By Grant Larsen
How consumers buy eyecare products has changed dramatically in recent years. They are inundated with information about deals, technology and eyewear fashion from multiple channels. The reality is, if you don’t reach them with relevant information and reminders from multiple trusted sources, you’re not part of their community. Adopting and implementing a small arsenal of digital marketing tools and habits will build your reputation with those most likely to buy in your neighbourhood.
Many of the following tips are designed for small businesses with limited marketing budgets who need to build and protect their businesses in the face of competition from chains and online mega-retailers.
Tips for Winning Your Neighbourhood
Get a Little Help from Your Friends
The major fuel that drives referrals and practice growth is your digital presence and how you ask your best, most vocal customers to promote your business. Local papers, magazines, meet-ups and community bulletins are just some of the great vehicles that provide both digital and word of mouth referrals. Whether you just show up, advertise, write content, donate money or your time, participating in multiple events has a combined marketing effect that generates both immediate sales and long-term trust in your community.
Website research has shown that video content increases both consumer engagement and purchasing decisions. Improvements in video search, consumer time pressures, and smartphone technology are driving consumers to demand to see who they buy from. Being a trusted part of your community means showing up – if not in person then on multiple devices, via email or social media. A $99 camera, in the right light, has video capability that’s good enough for all these applications. Consumers don’t expect professionally produced video – in fact they prefer and trust amateur video directly from you.
No longer does being in a high-traffic plaza or medical building guarantee an implied referral from neighboring professionals. Referral networks and word of mouth communications in the digital age are not confined to physical locations. Know your customers, where they work and what they do. Search online for local professionals or businesses that attract your ideal customer profile. Prioritize them based on proximity to your store. Communities are built on reaching out and giving. A personal visit, email, phone call or meeting is all it takes for you to start a meet-up group or professional network.
Quality not Quantity
In a Pew Research 2013 tracking study, 90 per cent of adults included searching the Internet and reading email as a daily activity. Even the 50+ crowd is now approaching 80 per cent usage of search engines and email on a daily basis. Digital media is a huge opportunity to communicate with your community. If your business has an older clientele, and maintaining loyalty is a primary marketing objective, focus on these two media channels. Make sure your business has a Google+ account. For an investment of a few hundred dollars, you can position your business at or near the top of the list for eyewear searches in your neighbourhood. Shared links with local professionals, video on your website and small changes to keywords on your web landing page are all it takes to make your business front page news.
Small business marketing doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective. Borrow some creative ideas from professionals who also deal with heavy competition. Dentists, physiotherapists and real estate agents are great sources for creative local marketing ideas. The best and most successful small businesses have adapted to changing consumers needs. By consistently delivering just some of these ideas and catering to those consumer needs, you can own your eyecare neighbourhood.