Tag Archive for: review

Q&A: Giving Great Feedback on Creative Work

There’s a mock-up of an event invitation in your inbox.

Can you give feedback? your co-worker asked. 

You’d love to, but everyone knows that good feedback is more than chiming in with your two cents. It’s thoughtful and keeps both your organization and your audience in mind. Plus, your thoughts have to be communicated to the designer.

How do you accomplish all that without taking up your whole day?

The next time you’re asked to offer feedback, use these tips from MJM’s Abby Rogers. She’s worked on both sides of graphic design — first as a designer and now as an account executive —, making her the perfect teacher to help you evaluate mock-ups. She answers the questions we all ask when the invitation (or brochure or digital ad) lands in our inbox.  

What should we look for first?

A focal point and a hierarchy throughout. There has to be someplace for your eye to focus first and travel a logical path. Varying sizes and thicknesses also help give visual cues for where to start so you get the story in the right order. 

To test this, pay close attention to where your eye goes first, second, third. Something’s wrong if what you’re drawn to most is the disclaimer at the bottom.

Anything else?

Even when it seems obvious, there should always be a clear call to action. Tell readers what you want them to do next — call, sign-up, RSVP — and make sure you’ve given them the tools to do it. 

What shouldn’t be there?

Chaos. Thick headings, italics, bold, intricate graphic elements — it’s too much all at once. Good design should feature only a handful of elements. 

Large blocks of text also should be checked carefully. They aren’t likely to be read, and harsh as it may sound, can contain details that only matter to you and not to your reader. Trim whenever possible. 

How do you keep the end product in mind?

As much as possible, assess mock-ups in their final format. If it’s digital, view it on your phone and computer screen. If it’s paper, print it out, cut it to size, and fold it as needed. For print projects, consider if your audience will be impressed or annoyed by complicated folds or fasteners.

That’s not to say things can’t be fun and artistic, but make sure it carries the main message and is the best method for those who will receive it. 

Repetition can be a good thing. What’s worth repeating?

I’d say the benefits and the call to action. The rest can be on your landing page or in a brochure. 

What common mistakes do you see?

Typos! You can spend a ton of time on an awesome piece, but if there’s a typo, the only thing that’s remembered is what was wrong. You can’t proofread too much.

What’s one thing we need to be reminded of?

White space is your friend! It keeps your reader from getting overwhelmed. Leaving white space doesn’t mean you haven’t spent your money well. It means you’ve been considerate of your audience.

Anything else?

Two things. Look for brand consistency. It’s tempting to introduce new colors and images, but, even though you’re sometimes worn out on your palette, your audience doesn’t see it often enough to get tired of it. Your brand is like a capsule wardrobe; its pieces are designed to look nice together.

Second, your logo doesn’t always have to be the main, hero image. Sometimes you need another hook to peak a reader’s interest.

Know someone who will use these tips? Share this post!

Knowing Your Practice Is No Longer Optional

When most ophthalmologists hear the words performance metrics, they generally think two things: utilization and collection. How many patients per day do I see? What do accounts receivable look like? What are the practice’s monthly collections? Is there money in the bank to meet payroll? These measures are after-the-fact metrics. They do not provide information on attracting new patients, the fullness of the practice’s pipeline, effective conversion, or whether outcomes are attracting new prospects.

Some refractive practices have taken performance metrics a step further by looking at the level of patients’ interest and appointment progression. Someone on the staff monitors inquiries, consultations, and surgeries to track conversions at each step of the process. According to a second-quarter analysis by Market Scope, however, nearly half of all practices are not tracking new inquiries, inquiries to consultation, and consultations to surgery.1

Despite the constraints of today’s market, few centers track basic indicators of their practice’s health.1

How do you develop an informative, actionable snapshot of whether your practice is attracting the types of patients you want, whether they choose the vision services at which you are expert, and whether the financial result is sound? I recommend developing a performance dashboard similar to the one I have seen Kay Coulson, MBA, advocate at several practice workshops that I have attended. Ms. Coulson is the president of Elective Medical Marketing in Boulder, CO.

The Performance Dashboard

“I’m a numbers junkie, yet I quickly learned in consulting that synthesizing and condensing relevant information for surgeons is vital,” says Ms. Coulson. “The performance dashboard is something we developed to help our clients see, on a single page, whether the practice is headed in the right direction.”

A performance dashboard for a practice intent on growing its volume of IOL and LASIK procedures might look like this, according to Kay Coulson, MBA.

She continues, “I find surgeons want to know three things: are we attracting the right type of patient, are patients choosing the services I want to offer, and is the financial performance of the practice improving? There is no sugarcoating of results with a performance dashboard. You’re either attracting more inquiries or not. The right people are booking appointments or not. More people are moving to surgery or not. The fees they are willing to pay are good for the practice or not. At a time when it’s easy to become overwhelmed with data, paring it down to a snapshot that keeps everyone on track is paramount.”

Making Performance Metrics Work for You

How can you develop a performance dashboard that will help you monitor and improve your practice? Here are several suggestions.

No. 1: Start With the Initial Point of Contact — the Inquiry

Inquiries can be tracked in any existing practice management system simply by adding an appointment called an inquiry. In this way, when a new patient calls your practice, he or she is immediately booked for an inquiry appointment as well as the type of appointment he or she is requesting (e.g. annual examination, lens evaluation, LASIK consultation). If this patient cancels the appointment or progresses along an appointment path different than expected, he or she can be monitored and tracked.

