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AOP Awards 2018

Marketing Initiative of the Year

Meet the finalists for Marketing Initiative of the Year at the AOP Awards 2018

This award acknowledges an outstanding marketing campaign which promotes an element of optometry, be it sales-motivated marketing, brand-building, or increasing awareness of eye health by a practice, manufacturer, company or organisation. The nominees will show how the campaign’s initial objectives translated to measurable benefits, including market impact, engagement, and revenue growth.

The finalists for Marketing Initiative of the Year are:

Visual Stress and Dyslexia Awareness Campaign – Andrew and Rogers Optometrists

Optometrist Director, Roger Smyth, on why it is worth investing to create awareness of your services.

Andrew and Roger Smyth

Can you provide details of your marketing campaign?

The aim of our campaign was to spread the word of our specialism in visual stress to as many community stakeholders as possible, achieving a substantial increase in the number of colorimeter assessments that we were performing over a six-month period.

We identified three stakeholders – schools, universities and teachers. Schools were targeted through a short story competition for young dyslexic writers that was judged by a local author. The winner was announced during Dyslexia Awareness Week and the Beverley Literature Festival. The Hull UK City of Culture team supported the competition, marketing the event as part of its celebrations. Facebook and Twitter were utilised to promote the competition with a video to explain the rules. Engaging with these groups is difficult through traditional media, so social media was the best conduit to channel interest in an imaginative way.

We offered to create a leaflet for the University of Hull to promote the competition. It was delighted by the final result and we are now issuing the leaflet, with our practice details alongside the Hull UK City of Culture logo to all students who suffer from visual stress.

How has your marketing campaign raised awareness of the importance of eye health in the local community?

The marketing campaign has hopefully made our customers think more about visual stress and dyslexia by engaging their imaginations through innovative marketing, such as our writing competition, and links to other exciting events.

Andrew and Rogers campaign materials

Why is marketing so important for optical practices?

Practices can be fantastic at what they do, but without spending a little time on marketing, you could be missing out on many patients who would love to utilise your services, but simply don’t know what you can offer them or where they can find you.

What has the campaign specifically achieved for the practice?

The campaign achieved a noticeable increase in the number of colorimeter examinations performed over a six-month period. Meetings with the University of Hull also led to us being issued with forms that usually only GPs have access to, which enable students who are not dyslexic, but suffer from visual stress, to be allowed access to help from the disabled students’ allowance.

Our sales of colorimeter lenses and overlays saw a similar increase, with many parents reporting that we were the ‘go to’ practice when they had asked other local parents and teachers who to approach locally for assistance.

The short story competition has had an unbelievable response, with many entries so far, coupled with a surge in our social media activity. The author we have teamed up with is delighted, and has relished the opportunity to have her profile raised with the full backing of the powerful Hull UK City of Culture media team. We believe that developing relationships with other professionals, such as authors, teachers, optical manufacturers or doctors is crucial for the success of marketing campaigns, where everyone benefits from the cleverly crafted media exposure.

“Practices can be fantastic at what they do, but without spending a little time on marketing, you could be missing out on many patients who would love to utilise your services” – Roger Smyth, Optometrist Director at Andrew and Rogers Optometrists

What are your top tips for delivering a successful campaign?

  1. Spend some time thinking about your aims or vision for the campaign before developing your strategy. This will help you to plan what your strategy is actually trying to achieve. Also, try to plan an aim that's measurable so that you can gauge if your campaign has had a positive effect on sales and the volume of tests. This will enable you to recognise the most effective campaigns and build upon these. Bounce ideas off friends from both inside and outside optometry – the latter can often help you to borrow ideas that have worked in other industries

  2. Use your staff’s skills – they always have hidden talents, so help them to release their creative flare. It's fun, and you'll be amazed to see how much your staff will appreciate being given a free rein to promote the practice and feel valued

  3. ‘Piggy-back’ on local events that someone else has already spent time and money organising. We used The British Dyslexia Association’s Dyslexia Awareness Week and the Hull UK City of Culture as a springboard to get our message across. Don't limit yourself to traditional channels of advertising. Using imaginative and innovative marketing techniques can also be surprisingly cost effective

How does it feel to be nominated and shortlisted for this award?

We feel privilege because we know that there are lots of practices out there doing an amazing job at marketing their services, which is evidenced by the daily numbers of tweets that I receive from practices championing specialised services.

The @louisstoneoptic Instagram Campaign, Louis Stone Optical Ltd

Head of Marketing and Communications, Clare Gaba, tells us why it’s important to “go bold or go home”.

Can you provide details of your marketing campaign?

We started by creating a calendar to mark important days and events in the optical community during 2017. We then developed this into week-long, bitesize social media plans, given that what’s hot in optics constantly changes. We took into consideration optical news by studying sites such as Optometry Today and what’s popular among forums, as well as events in the world. We also consider our newest and popular products, eye jokes, interesting facts, customer feedback and competition winners. We used relatable language and encouraged followers to interact, leading to increased sales and brand recognition.

Louis Stone Optical, Head of Marketing Clare Gabba

How has your marketing campaign raised awareness of the importance of eye health in the local community?

Primarily, we have raised eye health awareness through the regular posts we publish, regarding eye facts, which are very often linked to the health of the human eye. For example, during National Eye Exam Month in August, we designed a picture of an eye, which listed every health issue that an eye exam can detect, such as cancer and high cholesterol, and posted about how important it is to get your eyes tested regularly, not only to check on your sight, but to check on your general health.

