By Justin Bazan, OD
Online platforms offer great ways to engage patients about new optical products—but a memorable in-office experience makes the sale.
PROMOTE NEW PRODUCT ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Use social media like Facebook to publicize new eyewear in your office.
RE-POST & MAXIMIZE PATIENT REVIEWS. Publicize positive reviews by re-posting and highlighting on your Facebook page.
COMPETE ON VALUE. When a patient does not buy from you, ask them if they plan to buy online. Educate them on typical internet-quality glasses and your low-cost packages.
Making a purchase used to be simple: See a product in an ad, go to a store and buy it. Then came the internet, along with the retailer’s fear that consumers would flee stores and buy online.
The purchasing process has proven to be a blend of these two worlds. Today, a consumer experiences a variety of information and trial touch-points (both online and in-store) before arriving at a purchasing decision.
Here’s howthe 7 step eyewear shopping and buying processgoes …
- A consumer becomes aware of a product through media (online and physical).
- They research it (online or at a mall) checking location.
- Using peer reviews they determine the best place to go.
- Theyfind thelowest price online.
- They try it on (physically or virtually).
- They check out how it looks with their friends (sending a phone photo or a Tweet).
- Then, they buy (either in a store or online).
Consumer purchases of eyewear fits this scenario to a tee. To reach the consumer, optical retailers need to engage in what professional marketers call “multi-platform marketing.” You need to offer a variety of ways for consumers to experience optical goods (indeed, to get excited about them) before a purchase is made.
An example of how Park Slope Eye promotes new product arrivals on its Facebook page.
New Product Promotion on Social Media
We use social media like our Facebook page to let people know of their eyewear shopping opportunities by highlighting new product arrivals. Click HERE for an example (also shown in the photo to the left).
Patient reviews are re-posted and maximized
Click HERE for an example of how patient reviews are used in how we publicize positive ones by re-posting and highlighting awesome reviews on our Facebook page. We make sure to move the photo from the FB timeline to our Review Folder where they will be reviewable to our potential patients.
When somebody posts a negative experience, we keep it real. Sometimes it’s our fault and we feel horrible, apologize and try to go above and beyond to make up for it. Other times, the patient is just a bad fit for our office. We will never apologize for doing things that we love, and our loyal patients love us for it.
We will never apologize for upholding high principles and sound ethics. In fact, we will often turn the spotlight on the reviewer and review them. Most times, they are the ones we don’t want in our office, and if people are reading their reviews and identifying with them, we don’t want those people either! The best situation is for us to unapologetically do what we do best and for people who appreciate that to read about that and to come to us!
Take Advantage of Opportunities to Compete with Online Retailers
We keepour eyeglasses competitive with online retailers by offering a $99 eyewear package offline. We don’t want to our message to be,”We offer low-cost eyewear.” Patient choices online are simply amazing, and as a single office, we can’t compete price-wise. We avoid competing with online retailers on their playing field. We choose to keep the ball on our court. Our best shot to do that is by offering a price-competitive package when patients are in the office for their exam.
The E-Smart Consumer Shops for Eyewear
MAKING A BUYING DECISION
Fashion magazine, TV ad, fashion web site, Pinterest, store window
Product web site via laptop, tablet, smartphone, trip to mall
In-store or virtually, online
Phone photo to friends, social media, consumer reviews
Phone, price-finding app
In-store, online (practice web site)
Mailbox or store pick-up
Online rating sites, practice web site
We have seen an increase in people coming in requesting just an Rx and PD because they think they want to buy online. When a patient does not buy from us, we ask them if they plan on buying online. We then educate them on typical internet-quality glasses and let them know about our $99 package.
In NYC, Warby Parker has grown massive. Despite our current efforts, we had over two dozen requests from them last month for patient prescriptions. They are a hot item now–so hot people are giving Warby Parker gift cards as gifts. People are coming in saying, “Well, I got a WP gift card as a holiday gift, so I plan on just using that.” Props to WP for being so in demand that people are gifting them. That removes them directly from our picture! Brilliant move.
When we carried commercial brands people would come in with printouts, pull it up on their phones or worse…buy and them look it up online later only to cancel if we didn’t price match. The solution is easy: Don’t sell stuff that people can find way cheaper online. There are many brands, big and small, that are not easily found from a reputable online vendor. Work with them if you want to avoid the price matching issue.
I don’t know a single independent OD that is doing any real business selling glasses online. Focus on offline eyewear sales. Definitely have a great social media presence, but focus on the emotion of the eyewear and get them into your office to make the eyewear sale and to collect the eye exam fee.
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Justin Bazan, OD, Park Slope Eye, Brooklyn, NY, started his own practice cold. He speaks regularly on strategies for marketing your practice via social networks. Contact: email@example.com