It’s that time of year again when schedules start to fill up last minute, with kids needing eye exams before school starts. It can be an overwhelming time of the year for some offices if you’re not fully prepared. Even if you feel like your office is prepared, you may be leaving money on the table by not having the right marketing plan in place.
Creating a solid marketing strategy will help ensure that you have a successful back-to-school season and generate more sales. In developing a marketing strategy, it is important to come up with a plan of action and define the steps to implement it – this plan of action is called the Marketing Mix.
The marketing mix, traditionally known as the 4 P’s, helps to define the key elements for your attack plan. The 4 P’s include Product, Place, Price, and Promotion, which are vital to the success of your office or individual initiatives. Strategizing on each of the 4 P’s will be dependent on your internal goals, and external competition, so consider creating a situational analysis of your office once every six months to enhance your strategy. However, let’s discuss some tips that any office can use when coming up with their plan of action for the back-to-school rush.
Product deals with anything having to do with the product itself. A couple of weeks before your big rush, make sure you have a good variety of kids and teen styles in your office. While it may not make sense to keep a large number of children and teen frames on hand year-round, it’s always important to make sure you have a better selection than your competitor during a high-volume time. Utilizing your frame reps can help in stocking you up for the rush, so make sure to use them as a resource. A lot of reps will allow you to exchange frames that aren’t selling, so don’t fret too much if you don’t sell all of the frames you stocked. You can always exchange this for one of your top sellers! You can also add value to your products by utilizing a practice management system, like Uprise EHR/PM, that has online ordering integration through VisionWeb. Having an Online ordering integration helps to cut down on dual entry, reduce errors, and receive your products from the lab faster. This will ultimately set you up for success with your product strategy.
Now that you have your product and inventory set up appropriately, you’ll want to make sure that it is in the most optimal spot for purchase. According to the CDC, the average height of school-aged children is about 4.5 feet tall. Consider placing all of your kids-sized frames no
taller than around that 4-foot mark. This will make sure that the kids can easily select and view each frame themselves. Letting them be more involved in the selection process will get them excited about wearing glasses. The more excited they are, the better chance you will have of convincing the parents to purchase a second pair of glasses.
We then want to evaluate our third ‘P’, Price. This has to do with any price issues such as payment terms, discounts, or credit options. If your margins allow for it, consider offering a discount to kids under 18 for a couple of months, or discounting a second pair of prescription sunglasses. However, if discounting is not a viable option, consider taking additional payment options. Options such as CareCredit or in-store financing will help you make the sale now while ensuring you still get paid. Most importantly, this option allows the patient to get the best frame and lens options for their vision.
For most people, the fourth ‘P’, Promotion, is the most synonymous when thinking of marketing. This evaluates the communication or promotional mix. Things such as sales promotions, public relations, direct marketing, and advertising are all under the promotion umbrella. When developing your promotional materials, make sure you’re writing with the target consumer in mind. While the children are the ones ending up with the glasses, more likely than not, it’s the parents who are buying them. Make sure your communication efforts, and where you are distributing your promotional materials, are tailored towards the buying behavior of a parent. Themes such as eye health, a potential boost in academic performance, and digital eye strain, can be powerful themes in motivating parents to purchase more than one pair of glasses for their children.
Optional 5th ‘P’: People
Finally, with communication efforts trending towards a consumer-focused view, it can also be helpful to keep in mind a 5th ‘P’, People. This not only deals with the targeted consumer, but with the office’s employees or personnel. Your office should be spending time evaluating the appropriate marketing tactics, and less time falling behind on things like claim filing. Consider outsourcing your claims management, to reduce the overall stress on your employees. This not only takes away the stress of filing from your employees, but ensures claims are worked quickly, accurately, and correctly – all while helping you get reimbursed at a faster rate.
From Implementing Strategy to Increasing Sales
Don’t be afraid to let your staff be creative when coming up with new ideas to implement. Defining the marketing mix may be trial and error at first, but you’ll soon find out what works best for you and your office. By utilizing the 4 P’s, and optional 5th ‘P’, you’ll be well prepared for a successful back-to-school rush, and boosting your optical profits in no time!