By Larry Golson, OD
By organizing and effectively marketing a trunk show, you can create local buzz about your practice and generate thousands of dollars in dispensary sales in just one day.
ROB Bottom Line
$8,880; up 392 percent over the 2010 trunk show, which generated $1,790Return Patients /Patients Gained
Ten to 15 existing patients scheduled a visit while there for show. At least four new patients were gained.
Less than $500, with staff given option of taking time off on other days to compensate for the extra time needed to work, and food and refreshments partly donated by vendors and raffle prizes entirely donated by vendors.
Inexpensive fliers were distributed in-office and in the community by staff and via e-mail blasts and Facebook posts.
–Established three years ago.
–30 percent growth each year
–38 percent sales growth Jan-July 2011
We celebrated our three-year anniversary with a trunk show, an event aimed at generating excitement about our practice with special deals on eyeglasses, lenses and contact lenses, along with refreshments and prizes.
This was our third trunk show, and it was by far our most successful, representing our best day in business to date (see sidebar for details on revenues and patients generated).
Invite Vendor Reps, Offer Raffle and Special Deals
The first step to organizing a trunk show is finding vendor reps to participate. These reps are there to help sell their lines of products to patients and visitors, and also can be asked to help provide food and refreshments. They also can be asked to provide products to be raffled off. In some cases vendors, such as Addidas, were not able to send a rep, but contributed prizes.
We invited reps from vendors such as Hoya and OGI to show off their products. In exchange for the exposure, the vendors helped pay for food and beverages, and provided products to be raffled away. Among the prizes we raffled off were four free pairs of lenses from Hoya; two free frames from OGI; one free pair of sunglasses from Addidas; and one free one-year supply and one free six-month supply of contact lenses from CIBA VISION.
Along with the raffle, everyone who attended was given 30 percent off eyeglasses; 20 percent off sunglasses; and 10 percent off contact lenses. There were two main stipulations to this discount–it had to be used that day and insurance could not be used with the discount. Some of our patients, who either were not planning on getting eyeglasses or who had delayed the purchase at the time of their yearly exam, opted to take advantage of the savings during the event.
Use Well-Placed and Well-Timed Marketing
Two months before the event, we began publicizing it on our Facebook page, which now has 350 fans. To build intrigue, we began by offering only vague information, such as the date of the event and an announcement that there would be a special sale and prizes, and then as the event got closer, we gave more details about the activities and sales that would be offered, including the specific vendors scheduled to attend.
About a month before the event, we had paper fliers created, which we gave to every patient who visited our office. But we did not give them a flier until after they purchased eyeglasses from us because we did not want them waiting until the trunk show to make a discounted purchase. For the same reason, we did not put up posters about the event in the office until a week before. Two weeks prior we also began distributing fliers to local businesses, some of which ended up donating prizes to our raffle, including a bottle of wine, a free haircut, an iPad cover and a gift certificate to a local chocolatier.
Two weeks prior to the event, we e-mailed our database of 2,500 patients about the trunk show, with a follow-up e-mail sent two days before the show.
On the day of the event, we placed a sign on our window and balloons by the front door to attract drive-by traffic.
Creatively Market Your Trunk Show
• Create excitement about your trunk show by calling it a “Frames Extravaganza” or a “Frames Design Extravaganza.”
• Have a local print shop design invitations to the event, which you can send to your patient base.
• Collaborate on your event with a local high-end jewelry or clothing shop. That way, you bring in that business’s customers, in addition to your own patients. —ROB Editors
Managing Staff During Event
The trunk show was held on a Thursday from 2 to 7 pm. We ordinarily are not open on the weekends, so I did not want to ask my team to work then. More importantly, Asheville is the kind of town where residents often prefer to spend weekend days having fun outside, so we felt we would have a better turn out on a week day.
My team usually leaves the office at 5:30 or 6 pm, at the latest. To accommodate my request for them to work longer hours, I allowed them to leave early another day or two that week, or offered to give them time off on another day of their choosing.
It is important when doing special events like trunk shows that employees be given specific roles for the day. One person should be in charge of monitoring and replenishing food and beverage supplies; another person should be stationed at the front door as a greeter; another should be at the check-out desk; and another should be in the dispensary to assist the reps as they interact with patients.
Train Staff-Rep-Patient Interactions and Promises
Make sure your reps either are given information about how you price their frames, or instructions to pass along patients interested in purchasing to a staff member. We ran into a few situations in which the rep quoted a price that was different from the price we sell their frames at. We ended up needing to sell those frames at the price which the rep quoted to avoid a disgruntled patient.
It also is important that you alter your usual eyeglasses turnaround time for eyeglasses purchased on the day of a trunk show. If the show is successful, you will be getting so many orders that your staff probably will not be able to process them all right away. Our usual promise is 10 days for eyeglasses to be ready for pick up. Next time we do a trunk show we will only promise that the eyeglasses will be ready in 10 to 15 days.
Two Trunk Shows Per Year
Going forward, we will have two shows per year, once in the late spring/early summer in honor of the practice anniversary, and one time in October. The October event will be coordinated with a local nonprofit, with a portion of our proceeds that day donated to the charity. We also will have a representative from the nonprofit in the office that day to educate patients about the work they do. In addition to the raffle, sales, presence of vendor reps and complimentary refreshments, we also plan to have live music. We will be sure to take pictures of the trunk show to share on Facebook afterward to drum up enthusiasm for the next one, and show people what a welcoming, fun office we have.
By crafting the right event, and implementing a comprehensive and carefully timed marketing strategy, a trunk show can be a revenue-driver for the practice that shores up relationships with existing patients and brings in new patients to boot.
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Larry Golson, OD, is the owner of Envision Eye Care Optometry & Eyewear, an independent optometric practice in Asheville, NC. To contact him: firstname.lastname@example.org.