There is a difference between marketing and selling
Cosmetic surgery marketing is more of a look at your practice in terms of patients needs and satisfaction. Whereas selling is for people to buy your product or service. The basic difference you can say is marketing is a more integrated effort with your core business model than selling is.
To keep visibility, cosmetic surgery clinics need to have a consistent presence across multiple platforms that are relevant to a segment of patients they want to reach for i.e your clinic should be visible where your patients are. Your clinic website is your marketing mothership. But having a website and facebook page only is not enough anymore.
A strong marketing plan will increase your clinic’s visibility and profile, maintain communication with patients, and encourage referrals of new patients due to the high quality of care you deliver. You also need to figure out what needs to be added or changed to allow you to expand your reach. Here is how you can build a brand and market your cosmetic surgery practice
- 5 P’s of clinical marketing
- Branding your clinic
- Internal Marketing
- External Marketing
- So you want to be a Media Darling
- Annual Marketing plan
Must have Marketing Tools
- Optimized website
- Mobile website
- E-mail marketing
- Pay-Per-Click advertising
- Public relations campaign
- Facebook page
- LinkedIn listing
- Community outreach
- Patient rewards program
- YouTube channel
5 P’S OF CLINIC MARKETING:
Choosing the best positioning for your clinic to reach your target audiences
•Is your clinic high volume/low price, low volume/high price, or middle of the road?
How is your practice differentiated from your competitors?
•Are you ready to change your positioning?
Building a clinic team of rock stars
•What do your patients expect from the services you offer?
•Is your clinic team meeting or exceeding those expectations now?
•Do you need to expand, change, or retrain your team?
Setting your value proposition and fee structure
•How do you calculate the value of the products and services you offer?
•Are there established price ranges in your local area?
•Do your competitors offer discounts, special packages, or bundle products and services?
•How does your pricing strategy compare to your top competitors?
Reevaluating your menu of products and services
•What does your brand currently offer?
•What is missing from your menu of services to address any unmet needs?
•What products or services are patients asking for most?
•What will complement your menu to increase average sales and profits?
Developing and implementing a marketing plan and budget
•Digital marketing, social media
•E-mail marketing, patient seminars
•How do your competitors promote their clinics?
Branding Your Practice
A brand and its ability to influence consumer behavior are based on the customer experience, rather than solely on the marketing and promotional activities behind it.
If your clinic offers the same treatments and services as every other clinic, you cannot really compete on the basis of branding alone. To differentiate your clinic, offer something that not everyone else can offer—a unique product or personalized service. It is about people, not just the products. People cannot be duplicated.
Customer loyalty and a growing customer base will not emerge from branding exercises alone. They have to evolve from the quality of the care provided and the total customer experience. This does not mean that you do not need a memorable name, an attractive logo and color scheme, and modern clinic design and flow. These are also keys to success in the business of aesthetic medicine.
Defining Your Clinical practice Brand
“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” Jeff Bezos
By building brand equity, you can distinguish your aesthetics clinic from all the others in the market that offer similar services. Your brand depends on what comes to mind when patients think about your clinic as a result of the total impressions made by encounters with your brand name, logo, website, marketing, advertisements, and everything else that people see and hear about your clinic. Even basic things like the clinic entrance and curb appeal contribute to how your brand is perceived. Every time someone walks past your clinic, sees your Google ad, encounters a staff member, or reads about you, he or she is forming a lasting impression about your brand.
Looking at your clinic through patients’ eyes will help you define your brand. Align everything you offer with what your clinic actually delivers. If this does not line up, there is a gap that needs immediate attention. For example, if you are promoting a body-shaping treatment that you are calling, “Lunchtime Lipo,” and the patient winces in pain and leaves with such severe bruising that she cannot go back to work for a few days, the trust factor for your clinic brand will suffer.
Setting a Fee Structure
A key component of branding is to determine your positioning in the marketplace. Decide if you want your clinic to be high volume and low cost, or low volume and premium pricing. The former requires a fairly substantial expenditure on marketing to keep a steady stream of new patients coming in, whereas the latter may be best accomplished by investing in public relations activities and forming referral relationships with like-minded practitioners of other specialties. The safe zone is to be somewhere in the middle—average volume and average pricing.
