18 Keys To Successful Optical Trunk Shows

As you are planning your eyecare marketing for the rest of 2017-18? Consider adding Eyewear Trunk Shows to your calendar of events. Many offices report increasing their trunk show presence for 2017 and it is something to consider and plan for 2018.

Barb Tuckerman Holiday Trunk Show
Barb Tuckerman Trunk Show in Ohio 

Top reasons for having Trunk Shows:

  1. Increase revenue.
  2. Shortens the sales cycle.
  3. Brand Building
  4. Promote new products
  5. Build Brand and patient Loyalty
  6. Special Events, such as patient appreciation, anniversary, grand opening, fundraiser.
  7. Promote Speciality Products such as safety, limited edition eyewear.
  8. Patient Engagement
  9. Networking with other businesses and organizations such a sundowners, Chamber of Commerce
  10. Differentiate your office from others.
  11. Fun

Successful Trunk Shows take a lot of work, but the benefits outweigh the amount of work. Several years ago, we read about Jason Kirk Eyewear Show in Paris that had over 400 people show up! That is an Exceptional Extravaganza. Says Jason Kirk No big secrets, just hard work and attention to detail. All year round Mendiburu build their client list and treat their clients with respect, building a professional and personal relationship. Once a year they hold a trunk show and invite their clients, friends and local press to discover what they themselves are excited to introduce to their store. They send invitations by email and by post and follow up the invitations with phone calls and further mails, personally addresses so that their clients know that they are appreciated and that their presence is very welcome. (see more here)

Kirk Trunk Shows
Kirk Trunk Show with 400 people. 

Can you have a $60,000 dollar day or even your best day ever?  I know reps who have done it, but it takes it takes planning and organization. To help you achieve your best days ever, we put together the Ultimate Trunk Show Guide to consider for marketing Successful Trunks Shows in your eyecare practice.


1.) Decide who will be the lead- organizer of the Show 

Organization is key to success and nothing goes right if two people are doing the same job. Assign one person to be the Chairperson. They can develop a check-list of what you need to do and assign tasks. They are the ultimate go to person. Successful Trunk Shows are work. They require planning and attention to detail. While it is important to have a team leader, one does not have to do everything themselves. Make up a checklist and assign staff to certain tasks.

2.) Decide How many Trunk Shows you want to have:  

Some offices do one big Trunk Show a year, some have a monthly event. Others plan out 3-4 per year. For the Trunk Show newbies, try doing one in a year and build from that point: Look at:

  • Time: Who has the time and organizational skills to spearhead the event
  • Staffing: How many will be able to staff for effective sales?

3.) Make a Budget

It would be a wonderful thing to have tons of money to throw at the ultimate party. But like all marketing you need a budget. Looking at everything including the checklist develop a budget that will work for you.

Bruce Eyewear Trunk Show at Moscot

4.) Decide on Product(s) 

In actuality, the products you decide to have a trunk show first, might determine steps 1-4. Certain products go well with certain themes. For instance:

  • A Trunk Show for National Sunglass Day, would be held in June, the theme and decor could be anywhere from a Luau to travel in a box.
  • If you are having a Trunk Show for Small Business Saturday, you would consider a small independent eyewear companies that has a story behind it.
  • If you are looking for Back to School, lots of kids and tweens eyewear would be good
  • A  Sports Safety, look at April for Youth Sports Safety Month, that have the products you will need.

Normally I don’t recommend having more than one eyewear company. But if you are having a back to school event, you might include both an eyewear company and a sports eyewear company. If you are expecting a large amount of people you might consider having two non-compete vendors. Maybe one company has lots of sunglasses and the other has more ophthalmic.

Accessory lines or having a lens rep in play can also be great way to introduce new products and new brands.

Miller Family Eyecare 

Most important, the rep plays a very important role in the Trunk Show. If they are are going to sit in a corner and play on their phone, this is not the right person or product. If they are a part of your planning and engaging patients, this is the right rep.

