Some of us can remember a time when video could only be seen on the living room TV, and viewing options were limited to whatever the local stations were showing. Now it’s everywhere, and anyone with a smartphone is a budding videographer. One of the benefits of this proliferation of video capabilities is that almost anyone with can share their message with the world—and they usually share it on YouTube.

YouTube claims that people around the globe spend about 1 billion hours per day on the site. A Pew Research survey found that, while roughly 30 percent of those hours are spent watching videos of cats behaving like—well, cats, about half of U.S. adults say they visit the site to learn how to do things they haven’t done before. And about 10 percent of smaller businesses in the U.S. use the site to communicate with customers.

Some optical labs have discovered the power of video as a tool to reach customers. We talked to leaders from three independent labs to understand how they use this tool to market their business and educate current and potential customers.

Eye-Kraft: The Virtual Visit
Conveying the technology and service-orientation of a lab is challenging without a face-to-face visit. “I love giving accounts live, in-person tours, because it gives them perspective on the production process,” said Eye-Kraft’s president, Jason Sharpe.

“But it’s not always easy to do that. We have several out-of-state accounts, and the number is growing.” With just one full-time sales rep covering a large territory, visiting accounts can be a challenge, and phone calls aren’t always a good substitute. “It’s difficult to describe yourself and your company on a phone call with somebody. It’s a lot easier to show them pictures and videos. Being able to reach out and touch somebody who’s 800 miles away from my office is a lot more efficient than getting in the car and driving all that way.”

Thus, the lab’s home page ( features a three-minute video tour of the production process. Six additional videos, ranging from two to 36 minutes, can be found on Eye-Kraft’s YouTube page ( According to Sharpe, the goal of the videos is twofold: “The first takeaway (for our customers) is product orientation, to get them familiar with the features and the technology of the products. The other is letting people know what the scale of our lab is. We present introductory information about the lab by doing walk-throughs with shots of the equipment.”

Eye-Kraft’s YouTube page also provides a reminder of how far the art of presentation has come: one video is an introductory slide show used by lab reps in the late ‘60s. Said Sharpe, “It’s very interesting to see what the building was like and what the people looked like. I really thought customers would get a kick out of seeing that.” In addition to being entertaining, the video illustrates the depth of experience that a 68-year old lab can offer.

The videos are an important part of the lab’s new account onboarding process. As Sharpe explained, “We try to get new customers familiar with who we are and what we offer, so we reference that in our onboarding emails and provide links.” The videos provide an effective tool for making the lab’s quality tangible to those accounts that can’t visit in person.

MH Optical Labs: Lab 101
For Jeff Hirsch, director of marketing for MH Optical Labs in South Hackensack, N.J., making YouTube videos comes naturally: “I’ve always been interested in video production. I learned a lot of what I know from YouTube, so I’ve always loved it.

“I felt there was a lack of knowledge on YouTube for this industry. Being able to be behind the scenes and supply that information I thought would be beneficial to the whole industry and community.” A few months ago, Hirsch began producing videos and acting as the on-camera host for the lab’s YouTube page, which now hosts 12 videos.

In his videos, Hirsch focuses on the nuts-and-bolts of lenses and lens manufacturing, which he believes many ECPs need to understand better. “I like to educate everybody on how the process works. I went to school to get my optician’s license, and I found a lot of the students were initially uneducated on the whole process. A lot of my friends among the students just thought that we pulled lenses off of the shelves like a warehouse.” To address that, his videos cover topics like how edging machines work, the tinting process, and how to order lenses online.

For Hirsch, explaining these topics is an essential aspect of customer service. It also helps manage ECP expectations. “For example, customers need to understand the process and how long it may take, what’s the best-case scenario for that job, and why a certain Rx won’t work in a certain frame for that certain patient.

For example, if the patient has a high Rx or high prism, or if the patient has chosen a big frame or has a big PD. The other thing is time. If you get a premium AR coating, such as Crizal, it’s a minimum—best case scenario—of three to three-and-a-half hours in the AR lab alone.”

The videos are part of the lab’s larger social media strategy to maintain online contact with current and potential customers. “Our social media presence is picking up, and we’re turning our website around, so it’s a good time to flood the industry and our customers with content. That’s what I always like to see for any company. If you find a ton of content out there, you stay interested.”

He added, more information helps everyone. “We are independent, so trying to help independents understand is where all this is coming from, helping them stay independent. They need our help, we need their help.”

Laramy-K: Comprehensive Opticianry Education

For Laramy-K Optical Lab of Indianola, Iowa, the use of video is an extension of the lab’s philosophy, as marketing director Keith Benjamin explained. “We’ve had what we call an open-phone policy where anyone, whether they’re a customer or not, can call and ask about availability, or ask questions with regard to material choice or lens design choice, or anything like that. We’ve always used our internet presence to further that line of thinking—that we’re here to provide service for the industry.”

The commitment to keeping eyecare professionals informed goes far beyond the customer service department, however. Laramy-K’s website includes an extensive educational section (, including a free ABO study guide. This guide was developed with the help of several expert opticians, including John Seegers, the founder of an online education site called OpticianWorks. In 2015, Seegers joined Laramy-K and the lab now hosts the OpticianWorks ( online program.

Seegers and Benjamin had a shared goal of a training program that went beyond helping people pass the ABO exam. Said Benjamin, “It’s really everything from basic math to the business side of opticianry and everything in between. That was John Seegers’ vision when he started, to have a complete program that could teach someone how to be an optician, not just to past the test.”

To fulfill this vision, they began building an online video library ( which now features nearly 200 videos, and has 45,000 subscribers—a number that, according to Benjamin, consistently grows by 70 to 100 per month.

Benjamin’s long-time passion for video and photography, and the editing tools that are readily available today, allow them to produce the videos in-house. As he recalled, “He (Seegers) allowed us to build a studio in his garage. We would shoot the videos together in the beginning, and then he got to the point where he could shoot the videos on his own, and then he would send the raw video to me to edit. Now he actually does most of the shooting and the editing, and I do the final edit and put them online.”

Laramy-K does not have a sales staff, but the videos serve as an effective way to connect with customers, particularly new accounts. “We frequently get new account inquiries, where they say they found out about us through our videos,” said Benjamin.

“We’re always getting feedback and comments and emails about how people are grateful for the education we make available.” One surprise was the number of consumers who have viewed the videos. “They go online and they watch some videos on YouTube and they say ‘Oh, that’s what I’ve needed all along, but I’ve never found anyone that could tell me this.’”

Although labs differ in the extent of their commitment to video and the specific information they want to convey, their online video presence also serves a common purpose: to help customers know the lab better, and build the trust that is essential to the ECP-lab relationship.

Jason Sharpe summed that message up well. “Hey, this is us, this is what we do. You can see the equipment that we have, and you can see the people who work here—that we are really here and we’re really doing a good job.”