Pro Tip: Price is just a dollar amount, but value is the relative worth or desirability of a product or service to the end user.
Competing on price is always a losing proposition; there will always be someone who is willing to offer the same or similar service or product for a lower profit. Find out what other clinics are charging in your local community for the same or similar treatments. Try to establish a belief among your patients that they are receiving good value from your practice. Instead of cutting prices and thereby reducing profits, offer more in terms of services, convenience, aftercare, and pampering.
THE GROUPON TRAP
Consider this scenario. You find out from one of your patients that the practice down the block sent out an e-blast offering 40% off every laser treatment for the month of November. You go into panic mode and start slashing your fees to compete, offering 50% off every laser treatment. You call your webmaster to post this special offer on your website, send out an e-blast, and post it on your Facebook page.
What is wrong with this picture? You have fallen into the Groupon trap and it is not pretty. By taking this approach, you are being reactive rather than proactive. In essence, you are responding to what your competition is doing instead of setting the standard yourself. Rather than beating your competition, you are basically adopting the same strategy. The cost of this exercise may outweigh any possible benefits. You may be discounting your fees so much in addition to outspending your competition, that your campaign will be too successful—you may end up doing more treatments but losing money on every treatment!
Furthermore, you have unwittingly set a new precedent. By reducing fees on your services, you have essentially devalued your time and expertise, and patients may come to expect more deep discounts in the future. In fact, those patients are being trained to just wait for the next time you have a panic attack and slash your prices.
By adapting the same marketing tactics that your competitors are using, you are missing a prime opportunity to differentiate yourself in the market. The knock-on effect is that you are in danger of commoditizing your services. We know that one laser treatment does not equal another. The exact point of difference may lie in the quality of the technology, the expertise of the practitioner, and the results that are achieved. Another point of difference is the level of service, care, comfort, and convenience offered. Rather than cutting your fees to match your competitors, elevate your brand so customers understand why you are better and worth the higher fees.
Reconsider the same scenario. You find out that the practice down the road sent out an e-blast offering 40% off every laser treatment for the entire month of November. You plan your strategy based on facts instead of raw fear, ego, or emotion. You find out what lasers your competitor has and delve deeper into the specific details of this offer. You may actually learn that it is 40% off a series of six laser hair removal treatments, which amounts to the same price as the usual fee of six laser hair removal treatments for the price of five, and that it is only offered on Friday afternoons between 3 and 5 PM. You then craft an e-blast to your patients, and post on your Facebook page that your practice is launching a new state-of-the-art laser treatment that addresses a common concern such as diffuse redness or sun damage to cast a wide net. This treatment can be positioned as your loss leader—that is, a relatively inexpensive treatment on which your profit margin is low that is offered to attract new customers into your practice.
This offers a fresh core message with a unique point of differentiation—new technology that is faster or more precise, effective treatments that address common issues among patients interested in laser procedures, and a good value proposition. Rather than running with the default message of lower prices, offering good value is a superior path that will not cheapen your brand.
Value is subjective; good value to one customer may not be the same as good value to the next. Once these core messages have been tailored to match your short-term as well as long-term goals, they should be communicated throughout an integrated marketing campaign.
Whatever route you take, stay true to your brand.
By definition, internal marketing involves promoting your services to the internal customers of the practice. This concept has evolved to include communications to existing customers, or patients, who already know your practice. Internal marketing can be facilitated in many ways and should be a consistent theme to keep your practice on your customers’ minds and instill patient loyalty.
Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is still the most effective way to market your clinic. The act of consumers talking to other consumers about your clinic generates exposure for your brand among prospective patients who may not otherwise know of you. But for word-of-mouth marketing to be effective, you have to give patients a good reason to talk about your products and services. It is the art and science of building active, mutually beneficial consumer-to-consumer and consumer-to-clinic communications.
