EyeWearhausSt. Louis, MO
Setting aside the elusive alchemy that sends TV spots viral, the experts tell us the Advertising 101 textbook hasn’t changed much. Unless you luck into the meme of the week, your ad campaign is most likely to be successful if you deploy a practiced strategy to achieve one of a handful of clearly defined goals. What are you trying to accomplish? Create name recognition? Educate the market about a new product or service? Get folks to buy stuff? Get them to buy more? Showing us how it’s done is EyeWearhaus in St. Louis MO, who came up with what we believe is a great example of a campaign whose clear goals and execution yielded clear rewards. Looking for a unique way to sell its unique frames, EyeWearhaus fit a handful of eminent Missourians — people who had achieved enough to warrant emulation but who were at the same time local and “real” — with their handcrafted eyewear, took pictures, came up with a few fun taglines … and welcomed a whole new audience of curious customers into their store.
Michael Harris founded EyeWearhaus 30 years ago, building on a previous 15 years of experience of the Midwest optical scene. With the new business came a new set of problems: “Having participated in management of a large optical firm, my emphasis then on frame product mix always included prominent … nationally recognized fashion names. Having hand-made and limited edition eyewear in my office now, that marketing tactic would no longer work.” But the eyewear and his reputation for great service were luring some interesting patients into his practice. He started raising the possibility of involving them in a marketing strategy. “As they are unique individuals, the concept of modeling unique eyewear many had never seen was easy to sell.”
Harris’ first step was to get the basics sorted. “The first thought when contemplating this type of ad campaign is the ad size, where to run for maximum viewership and [determining] the budget to support this.”
The objective of the campaign was to market unique, handcrafted frames that didn’t necessarily come with famous names attached. So, it made sense to find subjects that were doing something similarly unique. Many — though not all —of the participants were tied to non-profit organizations. Harris took out full-page ads in local media featuring the subjects’ pictures with bullet points identifying them and their organization. It was deemed a win-win scenario and no payment was involved on either side. High achievers tend to know other high achievers, making recruitment easier. “Choosing eyewear was an office endeavor and all, including the participant, helped. We would, on occasion, choose a few pieces before the individual and photographer would come to the office.”
Coordinating photo shoots and the models’ schedules was sometimes a challenge, Harris admits, but nearly everyone who was approached agreed to participate. The subjects included Maxine Clark, founder of Build-a-Bear workshop, MamaSpace founder Jessica Manela Litwack, Cardinals radio play-by-play caller John Rooney, and a range of other figures from the CEO of the St. Louis Symphony to Miss Missouri herself.
According to Harris, the campaign’s success is objectively measurable. “When patient questionnaires are completed, the source of their reason for coming in must be notated and entered into patient management software. Patients have mentioned particular ads upwards of a year or more after first being published.” The rewards are real, but they won’t necessarily appear overnight, he counsels. “As with all ad campaigns … it may take months before you realize any returns, so patience is a must.”
DO IT YOURSELF: ENLISTING A-LIST LOCALS FOR ADS
1. Shop around. Don’t just grab the first A-lister who takes your call. Are they right for your demographic? If Michelle Obama and Justin Bieber were both available; which one would your customers relate to?
2. Be credible. Teen-girl marketing expert Heidi Dangelmaier said her audience didn’t buy that Jennifer Love Hewitt was shopping in stores that sell Hanes. If you’re trying to unload tennis glasses, James Corden’s not your man.
3. Understand the risks. These are real-life people, not cartoon characters. Think Jared Fogle and Subway sandwiches.
4. Get yer own. Sharing a sponsor dilutes brand recognition. If the local weatherman’s already touting a store in your area, try the sports woman instead.
5. Capitalize. Ad campaigns like these get newspapers and trade mags interested. Be prepared for a call and get ready to capitalize on some free hype.
This article originally appeared in the February 2018 edition of INVISION.
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