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How 6 Eyecare Businesses Get the Word Out to the Right People — On a Budget

Hint: Their Facebook marketing is right on target.

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SIT 10 OPTICAL BIZ owners down in a room and you’re likely to get 10 different views on the value of social media as a bottom-line booster. In terms of increasing your practice’s visibility, however, it’s hard to argue with the effectiveness of Facebook and the various tools it offers. For today’s choice-rich, experience-seeking, algorithm-mediated and time-deprived consumer; there’s no such thing as a comprehensive marketing solution. That said, some things don’t change. The most skillful users of social media are basically maximizing that old friend of the independent retailer: word of mouth. Here are six practices that have found ways to use Facebook to do just that.

Logan virtual event with Maui Jim

Logan Eyecare
Lake Mary, FL

Logan Eyecare has found FB useful for keeping patients engaged during COVID-19. “Our first event during COVID was a live IG/FB event,” says practice concierge Sherry Morgan. Followers who RSVP’d were hand-delivered a happy hour treat, although anyone could join. Among their many FB campaigns are a gift for those purchasing a pair of Maui Jims in June, a “Show Us Your Mask” contest and more. A Tom Ford virtual event is in the pipeline. The practice also uses FB to co-market with surgical partners, frame vendors and others. Logan Eyecare does not use FB Ads. “We … [tag] businesses in the area to promote organic social engagement,” says Morgan. She advises ECPs to remember that FB stories can take off even more than posts.

MK Vision Center Facebook ad

MK Vision Center
New York, NY

MK Vision Center has achieved results with a focused approach, using Facebook Ads’ Location Targeting function to single out users within a 5-10 mile radius of the store — a healthy pool of potential customers when you’re located in downtown Manhattan — and a specific demographic that would be interested in the particular brand they are promoting. For a brand like Gucci, says optician Kaleena Ma, “We target by age — 30-50 years — and we set a daily budget not to exceed say $10 a day.” It costs MK $1 per day to reach 1,000 to 3,000 people and up to $15 a day to reach 6,600 to 19,000 a day from MK’s downtown Manhattan locations, so staff set budgeting parameters to ensure they don’t overspend. “We can also set a time limit, so usually we do this one to two weeks before the actual event,” Ma says.

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Eye Center of the Dakotas FB ad

Eye Center of the Dakotas
Bismarck, ND

Eye Center of the Dakotas’ goal with FB is simple: to boost follower numbers and give them something to enjoy. For 2020, they created a plan to post weekly eye trivia (Tuesday Trivia) and a contest to “Eye-dentify” a unique pair of eyes posted each Friday (think Leonard Nimoy). The campaign marked the first time they had ever regularly scheduled posts. Winners receive credit towards their next purchase, encouraging them to stop by the optical. Office manager Deb Jaeger credits staff with coming up with creative and interesting posts. Because the campaign relies on regular posts to their business page, the only “budget” involved was the staff time needed to create posts. She urges ECPs to “Engage your staff members, get ideas from them about things they would like to share with patients and customers,” and recommends one employee take ownership of posting. “Be spontaneous, keep it simple, share something fun and memorable: Be social!”

Academy Vision FB ad and trunk show

Academy Vision,
Pine Beach, NJ

Academy Vision sees its annual trunk show as one of its marketing pillars, and FB plays a key role in shaping it, with its targeting ability proving especially useful during COVID-19, when a limited audience was actually desirable. Owner/OD Marc Ullman says the FB push includes promoting and boosting posts to get more eyes from their geographic area. This year due to social distancing they almost canceled, but with demand picking up in August they went ahead, hosting it outdoors. “Our only advertising was a paid FB Ad for $20 to our general area and one email blast to our entire patient database.” The sale was a great success, he says. Academy typically only allocates around $50, and this year spent just $20. Says Ullman, “Typically we target a few specific categories such as people who wear glasses or contact lenses, or people who like designer frames, or desiganer name sunglasses, and then we search by radius and county, not going too far out.” Ullman says the key to social media marketing is careful targeting. “Be specific on who you are trying to target so your information goes to the right people.”

Specs Around Town FB ad

Specs Around Town
Bloomington, IL

Specs Around Town has learned to make creative use of a range of FB offerings. When COVID-19 forced it to close in mid-March, optician/owner Julie Kubsch knew she’d have to get creative to keep the business on people’s minds until they reopened (which happened in May). “A variety of things were posted on our page, our story or presented as an event,” says Kubsch, citing a FB Live Premiere video promoting a gift certificate sale during shut down. They also boosted posts to get followers to vote for the store in a local paper’s readers’ poll. FB Stories was used to highlight new collections arriving from an Opti Munich trip in January. “Some of the new things we ordered still delivered during shutdown so it was fun to share,” says Kubsch. For Promoted Posts, the store selects the “People who like your page and their friends” option, along with Location Targeting. Since March, Kubsch has spent less than $500. “I will continue because it is the future of advertising.”

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Lifetime Eyecare FB post sample

Lifetime Eyecare
Jenison, MI

Social media director Tiffany Firer says Lifetime Eyecare gets positive results by boosting its FB posts, such as “Buy a Year Supply of Contacts, Get a Half Off a Pair of Sunglasses!” They also run FB Ads targeting friends of those who have liked the practice’s page within a certain demographic. In addition to sales-directed posts, Lifetime boosts informational posts, like one urging customers to use its newly added online payment facility. “Since running the ad we’ve tripled the amount of people paying their bill on our website, which saves our front desk valuable time.” Firer counsels that “WHAT you boost matters: if it’s ‘out of reach’ information-wise (non-human speak, too science-y), if it’s too ‘sales-y’ or if it’s not eye-catching enough… save your money because people will scroll right past it. People want to be entertained and intrigued, not marketed to.” Lifetime’s main FB resource is Facebook Ads, but they’re careful to set a small budget — $10-$25 a week tops — and a tight timeline “to make sure we’re not going overboard,” she says.

After years covering some of the farther flung corners of the world of business journalism, Heath has more recently focused on covering the efforts of independent eyecare professionals to negotiate a fast-changing industry landscape. Contact him at [email protected]

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