It is well accepted that word of mouth is the most trusted form of marketing because the person providing the recommendation has used the service or product and is speaking from personal experience. Generating positive word of mouth for your clinic is a constant challenge, especially when patients are not always inclined to broadcast the fact that they have received aesthetic treatments. Happy, satisfied customers are less likely to go public or write glowing reviews and endorsements, whereas disgruntled patients tend to be more vocal, proactive, and demanding.
Enabling recommendations, referrals, reviews, and testimonials from patients by delivering good service and superior outcomes should be a continuous process. In a crowded market, you need to work even harder to keep patients happy, meet or exceed their expectations, and deliver consistent results. This involves listening to your patients, engaging them in a dialogue through multiple platforms, and empowering them to tell their friends and family about you.
This sharing of information may take place online in forums, blogs, and review sites, as well as in the form of personal letters, testimonials, and daily conversations. Harnessing the power of advocates to promote your brand can expand your reach organically.
The flipside is that managing a dissatisfied customer is just as important so they are not vocal which can severely tarnish your brand’s reputation. Dealing with vocal critics and chronic complainers is a critical issue for all practitioners, especially since negative reviews can leave an indelible black mark on your standing among prospective patients.
Identify loyal customers who may agree to be your advocates to carry your key messages to others. Building brand visibility by turning patients or customers into advocates is the main driver for launching a comprehensive social media marketing program. Your brand advocates on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms can help you get the word out and can increase the return on investment (ROI) of your social media efforts. With the rise of social media, the speed and reach of word-of-mouth communications has increased significantly.
Pro Tip: The worst thing you can compete on is price alone because there will always be someone willing to do it for less.
This outreach should be sincere and transparent. It must come from the hearts of customers and patients who are genuine cheerleaders for your practice because they truly believe in you. Do not attempt to fake it; this can backfire badly. It is manipulative and deceitful, and consumers are much too smart to be fooled so easily.
Customer satisfaction drives referrals, and these referrals must be handled well to generate more referrals. Never take loyal customers for granted, but rather continue to strive to earn and maintain their confidence in your practice.
If you are not using e-mail marketing, you are missing out on one of the best ways to reach patients who know you. For sharing news, highlighting products and services, and enticing consumers with promotions, e-mail marketing campaigns are cost-effective and easy to create, and they offer plenty of opportunities to measure success.
One form of internal marketing that is a mainstay is distributing newsletters by e-mail to past and present patients. This is a well-accepted method of keeping in contact with patients. To set this program in motion, you need an up-to-date e-mail database that patients have opted into. E-blasts can include newsworthy and timely articles, monthly specials, and tidbits of clinic news. The goal is to stay relevant and visible to your patients as their preferred aesthetics provider when they are ready to have a treatment.
E-blasts are best timed at specific intervals, but not so often as to cause the recipients to mark them as spam or opt out of your mailing list. Monthly is a safe model to follow. Many clinics also use printed newsletters that are handed out in the clinic, supplied to referral partners, and/or mailed out on a quarterly basis. Clearly, print runs are more expensive, but they can have a longer shelf life.
Affordable e-mail marketing solutions that you can take advantage of are readily available. These services enable you to see exactly who is opening your e-mails, and who is actually reading what was sent. As with other forms of marketing, clinic owners can use e-mail marketing to build brand loyalty, find new customers, and encourage repeat business.
4 GREAT E-MAIL MARKETING PLATFORMS
Even in the era of social media, virtually everyone who is online still has at least one e-mail address, usually one for business and another for personal mail. Most of us check our accounts at least a few times a day for new messages, and it is still the primary way people communicate in business, at least for now. But tech-savvy consumers have grown wise to the typical tactics that fill their inboxes with ads and promotions. To catch their attention, you have to go above and beyond.
It is a good idea to tailor your messages to different audiences. For example, you can pitch one message to patients who have not been in for a year or more, and another message to active patients, or segment your database in another way. Your carefully crafted e-mail campaign can fall apart if your messages go to the wrong people at the wrong times. Utilize automation tools such as HubSpot that can help get your plan executed. Create a custom calendar to send time-based messages at optimum days and times. Subscribers can receive your e-mails on the weekend, birthdays, or anniversaries.
