After the great success of the first campaign “Visit your optician once a year” during last fall, the optician association ZVA decided to start a second round. Now, ZVA offers its opticians an updated campaign edition, and, once more the possibility to place online advertisement easily, quickly, and without any prior knowledge in the field of Marketing.
socialPALS has been established as an important part of the marketing mix within this industry sector to support digitization of local retail. More industry partners are already in the pipeline.
More about this topic can be found in the very interesting interview with our socialPALS founder Bastian Müller that thas been published in the DOZ Magazin (the interview is currently available in German)!
In the following interview, the ZVA – Central Association of Opticians and Optometrists – reports on the use of the socialPALS platform and the new approaches for the association and its opticians.
Lars Wandke from ZVA in an interview
Lars, please tell us a little bit about the ZVA and your special task.
The Central Association of Opticians and Optometrists (ZVA) represents the interests of self-employed opticians in Germany. We represent large market-listed chain stores as well as smaller medium-sized companies. The latter in particular of course benefit from PR and advertising measures that we as an association carry out for the profession of the optician and the companies as a collective, for example by means of our image campaign “Visit your optician once a year!”.
My job as Head of Public Relations and Marketing is to work with my colleagues both to develop suggestions as to which communication measures the association could and should take, and also to subsequently put them into practice after the responsible bodies have made a corresponding decision. Of course we don’t do this on our own but rather look for strong and competent partners for each project – such as socialPALS.
What are your specific goals and how do you want to specifically involve and support your opticians.
The overriding goal of our various communication measures is to inform consumers about the importance of good vision and the work of opticians and optometrists and thus to increase the frequency in the companies organized by the ZVA. We are less concerned with material ophthalmic products such as glasses and contact lenses, but with the services behind them and those who carry them out, namely opticians and optometrists. They are the ones who are in the foreground and so we make targeted efforts to make you the sender of our campaigns, both in terms of content and technology. The second point in particular is anything but trivial in an association with its special structures and a very heterogeneous membership.
Most of the companies do not have a marketing department that does not take care of anything else but marketing all day. In order to enable these companies to directly participate in a campaign, a resilient, scalable solution is required, whose operation must be intuitive at the same time. For a long time it was the egg-laying woolly milk pig and our campaigns repeatedly suffered in the practical implementation at this one point, namely the involvement of the companies.
What has changed with the use of socialPALS?
When we met Bastian and Marlon from socialPALS at the beginning of 2020, it quickly became clear that they were addressing exactly the problem that I just described. The adaptation of our communication measures by the member companies was an issue for which we had not yet found a cost-efficient solution. With each campaign planning, we invested a relatively large amount of time and money in developing opportunities for participation, without the companies making sufficient use of them in the end. In retrospect, one has to admit, to be fair, that our offers did not stand out blatantly from what the industry offered its customers, i.e. our members. Everyone used more or less the same pot of advertising material for classic POS marketing.
The cooperation with socialPALS, on the other hand, suddenly offered us not only a different approach to addressing and involving members, but also a completely new field of activity: digital and local online marketing at the same time. This was a considerable added value, not only for us as organizers of communication measures, but also for the companies – especially since they have practically no work with it, but a turnkey solution is offered to them with the socialPALS platform.
Can socialPALS help to raise the awareness of opticians regarding online & social media marketing?
I want to say it already has! Within the industry, we have done a lot of advertising for the campaign that we launched with socialPALS. The response was enormous, our expectations were exceeded by far. No matter who we spoke to, everyone praised the easy handling and the transparency of the platform. Just one example: Every company sees the results of its posts and advertisements directly. Sure, the key figures may require further explanation in individual cases, but awareness of this form of marketing and its attractiveness will now increase from campaign to campaign. The beginning has always been made.
How did you find out about socialPALS?
Every year in January, the largest German trade fair for optics takes place in Munich. In the run-up to the fair, socialPALS approached us and we then met in Munich.
Why is the use of the socialPALS platform interesting for you?
I have already said a lot about the reasons why the socialPALS platform 2020 was interesting for us. In terms of perspective, however, it is particularly important for us because I believe that the team still has a lot in the proverbial pipeline from a technical point of view that will make our work as campaign managers easier and at the same time create additional added value for the participating companies. In any case, we look forward to the future with socialPALS.
Which factors do you use to measure the success of a campaign?
For us, success is measured on the one hand in the usual KPIs such as impressions, net reach, CTR, but on the other hand of course also in the number of participating opticians as a hard criterion and in their feedback on the campaign as a soft criterion. We were extremely satisfied in all of these categories.
How much time did you spend internally to set up or implement the campaign?
The time expenditure was by no means insignificant for us, but that is mainly due to the structure of the association. The ZVA is a federal guild association, which means that our members are not the opticians themselves, but eleven state guilds and state guild associations. In turn, the optics companies are organized as direct members of these associations. So we have a similar federal structure to that of the Federal Republic of Germany.
As you could see from the Corona crisis, federalism can have advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage of such a structure is, of course, that the information dissemination is not centrally regulated, which sometimes leads to asymmetries in the distribution. A great advantage, on the other hand, is that for the respective region – or in our case, for example, a national guild – solutions can be found that best suit the individual situation.
And this is where a huge advantage of socialPALS becomes apparent: The platform allowed us to create eleven campaigns separately and to design them differently according to the wishes of the respective regional association or the national guild, for example with regard to subsidizing ad budgets.
How difficult was it to motivate the opticians to participate and how did socialPALS support you?
To answer the first part of the question, I have to go back a bit. Our campaign with socialPALS was triggered by the desire to provide opticians with something during the Corona crisis that conveys two messages to their customers: 1. We are there for you as usual. 2. We have taken precautions for your protection. The background to this is that at the beginning of the nationwide lockdown in March it was not clear whether opticians would be classified as systemically relevant and should remain open. This was ultimately the case; the back and forth and the sometimes different regulations at the state or local level have left consumers with a certain irritation.
We wanted to straighten up and make it clear: Your optician is open. At the same time, as an association, we have developed hygiene recommendations and made them available to the companies so that everything could be done to protect customers and employees. These two aspects – availability and security – should be communicated, which of course was absolutely in the interests of the companies. So we didn’t have to do any persuasive work, but “only” information work. The state associations and state guilds then gave us enormous support, flanked by the first-class support of the socialPALS team.
The division of labor was basically as follows: the intro came from the associations and socialPALS then took over the targeted activation of the companies and the onboarding. Once “on board”, the opticians quickly saw how easy it was to operate the platform. Four simple steps … and without any previous experience, the company could suddenly justifiably say that it was doing online marketing in its most modern form.
Thanks for the interview!
This is what our dealers say
A few months ago I was allowed to take part in a presentation in which socialPALS presented and explained their new business model. After more than 35 years in ophthalmic optics, I expected the presentation of yet another social media concept, which would once again be time-consuming and labor-intensive.
But then the young, innovative team convinced with their clear needs analysis in optics and the new brilliant and time-saving ideas within a few minutes. I was immediately enthusiastic, wanted to use these advantages and be a part of them. Here someone has done their homework and doesn’t just want to sell their own concept. They provide advertising, prepare advertising plans, and create links to our own social media channels and our manufacturers.
The extremely nice and competent contact persons will guide you through the program, help you to make adjustments and give you valuable tips. Today we can say that socialPALS is the ideal partner and amplifier for our social media presence.
The optician can devote himself to his actual business and is perfectly represented on the multimedia channels by socialPALS. This is how social media is fun!
Armin Ameloh / Master Optician & Owner