James Hartnett Associates
Creative Marketing Solutions
Case Study: Metropolitan Eye Center
Background. MEC, as a stand-alone outpatient facility, provided standard eye-related surgical treatments as well as a new, at the time, procedure to correct vision known as RK or radial keratotomy. These standard services, i.e. glaucoma and other eye procedures relied on the traditional peer referral method to garner patients. The RK patients came as the result of direct consumer advertising.
Problem/Opportunity. How to compete with large-budgeted institutions such as local hospitals and specialized RK clinics spending hundreds of thousands of dollars per year on advertising.
Program One: Propose RK as an employee benefit.
This program leveraged the "cafeteria" funds available to employees. Since these funds are tax-free they are often perceived to be "free" dollars to spend.
As part of this program employees were required to designate a dollar amount to be set aside during a specific period of the year. To facilitate this it meant providing the employer with the necessary information so that the proper amounts could be designated for RK surgery at MEC. The benefit for MEC was that this transaction was relatively price insensitive. The benefit for the employer was that it was perceived as a company-supplied "perk" at no real cost to the company. The benefit to the employee was the ability to see without glasses or contacts.
Program Two: Negotiate a joint venture with a local eyeglass provider.
This program entailed convincing a local eyeglass provider that RK was, in fact, not competition in most cases and where it was an alternative there was an opportunity to garner marginal revenue.
In these cases patients/customers of the large eyeglass provider would be "screened" for appropriateness of RK and then "referred" to MEC. This meant that the patient was still primarily affiliated with the large eyeglass provider and this provider garnered the benefit/prestige of an alliance with a sophisticated surgery provider.
This program for MEC could be easily extended to accommodate local optometrists who, again, would be given some consideration in exchange for "screening" services.