Also, during National Glaucoma Week (12–18 March) we delivered a number of statuses regarding glaucoma facts and even partnered up with the National Eye Research Centre and donated a percentage of every Volk Super 66 we sold that week to the charity. We received a lot of interaction on these statuses and it most certainly raised awareness.

Why is marketing so important for optical practices?

As a distributor rather than a practice, this makes us a bit of a wild card. But, generally, I'd say that for optical practices, especially independents and lesser known brands, it is crucial to find different ways to promote your business that reach further afield. Just with our Instagram alone, we have generated numerous orders. Without this channel, a number of these new customers would have never even heard of us. This doesn’t include our other marketing practices, such as PR, other branches of social media, offline and online advertising, mail outs, email, and the website.

Louis Stone Optical social media campaign

What has the campaign specifically achieved for the company?

Louis Stone is overwhelmed by the results of our Instagram initiative, which started in October 2016. We’ve surpassed our target of 5000 optical followers, reaching 7000 by July 2017; received numerous orders, including over 200 for the Oculus UB 6 through Instagram; and created awareness of the brand and products through the thousands of ‘likes’ and comments we’ve had on our posts. We hit over 200 likes on a single post in July. We’ve also developed a real sense of community and a personal relationship with many followers, which was unexpected when we initially planned the campaign. We didn’t just want to fall into line with other eyewear companies, so we started a conversation with every single relevant follower we received in order to ascertain their needs.

“It is crucial to find different ways to promote your business that reach further afield than for the practice to exist” – Clare Gaba, Head of Marketing and Communications at Louis Stone

Then, in between typical product sell statuses, we often created ‘focus group’ style posts for market insight, as well as relatable jokes, industry news, optical facts and competitions so that our followers had reasons to stay engaged and continue to support us. We now even receive personal congratulations when we reach a goal and get tagged in testimonials of products posted by customers on Instagram. They enjoy seeing the community come together and to interact over their purchase.

What are your top tips for delivering a successful campaign?

  1. Believe in yourself. Staff and customers really weren’t sure if Instagram would translate with an optical distributor and we almost canned it. Our Instagram following is triple the size of our Facebook following, after just nine months. We get an average of 80-plus likes per post and reach thousands per post. This makes our Instagram more powerful than any other of our channels

  2. It’s not always about intent to sell. As tempting as it may be, the ‘sell’ may not be the best option. Research has suggested that a commercial focus should only cover 20% of content. Ask yourself why you use social media? Even if you love a product, do you want to have it pushed in your face? No. That is why Louis Stone believes in mixing up the sell with laughter, competitions, news, knowledge, questions and motivation for the working week. Brand recognition in the short term turns into sales in the long term

  3. ‘Go bold or go home’. If you’re only willing to play it safe with content, you will always stay in a plateau. As the quote goes, ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always got’

How does it feel to be nominated and shortlisted for this award?

It actually made me a little bit emotional. Louis Stone Optical Ltd has been running for almost 70 years and this is the first award we have ever been shortlisted for. Louis Stone has most definitely been deserving of awards in the past, but we never had the capacity for a member of staff to promote us, let alone find out about these awards and put us forward for them. That's when I stepped in; Louis Stone’s sales went up by 25% last year and it finally had the budget to build a marketing department, and I'm so glad that it did. We're all so proud to see our marketing activities go from strength to strength, and that's why we've had another large increase in sales this year too, and our social media has contributed to this.

Vision Aid Overseas School Recycling Campaign, Lunettes Opticians

Optometrist and Practice Director, Tushar Majithia, on the importance of partnerships to generate brand awareness.

Can you provide details of your marketing campaign?

We teamed-up with local schools and Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) to help create a recycling campaign to raise brand awareness, provide vital funds for charity and teach children the importance of eye health. The campaign involved enlisting the support of local primary school children to help collect old or unwanted glasses in schools. The practice team also visited several schools to offer eye health advice to help educate children.

Lunettes and Vision Aid Overseas School Recycling Campaign

How has your marketing campaign raised awareness of the importance of eye health in the local community?

As part of the campaign, we carried out some school visits to talk to the children about the importance of eye health. This helped to build strong relationships within the local community.

Why is marketing so important for optical practices?

Marketing is important to help create awareness of our practices, attract new patients and help grow the business.

“The whole practice team got behind this campaign and it is very satisfying for us to have been shortlisted” – Tushar Majithia, Optometrist and Director at Lunettes Opticians

What has the campaign specifically achieved for the practice?

We produced a leaflet for the campaign offering eye health advice and information about Lunettes services. This was given to thousands of participating children, who took the leaflet home in their book bags, thus raising huge awareness of our brand to parents and grandparents. We sent out press releases and received extensive coverage in the local media. The month following the campaign saw an increase in eye examinations by 16% from 450 the previous year to 524 in November 2016.

Lunettes Vision Aid Overseas School Recycling Campaign

What are your top tips for delivering a successful campaign?

  1. Create a campaign that will be cost effective and provide a return on investment

  2. Engage with your target audience

  3. Create a 360-degree strategy to include press releases, social media, website and print adverts to maximise coverage

How does it feel to be nominated and shortlisted for this award?

The whole practice team got behind this campaign and it is very satisfying for us all to have been shortlisted. It’s always nice to have hard work and dedication recognised.