Each practice, local multiple, and supermarket have their own unique optical offerings — a unique selling point (USP). Some people may shop on price, whilst others might enjoy the convenience of combining an eye examination with their weekly shop. Location can be another key factor: those with disabilities, for example, may look for an accessible building or easy parking.
Determining your USP is important, so our aim is to consider how you can build up your own, and become much more than simply the ‘local independent practice’.
Establishing a USP
If you are an up-and-coming independent eye care practitioner, now is the time to start thinking about how you can begin to foster customer loyalty and awareness for your practice. Establishing a USP should be the foundation in a range of marketing activities that could help your practice grow; so it’s one you need to nurture and pay close attention.
If you’re struggling to work out a USP, which many businesses do, take a closer look at what you offer, and how this compares to your competitors. Look both locally and nationally: visit trade shows and browse websites and journals to discover what could bring your business closer to the cutting edge of practice. For many people, a complete user experience
, whether in store, online, or out-of-home, is what will compel them to choose your practice. Top that with knowing how to market the latest lens trends and you could be onto a winning combination.
Consider what your potential patients can’t get elsewhere, and what will keep them coming back time after time. For instance, lens personalisation can be seen as a compelling reason to revisit your practice. Think about it, being able to offer patients a bespoke pair of lenses designed to meet their unique visual needs can be an incredibly strong brand value. Why would they go elsewhere? This is an example of what can be considered a brand USP — as it’s something they'll perceive they cannot get elsewhere.
An important thing to remember is to consider your current client base; your locality will be full of independent demographics each requiring different needs, and who engage with marketing materials in different ways. If you offer cutting edge services, ask your existing patients about their experiences of them. This is really smart but easy way of seeing how you can develop your practice. What’s more, by keeping up positive conversations with your patients, they’re more likely to keep coming back.
Location, Location, Location
Your location is another thing to consider — practice owners in metropolitan cities such as London and Manchester may have an edge, as their clients may arguably be more informed about technical benefits. Being exposed to constant out-of-home advertising and working in tech-hubs, for example, can foster that kind of interest. We’re not saying those who live in rural areas aren’t, not by any means, but the chances are less likely as there simply isn’t as much emphasis on technology. Having said that, you should still offer individualised services, but you need to consider how to market this USP as a must have. As in, if the conversation in the area live is, “The cheapest will do for me”, how can your USP help foster change?
Initially you need to discover the base level of knowledge that people in your area have. Then, remember the marketing adage that people take at least seven ‘opportunities to view’ before making a change. Plan a marketing campaign that utilises a range of media. From utilising local print publications through to social media platforms you can begin to educate people little by little. As a result, your target audience can discover cutting edge technologies, whilst at the same time helping them to realise that this is something locally available to them.
Older patients can be an ideal target audience
for this type of campaign: they can be time rich and have disposable income. Without sounding overly insensitive, they may also be aware that their body no longer adapts quite as quickly as it used to, and be looking for new technologies to compensate accordingly. An individual and custom lens that is just right for their interests, be it golf, crafting, or, for a growing number of pensioners, exploring the online world, will appeal to this group who are likely to invest in enhancing their well-earned leisure time. A photochromic varifocal lens, for example, will allow a holidaymaker to read their favourite novel on a cruise without having to suffer the ‘sun-in-the-eye squint’, whilst also checking out a travel app at the same time for their next destination. If it’s personalised to them, too, all the better as it will meet their unique needs.
This group of patients are also a great target audience for digital marketing and communications. The over fifties are one of the fastest growth groups for social media according to the College of Optometrists’ 2017 foresight report, and successful practices are starting to utilise online services to reach them. From social media marketing to out-of-home display advertising, there are many low-cost ways to reach your precise audience and achieve opportunities to view. A digital display in your window can showcase the benefits of the photochromic varifocal to your target audience in a way that will inspire them and attract the attention of, for example, the person who is just about to book their next cruise.
Try something new
For marketing methods that stretch beyond the older generation, think about new methods such as influencer marketing to help grow your brand. Who is an online influencer for the target audience you want to reach? Look at vloggers and Instagram users who talk about fashion, travel, craft hobbies: anything that you believe fits within the demographic you’re trying to target. You may be lucky and have someone local to you who is influential online. If so, you could invite them in and ask them to vlog or photograph their experience and share a story on Facebook or Instagram. Focus on showcasing your USP to them, and give them a chance to try out the services that are unique to your practice. You can then share what they say via your own practice social media.
These are new and exciting ways to help you develop your brand appeal to the local consumer. Of course, they can seem intimidating, and, if all this is new to you, you can read more about how digital marketing can help grow your practice
here. Take advice on marketing your practice, and think about which services might stand out as your new USP, so you can see your practice really start to grow. For more information on how Essilor can help you develop your practice into a brand, just have a quick browse of our Bespoke service
— you may find it quite interesting.