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10 Marketing Ideas That Can Make All the Difference for Your Practice




optical store eyecare practice business ideas

Ideas from the book “Do It! Marketing.”

David Newman believes in making marketing simple: Figure out to whom you’re talking — then talk to them for a good, specific, relevant reason, understanding who they are and what’s important to them. Just do that, and you’ll have all the professional copywriters and ad agencies beat in no time flat. Here are 10 more ideas from his book:

1. When face-to-face with a customer, establish what they want to talk about and focus on that. If they answer, “B, 47, and kangaroos,” then don’t talk about “A, 21, and buffaloes.” Ask, “Which one do you want to talk about first?” (Take note, some of you who might push the A/R treatments too hard without first establishing a reason for your customers to want such treatments.)

2. Try the “Black Marker Test.” (Put your ads next to your competitors’ and black out the names. Do you notice a difference?) Then try the “So What Test.” (Read the marketing statements in your ads and then ask yourself, “So what?” Can you come up with a compelling value-based answer to that question?) Finally, try the “Prove It Test.” (Prospects assume marketers are liars. Can you prove your claims with testimonials, third-party proof and verifiable facts?)

3. Everything is too expensive until you want it. Your challenge is to make customers want what you’re offering.

4. Create a “Marketing Language Bank” — a collection of verbal building blocks that reflect your most profitable clients’ pains, problems and predicaments. Once you’ve created your bank, use it in all your marketing materials.


5. Here’s how to see if your marketing copy is good copy. Imagine sitting down to a cup of coffee with an old friend. Soon the conversation turns to your business. Could you read your marketing copy out loud to them without them choking with laughter or staring at you in confusion? If the answer is no, then remember: If you wouldn’t say what you’ve written, then simply write what you would say.

6. Make your ads so educational that customers would never throw them away. (How about a graphic of perfect frames for various face types?)

7. Get clients’ attention, then move away from musty old features-benefit selling by “Doing the Flip.” Take the positive benefits you offer — and determine their opposite negatives. Then take each of those negatives and build a restorative statement around it. (1. Benefit: better vision while driving at night; 2. Opposite: glare from headlights and streetlights mean more dangerous driving; 3. Pain relief: Boost nighttime driving comfort, performance and safety with no-glare lenses.)

8. Underpromise and overdeliver. When you say, “I’ll do my best to get it here Tuesday,” your customer hears, “I promise it’ll be here Tuesday.” In fact, even if you say, “I can’t promise it’ll be here Tuesday,” some customers will still hear, “I promise it’ll be here Tuesday.” Instead, offer a date that you’re absolutely confident you can commit to, and then try to beat that date.

9. Don’t trust your customers to sell your business the correct way. Instead, create a “referral blurb” they can forward to their contacts to spread the word about your excellent vision care.

10. The thing you should be most afraid of in your business is being too afraid. To play things too safe is the biggest risk of all.


This article originally appeared in INVISION in September 2014.




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Real Deal

An Experienced Optical Employee Bristles at Working Under A New-to-the-Industry Supervisor … Put on Your GM Hat and Help Sort This One Out

As far as she’s concerned, this is one spurious supervisor.




LINDY HAD BEEN the sole employee of an elderly optometrist for two years; when he retired she applied to the only other practice in her rural Nebraska area: a corporate chain located inside a mall. Eric had joined the company four months before Lindy—he was recruited away from managing a Men’s Warehouse on the opposite side of the mall, and now he was Lindy’s supervisor.


Real Deal scenarios are inspired by true stories but are changed to sharpen the dilemmas involved and should not be confused with real people or places. Responses are peer-sourced opinions and are not a substitute for professional legal advice. Please contact your attorney if you have any questions about an employee or customer situation in your own business.


NATALIE TAYLOR is owner of Artisan Eyewear in Meredith, NH. She offers regional private practice consulting and ABO/COPE approved presentations. Email her at [email protected]

The pair often butted heads, much to Eric’s annoyance. He was making his way through manuals, webinars, modules and off-site training, but Lindy seemed to relish challenging his every move. Today was no different.

Lindy found her supervisor in the lab. “Eric, can I get your help with something?” She gestured towards the sales floor. “Recognize her from last week? You did this order.”

“Oh, yeah,” he said, sucking his teeth. “Took forever for her to pick out a frame.”

“I’d like to remake these lenses,” Lindy said. “The seg height is too high by 3 millimeters.”

“Impossible. I used the iPad app. Just adjust the nose pads so it sits lower,” instructed Eric.

Lindy pointed at the frame. “If it goes lower the bridge will rest on her nose.”

“Try it. Three millimeters isn’t bad enough to justify a remake.” Eric sensed Lindy would continue challenging him so he grabbed the frame out of her hands. “I’ll show you; it’s good training.”

The pair joined a very annoyed customer, seated at a dispensing desk.

“I’m going to lower this frame a bit and that should fix the problem,” Eric announced brusquely.

The woman let Eric fiddle with the frame, and when it was back on her face she gyrated her head wildly. “This doesn’t look any different,” she said.