No. 2: Use Appointment Types and Diagnostic Codes as Tools for Tracking the Practice’s Growth

Complete examinations, diagnosed cataracts, and resulting surgeries are reported quarterly, with comparisons to the same quarter from prior years. This information helps to account for the seasonality of procedures. It can also assist in the development of a new norm that takes into account the economic recession and changing health care structures.

No. 3: Measure the Financial Contribution of Your Key Service Lines

If you are trying to grow elective services, track their financial performance separately from insurance collections. This distinction will give you a clearer perspective on where the practice is growing and where poor performance has been masked.

No. 4: Align Spending on Marketing and Employees’ Compensation with Your Goals for Growing the Practice

It is not enough simply to spend money on marketing or to pay employees to show up for work. Over the next few years, you and other ophthalmologists will evaluate which payer contracts to pursue or renew; which new technologies for cataract, glaucoma, retina, or LASIK to adopt; and where to invest in facilities and people. It therefore makes sense to align your investment in marketing and people so that it is directly linked to the practice’s performance.


Develop a simple set of performance metrics today. Then, use them objectively, consistently, and rigorously in the coming years to grow your practice. These critical data are buried right now, but you can uncover them to effectively guide your practice’s future direction.


This article originally appeared in Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today. Click here to download a PDF version.

1. Market Scope’s Second Quarter Survey Report: Q2-2009.St.Louis, MO: Market Scope LLC; 2009.

Marketing Solutions for a New Economy

Traditional marketing is simple: create demand, make the phone ring, and close the sale. Demand is typically measured by new leads, consultations, and surgeries. The tools with which we have created demand have been print, radio, television, and the web. The current economic climate, however, has sent many centers into a tailspin, and physicians and their staffs are wondering if their external efforts are worth the results. People are not calling like they once did, and if they do, they are not scheduling surgery quite as easily. Future success is tied directly to a practice’s ability to create a fabulous experience for patients within its four walls. To that end, before spending dollars on external advertising, it is important to look inside your practice to see what your patients are seeing.

The Reluctant Customer

Consumers do not want to be targeted, and they are more skeptical than in the past. Satellite radio, digital video recording, and social media are being adopted, in part, in order to avoid the interruptive messages created by the advertiser. Additionally, in today‘s world where people are working harder for less money, when a consumer decides to make a purchase, his or her expectations for value tend to be higher.

This economy has created a vicious circle where patients’ heightened expectations are met with even lower than normal customer experiences.

Meanwhile, many practices have dealt with the current economy by reducing their support staff and amenities; both can be detrimental to the experience of patients and their overall perceptions of value. In such cases, word-of-mouth referrals drop in frequency. Some surgery centers may respond with a more desperate style of advertising that can turn off potential patients.

When desperate advertising measures meet the growing expectations and the new skepticism of the consumer, a vicious circle begins. This is why it is vital to create experiences at the practice level that are actually worth the price of the procedure: “People have become relatively immune to messages targeted at them. The way to reach your customers is to create an experience within them.”1

Track Your Effort and Results

The most effective way to position your practice for future growth and stability is by enhancing the patient’s experience at each stage of the process. Waiting times, educational explanations, and the inclusion of their family members and loved ones in the conversation are far more important than they were just a few months ago. There appears to be little effort, however, to track current customers’ information that is useful for creating growth. In Market Scope’s second quarter analysis2, nearly half of all respondents stated they are not tracking new inquiries, inquiries to consultations, and consultations to surgery within their center. Metrics tracking is a basic business function that ensures the processes in place are functional and successful. How bad must the economy become before ophthalmic practices begin performing this task?

Even under the constraints of today’s market, few centers are tracking basic indicators of their practice’s health.

Utilize Customer Relationships to Increase Revenue

Inquiries that have not become scheduled consultations, and consultations that have yet to become scheduled surgery, represent easy marks for re-engagement. Instead, many surgery centers focus solely on new leads from external advertising. By utilizing a robust CRM (customer relationship management) software, practices can become relevant to potential customers who have already expressed interest in vision correction.

CRM technology not only lets you track conversions, but it also forecasts potential revenue within the surgical pipeline.

One difficult component to using practice management software, however, is learning to deal efficiently with all of the data created throughout the customer’s experience. A unique advantage to most CRM software is its ability to synchronize with practice management software. The former allows data collected during the patient’s experience to be used to create customized messages afterward. Each patient’s interaction is synchronized. As the practice schedules a patient from a consultation to surgery, the CRM gets updated as well, removing that patient from the consultation “bucket.” When the time comes to send a message to all potential patients who have not yet scheduled surgery, the practice need not worry whether or not the database is pure. In addition, practices have the ability to see how many opportunities exist within each status group.


Many opportunities are being overlooked at the practice level that can only be capitalized upon if simple tracking methodologies are put in place. The best first step to creating engaging and profitable experiences for customers is to pay attention to the most basic of operational standards. Look inside your practice and take advantage of the opportunities that already exist there.


This article originally appeared in Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today. Click here to download a PDF version.

1. Gilmore J, Pine B J. The Experience Is the Marketing. Louisville, KY: Brown Heron Publishing; 2002.

2. Market Scope’s Second Quarter Survey Report: Q2-2009. Manchester, MO: Market Scope LLC; 2009.