To some this may sound like a fancy job title and for smaller independent practices this job title probably just falls into the hands of the owner but nevertheless the result is still to try and achieve something similar. I have had many interviews with independent opticians to see how they operate and it has come to a point where I wanted to find out more about the big boys (and girls)? How do they manage everything- with a massive team of people of course!
After my secret shopping trip to Specsavers I wanted to find out more about them as a company and how do they compare to an independent optician and hopefully everyone from students to practice owners may find this helpful and able to learn something from this interview. For students this may help to pick their career path and for practice owners they maybe able to use a similar concept and apply to their practice. Everyone is a winner 🙂
I had the privilege of interviewing Natasha who is the Frame communication Manager at Specsavers HQ and here is how our little chat went…
MGAM: What is the role of a Frame Communications Manager?
Natasha: This is a strategic and creative role which sees me working with the frame development, marketing, public relations and training teams to promote our fashionable, affordable frame range and our designer brand portfolio, as well as communicating the developments in trends and new product.
The most exciting parts of my job involve selecting and styling frames for all marketing and PR purposes. I get to work with many celebrities, as well as working on photo shoots for all our major campaign and point of sale images globally.
MGAM: How did you get to where you are now, what skills and qualifications did you need?
Natasha: I started at Specsavers in 2007 as frame buyer, which required me studying for a BSSA qualification in Buying and Merchandising, which I completed during my first year here. The fact that I spoke a couple of other languages – French and Spanish – also helped me to secure a position as a role in buying means dealing with Italian, Portuguese and French suppliers. I think good interpersonal skills, a great eye for product and a good visual memory are also important for a buying role.
After a couple of years, I wanted to learn more about the company as a whole, and was interested in creating more cross-functional collaboration between teams and developing opportunities to promote both our product and our brand. This role was created for this purpose and, despite being a risk to leave an enjoyable and successful role as a buyer to take on a new challenge, it has proven to have great results so far.
MGAM: Please explain to my readers a typical day for you at Specsavers?
Natasha: The job tends to be very project-based so it depends on the works in progress on that day. However, like most people, especially those who work in communicative roles, my day (evenings and weekends), seem to revolve around a screen of some sort. I answer all kinds of emails from colleagues, both here in the UK and in the other countries Specsavers operates in (Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Norway, Finland, Spain, Australia and New Zealand). I also answer a lot of requests for information from the external PR agencies we have working for us. As well as responding to requests, I produce creative communication pieces for our intranet (such as a weekly style blog), work with the editorial team on the bi-annual customer magazine, attend marketing meetings about brand launches, write frame descriptions and prepare and give presentations, which I deliver to audiences of up to 600 colleagues at a time.
I travel to the UK almost every other week for meetings, photo shoots or store visits, which can be very long days. But when I’m in the office, I tend to get to work at 8.50am and leave work by 6pm, even if I have to do some work from home. Specsavers has a fantastic reputation for looking after its staff; for example, there is free pilates class and a free yoga class on two lunchtimes a week, so I always try to attend those.
MGAM: Do you wear glasses yourself and if so what brand do you wear?
Natasha: Yes, I try to be a good glasses ambassador by wearing my glasses at work every day. It’s also more economical and comfortable than wearing contact lenses!
I’m currently wearing a pair of Emporio Armani glasses, as we launched the brand to our stores quite recently. I’ve also been wearing a frame called Kitty from our own £45 range. I am lucky enough to see the frames that are in development and I’ve got my eye on two frames (one’s Tommy Hilfiger and the other is Osiris).
To be honest, to me, the product is more important than the brand and I feel proud of the fact that all our frames, at every price point, are rigorously tested to ensure the same high quality standards.
MGAM: There are so many independent opticians out there so how do you keep Specsavers different from them? Why should people pick Specsavers over an independent optician?
Natasha: Specsavers is a group of nearly 2,000 independent local businesses which benefit from the economies of scale that a chain can afford its customers. This means we can provide widest range of affordable and fashionable glasses, with each store committed to providing the best eyecare possible to the communities they serve. This has seen Specsavers voted the most trusted optician by Readers Digest readers for the last 11 years running.
MGAM: There has been quite a few different marketing campaigns but is it hard to come up with new ideas? Where do these PR/ Marketing ideas come from?
Natasha: This would really be a question for our award-winning creative team. Unlike other major global companies, we don’t use an external creative agency, because we have our own creative team. The art directors and copywriters are constantly impressing us all with their ideas and they often receive critical acclamation, winning major industry awards for marketing.
MGAM: Specsavers have a punchline in its advertising campaign- “You Should’ve gone to Specsavers” and it is still awfully successful now after so many years but why do you think it has been such a success and is still going strong?
Natasha: This is another question for our marketing/creative teams, I think. I suppose the success of this slogan could be due to the fact that it is funny and the way in which it can be personalised and applied to many different situations, so it has become an everyday expression.
MGAM: Specsavers do the Spectacle Awards every year to celebrate people who wear glasses and it is going from strength to strength. Why is that? Do you think it is because people now see glasses as more of a fashion accessory?
Natasha: Celebrities have embraced spectacle-wearing as a way of looking more laid-back, cooler or simply more intelligent, so we see more images than ever of famous faces in specs. There is a wider choice of styles, colours and sizes than ever before so I think it is easier for people to find a frame that can create a confident look. And a new pair of glasses is a great investment if you want to update your look as you can wear them every day.
MGAM: What advice would you give to someone who would like to get into PR/Marketing for the optical industry?
Natasha: Enthusiasm, good communication skills and a great knowledge of eye wear.
MGAM: Finally, tell my readers something that they may not already know about Specsavers?
Natasha: Specsavers is based on the joint venture partnership business model which ensures that the opticians, audiologists and retail specialists who run the stores can concentrate on delivering what they do best – provide expert eye and hearing care to their customers. There are currently more than 1,700 partners in the UK and Ireland alone, of whom 525 have been with the Partnership for at least ten years. This spirit of British entrepreneurship has been encouraged by the company founders, Doug and Dame Mary Perkins, who 30 years ago revolutionised the optical industry with their pioneering concept of affordable, fashionable eyecare for everyone at a time when high prices for optical care and limited choice were the norm.
Just incase you guys wondered why Natasha is not wearing glasses in her photo it is because the photographer have asked her to take them off due to the glare with the lenses. The one pain about wearing glasses and if you ever think “well how come models wearing glasses always look so perfect and no glare” the answer is quite simple, the clever stylist simply pop the lens out to avoid this issue!
I hope you have all found this interview an interesting read and I would like to say thank you to Natasha once again for taking time out of her busy schedule to do this interview 🙂