A Startup’s Guide to Marketing at Vision Expo East

Josef Katz

How we are increasing our reach and maximizing our marketing ROI during an industry event

Why Is Vision Expo such a big Deal?

International Vision Expo East is taking place March 29-April 2, 2017 at the Javits Center in NYC. The event is more commonly referred to as Vision Expo and it takes place twice a year in the US. Once on the west coast and one on the east. Can you guess the name of the west coast event…? Many in the industry refer to this event as the vision industry’s super bowl. While the east and west coast events attract many of the same US exhibitors, the attendees tend to choose the location most geographically desirable to their budgets (or vacations spots — just kidding, this is serious business and many deals are done.) The event is attended by many optometrists, opticians and almost every company involved in products or services for the vision care industry. Optometrists spend part of the event taking continuing education classes. There are committee meetings about almost every topic, and tons of networking and deals being done on the exhibit floor.

Measuring Impact

As any good marketer would do, we set up internal metrics and goals for this event. We are spending a lot of time and money on this event between out of pocket expenses and the team’s time and efforts. We are “all-in” with our investment in making sure this is a success. Since the event is held twice a year we want to make sure each event has a positive ROI for the business. If not, we could take the same money and invest it in other marketing channels (with less effort) and realize a better return. This is our year to knock it out of the park and set the bar for all future events Smart Vision Labs exhibits.

Go Big or Go Home

eye am the Future t-shirt logo

This year Smart Vision Labs took a double-size booth. Based on our experience exhibiting the last few years and our business’ growth we wanted to make sure we can see as many people at once as possible. Telehealth is a hot topic. More businesses want to learn about our eye care solution and how it can be used to grow their business. This year we kicked it up another notch and have some exciting marketing for the booth. Anyone who registers for a demo gets a limited edition “I am the Future” custom designer emoji t-shirt. You can find us at booth MS5013 if you want to see a demo or talk to the team.

While we are sharing some of our secrets here we have a few additional surprises planned for the event. (Sorry if you want to know more, but you’ll just have to pay us a visit.)

Special User Event

We are kicking off our Vision Expo experience with an “I Am the Future” Mini User Conference on 3/29. This event is designed to be remembered and intended to help our partners get a handle on selling to millennials. Including breakout sessions covering:

  • Telemedicine and regulatory issues
  • Marketing and growing your business
  • SVL product development and international expansion

Our guests will get to meet our millennial representatives and find out what makes them tick, and for some fun, everyone can enjoy signature cocktails by our millennial mixologist, network with our partners and our founders, Yaopeng Zhou and Marc Albanese.

Why Millennials

Yes, everyone wants to market to millennials. However, our product is designed for the millennial mindset. Millennials are all about encountering the world on their own terms. They expect to get exactly what they want, customized for them, right away, via their phones. and the revolutionary Smart Vision 5-Minute Eye Exam is exactly what they’re looking for. With no waiting and basically on demand vision testing this is the exam mobile and busy people have been waiting for.

Marketing Prep for the Big Game

With the big event ahead of us we pulled out all the stops in our marketing machine. We are running ads online and in social media, dropping a direct mail piece and have a targeted email campaign in the works. If you own or work for an optical shop in the NY area you will most likely be seeing our marketing efforts. If you didn’t see it, let us know and we will be sure to include you going forward.

Show Me the Money

Personally, I am excited because not only are we helping people see better our partners are seeing bottom line results and some are calling the Smart Vision Labs’ 5-Minute Eye Exam a “Cash Machine” for their stores. Some partners are seeing 500% ROI. The Optical Telemedicine revolution is just getting started and now is the time many companies and independent entrepreneurs are going to jump in and get involved.

Other priorities

As our biggest event of the year gets set to take place we have a few priorities and goals for Vision Expo. Here are some of them in no particular order:

  • Run as many demos as we can — we will have 4 Smart Vision Exam stations running each day. I personally expect us to run between 200–500 exams in 3 days of exhibiting but if we do anything less than 200 we missed a huge opportunity to showcase our technology and telehealth solution.
  • Have 1–1 meetings with key accounts — our team is talking to hundreds of potential clients but there is nothing like an in-person meeting to help close the deal or answer a few questions. We are talking to independent store owners and large multinational companies. If you want to set up a time to talk let our team know.
  • Doubling our sales pipeline — with thousands of buyers and key industry representatives at the event we plan to leave with 2–3x the number of opportunities we have today. Many of these deals are complex and some are international requiring some extra TLC. Rest assured every opportunity is giving the attention it deserves and every customer is important no matter the size of the opportunity.
  • Sign up doctors — we work closely with Optometrists and Ophthalmologists and our telemedicine platform relies on our doctors to issue prescriptions. By the time the event is over we should have signed up a few dozen doctors who want to work with our platform. We even have some doctors who have are currently using our telemedicine platform to help them grow their practices.
  • Add new visionaries to our site — We launched a Visionary program a few months ago to recognize professionals who see the future of eye care and embrace telemedicine and who want to work with us to improve both the amount of access and level of care available to people worldwide. We would be surprised if we didn’t double or triple this program during the expo.
  • Create Brand Awareness — many in the industry know us but we are not yet a household name. Don’t worry — we are working on building our brand so that everyone who wants an updated RX for glasses or renewal contacts asks for a Smart Vision Exam. Within the eye care industry we are the leading telehealth provider and when optical stores think of adding a telehealth solution we will be the brand they choose.
  • Press — We have had some great press but the story continues to develop. More people should hear how the industry is evolving from technology originally developed in the 1800s to our mobile technology today. We plan to leave the event having had a few press discussions and follow-up articles in both trade and consumer media.

A full team event and then some

If it isn’t clear yet this is a big event for Smart Vision Labs. Everyone is pitching in and joining us at the event including one of our board members. Every team member will be working both our user event and the Vision Expo show. If you have questions about our company there will be someone there to address it — and most likely it will be the person who oversees that function in the business.

Will we see you there?

Vision Expo 2017 is going to be great. If you want to join the fun get yourself a free exhibit hall pass or set up a time to meet our team. We will be happy to demo the Smart Vision Exam and platform and hand you our exclusive emoji t-shirt.

If you enjoyed reading, please share some love by hitting that little heart or leave me a comment if you have some additional points to share!

Josef Katz

Written by

I am a bit of a troublemaker who loves marketing and startups. Don’t believe me…? Ask my third grade teacher how disruptive I was.🤣

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