With analytics tools, you can track subscriber responses and give unsuccessful strategies the boot. Automatically generated reports will help you decide which e-mail messages give your business the best ROI. That information can help you tailor messages and promotions to maximize engagement with potential customers. Some services make it easy to share a promotion on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn with a single click, or to create your own coupons for selected patient groups to help you target future promotions more effectively.
Calls to Action
Calls to action (CTAs) are one of the key lead generation elements of both traditional and digital marketing. In a perfect world, all or most of your marketing tactics (social media updates, press releases, blog posts, e-blasts, newsletters, invitations, etc.) should include some form of CTA.
A CTA should be designed to appeal to your target audience so that they take the action you want them to take. For example, it should compel the reader to do something, such as click, call, or schedule. Your website should have a CTA also, in the form of a response you want users to complete. This may include filling in a contact form, signing up for a newsletter, or downloading an e-book. The CTA should be placed where it will get noticed and include words that encourage users to take definitive action.
To take your CTA one step further, create a sense of urgency by adding phrases to encourage the user to act immediately. Another way to create a sense of urgency is to offer extra benefits to those who sign up early or refer their friends and family.
ACTIVE WORDS AND PHRASES
- Sign up
- Offer expires by (Add date here)
- For a limited time only
- Order now to receive a free gift
- Space is limited
The position of the CTA on your landing page, e-blast, or ad is equally important. Ideally, it should be placed high on the page and in the central column to be readily seen. The more space around a CTA, the more attention may be drawn to it. If your CTA is located where there are too many other features to distract the user, it may get lost. The position, color, and white space surrounding your CTA are all keys to success.
If you require users to provide personal data, avoid asking for information that is not a “must have” but a “want to have.” Although there is value in data, there is a high probability that users will drop out of the process without completing it, so it may not be worth the risk. Keep the “nice to have” fields optional and only basic information mandatory.
Use words like:
- Valid for 30 days
- Enter to win
- Introductory offer
- The first 10 people who respond…
PATIENT SEMINAR PROMOTION
•Multiple seminar marketing promoting a series of one to four seminars on different topics
•Serial e-mail blasts spaced at least 1 week apart
•Integrated Facebook/Instagram event promotion—boosted posts, sponsored content, invitation, Facebook event posting on business page
•Blog before and after the event with images (excluding patient photos)
•Feature a “What’s New” section on the website or landing page
•Invitations provided to local partners or affiliates for their customers (salons, spas, gyms, etc.)
•Listings on local event calendars online
•Banner ads on local news sites, community bulletin boards
The days when you could just hang up a shingle and develop a successful practice are long gone. Practitioners must also be strong marketers to succeed, no matter how good they are in the technical aspects of their profession.
Many practitioners get discouraged from past experiences of tactics that have not produced results. They may have tried something once or twice that did not meet their expectations and then abandoned the strategy. It is well known that marketing is not a one-shot deal. It should be consistent and be part of an integrated strategic plan.
Instead of hardcore traditional advertising, think of your marketing as consumer messages that are positioned in the more relaxed style of a conversation between friends, or branded or sponsored content. These strategies can help build and maintain long-term relationships with patients. Your overriding goal should be to get patients to like and trust you. If you succeed, they will remember you when they, or any of their circle of family and friends, need what you offer.
Many clinics invest heavily in paid online advertising options to generate leads. Your competitors may already be advertising and capturing market share at your expense. If none of your competitors are advertising online yet, that may be the most compelling reason for you to start. Strike a delicate balance between tasteful, professional campaigns that maintain your integrity and positioning as a physician. In many markets, the governing bodies have cracked down on programs designed to aggressively lure patients into aesthetic clinics.
Integrated marketing draws on the power of traditional methods, such as web marketing, advertising, and public relations, and merges them with search engine optimization, Pay-Per-Click ads, and social media. Integrating your marketing programs involves creating a central theme and imagery that defines your brand and is cohesive. For example, the look and feel of your blog should complement your Facebook page and the landing page of your website. Websites and blogs should have links to every other platform the practice is engaged on, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram. All content can be shared, adapted, and recycled across every other platform you participate in for maximum exposure. The key is to avoid duplicating content because that can work against you with search engines.
