As we continue into 2014, we see articles, blog posts, and e-blasts about all the trends that are predicted to happen this year. Predicted being the operative word. They are forecasts, based upon, well, sometimes we have no clue where they come from. And yes, I could discuss online sales getting a bigger market share, but, well, we all know that everyone is predicting it. Here are some interesting ones that relate to the optical industry, and getting to the forefront of these trends could help make your 2014 a more lucrative one.
~Smaller, shorter, sweeter: “Bit sized advertising” has become quite popular for many retailers, and is something that you may want to consider. This involves short, quickly informative videos or blurbs regarding your product. In the optical setting, this could be as easy as having your own music mix from your computer playing on the office speakers, with short 7-10 second ‘did you know’ segments every 3-4 songs. Or you could really get into the trend with business minded ‘bit strips’-those cartoon images you’ve seen everyone making for themselves if you’ve been on Facebook in the last 3-4 months. Why not do some fun ones for the eyecare office?
~Social media reviews will explode, and customers will rely on them more and more to influence their purchasing decisions. 35% of Amazon purchases and a whopping 75% of Netflix viewings come from online recommendations. You MUST be involved in social media, and you have to work it, just like any other advertising campaign. Part of my consulting work involves managing several social media campaigns, and I’ve found that if I do my part (engaging content, links to websites, etc) not only does the social media campaign work well, but the client’s ratings and search engine rankings soar. Encourage the ratings, in store, via e-blasts, and through contests.
~Consumers are still wary of making purchases, and are still less likely to make ‘impulse buys’ in your store. The economy is still rocky, AHA has made many people unsure of what this year will bring them in terms of health care costs. Discuss the benefits, quality and customer service you bring to the table when they choose your office over another one.
~The traditional nuclear family unit can no longer be assumed, and could actually offend your potential customers. More than ½ of
first children are now born out of wedlock according to a recent study by Packaged Facts. You are going to have to rethink how you market to your customers, and how you will continue to attract your target demographic. It’s no longer ‘house and 2.5 kids’ after marriage. It could be ‘condo with 2 DINKS (double income no kids)’ or ‘significant others/alternative lifestyle partners with one child conceived through IVF’. Time to examine how you are reaching your customers, and possibly modify or completely scrap your marketing in favor of more up to date ideas.
~Get involved in your community, and this means the entire staff. According to Havas, 61% of respondents would like their favorite companies to play a bigger role in their local community. Health fairs, speaking programs at local community group functions, educating the elderly on eye health at senior centers, all are great ways to get out into your community, without a large long term commitment or expense. I remember one optical dispensary offering a free pair of eyeglasses to the person who brought in the most political signs to be recycled after the last major election.
~And lastly, my favorite new trend. Outrageous marketing campaigns. The more unusual or outlandish the better. Post an online social media scavenger hunt, for instance. First, your fans must share the status to be eligible. Secondly, they must figure out, from your directions, a series of answers based upon whatever criteria you decide. Invent creative hints to send them to different places on your website, and have them email you the answers rather than post on Facebook. Now you have them visiting your page, sharing it, visiting your website, AND are capturing their emails. Just keep in mind, first, the terms of service of the social media site you are using for the contest, and also that the ‘reward’ or prize must be commensurate with the amount of work involved. If the ‘hunt’ is 5 or more steps, then a free pair of glasses valued at say $250-$350 is reasonable.
So, it’s time to put on your thinking caps. Hold an office staff meeting. Go over this article, ask for ideas from everyone. Brainstorm. You never know what you may come up with, and involving everyone will make it more enjoyable, and more profitable, as your staff brags about how some of their ideas were used to create your marketing campaign for 2014.
Nikki DiBacco, ABO/NCLE, is an educator, writer and owner of DnD Consulting&Design. She is also co-founder of The Visionaries Group. Learn more at www.visionariesgroup.com