For some, Vision Expo is all about the booths – trying on the latest frames and demonstrating the newest lens technologies and manufacturing innovations – but for a vast majority, education is the real focus. Specifically, acquiring CE credits needed for certification, or renewing your license. With hundreds of hours to choose from, making the correct choices can be daunting. Never fear! We’ve waded through the options and come up with the Top 10 Sessions for Small Business Owners.

If you’re looking for some great social media advice, look no further than “The Greatest Social Media marketing Course Ever,” by Alan Glazier, OD, FAAO, CEO of Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care and the admistrator of ODs on Facebook, a Facebook page with more than 24,000 members. This course is essentially an update on marketing trends on the internet and social media and how you can apply them to drive customers to your eye care business.

Want to brush up on your marketing? Then the “40 Best Marketing Strategies to Grow Your ECP Business” hosted by Trudi Charest, co-founder of 4ECPs, a business resource company for eye care professionals, will be right up your alley. The course focuses on the 20 “must” do items on your marketing program list, including website design, social media, pay-per-click advertising and SEO strategies to ensure you are found online, to the 20 traditional marketing ideas that still generate a big return, such as referral programs and direct mail drops. “The difference we see right now in ECP businesses that are successful is that they are tracking what they are doing for marketing efforts to see what is working, and utilizing professional help instead of trying to do it all themselves and really understanding their demographics and customer base,” Ms. Charest explains.

She thinks the single most important thing an independent ECP can do to compete against big box stores and online optical shops is to get online and get active. “A set-it-and-forget-it website is not a digital strategy anymore. Your consumer is online and looking around. Positioning your business so your customer finds you when they are searching for eyewear, eye health or eye exams is crucial these days and not an easy task,” Ms. Charest says. “The online arena is getting busy especially in metropolitan locations so hiring professional help to assist you in showing up online is an important consideration. Most ECPs are not marketers so spending valuable time trying to learn digital strategies is not time well spent in most cases.”

Perhaps your merchandising needs a new look. If so, “The New Rules of Optical Retailing” would be a great use of your time. In this course, Bill Gerber, noted optical merchandising guru, shares the new rules that extremely successful practices and retailers follow to a tee. His informative, highly entertaining presentation, expands on what‚Äôs wrong with most optical presentations and offers specific turn¬≠key solutions for fixing the merchandising problems standing in the way of higher sales and patient satisfaction. Attendees will learn how to make their space more attractive through the use of the latest visual merchandising tools including window graphics, eyewear displays, signage and digital signage. “You want to make your patient experience so compelling, thorough and engaging that your clientele would never dream of going elsewhere for eyercare and eyewear,” notes Mr. Gerber.

Looking for some sound financial advice or just want to get a handle on crunching numbers? Two courses that could whet your appetite are “10 Mistakes to Avoid When You Buy, Sell or Take In a Partner” and “How to Utilize Spreadsheets to Efficiently Analyze and Grow Any Practice.”

Ultimately, what you get out of Expo is a function of how much you put in. “Shows such as VEE that offer classes taught by world class educators expose attendees to fresh new thinking that when implemented, translates into additional sales and professional growth,” says Mr. Gerber. “By being exposed to like-minded colleagues – truly the best and the brightest of the industry – ideas are exchanged, relationships are made and everyone benefits. Nothing beats the value of face-to-face interaction!”

25B5 The Greatest Social Media Marketing Course Ever Friday, 2:45pm – 4:45pm Speaker: Alan Glazier, OD, FAAO
31B5 Current Concepts in Marketing and Merchandising Saturday, 8:30am – 9:30am Speaker: Dave Ziegler, OD
33B1 40 Best Marketing Strategies to Grow Your ECP Business Saturday, 2:45pm – 4:45pm Speaker: Trudi Charest
33B2 Power Merchandising Saturday, 2:45pm – 4:45pm Speakers: Travis Reed; Eric Feigenbaum
32B6 The Power of a Spreadsheet РHow to Utilize Spreadsheets to Efficiently Analyze and Grow Any Practice Saturday, 9:45am – 11:45am Speaker: Mark Johnson, LDO, ABO, NCLE
24B2 The New Rules of Optical Retailing Friday, 11:00am – 12:00pm Speaker: Bill Gerber
22B4 Secrets of Hiring Top Talent When Your Magic Wand Is Broken Friday, 8:30am – 11:30am Speaker: Daniel Abramson
23B3 Practice Transitions: 10 Mistakes to Avoid When You Buy, Sell or Take In a Partner Friday, 9:45am – 10:45am Speaker: Nathan Hayes; Jerry Hayes, OD
26B5 How Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch & How To Improve Yours Friday, 5:00pm – 6:00pm Speaker: Gary Gerber, OD
42B2 Five Zones of Practice Operations Sunday, 9:45am – 11:45am Speaker: Michael Rothschild, OD


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