Optical Retail Success 135


Tasty, weekly nuggets of random goodness; tips, stories, and science hand-picked to help you find the most success in your optical retail business/career.


The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

―George Bernard Shaw


Opticians As Marketers


Most opticians don’t even want to admit they’re in sales, but marketing?


First, stop and consider this for a minute: the best in the world, in any field, are most often not actually the best. They're the best marketers.


It’s not that they’re the slickest, loudest, or most polished. While sometimes that works, it very rarely has any staying power. If that’s what came to mind when you read “marketing”, you’re probably confusing marketing with bad marketing—an easy mistake to make since we see very little else in our optical world.


No, marketing—good marketing—is the act of helping people to realize that there is a solution to their problems. As Seth Godin puts it, “Marketing helps others become the person they seek to become”. And the best marketing does this in a way that is entertaining, engaging, remarkable, memorable, and useful.


Bad marketing, on the other hand, is usually none of the above. Bad marketing is hype, interruption, and pressure. It’s about getting people to do what you want as opposed to what they want. Much like bad sales, it’s about scamming them into buying something they may not want or need.


Good marketing is a positive force in the world. It comes from a place of empathy and an understanding of what your customers want or need, through which a mutual connection can be formed.


Good marketing is about getting people to know, like, and then trust—trust that they can engage in business that will help them to become the person they seek to become. Then, of course, you actually follow through in fulfilling or exceeding that promise.


But why do opticians need to care about marketing?


Optical has suffered from bad marketing for far too long, it’s clearly not going to change itself. So, it’s not just that it’s time for a change, it’s necessary for our survival.


If you watched “The Optician of the Future” last week. You’ll know that in order for independent opticianry to survive in the era of Essilor-Luxottica, Warby Parker, VSP, refraction technology, self-neutralization apps, and eventually Amazon, opticians need to become more than “dispensers of medical devices.” Otherwise, there’s little or no reason for someone to choose you over the couch.


So how does all this apply this to making, selling, and fitting eyewear?


Keep in mind, this is about changing the game.


You can look at it in one of two ways:


  1. It’s not what you signed up for when you got into the business.


  1. It’s not what you signed up for, but it adds a creative, exciting new dimension. What follows might not work, but then again, it might. Either way, you will have learned something valuable that you can easily transfer to virtually any other industry.


In his latest book, This Is Marketing, Seth Godin outlines 5 steps to Marketing that work really well as a condensed version of The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Rockstar Optician. Rockstar opticians (and Rockstar ODs) are the only hope we have to change the tide of public perception that’s becoming increasingly skeptical and disenchanted with the services we provide.


So, here are the 5 steps:


- The first step is to invent a thing worth making, with a story worth telling, and a contribution worth talking about.


But, you’re not a not an inventor, designer, or manufacturer, you say? Well, the thing here is the thing that makes you different—different from online, Costco, and even the independent across town. In other words, product curation that can’t be found anywhere else, the environment you create, your attitude, and a customer experience that people can only find in your store.


- The second step is to design and build your thing in a way that relatively few people will particularly benefit from and care about.


Figure out who your ideal customers are or who you want them to be—your tribe. It’s important not to try to boil the ocean here. Think the smallest viable group that you can really delight. If you shoot for something larger (especially in the beginning), you’ll likely end up with something average, which won’t get you very far. This is also where empathy really comes into play. You have to be able to put yourself in their shoes. For this reason, you should select a group that you care about and can easily connect with. Your tribe will be the reason for your success and the foundation from which you grow.  


- The third step is to tell a story that matches the built-in narrative and dreams of your tribe.


In other words, People like us do things like this.


Stories resonate. Stories connect us. Stories spread. Know the stories of your products and know your own story. Figure out how you can tell those stories not only verbally, but through your decor, your windows, your signage, your colors, your smells, and your sounds.


- The fourth step is the one everyone gets excited about: spread the word.


After you’ve walked the first three steps, have your message and market honed, then you can reach out through your web site, social media, events, local publications, and all the other ways you can bring attention the thing you have invented.


- The last step is often overlooked: show up—regularly, consistently, and generously, for years—to organize and lead your tribe and build a culture.


Patience is key. Overnight successes never happen overnight.


The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today,


Eye Robot

While technology develops at exponential speed, transforming how we go about our everyday tasks and extending our lives, we know all too well, it also offers much to worry about. One worry, in particular, is our jobs. So, exactly how long do we have before robots are doing our jobs? 


Vision Expo

Don’t forget John Seegers will be at Vision Expo East teaching daily dispensing workshops (5 each day, Fri-Sun) as a guest in the Santinelli SIOS booth #1245. Stop by and say, “hi!” and grab a selfie. 🙂


A Hard Lens is Good To Make

At Laramy-K, we love a challenge, the more difficult the job, the bigger the satisfaction. But it is also true that a good lens is hard to make (Thanks, David Rips). The next time a customer questions the cost of a lens, ask if they mind you sending this video via email. I can’t tell you how many comments and emails I’ve gotten with some form of “So, that’s why they’re so expensive!” A bit more than a hunk of plastic, wouldn’t you say?   



Through the OpticianWorks free video lessons, Laramy-K Optical is making every effort to provide better and more accessible education for opticians everywhere, but we’re only able to do it with your support.


You can help keep it going in two ways:


Become a paid-member of OpticianWorks.com for access to the best in online optician training (The videos are only a small portion).


Or, even better, open a Laramy-K Optical lab account for the very best in independent uncut work and we'll throw in the OpticianWorks memberships for free! Your customers and your staff will thank you!


I hope you enjoyed this edition of Optical Retail Success.  


Here’s to your success in this year and beyond.


Thanks for reading and sharing!