Fair Weather on Mayweather

By Derek N. Cunningham, OD, Chief Medical Editor

We recently witnessed one of the biggest spectacles in entertainment with the Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao boxing match. Regardless of your interest in boxing, this event has many interesting subplots and stories to talk about.

Some fans have issues with Floyd Mayweather, ranging from how he acts before the fight to what he actually does in the ring. His brashness and endless self-promotion before the fight can often be taken as a character flaw or counterproductive to boxing itself. I have a totally different take on this. Floyd understands that his job before the fight is to raise awareness and motivate people to pay for his services. I can think of few boxers before him who understood this concept well. His methods for doing this may be questionable but his ability to motivate people to watch him is not.

What can we take from this? As doctors, we are constantly selling our services. As a profession, we are constantly selling our abilities. The question becomes, how are we doing this, and what is the effect? Floyd is meticulous in how he promotes himself (even down to the selfies with Justin Bieber), and he can measure his outcomes ($120 million dollar payday). How do you promote your services to the public, and what metric do you use to see if your methods are working? Are you even promoting your services and letting patients know exactly what you offer? More specifically, how do you let the public know about the medical services you provide?

The public is conditioned to think of optometrists as glasses and contact lens providers because of a century of promotion. I do not think we can be all that surprised at the generally poor level of awareness on the public’s part of optometry’s medical side. Although we have had substantial medical privileges for several decades now, it has been a very short time in the history of health care. As a profession, we truly produce well-educated, competent disease clinicians. Now, how do we let the public know?

It starts with every one of our practices. Relying on national organizations or other groups for your local patient population can be a stretch. Internal promotion seems to be the lowest hanging fruit. We should constantly be evaluating the image that we give to potential patients daily and think of new ways to let our current patients know about the medical services we provide. Social media may be the next step and likely the most cost effective. A social media campaign often requires some professional assistance, as the online approach is substantially different from traditional marketing. Then, there is conventional advertising (print, radio, TV), which seems somewhat archaic but is still effective. The point is that there are endless options, and we should all be forever aware of how we are promoting our services. Perhaps we all need a selfie with the Biebs to get things going!

A second parallel that can be taken from Floyd Mayweather is how he boxes. He is meticulous and disciplined with his only concern being to win the fight. Whereas other boxers are more interested in getting the crowd to cheer or trying to use emotional flurries to suddenly end the contest, Floyd is more focused on consistency and the end results. As optometry builds the medical model and develops new relationships with ophthalmology, we should all remember that the most important end result is better patient care. There are historical roles that we are used to and professional ego issues that have to be reevaluated as we evolve the new medical eye care model of integrated care between the two professions. Capitalizing on the strengths of both ophthalmology and optometry and keeping patient care at the forefront is the best compass that we can use to efficiently and effectively direct this new model of eye care delivery.

And yes, like most of you, apart from this circus of a fight, I do not watch boxing, either. n