Back to school season is a busy time for families, but we know an eye exam for their children should be a priority on the list of things to do. As a marketing consultant for optometrists in private practice, the topic of back to school marketing and promotions comes up in conversations with practice owners and office managers in early to mid-July and continues through the end of September. I know it’s an important time for practices in areas with many families with school age children, so I’d like to share some tips.
Many school systems in the United States have shorter summers now, with some school systems going back to school as early as the first week of August. Families barely have time to breathe after vacations before it’s time to take those first day of school pictures of kids sporting backpacks and first day of school outfits. Follow the local school district(s) calendars and realize that August is a good time to promote the importance of eye exams for children on Facebook and in email campaigns, but you may not see the appointments set until September or even October because of busy family schedules, so continue to promote back to school eye exams even in October.
Eye Care Themes
An eye care theme for the month of August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety, so you have the perfect opportunity to share your expertise around children’s eye health on social media with your local audience, your customized messages on hold recordings and in any print marketing. The eye care theme for September is Sports Eye Safety awareness, and many school aged children are ramping up in their fall sports season so again, a great opportunity to promote eye exams for children in all your practice marketing channels.
Product Promotions and Pricing
My friend and colleague at IDOC, Pat Basile, CT LO, ABOC, NCLEC recommends package pricing to keep things simple for your patients. An example of back to school package pricing: One frame (Up to a specific retail price) and lenses (single vision, polycarbonate) for $99.00 / 2 pair for $179.00. In her experience, parents preferred this offer to a “buy one get one free” promotion if they were only purchasing one pair of glasses, although it’s always a good idea to promote second pairs, sports goggles and sunglasses.
Customer Service Tips
It’s important to provide excellent turnaround time for glasses, especially if a family visits you before the school year begins because they want their child in their new glasses for the first day of school. Be sure to follow up with mom and/or dad on the day of the exam to make sure their annual exams have been scheduled, too, while they’re physically in the office and it’s top of mind for them. Encourage the parents to try on glasses and sunglasses during their visit – it makes the whole experience more fun for the family and makes the child/children there for an exam feel more at ease.
This is an important season in an optometry practice which serves families. Know when the kids go back to school in your practice area, and plan on talking about children’s eye health and the importance of eye exams on social media, email and any other marketing channels from late July through October to accommodate your busy patients’ hectic schedules during the back to school season.
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