By Maria Higgins, OD
Jan. 23, 2019
It is difficult to market your practice during the empty season between the holidays and the start of spring. Here are five ideas that could encourage patients to visit your office, make an appointment, or buy new eyewear. These events can draw attention to your practice, capturing those who might otherwise have walked past without stopping.
I tried some of these ideas myself at my former practice, Unique Optique in Frederick, Md. I sold the practice a couple years ago, and now own a marketing consultancy company, The Unique Technique. I help other small businesses achieve success, by creating and implementing creative marketing campaigns.
Winter “Wine-Down” Party
The holiday season can be busy and stressful, so the community might enjoy a winter event with the sole purpose of encouraging relaxation.
Throw a simple party with a few bottles of wine. Include a student from a massage school providing free massages, a student from a beauty school doing free spa pedicures, and students doing hair styling from a hair school. An acupuncturist is a nice addition as well.
Cost: $100-$200 for wine, free or a token payment, such as $30-$50, for each of the students, $150 for two hours of an acupuncturist.
Impact: The Downtown Frederick Partnership, an organization of local business owners in the town where I had my practice, used this theme as a January “First Saturday” party. People were able to browse and purchase during the party, but the main impact was to increase the exposure of local businesses, and to boost morale across the community.
Elvis Vegas-Themed Party & Retro-Styles Eyewear Sale
You could throw a party with a Las Vegas theme, and have people come dressed up as Elvis Presley or as his wife, Priscilla. You could have pretend-money poker games, Elvis music, prizes for the best impersonator, and fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches (supposedly Elvis’s favorite).
It’s too late for this year, but next year you could even have the party on Elvis’s birthday, Jan. 8. This is also David Bowie’s birthday, so as an alternative, you could do the party with a Bowie theme.
Editors’ Note: Here’s a web site listing January birthdays of famous people, so you could easily change the theme of this party every year.
To take it to the next level, you could work with one, or more, of your vendors to have a selection of retro eyewear for sale in styles that people in the ’50s and ’60s might have worn.
Click HERE to see how this party is done in Memphis, where Elvis’s Graceland mansion is located.
Cost: $50 for poker chips and cards, $100 for mixed drinks, $40 for food
Impact: This event can encourage visits to your optical, and with those visits, purchases of your products. You could potentially generate thousands of dollars in sales.
Trunk Show with St Patrick’s Day Theme, “Luck of the Stylish”
Have green everything and throw it on St. Patrick’s Day. Your favorite frame rep can help you plan and fund it, and they can bring in an entire line of glasses. You can market the event on social media and through e-mail blasts to your patient list.
To make the party livelier, serve green Kool-Aid, green beer, green Jello and favors with chocolate coins in little pots (at the end of a rainbow). If you want to send a more health-conscious message, you can interpret the green theme as a time to offer different salads and green vegetables. Tie the healthy greens theme to the message of eating foods with nutrients that promote eye health.
Cost: Potentially nothing, as frame reps often will pay for refreshments at such events. If you have to pay for the refreshments on your own, you could probably do it for less than $300, depending on where you are located, and the amount of food you will require.
Impact: You should see an increase in sales. Some successful truck shows, if marketed correctly, can generate thousands of dollars in a single day.
Super Bowl Party/Men’s Eyewear Sale
Ask those attending to wear their favorite sport team’s jersey, or to dress up to support their favorite team. You can give prizes of free, or discounted, eyewear for the attendees who show the best team spirit.
Take the opportunity at a male-focused event to offer a men’s eyewear sale.
Cost: If you don’t already have one in your office, rent a big-screen TV for your reception area. Have a white board to manually track the score, and bar-style refreshments like wings, pizza and a cooler of beer. You could also have attendees play Super Bowl Commercial Bingo. You could do all this for $1,000, or less.
Impact: An event like this gives you an opportunity to sell more men’s eyewear, sunwear and sports glasses than you typically would.
Market it widely on social media, through e-blasts to patients, and with prominent signage. You could generate thousands of dollars in eyewear sales, and possibly also encourage some of the attendees to make an appointment for an exam.
Anti-Valentines Day Party & Red and Pink–or Black–Frame/Sunwear Sale
Valentine’s Day parties are common, so throwing an anti-Valentine’s Day party is a great way to be unique and command your community’s attention. Chances are that married people, and other couples, in addition to those who are single, have grown tired of Valentine’s Day marketing. Throw an event in which you ironically bash the holiday!
You could include a sale on red-and-pink frames and sunwear. To carry the anti-Valentine’s Day theme further, you could offer a sale on black frames.
You also could offer a contest on social media in which people share their love horror stories. The three best anti-love stories, announced at the event, would receive free, or deeply discounted, frames. You would have to be in attendance at the event to receive the reward.
Use your own music collection, or use an online service like Pandora, to create a playlist especially for the event. Songs played could include:
Other Articles to Explore
• “Bittersweet Symphony,” by The Verve
• “Love Stinks,” by The J. Geils Band
• “All the Single Ladies,” by Beyoncé
• “Go Your Own Way,” by Fleetwood Mac
• “So What,” by Pink
• “I Hate Everything About You,” by Three Days Grace
Cost: If you keep it basic, with just simple appetizers, wine, beer and sodas, it could cost as little as $300.
Impact: The unique quality of the event would make it stand out in your community, drawing in those who enjoy a good laugh. You could sell a lot of eyewear, especially if you tie in a frame and/or sunwear sale.
Don’t forget to use this down season to spark your creativity and imagination. And pass that fun on to your patients!