What’s a good way to cheaply advertise?
It’s not new, it’s not high tech and it’s also not done enough by optical retailers: handing out practice-branded cleaning cloths instead of vendor ones. “This is an inexpensive way to stay in front of your patients all year long,” says industry consultant Mike Rolih. “When your patient’s clean their glasses, you want them to think about where they purchased them, not the brand they wear. [It] can go a long way to building brand recognition and return business.” There is a proviso though: When it’s a super fancy pair of branded frames, your customer is likely to want the vendor cloth. Otherwise it’s like withholding that BMW key fob they can twirl in the elevator.
A competitor with a very similar name is hurting my business. Their products and services aren’t as good, but people confuse us. What should I do?
Ah, the John Smith problem. The first thing to do is invest more heavily in SEO to ensure your practice or store’s name comes up first every time in Google. Second, get more involved in community events to draw attention to who you are and the good things you do. Third, think about tweaking the name of your business. We understand why you’d be reluctant to do that after spending years building recognition of your business — and the conventional view has always been, don’t rename unless something catastrophic happens. But today, when most of your customers are going to meet you first online, the game has changed. A retailer with a name like The Vision Center can very easily get lost in the Google forest. It’s not necessary to change your name completely. A tweak to add something like “Smith’s Artisan Eyewear” can do wonders for business.
When is it time to stop adding on (treatments, second pairs, accessories, etc.)?
When they stop buying. Ask with grace and genuine interest in the customer’s well-being and you will leave only a favorable impression. The Container Store is famous for its employee induction program — new full-time hires get over 240 hours of training, and one of the central principles of that training is what is known as “Man in the Desert” add-on sales approach. The idea is that selling a customer what he came in for is akin to offering a man who has been lost in the desert a glass of water. “If you stop to think, you probably realize he also needs food, a place to sleep, a phone to call his family, a pair of shoes and a hat and umbrella to screen the sun’s rays,” co-founder Garrett Boone told Businessweek. So the next time you have a customer, remember they likely need a new pair of sunglasses, that their family should be scheduling bi-annual check-ups and a contact subscription really does make life easier.
This article originally appeared in the March 2017 edition of INVISION.