An A-Z Guide
Plastic and cosmetic surgery, and related non-surgical procedures, are more popular than ever before. That’s good news, but it also means your practice faces more competition than ever. What are you doing about that? Marketing that worked in the past may no longer be enough – or even appropriate – to put your plastic surgery practice front and center to attract prospective patients.
To answer that vital question, we’ve prepared this multi-chapter guide that will walk you through the key components you should be using in your marketing strategy. We’ll explain the “why” behind each one and give you examples and actionable tips you can put into play right away to sharpen your marketing plan and execution.
We will look at each of these topics as they relate to your practice:
Prospective patients – women and men of virtually all ages – have many different reasons to consider cosmetic enhancement treatments or surgery. Will they choose your practice? They will if you are reaching out to them in the right ways. A well-integrated approach can increase name familiarity, demonstrate your credibility and expertise, and clearly differentiate you from competitors.
As a medical professional, you understand the importance of knowledge and practiced skill when it comes to creating the most effective results. So you owe it to yourself and your future clientele to hone your practice’s marketing gameplan. Let’s dive in.
As a plastic or cosmetic surgeon, it probably feels as if you have more competition every week. Branding your practice has never been so important. You want a name that’s instantly recognizable, and a reputation that assures prospects you’re the skilled, professional guy or gal to trust with their procedure. Every detail about your brand has to be consistent, or your brand will be confusing and unclear.
Our self-image is as much emotional as it is physical. Effective messaging has to appeal to your prospects emotionally, so semantics matter tremendously. It is critical to strike the right balance.
Never use negative words. Never suggest outright or even allude to the fact that someone may “feel bad” about themselves as they are. On the other hand, never make promises you can’t keep. Wording that sounds like you’re guaranteeing a particular outcome can get you into legal hot water, and it’s just not smart. You want patients to have realistic expectations, so they are pleased with their results.
So speak positively and avoid superlatives, with wording such as “enhancing your natural beauty” and “a more youthful-looking appearance.”
There is one exception you can consider: in-their-own-words patient testimonials and case studies. If Jane Doe says, “I hated the way my nose looked before rhinoplasty,” that’s OK. And, frankly, any real-patient comments you can elicit will resonate far more with prospects than almost anything you say yourself.
Use conversational language. You’re speaking to lay people, not medical colleagues, so clinical terms and descriptions sound cold, confusing, even scary. That can be off-putting for many people. (Patients who really want that kind of detail will ask for it.)
Use second person – you and we. Presenting information in the third person (he-she) is the norm for academic works, but it sounds stilted in real life. Worse, it puts a kind of distance between you and prospects instead of creating a sense of comfort and trust. People who cannot relate to you will not choose you or your practice.
Focus your marketing messages on the two things prospects most want to know:
1. Why should I have this procedure?
2. Why should I choose you?
The vast majority of your patients used to be of a “certain age,” but that’s no longer the case. Today, all generations are image-conscious and want to look their best. And they’re much more aware of cosmetic enhancement options. So when it comes to messaging, it is especially important to remember the age of your target audience as well as other demographics.
Just as overly-formal language can turn off prospects, so can overly-perfect photo models. Again, relatability is your goal. Nobody believes they will look like the sexiest man or woman on Earth after their procedure, so if all your imagery is super-sexy, what you are actually saying is, “you can’t attain this, so why bother to try?” A prospect that feels embarrassed by their “before” appearance will not have the courage to visit for an in-person consult.
You want to give prospects realistic hope and encourage them to seek a “better” (but don’t use that word!) appearance or self-image.
Back in the “old days,” plastic surgery was reserved for the wealthy and celebrities. You still want to appeal to a high-end demographic, but thanks to myriad new non- or minimally-invasive techniques and tools, cosmetic enhancement has become far more democratic, financially speaking. How does that influence your visual branding? Attempting to look too exclusive will come off as ostentatious instead of classy. You’ll look out-of-date. And it will suggest not-too-subtly that your fees are probably excessive. So skip the gold lettering and the baroque curliques. Instead, use the “less is better” approach — a clean, modern aesthetic that appeals to a broader age and income range.
There are other types of visuals that make branding impressions on prospects and patients, such as your office’s interior design. Warm and welcoming is good, overly ornate not so much. And how your marketing content looks. Misspellings and other obvious mistakes, whether online or in print, show your inattention to detail. That’s not the message you want to send to prospects considering surgery or any other type of cosmetic treatment. Choose imagery and design elements that appeal to your primary target audience.
For plastic surgeons, your website serves as your storefront. Potential patients do not casually drop by your office to browse surgery procedures or treatments, the way they shop for clothes or furniture. Instead, today’s patients search online. When they find you, they click over to your website to learn more. Will they stay, and eventually become new patients?
That depends on what kind of first impression your website makes. It has to assure visitors you are professional – highly skilled and experienced. It also has to assure them that you are caring, approachable, and personable. Trust and comfort are both critical when it comes to selecting a plastic surgeon.
