Article Date: 9/1/2013


Something for Nothing?

Some very effective merchandising and marketing ideas cost nothing.


Jim Thomas

We all like free. It goes a long way when you fix a frame for free or give a contact lens to a patient who tears the last lens in their supply. I’ve recommended a contractor who made a minor repair to our central air conditioning system at no charge.

I could cite many other examples, but it should be noted that not all “free” things are created equal. The best are those in which value is connected to the product or services. For example, a one-half hour service call can cost anywhere from $55 up. And anyone who wears contact lenses can calculate the cost of the lens and the value of clear vision. These freebies rank high because as consumers, we understand we are getting “something,” unlike the many free things offered to us (i.e. fast-food restaurant kid’s meal toys) that may offer little or no value.

The payoff

These investments usually pay off. My wife told family and friends about the time her optometrist provided her with a free contact lens. We ultimately used the above contractor to remodel a bathroom.

In the spirit of “free,” I’d like to share a sampling of the ideas on marketing and merchandising that are contained in this issue of Optometric Management. These ideas and many others presented in the pages of OM won’t cost you a dime.

Create an online presence, and use it. If you have a modest marketing budget, how can you argue with social media, which is free? See Kim Rogers’ story on page 60 for tips on how to get started.

Develop a likeable staff. Even if your staff is likeable 95% of the time, that leftover 5% may cause unnecessary problems, costing you loyal patients and referrals. Matt Dixon, O.D., explains on page 18.

To create a new look in your optical, consider moving your displays or getting rid of older items. Gina Wesley, O.D., touches on this in her column (page 46), as does Jay Binkowitz, O.D.’s feature (page 26). While it sounds easy, it works: Have you ever complimented friends on remodeling only to find out there was none — they just moved furniture… or does this only happen to me?

You still have to spend

These ideas are in no way substitutes for those substantial investments (equipment, furnishings, inventory, etc.) that are necessary for practices to perform at peak levels. But if you find yourself resistant to change, this might be a good place to begin. OM

Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: September 2013, page(s): 6