Host a Cosmetic Contact Lens Open House in Your Practice
November 19, 2014
We are seeing some exciting new developments in a category of contact lenses that has been rather dormant for many years: cosmetic enhancing lenses. Contact lens manufacturers are taking different approaches to this category and you’ll see various terms being used, such as color, beauty, cosmetic, enhancement, tint, and more. Regardless of the terms or product differences, it is great news to see new products and new life in this category. I think it has the potential to create a lot of consumer interest in contact lenses.
The new cosmetic lenses bring a huge improvement in lens comfort and the technologies used to make the color more natural are amazing. These lenses are not like the color lenses we had years ago. Be sure to let patients know that the new lens designs are much different and be enthusiastic about it. Enthusiasm sells. Read up on these products and meet with your sales reps. Have your staff wear the lenses and talk about them.
We are already seeing some national consumer advertising campaigns on these new cosmetic lenses, which will drive patient interest and create an excellent opportunity for your practice. In this article, I’ll present an idea on how to capitalize on the growing excitement and make cosmetic contact lenses a huge hit in your practice.
Host an event
Nothing creates excitement and buzz quite like an event, but coming up with an idea or theme that is new can be challenging. Cosmetic contacts are new again and it is the perfect product for an open house. Here are the broad strokes on how to plan and promote this event:
Choose a date and invite patients and the public to your Cosmetic Contact Lens Open House.
I would choose a weekday from 4pm to 7pm. Block your appointment schedule so you won’t see any patients for exams during that time period. Your entire staff should work the event.
Serve beverages and snacks.
Consider offering a discount of some kind for people who attend your event and proceed with a complete fitting and a full year supply of lenses. The goal at the open house is to get attendees to schedule an appointment for an exam and fitting before they leave the event.
Use multiple media channels to promote the event in a big way. The event is fun and educational, but the real value to your practice is that it gives you something to promote. It positions your practice as different and better than your competition. Get the word out with email blasts, a banner on your website, multiple posts on your practice Facebook page, signs throughout your office, consider local radio (and see if they can do a live broadcast from your office at the event), consider newspaper and use direct mail in the form of invitations.
Ask people to RSVP to reserve a spot at the open house. Space is limited. Determine how many people you can handle, but make it full and busy and count on 30% no show rate.
Work with your contact lens rep on the planning of this event and see if he or she can attend and assist.
The open house can include a brief seminar by the doctor on contact lens care in general and the latest technology of cosmetic lenses. The rep can speak to the group as well and may be able to supply PowerPoint slides.
Offer some kind of screening to see if patients can wear contact lenses and help them choose the color or enhancement they like best. Decide if your open house will use free trial lenses, try-on technology or both. If you use virtual try-on technology, your staff can use your computer work stations throughout the office to assist patients with the virtual try-on. You can invite them to bring a photo with them on a USB drive to upload or your staff could simply take a photo using the patient’s own smartphone or tablet.
See if you can arrange a cross marketing alliance with a local cosmetic store or salon. They can send some make-up artists to your office and provide free mini eye makeovers at the open house. They can assist as judges if you hold a contest for best eyes (see the next point). The idea is that the cosmetic store will also market the event to their customer base and bring new patients to your practice.
Have several prizes available for raffles and contests. Raffles add excitement and they bring people out. Raffle off a year’s supply of cosmetic contacts along with a complete fitting service. Have a contest for best eye makeover. A pair of designer sunglasses makes a great prize. Promote the contests in all your marketing.
Cosmetic contacts offer a clever opportunity to use social media to market your practice. Invite and assist patients to post some pictures of themselves with the new eye appearance to their own account on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram etc. They can ask their friends to vote or comment on which ones they like best. Be sure to ask them to mention your practice name. This social media marketing effort has more punch than most because patients would really like to show off their new look and would really like the feedback. The power of each attendee’s social circle is a great marketing opportunity for your practice.
Also, ask patients if you can post before and after shots on your practice Facebook page. Document that they gave you permission by having them sign a simple statement and scan it into the record.
You can decide how liberal to be with attendees trying on free trial lenses at your open house. Speak to your contact lens rep about it. You could hold off and not offer trial lenses until the actual fitting appointment that will follow or try some lenses on during the open house, after the doctor performs a screening with the slit lamp. Since you are not doing complete eye exams on these attendees, it may be best to not allow trial lenses to leave the office.
Cosmetic contact lenses have the potential for great word-of-mouth referrals to your practice and an open house can get you started with a large number of new fittings.
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.