Vision Care Product News

Published May 2014



Educating ECPs about a lab’s free-form products and services is a way to remain competitive.

To survive as a successful lab in today’s high tech-savvy market means operating a competitive lab. To be competitive, a lab must process digital free-form lenses. But, the ability to process this product is only half the battle. The lab must also have customers who will buy it and the way to get that result is to have a marketing program that works.

Understanding the difference between advertising and marketing is crucial when labs think about getting the word out about their services and products. While many labs do a great job of advertising free-form capabilities, only a few market free-form products and services.

Advertising is primarily spreading the word about what a lab has to offer; it attracts the attention of customers. In this case, it is saying, “We have digitally processed free-form lenses.”

Marketing is convincing existing and potential customers that you have the right product for them. It involves understanding who your current and potential customers are and identifying what they want to get from your products or services. It is a matter of educating them.

The following criteria can be used by both labs and ECPs:

  • Point-of-purchase marketing: Labs can provide educational and marketing materials directly to the ECP to be used at their place of  business.
  • Website marketing: Does the lab’s marketing program provide web-based education, training, and easy access to information for the ECP?
  • Marketing materials: Does the marketing program provide educational materials, e.g., seminars, brochures, access to videos, for the ECP?
  • Does the marketing program help ECPs educate and inform their patients?

When it comes to educating its customers, Robertson Optical Laboratories, Inc. is passionate about the benefits of digitally processed and customized free-form lenses. Consequently, its marketing program is all about hands-on, face-to-face education.

According to Dan Floyd, sales representative at Robertson, “Training is an ongoing and evolving subject. Read any literature from any lens company and all you learn about is minimum fitting heights, materials, or reward programs. Where is there something about how this lens works? If people ask how it works, then they will learn why it works. When I visit ECPs I show different versions of a PowerPoint program called ‘The Missing Piece’  which is just about optics.”

Robertson covers these areas in educating and training its ECP customers about digitally processed free-form lenses:

  • Defining/misidentifying free-form.
  • Understanding compensated versus non-compensated free-form lenses.
  • Defining hard, soft, or hybrid design in progressives.
  • Teaching how each lens style works concerning corridor lengths, lens designs, how to take fitting measurements, etc.
  • Defining spherical, aspheric, and atoric lenses.
  • Managing expectations for patients and practices.

Robertson’s website is clear and informative, as well as easy to navigate to its free-form technology page. It is here where customers can connect with the most convenient Robertson facility to arrange the free seminar, “How Free-Form Can Help Your Practice Grow.” This emphasis on educating practitioners as well as their patients makes Robertson’s marketing program stand out.

By Steven Warfield, a lab technician and freelance writer based in Harrisburg, PA. (the above is an excerpt)