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A Monthly Briefing for Optical Lab Owners and Managers

- January 2018 -

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Dollars & Sense

Seven Best Practices to Budget (and Spend) for Marketing

Andy Slipher

For anyone charged with allocating marketing dollars, it can seem like an arduous and even dicey process to decide how much to spend annually, and on what.

For some, it’s the autopilot response of last year’s budget, plus three to five percent. For others with limited marketing dollars, it can mean the equivalent of putting all one’s eggs in a single basket. These are examples of the extremes, but not altogether unheard of in marketing.

But, all the same, there are effective ways to plan, allocate and intelligently spend marketing dollars. Each involves a step backward from the narrow framework of the budget, while interjecting the purpose of the marketing into the practice of budgeting dollars toward success.

Here are seven best practices to follow when approaching any marketing budget process:

1. Think bigger

Don’t limit your marketing to media in the traditional sense. Go beyond even digital and new media.

People immediately equate marketing spending to media. What if you could spend your marketing dollars in a way that would mean reaching your target, but not having to dump lots of dollars on big media? Marketing is also promotion, incentives, rewarding loyalty, creating positive experiences, enhanced service, direct communication with the customer, sales, relationship-building, or any combination of activities working together.

Get outside the confined silo of the marketing function and media option. Begin to think how you can most efficiently impact customer conversion. Don’t be afraid to be dramatic. What if time, money and scale were not consequential factors? Let your mind wander to big ideas, then find ways to work around your resource limited. If you need help, bring someone in from the outside to challenge your thinking. None of this has to be expensive— just effective.

2. Build the cost of marketing into your product or service

Have you accounted for the cost to market and sell your product or service into its cost to produce? It’s too easy to say, “we’re not spending enough on marketing.” But, you’re handicapping yourself even further if you’re not building marketing into the cost of your product or service.

In short, you’re cheating yourself by not being realistic. The If-You-Build-It-They-Will-Come approach works only in the movies. Drawing customers (large or small numbers) to your service or product is an inherent part of selling. You’re either generating such attention yourself or drafting off of something else. Either way, resources (usually in the form of people and money) need to be allocated for such activities.

3. Target

This might seem obvious, but basic consideration of your specific target customer in your spending strategy can make your marketing budget go much further. Knowing your best customers inside and out will enable you to do this. You don’t have to speak to the universe.

Just speak to your universe. Focus on the essential few with the highest chance for conversion. Budget and spend your acquisition dollars toward them first. Then, migrate out from there. If your target audience is too big, you probably don’t know enough about them. Look, listen and learn in order to segment. It is well worth the time.

4. Focus on behavioral change over attitudes and awareness

If you’re short on marketing dollars, don’t even think about building awareness. Forget consideration sets and good feelings about your brand, company or product. If you have very limited marketing dollars to spend, these are not your biggest issues. Instead, focus on differentiation, an emotional hook and getting the customer to act (i.e. buy). Demonstrate why you’re better, engage them in an emotional decision and call them to action. No cheesy or cliché come-ons. Be dramatically and truthfully different in a way that convinces your customer to give you a try. Attitudes follow behavior.

5. Treat marketing as an investment

If you want it to yield a return, you must treat marketing as an investment. One of the biggest mistakes by some marketers today is throwing around the term ROI (return on investment) in conjunction with their marketing spending, while treating it as an occasional or periodic expense. This is hypocrisy. If you want long-term, sustained ROI from your marketing, treat it as you would a true investment (in your product, service and business). Remember: the “I” in ROI stands for investment.

6. Strategy first

This is the single most valuable tool in your marketing arsenal. Thinking efficiently and with reverence to clearly defined marketing and business goals will help you distill your goals, intentions and plans guiding you to determine how much to spend and where to spend it. Speaking from experience, the practice of strategic thinking takes a load of time and guesswork away from determining where to best spend marketing dollars.

7. Zero-base your budget

If you’ve made it as far as a strategic plan, a zero-based marketing budget should come as no surprise. Your strategic goals, business and marketing objectives will lead you to tactical media spending. Start from scratch so that your spending matches that of what you’re wanting to accomplish.

You’ll be amazed at how focused a budget it can yield. Budgeting for marketing is far less complicated when you can approach it with greater intention and priorities in mind. Follow these tried and true practices and your marketing budget process will be a much more effective exercise.

Andy Slipher is founder of Slipher Marketing, a consultancy where strategy comes first, followed by tangible marketing results. He is an accomplished strategist, interim CMO, speaker and writer on marketing strategy. He is marketing segment lecturer for SMU’s accredited Bank Operations Institute for professional bankers, and for the Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT). Andy’s forthcoming book is The Big How: Where Strategy Meets Success. For more information, visit www.Slipher.com.

