HOW WE MARKET FREE-FORM LENSES

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HOYA’s MyStyle Identifier can help ECPs identify a patient’s lifestyle.

Most optical practices don’t have big bucks to spend on advertising free-form lenses so they need to be creative with their marketing efforts.

When you walk into a store to make a purchase for a smartphone or a TV, you probably already have in mind what you want. Why? Probably because you have already seen what you are looking for in a commercial, magazine ad, or your neighbor has one.

What does this have to do with the optical world? Plenty. Currently, the only prescription ophthalmic eyeglass products the average optical consumer knows about are Transitions® lenses from Transitions Optical, Inc. and Crizal® lenses from Essilor of America, Inc. Why? Because they’ve seen them on TV or heard about them on the radio. While Essilor and Transitions do a great job of promoting those products, no one else (except the contact lens industry) is heavily promoting the greatest thing to hit the optical market. I’m talking about free-form design progressive lenses and the marketing of these lenses is up to you.

IN-HOUSE MARKETING
Currently 85% of the progressive lenses sold in my dispensary are free-from designed and processed. For me, that means Kodak Unique offered by Signet Armorlite, Inc. Regardless of the brand, most of the marketing for this technology has to be done in-house because most independent retailers like me don’t have the mega advertising budgets of Essilor or Transitions.

SOME UNIQUE TOOLS HOYA Vision Care, North America’s MyStyle Identifier is a unique tool that helps ECPs identify a patient’s lifestyle. Using this online tool, a patient answers a series of lifestyle questions under the supervision of the eyecare professional (ECP). The answers to these questions result in a recommendation of one of three HOYA iD MyStyle lenses. The data are used to determine which of the three designs best matches the wearer’s lifestyle. In addition to personalizing the wearer’s lenses, this experience creates a real “wow” factor with the patient. Essilor of America, Inc. produces a document called the Varilux® Superiority Sales Aid. Using this document, ECPs learn the key points of why Essilor feels its Varilux lenses are superior to others on the market. Using these key points, ECPs can promote Varilux lenses to their patients.

ONLINE MARKETING
In thinking about marketing these lenses, I like to begin as far away from the store as possible. For me, this means online marketing. I do this with an up-to-date Web site that mentions (among other things) what I refer to as “high-definition” lenses to patients. Communicating to the average optical consumer with terms like free-form, wavefront, backside surfaced, or even digitally designed is about as useful as trying to get a radiator for your 1979 Volkswagen Beetle. However, use a term like high-definition and they all know that you are referring to sharper, clearer vision.

NEWSLETTER
Another thing I use is an occasional e-newsletter that we create and e-mail to all of my patients at virtually no cost. Obtaining product information from your free-form manufacturer and putting it into your newsletter helps your patients become better educated about the product before they even walk in your door.

RADIO
In my community, my store is known for our creative radio commercials. In many of these, I refer to high-definition lenses and speak about how life is improved when your vision is improved. These commercials reach patients that I may not reach with e-mail advertising. They have been so popular, I even link to them on my company’s Facebook page.

Shamir’s marketing team has created some very powerful, yet easy-to-follow guides patients can thumb through to discuss its lens products.

IN THE OFFICE
Once a customer gets to my dispensary, I can intensify the high-definition message even more. With outside signage, my patients can see the signs and recognize us as authorized dealers. Should those patients go to the independent optometrist next door, they are exposed to more signage regarding our free-form progressive lenses. Signet Armorlite has a fantastic order form so that I can order signs, window decals, near vision reading cards, placemats, and brochures to help me promote its Kodak Unique lenses.

DOCTOR’S RECOMMENDATION
Once the patient becomes a patient, they have been visually exposed to the free-form progressive lens story several times. The optometrist next door wears a couple of different digital design progressive addition lenses (PALs) and usually recommends them to his patients. Often times the patient has the name of a free-form progressive written on the prescription. At that point, my opticians could merely become order takers because the patient has pretty much decided to get them.

As the patient is seated at the dispensing table, they immediately see in front of them a placemat that extols the virtues of the Kodak Unique lens. Due to the added cost of free-form progressive lenses, many of our patients want to take time to think about their investment. For that reason, we keep several brochures nearby that reinforce what we have told them about the lenses. We simply take one of our business cards and staple it to the brochure.

IN-STORE MERCHANDISING Signet Armorlite Inc. recently launched a new and easy-to-use Web site allowing labs and eyecare professionals to download PDFs and order several types of product and patient literature, dispensing aids, customized recall cards, and Rx forms, and in-store merchandising items like window decals, table signs, posters, and more. You can visit SALitOnline.com to register.

PACKAGING
When a patient is ready to make the investment in a free-form progressive, we automatically package the lens with all of the bells and whistles you could want. If the patient doesn’t want Trivex® material, we take that off. If they don’t want Transitions, we take that off. This way, patients can custom design a lens that best suits their needs and budget.

VIDEOS

I like to reinforce what I have told a patient by playing some videos. Many of the lens manufacturers produce them. We use an iPad mini to show them and we take pictures of our patients that they can post on our Facebook page or send to their friends. They can also see what they look like in the frames they have chosen. Having a handheld tablet with educational videos further impresses our patients.

Seiko uses marketing brochures to encourage patients to ask their ECPs about its custom-made PALs.

AUTHENTIC CERTIFICATE
One of my favorite activities (second to collecting money of course!) is dispensing the finished product. Kodak lenses, like many other free-form design lenses, come with a certificate of authenticity card that has the patient’s prescription on one side of it. On the other side, we put their name and our phone number and explain that if they should damage their eyeglasses while travelling, it is good to keep the card handy since these lenses may be difficult for some dispensaries to duplicate. A branded cleaning cloth also helps reassure patients they are getting great lenses.

When dispensing the eyeglasses, we use a reading card provided by the lens manufacturer and, if the patients purchased free-form progressive lenses, we show them how much better they can see. If they did not purchase free-form lenses, we show them how much more they would see peripherally with newer lenses so when they return for a second pair, they can consider upgrading.

Marketing free-form lenses is not difficult but you will have to do it yourself since most optical companies do not advertise nationally. With a little creativity and help from your free-form lens manufacturer or lab, you’ll have plenty of resources.

Kevin Harrison is president and owner of Heritage Vision Center, an independent optical dispensary in Hattiesburg, MS.

WHERE TO FIND IT:

Essilor of America, Inc.
800-542-5668 • essilorusa.com

HOYA Vision Care, North America
877-528-1939 • hoyavision.com

Seiko Optical Products of America, Inc.
800-235-5367 • seikoeyewear.com

Shamir Insight, Inc.
877-514-8330 • shamirlens.com

Signet Armorlite, Inc.
800-950-5367 • signetarmorlite.com

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