5.) Decide a Theme

Themes make it a destination and reason for people to show up. We have seen Rock and Roll, 50’s, Cinco De Mayo, Earth Day, Gatsby, Halloween. GNO (Girls Nite Out) and Man Cave nights and Luaus, We have seen Formal Events for: World Site Day, National Sunglass Day and Arbor Day. Add in Art Walks and Patient Appreciation Days and you could almost do a Trunk Show everyday of the year.

trunk show-Metro Eye

6.) Decide Day and Time That goes with your theme: 

When to have a trunk is important, you don’t want to have a show, when they are closing the streets for construction, or the Local Fair is going on. Check the city event calendar (call the newspaper) and look at where you are. Day and Time can depend on your theme. Back to school, might be different from Cinco de Mayo!

Hump Day Wednesday’s are good, also look at Thursday’s to start the weekend off. Others have done Saturdays. If you are doing a wine tasting theme, late afternoons,evenings are best, if you doing a charity event a two day Friday-Saturday might work.

Some offices have events starting at lunchtime leading into early evening. Late afternoons to early evening will catch the going home crowd or an evening event. Saturdays might be good if you have the clientele that will come on Saturday.

If you are tying into an event, you also have the resources available from local organizations. If Looking at at Girls Night Out might be a good theme for April. April is Women’s Eye Health & Safety. Why not have a wine and a masseuse?

7.) Decide Location:  If you are having an event to celebrate Drink Beer Day, you might consider having it in a local brewery, same goes with wine. Maybe for National Golf or Tennis Day and you might consider having a trunk show at the local Country Club.


8.) Decide on Vendor Support:  Once you have decided on the right product lines to go with the theme, what can that-those vendors do to support you? Coop Advertising, free products, Food, Point of Purchase materials?

Gift Basket by Heather Smith Van Dervort of Winking Bee Optometry.
Gift Basket made by Heather Smith Van Dervort of Winking Bee Optometry.

9.) Decide On Co-Sponsors; Co-Sponsors would be lens, lab reps or accessory vendors. Many offices have hooked up with local businesses, such as gyms, clothing stores, hair stylist, make up artists, masseuse’s, wineries, restaurants, brewers and more. Co-marketing can help everyone.

Look at a Cause Related approach in conjunction with local charity, We have seen fundraisers for schools, homeless and of course World Sight Day.

Girls Night Out, Collaboration with Shopping Center.. image: askmissa.com
Girls Night Out, Collaboration with Shopping Center.. image: askmissa.com

10.) Decide On Decor For Theme

Are are you going to decorate and make it festive?  Are you going to get in the theme (Rock and Roll, 50’s) Make a checklist of what you will need: Flowers, banners, food and drink, what will you do to differentiate the day?

Image credit: Kelly Newman, Europtics, Colorado Springs
Honolulu Eye Clinic
Honolulu Eye Clinic food and gift bags 

11.) Decide What to Serve

While you do not have to have Food and drink, it is one way to get the people in the door. It is also a part of the customer experience. What you don’t want is messy food that will get all over. What you do want is easy to eat  finger food. Cheese, crackers, fruits. Desserts are always good.

The food should go with the theme, Cinco de Mayo (tacos), National Cookie Day (cookies) Halloween (eyeball treats).

Westside Optometry

Consider a Food Truck: The advantage of food trucks is they advertise where they will be and you could get new patients out of it. How it works is your patients could get food coupons when they come. You end up feeding others but on the one hand, the PR might be worth it.

Others have suggested caterers. (If you are working with a restaurant, would not have to worry.) Caterers or food servers allow staff to mix with guests and show products. Keeps with a party theme and can help up with cleanliness.

Should you serve liquor? Wine and cheese or local brew might be OK, if you are doing a Buy Local theme.

Should you offer entertainment? Another option that others have employed successfully.