“You’ll need to take a few weeks to adapt but this is going to work great,” he said, shoving his hand in hers in a shake good-bye. Lindy averted her gaze as the woman wandered back into the mall.

“Remakes hurt our stats!” Eric said, for perhaps the hundredth time.

A few hours later Lindy was measuring a patient for progressives when Eric plopped down next to her.

“Here Lindy, I think you were looking for this,” he said, resting the iPad on the desk.

“Thanks Eric, but I’ve got my super-duper marking pen here,” she replied flatly.

“We want to maintain the same high quality though, and patients love new technology!” he said, smiling at the patient. “This thing really is neat. Here, I’ll do it, can you grab the Blue Light Pen from the lab for me?”

Lindy smiled politely at her patient and gave Eric her seat. As she walked, Eric’s voice carried across the optical sales floor: “We strongly recommend a blue-blocking lens to prevent macular degeneration, which is a permanently blinding disease.”

Lindy’s eyes rolled; she knew blue light was a scare tactic, and when she got back to the desk she’d be sure to give the patient the full story.

The Big Questions

  • If you were this store’s general manager, how would you go about reconciling Eric’s by-the-books approach with Lindy’s experience?
  • The importance of blue blocking lenses is hotly contested. Should office staff be expected to take the position of the company, or is it an individual’s duty to advise patients as she sees fit?
  • How could a corporate supervisor best balance customer service against store statistics?
Tom S.
Holland, MI

Eric is not a kind coworker. Store statistics mean nothing if your patients are not happy. Blue light filters should be a patient-by-patient recommendation and not an assumed choice. You have to get to know your patients and their needs and come to a recommendation.

Chris D.
Lake County, FL

I was at that corporate place and am now in private practice. A third party, competent tenured peer or manager needs to mediate. Acknowledge the strengths both have. Defer optical experience to the optician and the corporate position to the GM. Stress the importance of ethics and proper wording-based research — not marketing. For example, “these lenses may….” or “because blue-light may….” And the optician needs to adapt to some new technologies and embrace changes as well. They should train together. Newbie and experienced both learning at the same time. Utilize both of their talents to tackle a new device so they can see from both perspectives. I have been the one to bridge these two positions.

Stewart G.
San Francisco, CA

To be honest, Lindy needs to look for a new job. Unless she can live with compromising her principles, she’s going to constantly have tensions with her supervisor. Her supervisor is acting like the owner of a commercial franchise I worked for many years ago. He would try to sell a customer (and I use that word purposely) anything, as long as he made more money, and the staff were rewarded for doing likewise. The customer, of course, didn’t know any better. When you sell 1.74 index to a -0.50 prescription, you understand what you are dealing with.

Nancy C.
Cortland, NY

Being in a licensed state, with a degree in ophthalmic dispensing, I see this occurring more and more. I approach with offers of explanation first. When informed my knowledge isn’t needed and stated in front of a patient, I go on break or lunch. Making a point to be very busy with operational maintenance. When the realization of better understanding is needed (it comes), and has been requested, I offer an explanation, again, never changing what was said or offered in the first place. The patients see and understand. Trust me, no job should compromise your professional ethics. Some corporate jobs require the “offer” of products and enhancements as part of your position. Just offer them to the patient, with education on the products, and your job requirement’s fulfilled.

Judy M.
Pittsfield, MA

There should never be a discussion about methods of measurement etc., between employees in front of customers. It makes the customer lose trust in the optical department. The general manager should get involved before the situation becomes out of control. Customers will sense the tension between employees. New technologies do ‘wow’ patients, but where I work we always use two methods of measuring: machine and hand measurements. Once an established patient has measurements that work for them, we may do just one form.

Rick R.
Girard, PA

1. First off, let’s be clear on something. If I were the general manager of this fictional optical (which by the way sounds strangely similar to a chain I once worked for), I would have NEVER hired some half-wit from Men’s Warehouse to be a supervisor. I think we all know how that works out. But if I were in this scenario I would have talked to both of them because a disgruntled customer being subjected to these two would be a formal first step in the counseling process. That behavior was uncalled for by both parties.
2. Again, having worked for this fictional company it is not your decision to make — whether you agree or disagree. But Eric’s over-the-top response about blue light was totally in the wrong.
3. Train your people so you can keep mistakes to a minimum. “Controllable remakes.” Guess how many times I have heard that one?

John L.
Nashville, IN

Typical corporate conundrum: a manager with only four months of experience in the optical business trying to exert his optical knowledge over an associate whose only experience has been as an employee of an elderly optometrist for a period of two years. Meanwhile, the customer is caught in between their differences in “experience.” Unfortunately, this is the future of our business, unless optometrists, opticians and our customers demand that formal training and a proof of competency is required for all opticians. If optometry expects that the full benefit of their Rx will be realized by their patient, qualified opticians are a must.

