Schools across the country are reopening classrooms after a longer-than-usual time away. In the midst of this unique back-to-school season it helps to have a plan for capturing more sales opportunities at your optical. 

This back-to-school season kids are returning in a way they haven’t before; after a year of staring at computer screens more than ever. This makes it especially important to ensure children’s eye health as they return to classrooms by offering them comprehensive care and the proper eyewear.

Getting the most out of back-to-school season

To that end, every back-to-school season you should employ a sales and marketing playbook that your team can follow to success. Small changes like referencing back-to-school frames in patient discussions or setting aside youth frame boards can make noticeable differences in your capture rate. And by implementing marketing campaigns and maintaining an active presence in your community you can even acquire new patients ahead of each school year!

Below are some tips you can use to bring in more customers and dispense more eyewear following back-to-school exams. 

Use (and practice) a back-to-school script

We’re fans of writing, practicing and using scripts to get communication right. It’s an essential part of a better patient experience. 

Scripts can support your staff in dispensing more eyewear this back-to-school season by making these once-a-year conversations easier. For example, don’t leave the discussion after an eye exam to chance; plan it out so your staff are always including a pitch for back-to-school eyewear. 

One way to start the conversation is by having your opticians offer to inspect or adjust patients’ existing eyewear. This way, patients can make sure they know whether or not they need a new pair. This is especially relevant during back-to-school season—kids grow fast! 

Mention back-up glasses and contact lenses

Extra pairs are a great way to boost your capture rate during back-to-school season. Parents may walk right through your optical and out the door after eye exams because their kids already have a pair. Remind them that one pair isn’t enough. Students should have more than one pair of glasses for the school year. 

This is also an opportunity to mention contact lenses. You can offer a contact lens exam in addition to a standard eye exam to determine if the patient should receive a contact lens prescription and then send him or her to your optical to fill it. Contact lenses are a great way to increase incremental revenue and a good reason for your patients to more regularly come to your practice. 

Power back-to-school sales with promotions and discounts

You shouldn’t rely too much on discounts to communicate your value. However, sometimes it’s just the right time for a deal. Even the best brands out there offer discounts on their products during back-to-school season. Set up your own back-to-school promotion to help make it more affordable for parents to make sure their children are ready to return to the classroom. 

Students who play sports may need specialized eyewear before returning to school.

Feature the right frame lines

Sometimes, in addition to their regular glasses, children need a pair for special activities they participate in at school. For example, computer lenses or sports frames. 

Make sure you’re featuring and selling computer and electronic device eyewear, and sports glasses. Prominently label or call out these displays so that soccer moms and dads, or proud programmer parents can find the right frames for their children. 

Use back-to-school marketing 

When the school year is approaching, it's time to start reaching out to existing and prospective patients about eye exams and new eyewear. Marketing is much more effective if you’re connecting with what’s already on the patient’s (or parent’s) minds. And come mid-summer, parents are thinking about the upcoming school year.

There’s plenty you can do to connect with patients during the back-to-school season. Our eye care marketing blog may give you a few ideas. And if you’re looking to share educational content through a blog or social media, then make sure to check out our list of 100 eye care content topics. In the meantime, here are some of the marketing campaigns and channels you can incorporate back-to-school imagery and messaging into: 

Emails

You should send emails to patients with dependents ahead of and throughout back-to-school season. While you shouldn’t send too many, you should reach out more than once. It can also help to combine email and phone call campaigns to make sure you’re connecting with patients.

Use powerful subject lines and engaging content in your emails to make sure they're getting through to patients. Pictures, videos, links and strong calls to action will help you set more appointments from your email campaigns.

Phone calls

You should also call all of your patients with dependents ahead of back-to-school season to make sure they have eye exams set for their children. These are also opportunities to bring up new eyewear for the first time. Or benefits with parents. Maybe their dependents have expiring benefits they can use or haven't had their frames adjusted in a while. Use information like this to help you book appointments.

As we mentioned earlier, you can combine phone calls with email campaigns to make them even more effective. 

Social media

Most of your patients are probably on social media. It’s a great place to connect with them about your back-to-school offerings. Or just provide some educational content to parents about how to ensure better eye health for their kids. Parents will appreciate the help! 

PPC campaigns

As the school year approaches ECPs typically spend a lot of time working to increase their capture rates among existing patients. But wouldn’t it be great to use the back-to-school season to acquire some new patients as well?

Pay-per-click campaigns are an opportunity to do exactly that. For example, Google AdWords is a PPC tool that allows you to bid on top placements on the results pages of keywords people search. That way, when someone searches for “back to school frames near me” your optical will capture the top spot every time. 

Check your local SEO

Great marketing campaigns find the right balance between paid search and organic search. Every summer you should make sure your local SEO is up-to-date for the next back-to-school season. 

What’s local SEO? It’s ensuring your various pages and profiles are optimized for local searches. For example, that “back to school frames near me” search from above. That’s a local search.

Optimizing for local search improves the chance that your Google My Business profile or similar pages will feature in the search results. That profile includes your address, options to directly contact your practice and more directly in the results page! Don't forget your Yelp or ZocDoc profiles. Your social media profiles may also show up as well if they feature your address.

These results offer rich engagement options that appeal to parents searching for back-to-school frames. Make sure you’re using yours to capture new patients!

Signage and displays

Visual appeals to passersby, browsers and patients can be more engaging than text-based messaging such as emails. Signs around your community, in local news outlets or around your office and showroom will be effective in promoting your back-to-school campaign. You can also incorporate this imagery and messaging into your showroom and window displays. This is another great way to capture new patients. 

Find ways to connect with your community

How can you connect with your community outside of marketing campaigns? Is there a local little league you can sponsor? Or a community event coming up that your practice can participate in? How can you work with schools in your area to promote eye health ahead of the school year?

Getting out there and engaging with your community is one of the best ways you can build strong relationships with your existing patients and find new ones. And back-to-school season offers plenty of opportunities!

Don’t forget about the adults!

You can increase your capture rate by creating additional back to school messaging for parents and teachers. After all, they need eyewear too! 

Script and role play these conversations just like you would do for discussing a child’s backup pair or contact lenses. In fact, you can use everything above to market to parents and teachers! After all, most of your marketing for students’ back-to-school eyewear should connect with their parents anyway. You might as well throw in something for them!

Set pre appointments for next back to school season

Your younger patients go back to school every year (in years without pandemics). Your appointment book can reflect how busy this time of year is - think about setting your pre-appointments earlier in the summer for some of your younger patients so you can have more room for last minute appointments next year! 

Strategizing for back-to-school success

Your success during the back-to-school season will often come down to how well you plan for it. Are your scripts ready for the upcoming school year and are your local business profiles up to date? Details like these can make a difference in how many new patients you acquire or whether you’re able to boost your capture rate this back-to-school season. 

Use the advice above to plan for success this back-to-school season and into the future!