12. Will You Have A Promotion? 

  1. Discounts: Most offices that have trunk shows offer a promo or something free. It could be discount off lenses. You can offer free AR, free tints. Depends on what you are trying to achieve and the time of year. I know an office that did a yearly end of the year sale in conjunction with Trunk Shows. Selected old merchandise was offered at 50% off with purchase of Trunk Show products.
  2. Raffles: People love to win and raffles are a great way to bring the winner out in each of us. Raffles can be a donated frame, lens, eye-exam and accessories. You can have more that one raffle prize.
  3. Gift Bags to Guests: Gift bags are a growing trend. You go to a wedding you get a gift for attending. The same can apply to Trunk Shows. The gift bag can be simple with microfiber cleaning cloth and lens cleaner. It can be a mini repair kit.
  4. Flowers: A few people mentioned on one of the forums they give out flowers. It can also be a nice parting gift as the patients leave.

13.) Who To Invite?

Who to invite can also depend on your product, theme and location. If you are are doing a Girls Nite Out, you want them to invite their friends. If you are doing a National Zoo Day and have animals there, you might want to invite schools and Play groups.

  • Any patient that has not been in to see you in the last 2 years or overdue for their annual eye exam.
  • Any patient that you know that has flex funds (good at end of year)
  • Any patient that has ordered the same product before and Loves it or has a brand following.
  • Any patient  that has walked out the door without making a purchase.
  • Local businesses that are within a 1-2 mile radius.
  • Local organizations and groups
  • All patients that are in the targeted group for the collection.

When do you send the eblast and mailers? A month ahead with a phone call reminder?

14.) To Doctor or Not Doctor? 

Personally I have done trunk shows with or without a doctor, it is better with a doc, because booked eye exams almost guarantee some success. Many doctors want to have fun and engage with the patients, see what is happening in the front room. Either way it is a personal decision.

On the other hand, if you have a doctor that doesn’t ‘Get It’ do it without a doctor. Nothing is worse than having a doctor not support the event and it does happen.

If you have open days with no doctors, it might be a way to bring people in.

15.) Decide How, Where and When To Market:

There are many ways to market. Where you spend your dollars depends on who you are trying to reach.


  • Flyers to local businesses, emails, postcards, social media.
  • Special invitations to your customers.
  • Invitation to friends and family.
  • Press releases to local media, including radio, TV and newspaper.
  • Phone calls to special patients.
  • Window Display in office
  • Sandwich Board in front of office.
  • Advertising on Facebook

Booked Appointments: 

There are some events where it will just be about the products. There will be events which are held during the day in which you book appointments. This may depend on the day, the time and the event. While booked appointments do not necessarily mean success, usually one can be assured of a sale

Wink Optometry in Del Mar, celebrating 3rd year anniversary and marketing via YELP.
Wink Optometry in Del Mar, celebrating 3rd year anniversary and marketing via YELP.

16.) Set Goals And Tracking

If you have been having trunk shows for awhile, you know that your average trunk show may sell 18 frames. The goal should be 20 frames. If you have never had a Trunk Show, look at your average day and set the goal for 3x the average day. Track and make notes on what worked and what didn’t work. It is important to track not only units sold but the dollars. More expensive frames may sell less but be more profitable.

Track expenses, you want to know the ROI of your trunk show.

17.) Decide If You Should Give Back: Shop For A Cause 

When you are a part of a community and want to appeal to community spirit, think about giving back to a local group. It can be anywhere from the Humane Society or to Homeless.

18.) Have Fun!!!!

While Trunk Shows may seem like a chore and lots of work, it is a party, a time to have fun, a time to engage an get to know your customers better. If you don’t have fun with it, don’t do it, the customers will know and who wants to come to downer party?

Just remember Trunk Shows are like social media, you are either all in or all out. Do it right and you can have the best day ever, don’t plan and you can sit around and be bored all day.


We recommend googling optical or eyewear trunk shows for more information. Click images to get images of sample invitations and party layouts.