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Lab Notes

Luxexcel Opens US Office

LABTALK

Luxexcel has opened its US headquarters in Alpharetta, GA in the greater Atlanta area.

Guido Groet, Chief Commercial Officer of Luxexcel has relocated to Alpharetta to lead the operations of Luxexcel Inc. as an integral part of his global commercial responsibilities.

Hans Streng, Chief Executive Officer, Luxexcel said: "Luxexcel is pushing a new lens-manufacturing paradigm with great opportunities for innovators in the ophthalmic and consumer-electronics industries. Our market is taking off and we are expanding rapidly, with the first VisionPlatform solutions installed in the field. It is great to see our customers producing 3D-printed prescription lenses for ophthalmic and augmented-reality applications. It is a great next step for Luxexcel to open its US headquarters to ramp our business activities."

Groet added: "We are building our US team in all front-end areas, sales/marketing, business development and service alike. Luxexcel has a tradition of hiring employees with the attitude of making the impossible, possible. We have installed our first VisionPlatforms in the US and follow-up ambitions are high. The US market is a market which is open for innovation and opportunity and this goes hand in hand with our mission to revolutionize the eyewear industry and offer smart eyewear to the world."

The Luxexcel VisionPlatform prints lenses for non-mainstream applications and continuously develops solutions to manufacture new and unique products. Luxexcel has now made the first step into smart eyewear together with Vuzix; other revolutionary products are in the pipeline. The Luxexcel technology combines hardware, consumables and design-software in one 3D printing solution called the Luxexcel VisionPlatform. Ophthalmic labs receive the complete platform, which includes a printer (VisionEngine), resins (VisionClear), support and software solutions (VisionMaster) in return for a click fee payment. Lenses produced with the VisionPlatform are ISO Focal Power compliant and compatible with today’s industry coatings and customary processes like edging and framing. The Luxexcel VisionPlatform can be integrated into today's proven ophthalmic lab workflow. For more information visit www.luxexcel.com.

Kurt Gardner Joins FEA Industries Assumes role of VP of Sales

LABTALK

FEA Industries has named Kurt Gardner as Vice President of Sales, effective Feb. 1.

Gardner recently served as Director of Business Development at IOT America.

“Kurt brings a wealth of knowledge of the industry, digital design and processing, and sales which will help us propel FEA to its full potential. We are excited to have him join us” said Bill Heffner, President and owner of FEA Industries. Heffner, who founded FEA more than 30 years ago, added, “Kurt has an unparalleled level of drive and passion for pushing the envelope in both technology and customer expectations. This approach will help drive FEA to the next level of service that our customers deserve.”

Regarding the move, Gardner said, “I’ve known the folks at FEA for a while and a lot of what they do is really innovative. I’m excited to get involved in a business which can be a driver for independent ECPs to get away from commodity brand products and showcase their individual practice needs by offering unique solutions, not the same ones offered at the big box store down the street.”

This move comes as FEA Industries shifts focus to better support the overall growth in independent practices and products across the entire industry. For more information, visit http://www.feaind.com/.



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New Products

Younger Optics Launches NuPolar Infinite Gray Lenses

“The number one complaint I hear about polarized lenses,” says David Rips, president and CEO of Younger Optics, at a recent sales meeting, “is that they’re too dark. The second most common is that they’re too light!”

His audience of Younger Optics sales reps chuckles with recognition.

“Younger Optics is now introducing a polarized sunwear lens that is very light gray when it needs to be, and very dark gray when the wearer needs it most,” Rips continued.

The new product is called NuPolar Infinite Gray, and it is now available in polycarbonate from optical laboratories. The darkness of the lens is controlled with a new UV-responsive photochromic technology that offers the widest range of light absorption of any polarized photochromic lens.

NuPolar Infinite Gray lenses are for patients who want a high-efficiency polarized Rx sunwear lens that can function seamlessly from shade to bright sunlight, and anything in between. From approximately 35% transmittance in low-UV surroundings to approximately 9% in very bright, reflective environments. Currently available in gray, single-vision polycarbonate. Gray single-vision hard resin will be next.

To see a video about NuPolar Infinite Gray, visit facebook.com/youngeroptics. For more information about Younger Optics, visit the company’s web site at www.youngeroptics.com.

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Brian Dunleavy, Editor, LabTalk/LabAdvisor

Brian is the Editor of LabTalk. He covers wholesale laboratories, lab systems, other ECP news and features/coverage. Contact Brian at [email protected].

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