So, You Want to Be a Media Darling
Public relations (PR) is a brand awareness booster. Although you cannot always measure the precise ROI from PR exposure, patients will remember that they saw you quoted in a magazine or on a talk show. This heightens your credibility and may be the deciding factor for a patient who has heard about you in persuading him or her to schedule a visit. If you have TV or print coverage on a specific procedure, that may give your clinic a big boost in new patients.
A good PR firm with experience and current contacts in the health and beauty media can give you access to editors, producers, bloggers, and journalists who have the clout to enhance your brand. You can try to manage media outreach in your local market in house, but success will be limited. For example, sending out press releases on newswires when you have something of interest to broadcast, such as new technology or clinical study.
Newspapers and online magazines have a constant need for fresh content. Your staff may be able to pitch you as a skin expert or to write a column or feature articles on timely skin tips or sun protection, acne, and more. National television segments have stiff competition; however, there may be opportunities in your local market. A 5-minute spot on your local news can be very compelling to patients who already know you, and it serves as a reinforcement of your leadership in the field. It can also drive new patients who are intrigued by what they heard, read or saw into your clinic.
Traditional media functions are to inform, persuade, entertain, investigate, educate, and earn a profit. To be successful at telling your story, your relationship with the media should be symbiotic—that is, mutually dependent and mutually beneficial. They want news, and you want to be part of that news. If your news is interesting, accurate, and dependable over time, you are on the right track.
Research into and knowledge of the topic presented in a clear, concise, and honest manner will help you gain trust and credibility in the future. Present your information accurately while adding a creative twist that will appeal to the audience. Get to know publishers, editors, reporters, and bloggers. Your role is to inform, attract, and gain support from them. Their role is to attract the reader or listener.
10 TIPS FOR WORKING WITH THE MEDIA
- Understand their deadlines and respond as soon as possible.
- Respect their busy schedule by asking, “Is this a good time for you?” or “Can we schedule a time to talk?”
- Learn how they like to report information and read or watch their stories.
- Understand the difference between news and advertising.
- Even if you are not included in the story, be patient and keep in touch with the writer.
- Understand that the media have a job to do. Help make their job easier by providing material in written form and give them what they ask for.
- Try to return calls or e-mails quickly. A late call back may result in losing your chance for a story.
- Designate a spokesperson in the clinic as a single point of contact for media.
- Contact only one person at the newspaper, radio, or television station to avoid duplication.
- Relate your story to the interests of your target audience and editorial needs of each outlet.
A press release posted to any social networking site can dramatically increase a news release’s visibility. Users who click through news releases have an established interest in that subject area and are more likely to share the information with others. The collaborative nature of social media communities can amplify the reach and life of your releases.
New Rules for Releases
The purpose of a press release is to get your story in front of as many people as possible. Posting a release to a newswire service will distribute it to thousands of publications so it can get reposted by online outlets. They will also distribute releases directly to social media channels, especially Twitter, for broader reach. The more journalists who view your press release, the more pickup you may get. However, journalists literally get hundreds of press releases daily, so it is harder to stand out.
Press releases are a lot less effective at generating media coverage today, especially in the era of social media. In fact, many will be deleted before they ever get read, particularly if the release was not targeted to the right media at the right time, or if it is poorly written. Before you send out a release, ask yourself if the information is remotely newsworthy. For example, consumer surveys, clinical study results, trend data, and case studies may be shared with media, and the media can actually use the information. Awards and milestones are fair game because they will elevate your clinic brand. Launching a new website or blog is definitely not of interest to the media, and these cheesy SEO tactics should be abandoned.
A compelling headline and well-crafted lead paragraph are the most critical things to get right. The opening paragraph should summarize your story succinctly to generate interest. Include a sharp subject line and visuals like photos and video clips so it will get noticed.
