too quickly and miss the inflexion point, miss the actual tactic performing.

What are some other ones that kind of come up for you?

Rod: Well, indeed, an expectation of perpetual growth every single month, it has to be better than the last month. The reality is that it’s simply not true, right? In no system in nature do things work like that? And every month is not better. For example, it’s not better weather every single month. What happens in the weather? Well, we have good months, and we have some bad months. And what happens in weather is similar to what happens in practices. So seasonality plays a massive role. And one of the things that we’re pretty good at is identifying how well different clinics do over their particular seasons depending on where they are located in the world. So we know how well clinics in Australia are going to do in January because we’ve got four clinics working within Australia and have done so over Januarys many, many years in time.

And we’re also able to see trends over time because we know what to look for. We know, for example, how a clinic in Pennsylvania is going to do in September. Why? Because we have had a lot of experience in understanding how different seasonal indices happen in various places worldwide. So with that kind of knowledge and that kind of depth of experience, you’re able to avail from us the ability to predict your results as opposed to hoping for the best every single month, which I’m sure you don’t want to do. You want to have a sense of where are you going to be when you’re going to be there so that you can make plans. So, that’s one of the things that I think we bring to the table.

Laura: Yeah. And I think another one is the team. So knowing, how do you manage your marketing team. You might have a marketing coordinator in-house, or maybe you don’t, and you’re trying to sort of pick some supportive team members to run your social media, to run your paid advertising, maybe to do some SEO. Those are prevalent outsourced kinds of vendors. But you find that you’re not getting traction. You’re sort of, they’re not talking to each other, or you’re trying to get them to talk to each other. You’re trying to maybe use maybe one of your health techs on your team to kind of coordinate things. Perhaps you do have a coordinator, but it’s just not working together. Something is missing. You find that you’re exhausted. You’re caught in the middle of this, and you’re trying to manage it because you want to get a good return on investment.

So I think knowing which people to outsource, which people to have in-house, and how do you get a partner that can maybe manage that for you or not? How do you make that decision? I think that that’s something that we see again and again that clinics come to us for help with, to sort it out so that they have a system that has a head and some hands, and it’s operating seamlessly. So that’s another area that tends to go wrong with laser eye surgery marketing. Are there any other areas for you?

Rod: Yeah, I’ll mention another one is, and this one’s going to be a little hard to take, so brace yourself.

How you can be your own worst enemy when it comes to marketing your practice

But you, as a doctor or surgeon, head of a clinic, can often be your own worst enemy. And here’s what I mean by this. Look, you’re in a position in society where people respect you, and there’s a good reason for that. And you know a lot about your field, you know a lot about doctoring, you know a lot about eyes, you know a lot about surgery. But listen, here’s what you don’t know a lot about, marketing.

And that’s why people like us exist, to tell you where you are going wrong. And I found actually that most of my clients respect me the most when I tell them, “That’s a bad idea, don’t do that because you’re going to waste your money or you’re going to waste your time.”

And when they hear that honest, authentic response to their ideas, which they rarely get, to be honest with you from most marketing people, because most marketing people are going to say, “Yes, doctor. Yes, sir. How high? Where shall we go? What’s next, doctor? What should we do after that?” I’m not going to do that. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to lead this process, and we will work with you to achieve your goals. We’ll solve the problems that you bring to us.

We’re not going to come to you and ask you to solve them because that’s not your role. That’s our role. And I find that professionals, leaders, those who want to be in the winner’s circle have that level of humbleness to accept advice from other professionals. So if that’s what you’re looking for, that’s what we can provide.

About the author


LiveseySolar’s mission is to double the size of 150 cataract and refractive surgery practices. Using our proven marketing frameworks and deep market knowledge, our customers can predictably and sustainably grow their practices so that they can enjoy a healthy balance between both worlds – a successful private practice and a happy life.

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Erik Chotiner, MD, FACS, Ophthalmologist

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Meet our Founders

We’re passionate about helping leaders of high-quality, growth-minded practice owners double their practice revenue

Rod Solar

Founder & Scalable Business Advisor

Rod Solar is a co-founder of LiveseySolar and a Scalable Business Advisor / fCMO for our customers. Rod mentors and coaches CEOs/Founders and their leadership teams to double their sales, triple their profits, and achieve their “ideal exit”.

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LiveseySolar completely transformed the way we were approaching this… We’ve gone from having just the dream of having a practice to having a practice up and running with people making inquiries and booking for procedures… It’s extremely pleasing. We feel lucky we connected with LiveseySolar.

— Dr Matthew Russell, MBChB, FRANZCO, specialist ophthalmic surgeon and founder of VSON and OKKO

Laura Livesey

Founder & CEO

Laura Livesey is the co-founder & CEO of LiveseySolar. She has developed powerful refractive surgery marketing systems that increase patient volumes and profits for doctors, clinics, and hospitals, since 1997.

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Rod and Laura know as much about marketing surgery to patients as I know about performing it. They are an expert in the field of laser eye surgery marketing. They know this industry inside out. I believe that they could help many companies in a variety of areas including marketing materials, sales training and marketing support for doctors.

— Prof. Dan Reinstein, MD MA FRSC DABO, founder of the London Vision Clinic, UK