What do you do when a new product comes on the market? Are you the first to unpack the marketing materials, already planning in your mind just who this will work for and how you can let them know about it? Or do you let anything new sidle into your practice gradually, cautiously trying it out on one or two people first to see how it goes? Whether you are an early adopter or take a more cautious approach, the advent of a new lens or piece of practice tech comes with the chance to market your practice, solve problems for existing patients, and even reach new ones. As such, we wanted to present you with a 360 degree view of marketing new products.
The patient journey
Patients get used to the same old, same old when they visit an optical practice: walk in the door, surrounded by frames, check in with the receptionist, sit down and wait. Then there’s the eye test. This is, by all accounts, pretty standard. However, by this stage, there has already been several chances for the patient to find out about what’s new in the world of optics. If you are on the ball you can use this ‘patient journey’ to open their eyes to new optical developments. So, let’s slow right down and look at what happens during a visit to your practice, and where the marketing opportunities are.
Having an online presence
Firstly, patients need to decide to actually attend your practice and not the new Boots Opticians that’s just opened up down the road. To help them do this, they may look for recommendations on Facebook or search online. Therefore, a strong online presence with engaged customer bases and an active website is now fundamental. For instance, if someone is unsure about whether they really need an eye test, this could be your chance to persuade them. Your website is your first chance to speak to your customers.
Consider, too, what you can do to influence different demographics. For a fashionista, a range of funky frames showcased on your Instagram channel could be key to choosing your practice, and at the same time deciding to pick two new pairs, not just one. For a gamer, advanced lenses offering better visual experience when using a range of screens could be what grabs him as he stumbles across your Twitter feed when you use relevant hashtags. And for someone who’s major motivator is the fact that they have recently discovered a relative has eye disease, a new online educational resource on your practice website could be what clinches the decision that they want to book a test, and they want to book it at your practice as soon as possible.
Then, patients need to make the appointment. Some may still phone up to do this, but online bookings provide a very convenient alternative — especially when you’re under time constraints. We’ve established that your website is a great place to promote new optical solutions and advances, but the next step is to optimise those promotions. A rotating banner with images and a few words makes a great header and gives every patient the chance to click on an innovation that interests them. Placing that ‘book online’ button just underneath such advertisements provides a very convenient choice for the patient.
Getting to the practice
Arriving at the practice, has the patient been grabbed by a vibrant and exciting window display? Moving images in a digital window display are an innovative way to catch the eye, demonstrating both the product that you’re showcasing and that you are a modern practice, embracing all aspects of technology. If you have the space, this is a good place to aim different displays at different target audiences. Tailor your window displays to different groups, and link them into your online promotions so the patient feels a buzz of familiarity — whether they spot the stylish frames they like, or see the same demonstration of the new lenses on your digital display screen in your window.
Inside the practice, make sure that new product literature is available at reception and/or in the waiting area; depending how your practice is laid out. If you can, use demonstration kits, or have demonstrations running on a screen or interactive table: maximise the use of waiting time so patients can see more than just the frames available to them.
While the optometrist is there to carry out a clinical examination, they can also make lifestyle and product recommendations, so it is important that they are up to date with new products available in practice. A smooth handover from optometrist to dispensing optician with clear recommendations gives the patient confidence, and the chance to introduce products to fit the recommendations. Add in the promotional and marketing materials that the patient has been exposed to from the moment they visited your website or social media channels and you are on your way to giving each person several opportunities to view the benefits of the novel solutions that might improve their visual experiences.
View the patient experience as a journey, and you can plan your marketing so that it reinforces it’s the same story from start to finish. Patients who experience this will be more open to and interested in the new products when they arrive in your practice. If you’re thinking about a change in strategy to help you market new products, Essilor are always on hand to help you in the process. Just pop over our professional Bespoke service page to find out more.