You have only a few seconds to capture interest from a website visitor and entice them to learn more about you. As a plastic surgeon, you have different types of prospective patients and, therefore, different visitors. A few may know exactly what they want, so they’re just looking for the right surgeon. Most may be considering a major or minor change, but they aren’t sure about it and don’t even know what their procedure options are. They need education regarding their options, what to expect and so on. Both of these prospect types visit your website expecting to find the information they need. If you disappoint, they will go elsewhere.
Few of your prospects have medical knowledge. They are hungry for information about what surgical or non-surgical procedures are possible. What they entail. How they can help achieve specific aesthetic goals. People want to know if they are a good candidate. The better informed patients are, the better equipped they are to have a valuable discussion with you and the shorter your time-to-procedure will be.
Your website must provide that information. By presenting useful, easy-to-understand content, you are also establishing yourself and your practice as a helpful, trustworthy resource. You know your stuff, and you’re there to help patients make exactly the right decision to achieve their goals.
Can online searchers easily find your plastic surgery practice? Your website’s design and content are directly responsible for that, through search engine optimization (SEO) based on the latest best practices. Getting found is what drives traffic to your website. From that moment, your site’s design should feel welcoming and be easy to navigate.
If your current website is more than two or three years old, signs of aging are setting in. Think of them as “fine lines and age spot” that degrade your marketing. Not just in appearance, but in effectiveness.
Today’s prospects use mobile devices to search online, even more often than they use their laptop or desktop computer. Those smaller screens don’t work with traditional website design.
Your website needs more than cosmetic enhancement. It more than likely needs major surgery, and the recommended procedure is responsive design. Responsive design recognizes each visitor’s device and automatically displays your content in the most user-friendly format. Without this, frustrated prospects won’t give you a second glance.
You must tell visitors what procedures you offer, for two reasons:
Some plastic surgeons make the mistake of listing all their procedures on a single page. That forces your prospect to sift through all that content. It’s too much work. If your pages are extremely long, most people won’t even scroll down past the top 25% of the page. Your content has to be absolutely user-friendly in order to keep visitors interested and engaged. Each major procedure should have its own page, so visitors can go right to it. It’s okay to group together closely related treatments, however – say, different types of injectables – because they all address similar patient concerns.
If you specialize in a particular type of plastic surgery – for example, breast augmentation or rhinoplasty – make that clear right up front. It is equally important to show products or services you offer beyond surgical and non-surgical procedures. Do you have an associated medspa, carry skin care products, or sponsor a patient loyalty club?
A top-performing plastic surgery website also needs:
Most plastic surgeons post before and after photos on their website. But are you displaying enough examples? Viewers assume you are showing your best examples of each procedure. If there’s only one or two, does that mean you aren’t very experienced in that area? Or that you haven’t had much success?
Including a variety of photos reinforces your experience and skill. It also gives patients a better chance to spot a happy patient who looks similar to them, or who has had a similar issue addressed/corrected. The more relatable your before and after pictures are, the more they convince your prospect to move forward. In essence, they are silent salespeople.
Which brings us to our second point about your gallery. Peruse most plastic surgeons’ galleries and you’ll see before-and-after ‘mug shots.’ The goal is to provide visual information, but your gallery must speak to prospects emotionally. You’ll do better to include multiple angles. Consider nicer lighting and background options. Add a short explanation of the patient’s situation, their aesthetic goal and the result. That puts examples into context, again making them more relatable.
Giving your website a professional makeover is the first step in creating a marketing strategy that will set your plastic surgery practice apart from competitors and help you grow your business. However, to be fully effective, that makeover has to go deeper, below the surface.
Your website needs a strong, up-to-date foundation. It should be built on a high-quality content management system, using solid back-end code. Without the proper back-end code quality, your website may not be able to keep up with your changing marketing requirements. You’ll have to throw it out after a year or two and start over. That’s frustrating and expensive. On the other hand, a quality, robust code base gives you a website that you can upgrade or expand for several years. You’ll get much better performance for your dollar in the long run. Also make sure you have a plan for regularly-scheduled website backups and ongoing technical support for platform upgrades and security patches. This is just a cost of doing business. Having someone actively supporting, upgrading and backing up your website is essential – you do not want to run the risk of losing your entire website from a server crash or malicious hack.
It’s one thing to drive traffic to your plastic surgery website. But in order to secure new patients you need to convert those visitors into leads. That’s where landing pages come in. Unlike general information pages on your site, landing pages are very specific. They get their name from the fact they are the spot where visitors “land” after browsing your website. This is where they take action.
That action can take the form of:
Landing pages come in many sizes and formats, depending on their specific purpose. To convert leads effectively, the design and content of each landing page must motivate your visitor to take a desired action.
Landing pages are the gateway to great content – the information your prospects want most. You’re making your visitor an offer (your premium content). To take advantage of the offer, they give you their email address and, possibly, some additional information. (Generally speaking, the fewer details you request, the more likely people are to respond.) So whatever you offer has to be beneficial and/or enticing enough to spur them to action.