SAMPLE SEO-FRIENDLY PRESS RELEASE HEADLINES
•London Male Plastic Surgery Increases by 50%
•Get Rid of Dimples and Cellulite without Cosmetic Surgery
•Women Opt for Natural Looking Breasts at Manchester Clinic
•New Mums Seek Non-Surgical Fat Melting for Post Baby Tummy
•Denver Plastic Surgeon Uses New Laser to Improve Burn Scars
•New Survey Shows More Women under 35 Consider Vein Treatments
Digital Is the New Print
The pendulum has swung from print to online in terms of how people consume news, which has had a massive effect on the way media work. Journalists now use social media in their day-to-day hunt for great story ideas and expert sources.
More people get their news from digital sources and on their mobile devices. This represents a sea change in our consumption habits and explains why many magazines and newspapers have shut down their print editions. The majority of online outlets also have higher circulations than traditional print publications, so if you are keen to get “ink,” do not only focus on print. Online placements will optimize your web presence and boost your search engine ranking. Print outlets have long lead times and cannot deliver the instant gratification consumers now demand. It can take months or even a year or more from the time you relay your message and connect with a journalist for the story to appear in print. Another plus is that online content lasts forever and is easy to recycle for social media.
Successful marketing strategies start and end with making patients a top priority. Patient acquisition adds growth opportunity, but the mainstay of your practice’s longevity comes from loyal patients.
Reward patients for their referrals and loyalty by providing treatment vouchers, courtesy discounts, new product trials, sampling, and VIP status within your practice. Thank happy patients by showing them that you appreciate their business and referrals. They can become local brand ambassadors and spread the word about you.
Patients can be fickle as they are bombarded with a daily assault of deals for cheap laser hair removal and discounted filler injections. Rather than spending a fortune to constantly attract new patients, make taking special care of current patients a top priority. If a patient is satisfied with the experience in your clinic, he or she will return and hopefully refer friends. Acknowledging and rewarding patients who are loyal can go far to keep them.
Loyalty programs can be designed to offer perks ranging from access to appointment times, special pricing, invitations to private events, product samples, and introductory treatments. Consider implementing a VIP card with added benefits. For example, if you add a new laser, invite your VIP patients to come in for a complimentary trial. Offer an extra area of neurotoxin injection from time to time, or let them try a new skin care regime you are trialing for their feedback. These programs help patients become more consistent with their treatments. Make them feel special so they will stay with you.
Annual Marketing Plan
A detailed, well-structured 12-month marketing calendar will serve as the road map to marketing prowess—that is if you stick to it. Start by breaking down the year by quarters, then by months, and then by weeks. Address all of the main marketing activities that will take place during each period, and as many of the smaller projects as possible. Spell out general marketing programs first, and then add more detail by itemizing individual promotions or events when the information has been finalized. The more specific your marketing calendar is, the better it will work. Set up reminders for all deadlines for insertion orders, art requirements, e-blasts to be sent, and so on, to stay on top of every activity.
For example, you may be bringing in a new piece of capital equipment, which could be your focus for the quarter. You can next decide how to promote it on a month-by-month basis. The first month may include an introduction to your VIP patients with a private reception where they are encouraged to bring a friend, and an e-blast to announce that you have something new to offer. For month two, you may run an ad campaign in your local newspaper’s website. For the third month, you can promote the new treatment with a geo-targeted Facebook and Instagram ad campaign.
Think of your marketing calendar as the bible you can refer to when any marketing decision needs to be made.
To summarize the whole ordeal
There is no single methodology a cosmetic surgery practice can follow and be on top. It needs to be a mix of:
Branding:Build your clinic brand by keeping in mind what needs to come in a patients mind when he/she thinks about your practice.
Internal Marketing: Keep your current customers happy and make them your brand ambassador, keep sending them emails, use calls to action.
External Marketing: Market yourself externally to get new clients. The goal should be to get patients to like and trust you. If you succeed, they will remember you when they, or any of their circle of family and friends, need what you offer.
Media Involvement: keep showing up in local media and send newsletters, that established you as an authority.
Annual Marketing plan: make annual plans and stick to them, divide them into smaller goals as months, weeks to keep track.
We will keep diving deep into the topic in further blog posts. Still confused or need more details? book a free consultation call with our experts