Trunk Shows: Excellent Marketing and a Profit Booster
May 29, 2013
When I talk to ODs about their experiences in hosting a trunk show, I usually get one of two responses: either they do great and produce a tremendous amount of revenue or they are a complete bust and not worth the effort. My practice held a trunk show a few weeks ago and I'm happy to report we were with the former group! I can't guarantee that all trunk shows will be successful, but in this article, I will outline what we did.
There is no question that planning and hosting a trunk show is a lot of work, but I found three major benefits for the practice that made it a good investment:
Profit. We did extremely well with revenue production. We have a large practice base to draw upon, but we sold well over 100 complete pairs of glasses plus many pairs of non-Rx sunglasses in one day. Even after subtracting all the marketing expenses and discounts provided, gross profit was more than three times greater than an average day.
Publicity. Our practice made a strong connection with many people in the area because of the trunk show. Many people came to our office and had a wonderful experience and many more did not attend but learned that our practice offers fantastic eyewear. We marketed to our patient base and to the public at large. Once you decide to hold an event, there are many great ways to talk about it! More on the marketing effort below.
Team building. My staff had a lot of fun at the trunk show and it was definitely good for morale! I sensed a certain amount of pride that we held a big event and it was a success. We had very good attendance by the public and it was quite different from the usual routine. Many staff members went to the restaurant next door for a drink after the event.
There are many excellent ways to promote a trunk show, but the key is to invite a lot of people. I think most trunk shows that do not turn out very well may be due to inadequate promotion.
I hired a graphic artist to design an eye-catching flyer for our trunk show. We used versions of this flyer in several different media; it became our eblasts, invitations, ads, Facebook posts and signs. Free-lance designers are not very expensive and it gets away from that home-made look.
Invitations are the main method used to promote a trunk show; you can send them via postal mail or email and you can send them to your patient base or to the community at large. There is no right or wrong to that as long as you send thousands. We have over 6,000 active email addresses so we used only that method and no direct mail. That provided a huge saving in printing and postage cost. We sent two email blasts to our patients at one month and at one week prior to the show.
We advertised on local pop radio for a couple of weeks before the event, including sponsoring a "Women's Working Wednesday" event held at a local bar by the radio station. We provided designer sunglasses for a raffle at this live broadcast.
Three full color ads ran in our local newspaper the week of the event. Newspaper is not the leading media anymore, but it was a cost-effective way to reach the general public.
Signs were made up for the reception room and optical.
We posted about the show many times on our practice Facebook page and we had a special pop-up ad about the event on our website.
We had strong support from our local Chamber of Commerce. Several officers attended our event and local businesses helped us promote it. We had several cross promotional items with some hair salons, restaurants and a local chiropractor.
We had several raffle prizes, including a large Coach purse, a Kindle, several pairs of Varilux-S lenses, a Polo shirt and more. Our lab and the frame reps donated some of these items and we bought the rest. The prizes draw people and make for a fun event.
The main attractions of the trunk show were to see the complete line of frames from four major brands and to receive a 50% discount on frames when purchased with Rx lenses. We also offered 30% off plano sunglasses. These discounts could not be combined with other discounts or vision plans.
We held our trunk show on a Friday from 1pm to 7pm and continued it the next day from 9am to 1pm. These hours offered something for everyone, but looking back on it, I think one day would work just as well as long as it runs until at least 6pm to catch the after work crowd. We were surprised to see traffic starting to slow down around 6pm.
Four frame reps were at our show, which worked out fine and they all had plenty of sales, but I think two or three reps would be plenty in the future. To reduce the competitive feel, all the reps worked for the same parent company, but each had a major brand to present. We assigned one of our opticians to work with each rep and be the "right-hand man." The rep did most of the styling presentations but our staff member wrote up the sales and handled the details.
We asked any staff who were not scheduled on the show days to work the event and offered time and a half pay.
We had large folding tables with tablecloths for the reps to display on.
Wine, cheese and fruit were served during the evening hours and coffee, tea, bagels and Danish the next morning.
We had nice gift bags printed with our logo and filled them with give-away items and brochures from our practice and discount offers from our supporting local businesses.
A very good patient of ours plays the dulcimer in a three piece band. We hired the group to play live background music and that added a nice touch.
We performed eye exams as usual during the trunk show, but we decided to avoid our busiest days which have three doctors all working at once. We would have not had enough staff available for the walk-in shoppers.
If your practice can use the publicity and the profit, speak to your frame reps about hosting a trunk show. I recommend that you place a very competent staff member in charge of the event because there are many details to manage, but our experience was very positive!
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week
Dr. Gailmard's new book, Practice Management in Optometry: A Blueprint for Success Based on the Optometric Management Tip of the Week, is now available on Amazon.