NEW YORK—The back-to-school season is already in full swing. Some practices even start marketing for this season in July. Online marketing on your website and on social media can help jump-start your campaign to remind parents that your practice is ready to provide care for their children.
The "season" of back to school transcends the traditional time period. Plan well, start early, but refresh your campaign throughout the year. Create and implement a sustained, multi-level campaign on learning-related vision and eye health issues.
As the summer begins to wind down, parents are gearing up to get the kids ready for the new school year, but with all of the details parents need to think about during back-to-school season, eye exams sometimes fall between the cracks. Now is the perfect time to remind them to schedule an eye exam for their kids.
If you haven't already begun marketing your back-to-school eye exam and product offerings, you have no time to waste in getting started. But the key to remember is back-to-school marketing isn't just for late summer. It's a marketing push that should extend into October, and maybe even November, when parents receive the first report cards and feedback from teachers, often alerting them to a potential problem with the child's vision.
Collect and study the school calendars of your entire patient base. Days off, half days, testing days and in-service days are all prime opportunities to drive eye exams for families.
Become a Hub for Children's Vision Resources
Parents sometimes need to be educated that troubles in school could be vision-related. Marketing campaigns, and the information you present on your practice website, should presume that many parents don't know about the link between education and social success and good vision and eye health.
You can use your website to create a resource for children’s vision (and to promote your services and products). Create a specific page or section on your site dedicated to children’s vision and related specialties, like Ortho-k or vision therapy. Include information about common eye conditions, eyewear options and considerations, and advice on how to encourage children to comply with treatment. Write blog articles and create educational videos to post on your site.
Here is the page on Bright Eyes Family Vision Care's web site devoted to children's care.
Connect to the Back-to-School Conversation on Social Media
Use social media to bring attention to your children’s vision expertise by linking to the blog articles or pages on your website. Share facts and related news articles and start discussions about children’s vision, eyewear and learning issues.
Better yet, conduct a live Q&A session. Have people send in questions in advance to get you started and then keep the chat open during the session to answer questions people have about the topic. Live Facebook sessions are popular, but make sure you schedule it for a time when people are available, such as during the evening hours after work and the dinner hour, and publicize it so they know to attend.
Below you will see two screenshots from our client, Family Eye Center, in which they are using their Facebook page to publicize a back-to-school promotion. They utilize both their cover photo and news feed to bring attention to the topic and can customize with supporting articles, facts, videos and chats. The opportunities to engage their audience about this topic are endless.
Share Success Stories and Testimonials
Storytelling is a phenomenal marketing strategy. Share experiences you have had helping children to see better and succeed in school. Include testimonials of happy parents who have seen improvements in their children’s learning and behavior. Include pictures and/or videos when you have permission (via HIPAA marketing authorization form) to help people relate to the stories even more.
Opticare Vision Center owner Josiah Young, OD, created a national stir with videos of Baby Piper getting her first pair of glasses. Dr. Young recently updated his website with a “One Year Later” report on Baby Piper’s progress.
Give Presentations to Your Community
Volunteer to give educational seminars about children’s vision in schools or local community centers. Participate in school fairs and sponsor community service events or local little league teams. Give interviews on local news outlets and publish articles or press releases in local newspapers and magazines to educate and create publicity. This type of outreach will make a name for you and your practice, and create recognition when the time comes for an eye exam.
Co-Market Back-to-School With Another Local Business
A great way to increase your reach is by collaborating with a local business for a co-marketing venture. For back-to-school-related campaigns, consider partnering with a local bookstore or school supply store, or a local snack or donut shop to cross-promote and benefit both businesses with more customers or patients.
Make Taking Action Easy
Action-based campaigns, which make it easy to take action by clicking a button or linking to a page to make an appointment, can be powerful. Create a website pop-up ad campaign that encourages back-to-school eye exams, and run pay-per-click paid ads that direct users to landing pages specific to children’s vision, with a call to action to make an appointment.
Establishing a reputation as a child eyecare expert will help you expand your reach and increase trust and loyalty all year long, including when it's time to take the kids in for their back-to-school eye exam.
Nancy Rausman (email@example.com) is the managing editor at EyeCarePro, responsible for providing ECPs with educational content that helps them advance their practices through technology, management strategies and digital marketing. EyeCarePro is a leading providers of online marketing and practice improvement services in the industry. This story was adapted from Review of Optometric Business (ROB), which offers its readers a range of features and resources to help with web strategy.