From being a number crunching job to evolving into a full-fledge science, the process of making a marketing strategy has indeed undergone a sea change
Gone are the days when creating a marketing plan was like an art where the sole purpose of the marketeer was to put together all the elements and create the masterpiece that would help the business reach out to its prospective consumers. Now, with the dawn of the digital era, everything has changed. Initially, the in-store experience was the sole focus of the opticians but today shop owners are beefing up their marketing strategies to include innovative techniques to engage the customer in a better way, thanks to the increasing impact of digital medium.
WHAT CAUSED THE CHANGE?
Before we delve into the depth of the matter, let’s take a look at what caused the change. Well, the first reason for the change is the evolution of technology. Previously, the customer had no choice except for the neighbourhood optical store introduced to him by his family or friends. But today there is more variety to choose from owing to the multiple mediums of the digital world. For instance, a simple search on the local search engine is sufficient to reveal the entire list of opticians in the area. While for the customer it means more choice, for the optician, it simply means that the opticians have to put in more effort. After all, the opticians will now have to impress the customers as well as amplify their reach across mediums in order to earn their loyalty.
DIGITAL VS. TRADITIONAL
This has been an on-going debate for quite some time. Traditional advertising talks of the old school ideas where opticians relied on advertisements by brand owners to help them reach out to customers. But digital gives more power in the hands of opticians by allowing them to interact with their consumers on a more personalised level.
Imagine walking into a neighbourhood store to pick up your daily groceries, it feels nice when the store owner refers to you by name, doesn’t it? After all, consumers love to be treated as individuals. This ‘nice’ feeling is what translates into consumer loyalty and helps the business owner earn bigger profits. Similarly, when you acknowledge a customer by replying to his feedback on Facebook, you actually make him or her feel important. When you start valuing their opinion, they automatically end up feeling more connected to your brand, products and offerings. This in turn ensures that they keep coming back to your store, each time they want to make a purchase.
The dawn of the digital era can actually help the opticians grow their business. Using the various mediums, opticians can establish a closer connect with their customers. Portals like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. give the customers a chance to express their opinion about a product.
However, they also give the optician a chance to respond to the consumer and connect with him. From responding to complaints to informing your consumers, opticians can use these portals to add the much needed competitive edge to their regular marketing strategies. What’s more is that studying the feedback on social media portals can actually help the opticians understand what exactly is their customer looking for. Accordingly, they can also rework their strategies for greater effectiveness.
WHAT YOU CAN USE?
The domain of digital marketing is quite extensive. However, as an optician, concentrating your efforts on some areas is enough to help you earn more returns on your investment.
For instance, a good idea would be to start with getting your own website. This is not at all a complicated task. There are various online portals that allow you to create your website in just a few clicks. The pre-designed templates are already available on the portal so you don’t have to bother about creating a fresh design, if you are working on a shoe-string budget. Once a website falls in place, you can also work on building your Facebook profile (business page). This involves posting engaging content, letting your customers know about the products that you offer and other details. a similar approach can be followed for portals like Twitter, Tumblr, etc.
Follow this with building your LinkedIn profile as well. even though the contacts are professional, it actually helps in establishing the reputation of your business brand.
LET PEOPLE KNOW
The big advantage is that with the inclusion of digital marketing strategies, opticians can keep their customers updated with regards to the latest designs that are trending, products that they are offering, on-going discounts, sales, etc. Here again, it is important to ensure that the information is given in small doses so that the consumer can actually digest it and make use of the data to make an informed decision instead of just ending up being confused.
WHY WILL IT WORK?
Internet is fast evolving into a necessity with the number of users increasing with each passing day. Your customer no longer needs a desktop to access the internet. He or she can comfortably access the internet through a mobile phone, smartphone, tablet and a host of other gadgets. The increased accessibility to information ensures that when you opt for digital marketing strategies, you will be able to reach out to the modern day consumer who prefers to be mobile and tech savvy!
For instance, if floral printed frames are trending and you happen to use your Twitter handle as well as Facebook account to talk about the latest in floral printed frames collection that you have in your store, you have actually taken the first step to impress your customer. With this, the customer identifies you as an optician who believes in selling eyewear that is in tandem with the existing fashion trends.
It indirectly also tells your prospective customers about the various brands that they will get to choose from when they come into your store. These details automatically increase the chances of conversion of a lead into a potential customer, don’t they?
HOW DOES GOING DIGITAL HELP THE OPTICIANS?
While the first obvious benefit of opting for digital marketing techniques is that it helps the opticians get deeper insights into what’s trending and what’s not in the consumer community. Here is a look at some more tempting benefits:
❖ Using the digital medium to connect with your consumers does not require much investment. It is easy as well as cost effective.
❖ It helps you increase your visibility. For instance, when you use the digital medium, you get to reach out to a greater number of consumers, irrespective of the store location.
❖ It can also help you earn referrals from your already existing customers which in turn generates more business.
As marketing for small scale and medium scale businesses continues to grow at a frantic pace, the impact of digital is only going to become stronger. However, it is important to understand that for an optician to maximise his profits on investment in digital marketing, it is mandatory to use an integrated approach. To put it simply, digital mediums help you reach out to the consumer but ultimately it is the in-store experience that will help you retain their loyalty in the long run.