Optical’s Marketing Deceptions

Wizard of OzToday Seth Godin riffs about marketers that conceal versus marketers that reveal. I think marketers of businesses both small and large, in fact all of us, have been trained to put our best face forward and to conceal our faults. Many take this right up to and even beyond the point of dishonesty.

But, what happens when you put it all on the table? What happens when you reveal your short-comings along with your strong suits?

You reveal your integrity and engender trust in those that look to you.

Is it risky? Perhaps. However, safe is risky. I do believe the risk can be mitigated, by using less “er” marketing (better, faster, cheaper) and instead focus on providing value to customers.

Contrary to Seth’s assertion that revealing marketing is gaining traction, evidence indicates the trend in optical is in the opposite direction (the trend in politics also comes to mind). Here are a few common practices we see regularly:

  • Labs and retailers jack up prices so they can give their customers 30 – 50% discounts.
  • Labs list rock-bottom prices up front but make up for it with concealed add-on charges.
  • Manufacturers call their molded lens designs freeform.
  • Manufacturers release old progressive lens designs as the latest and greatest under a new name.
  • Manufacturers release old progressive lens designs as the latest and greatest under a new brand.
  • Labs give discounts but hide the fact the discounts are on “national” pricelists which their customers never see.
  • And of course our personal favorite: manufacturers that require partner labs to sign contracts forbidding them from even mentioning their products in the same sentence as competing products unless it is to say their product is superior.

Wouldn’t some honesty and openness be refreshing? Wouldn’t it be nice, if you didn’t always have read between the lines? Sadly, it is a commonly held belief that openness does not sell. Sadder still, so much of the concealment doesn’t even benefit the companies that employ it. They simply do it because that is way it has always been done. I imagine we could all stand to learn a thing or two from The Great and Powerful Oz.

What are some of the less-than-open marketing techniques you see every day?


  1. I just want to say, “Amen, Brother!”
    The same goes for contact lenses and solutions.

  2. Keith, very insightfull as always. Lots of places we see deception in the industry. It upsets me most when my own staff would rather believe a company representative rather than books or resources that I scour to find the real information. It is good to see you bringing light to this issue and maybe more companies can take notice and change their wicked ways. :)

  3. Thanks for the comments, guys!

    It is sad, Harry. What is even sadder is that more often than not people seem to go through life accepting what they hear (regardless of the topic) without giving it as much as a second thought as if it were too much work to consider the source or other influencing factors. The terms “mind-numbed” and “spoon-fed” come to mind.


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