Optical stores, big or small, old or new, should have an actionable marketing plan. It is your overall guide and roadmap when promoting your business.
With all the work needed to run your practice – from accommodating patients’ eye care needs, managing your staff, and dealing with suppliers to hiring new team members, training them, and then thinking about sales, it takes a lot of work to allocate time for marketing. For many local and independent optical businesses, marketing is a secondary focus only for their group. It usually comes later when the practice is experiencing downtime or a competitor is doing much better than their store. Frequently, marketing happens when an offer from a marketing agency is presented to them.
Practices need to be proactive when it comes to marketing. Marketing should be intentional, well-planned, and strategically designed. Hence, you need a marketing plan. No matter how small or big your practice is, you must prepare a marketing plan before the year when you want it implemented. Whether you have survived decades without one or your practice is still new, a marketing plan will save you time, money, and effort as it will guide you on how to promote your business for the rest of the year.
What is a marketing plan?
Consider a marketing plan as a guide, a roadmap, or a manual for you and your team on how to conduct marketing for the rest of the year. Some businesses design marketing plans to cover multiple years, but if this is your first time making one, you can start with a one-year marketing plan so you can evaluate and revise it after 12 months.
A marketing plan identifies all the activities that you will be doing within a period to promote your practice. These promotional activities are called marketing campaigns which will be determined based on your goals, your resources, your target market’s behaviours, your competition, the market in general, and a host of other factors.
Your marketing plan forms part of your main business plan and should work with your other plans, like your sales and operations plan. With a well-designed marketing plan in place, your practice is pointed towards the right direction, you are more organised, and you will likely encounter fewer risks. Best of all, expect to reach more new customers and retain your current ones with a well-designed marketing plan.
What are the steps in creating an actionable marketing plan?
With 2023 fast approaching, now is the best time to start building your marketing plan. Involve your team, get their ideas, and consult your own with them. Read more marketing-related blogs from reliable websites like Hubspot and SEMRush, and study new trends and tactics that apply to your business.
A marketing plan can be done even by non-marketers. It can be a single-page or ten-pager document- it depends on how extensive you want to go with your plan. What matters is it is actionable, effective, and understood by everyone in your business. There is no use making a long and complicated plan if no one follows it because it is intimidating and hard to understand.
Now, let’s get going!
Follow these six easy steps in creating an actionable marketing plan which we’ve designed specifically for optical businesses in Australia.
Step 1: Identify your goals.
Marketing exists to push your business to achieve its goals for a particular period. Marketing campaigns that you will implement should support the overall mission of your company, may that be:
- Growing your total number of paediatric patients;
- Increasing the total number of patient visits by 10% as compared to last calendar year;
- Increasing the total sales for contact lenses by 10% as compared to last calendar year;
- Increasing the total sales for frames by 10% as compared to last calendar year;
- Improving your local marketing presence; or
- Launching an online ordering system for contact lenses.
- These are just examples but remember to keep your goals SMART.
- S – Specific. Determine the steps to reach your goals, the resources you need to accomplish each of them, and the team members who will be involved. Be clear and provide as many details as possible to avoid confusion.
- M – Measurable. Make sure that you can measure the results of your goals. Anything not quantified means you will be relying much on opinions which may vary per person. For example, you might think you have done a fairly good job attracting more people to visit your store because you see many people during your weekend visits. However, your staff members may think otherwise. To avoid this, quantify the results. Count visits all the time, review, and evaluate.
- A – Achievable. Be realistic when setting your goals. It is not good to overwhelm and overwork your team when you know some challenges are at hand. Say a new corporate player launched a store in your suburb. Would you still expect a 100% increase in sales for frames? Be reasonable and practical. Acknowledge restraints that could affect your team’s capacity to achieve your goals.
- R – Relevant. The relevance of your goals tells a lot about your ability to focus. You do not want to waste time and money on activities that will eventually be worthless for your business. For example, rather than doing email marketing, it might be better to focus instead on letterbox mailing for recalls if you know that majority of your clientele are senior citizens and are digitally challenged. Or it might be best to choose Facebook Ads over banner ads if new enquiries mostly come through social media.