Cynthia S.
Mequon, WI

I would have a long private conversation with Eric regarding his behavior in front of the customer. I would explain the experience and qualifications I have as an experienced optician. I would let him tell me about the new technology and I would attempt to appease him by trying the iPad technology he is insisting upon, but I would also use my own tried-and-true method of fitting and assisting my customer. If he ever embarrassed me in front of a customer after a private conversation, I would take matters to a higher power. If there was no resolution, I would look for a different job.

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. eyecare business serving the public, you’re invited to join the INVISION Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting eyecare professionals. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

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Editor's Note

Small Changes Repeated Over Time Can Change the World

Better yet, they can benefit your business.




I’M NOT REALLY an all or nothing sort of woman. I am a big fan of incremental improvement, the cumulative effect of making small but better choices over time … the do better today than you did yesterday school of thought. For me, done is better than perfect and waiting for perfect just means nothing ever gets done.

It’s definitely the approach I take toward the environment. I recycle at home. I own reusable straws. I mostly use eco-friendly cleaning products. I choose organic where I can, have reduced my consumption of meat and swapped what I do eat for free-range, grass fed or sustainably farmed whenever possible.

But I’m also “aging gracefully” with all the scientifically engineered help I can get, recently bought a big jug of chlorine bleach to combat the coronavirus, and will never be able to completely give up the cold, sweet chemical deliciousness that is Diet Coke.

The point is, I do what I can and I appreciate businesses that do the same. In our industry we have a growing roster of companies that are making small changes to improve their social good or environmental impact. Like Morel swapping out its old packing material for compostable peanuts and Eastman’s new Acetate Renew material made of biobased and certified recycled content soon to be available from Mazzucchelli. On page 24, we have a whole slew of brands giving back to LGBTQ youth, teachers, animals, and people in need; while Latest Releases (page 26) features a few eco-friendly styles new to the market.

These small steps are important for a long term improvement. Regardless of your political affiliation or where you fall on the issue of climate change, I don’t think anyone is effectively arguing in favor of poisoning the planet.
And it’s not just small changes to save the planet, they can save your business too. We’re living in uncertain times. Exert a little control over the fate of your business by checking out our Big Story — Recession-Proof Your Business — on page 34 for some ideas on how to combat the financial turmoil this global pandemic has thrown us all into. We only wish we had published it sooner.

Small changes repeated over time can change the world… and they can certainly benefit your business.

Best wishes for your business,

Five Smart Tips From This Issue

1. Few things are as feel-good as cute animals in glasses… and yep, there is a week dedicated to that. (Calendar, page 18)
2. After a slowdown in business, get buzz going again with a contest. We tell how to host one. (The Social Eye, page 18)
3. Forget monetary bonuses, give the people what they want: pizza and compliments. (Tip Sheet, page 50)
4. Wondering how to structure (or improve) your new staff onboarding program? Readers shared what they do… with lots more online. (Do You or Don’t You, page 66)
5. Cut the BS and make sure you aren’t just parroting nonsense. (Columns, page 62)

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Manager's To-Do

Figure Out Your ‘Hot Summer Offer’ and More Manager’s To-Dos for April

Also, the power of turning off notifications and developing a team ‘elevator pitch.’




Mar. 29-April 4

MERCHANDISING Time to freshen things up: when displaying your product, use trendy color accents (Pantone is a good guide) in boards and cases that can be changed quarterly. “Your inventory may not all be new, but by changing the presentation you can keep it looking fresh,” says merchandising expert Sally Furrer.

STAFF Encourage your technicians to get AOA certification and start studying now for the May test dates. (April 1 is the late registration deadline for May.)

MARKETING What will your “Hot Summer Offer” in 2020 be?

April 5-11

COMMUNITY OUTREACH There’s no escaping politics, so you might as well get involved. Look for community events to participate in, see what your Chamber of Commerce has planned, and introduce yourself to your local officials. If they want to stay elected, they’ll make time to meet a local, independent business owner.

EDUCATION Grab the notes you took at those educational sessions at VEE and start implementing some of the ideas.

April 12-18

MARKETING Call a brainstorming meeting for Mother’s Day (May 10). Dad and child evening? Mom and daughter event? Cross promotion with a spa? Bring a list of ideas to the meeting.

MANAGEMENT Having trouble sleeping? This probably won’t help, but it’s instructive nonetheless: Every Amazon shareholder letter written by Jeff Bezos in a single downloadable PDF ( The letters highlight how prescient and strategic he and Amazon have been since the 1990s and where he envisions retail in the future.

April 19-25

NETWORKING Contact a church, synagogue, Rotary or women’s group in your area, especially those involved with older demographics. Tell them you’ll speak for free about vision and eyewear at their luncheon meetings.

OPERATIONS Call a meeting to review HIPAA, OSHA and safety protocols. End with a quiz.

April 26-May 1

MARKETING What is your “elevator script”? Don’t have one? All staff should be able to give a “knock-your-socks-off” one-sentence description of what they do for a living, and where they do it, when asked by a stranger.

STORE ENVIRONMENT Take a moment to evaluate your office’s restrooms. Are they in need of a fresh coat of paint, new faucet, or updated artwork? Patients pay attention to these details!

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