- T – Time-bound. You need to know when you want your goals to happen. This will help your team create timelines – when you all need to start and end a marketing activity. Timelines will keep you all on track and organised.
Step 2: Identify your target customers.
Most practices have been present in their respective areas for years. They have an understanding of who their target customers are and their behaviours. However, over the years, the demographics of people living in different suburbs have changed due to people migrating from other cities, states, and even countries. Also, previous customers age and younger ones gain spending power. Due to different factors, how they buy and avail services like yours may change too.
So, when drafting your marketing plan, spend time reviewing who your target customers are. Learn how and where they want to communicate with your business – is it through social media, email, or traditional marketing? Find out more about the type of marketing initiatives they like, the promos they are more likely to respond to, and the tone of messaging that resonates with them.
Step 3: Get to know your competitors.
After knowing whom you want to market to, you must also know whom you are competing against for your target customers’ attention. Again, as for many independent optometry practices in Australia, they already know their competitors. In your marketing plan, identify their current marketing programs – what are they doing to promote their products and services, then try to determine if you think customers are favouring their marketing activities.
Is it worthwhile to do the same marketing initiatives? Can you think of more effective ones? What do you need to do to avoid committing mistakes made by your competitors? These are the questions that you need to ask yourself.
Step 4: Plan your marketing strategy.
While your marketing plan is your roadmap to promoting your business, your marketing strategy will detail what exactly you are going to do and how you will carry it out. Your marketing plan may include one or more strategies. These strategies identify the following:
- Channels that you will use
- Social media (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, etc.)
- Paid online ads (Google Ads or social media ads)
- Directory Websites
- Ad placements in magazines and industry publications
- Out-of-home advertisements
- In-store advertisements
- Which product or service will you highlight in your promotions (for example, children’s vision assessment and Ortho-K)
- A step-by-step guide on how your marketing campaigns will be implemented.
Step 5: Identify the resources that you need.
Now that you know your exact actions to promote your business, it is also wise to determine the requirements to enforce these strategies. Your resources are money, talent, physical materials, or online assets.
First and foremost, know how much you can spend. Your budget influences all other resources, and if you skip this part, you might be in for some problems later. Be practical and accurate when computing how much you can spend and what you estimate to be your expenses in relation to making your marketing plan a reality.
Next, list down who’s involved and their specific roles. If they are from within your team, make sure that they are willing and can carry out their responsibilities. You need to involve them in formulating the marketing plan and should have a thorough understanding of the finalised document.
If you need additional help and if your budget permits, you can employ the help of marketing agencies or other professionals.
Often, especially for digital marketing, you might need to use software or cloud-based services, so factor in the cost of subscription or service fees.
Step 6: Set monitoring and reporting guidelines.
You need to monitor the performance of your marketing campaigns to understand how the time, money, and effort you’ve put into planning and executing are working for your goals. It is a major no-no to guess and assume results. You should be able to measure results and report them to the rest of the team.
Later, you will use these data to evaluate your plan and take steps to improve them for the succeeding year.
Optical stores, big or small, old or new, should have an actionable marketing plan. A marketing plan is your overall guide and roadmap when promoting your business. It involves thorough research, brainstorming with your team, planning your marketing strategies together, checking your resources, implementing your plans, continuous monitoring for performance and results, and then further evaluating your plan.
If you’ve skipped creating an actionable marketing plan several times before, we encourage you to try working on one for next year. You’ll see that you’ll be more organised and strategic when it comes to promoting your business. You’ll be more intentional and practical too, when making marketing decisions.
Get our Free One-Pager Marketing Plan Template!
As mentioned previously in this article, a marketing plan can be a single or multi-page document. With the year coming to a close soon, we know you’re busy. Here’s a one-pager marketing plan template for you. Download our editable PDF and then personalise it by adding your logo and business details.