Examples include patient stories (presented anonymously, of course, for HIPAA compliance), infographics, tip sheets, links to short videos, etc. The topics and formats most appealing to your plastic surgery prospects will be different than what, say, a construction company, a software company, or even another type of medical practice might offer.
The best thing about this kind of content is that you can aim it specifically at “niche” segments within your targeted marketing audience. For instance, you could write an article just for men that talks about the rise in quality of (and options for) male hair loss treatments. Or suppose you specialize in rhinoplasty. You could create an infographic that depicts what to expect from this procedure, both before and after. With niche-targeted content, you can generate not only more leads but a higher quality of new leads for your practice.
Content with a twist
Presenting information in an unexpected way can attract greater interest, boosting the effectiveness of your landing page. The rhinoplasty infographic mentioned above is a good example. With a few words accompanied by illustrations, you can present complex information in a way that visually appealing and easy to grasp. That last point is critical. Your prospects aren’t medical experts. You’ll convert the most visitors into leads with content that is informative yet free of jargon and overly-scientific terms. Let your personality shine through, too, because potential patients are looking for a surgeon who is both skilled and approachable.
Landing pages have to look attractive and professional. As a plastic surgeon, you can easily understand the importance of appearance. Pages that look lackluster, confusing, or outdated are unlikely to inspire action. Worse, ho-hum appearance can subtly suggest that you and your practice may be mediocre, too. Or that you don’t have a very good eye for visuals. After all, these visitors aren’t seeing your practice in person – they’re only seeing what you’ve presented about yourself online. So the way you present your content can strengthen or defeat your landing page.
Ideal landing page design is clean and relevant. No clutter, just a concise, strong message that inspires your prospect to take the next step. The most compelling landing pages combine text and a related visual – that might be a photo or a unique graphic element created specifically to illustrate your content, such as before-and-after photos, a happy patient or a drawing of a book.
Landing pages can’t generate leads if people can’t find them. You have to promote your offers, so prospects will check out your landing pages and take action. That promotion starts right on your website. We use special types of on-site links and buttons called “calls-to-action,” or CTAs. Strategic placement of these CTAs allows you to grab your visitor’s attention while they are looking at related content. These buttons function like tiny targeted on-site ads.
For example, sometimes, the amount of content you want to provide doesn’t fit in a single blog article or web page. So you place a call-to-action button (“read more…”) to the side or at the end where your reader can easily see it. They click on the link and go to a landing page, where they can download the full article or other related information.
Your homepage and other frequently-viewed web pages are excellent locations to promote sign-ups for your newsletter about plastic surgery trends, tips and new procedures. On web pages that discuss specific surgical procedures, you could invite readers to download your “Getting Ready for Plastic Surgery” tip sheet. And of course, you can’t forget the all-important “Schedule a Consult” calls-to-action!
But there are many places to promote your landing pages beyond your website. Blog articles about procedures or treatments could also link to your “Getting Ready” tip sheet. Social media posts, email campaigns, your own email signature line, and even offline channels such as billboards or local newspapers are all great places to direct people to specific landing pages to convert them into leads. Determining how you will promote your landing pages (and the content they offer) must be an integral part of the design and content creation process.
For plastic surgeons, landing pages are one of the most versatile and effective means of converting visitors into leads and converting those leads into consult requests.
Next to your website, a blog is the most effective tool you can add to your inbound marketing program. Blogging offers comprehensive marketing benefits for any plastic surgery practice. You can:
The majority of people say blogs help them discover businesses. Educating the public not only increases awareness of your plastic surgery practice, it enables you to have in-person consults with better-informed individuals. That benefits both of you.
One of the first questions our clients ask about blogging is, “What should I write about?” Thinking up blog topics may seem daunting, but when it comes to plastic and plastic surgery, there are many things your prospects and existing patients would love to read about. Your blog is the perfect place to:
Some of the most successful blog posts aren’t traditional articles at all. Your blog is an ideal place to share a new 5-minute video about a procedure – all you need is a few sentences to set the stage. Infographics are another type of visual content that can have far greater impact. This is especially true for plastic surgeons. Everything you do is visual, so it can be difficult to describe treatments and procedures using words alone. Here’s how we created an infographic for one of our plastic surgery clients that depicts face lift options and scar patterns.
Be conversational. Your blog must have a professional “voice,” of course. But more people will read your articles if they are written in a conversational style. Remember, you’re appealing to non-medical folks, not your professional colleagues. Using “you” and “we” draws readers in better than third-person. It’s as if they’re having a private chat with you. That’s crucial when you consider that many patients choose their surgeon based on trust and comfort level.
Publish consistently. Whether you post a new blog article daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, stick to your schedule. That way, you’ll keep your name in front of people, people will know what to expect, and readers will look forward to your next article.
Promote your blog. Your articles may show up well in search rankings all by themselves. But relying on that is like relying on drive-by traffic for people to find you in town. Share links to your blog articles on social media, in email campaigns and in your email signature. Consider native advertising. Give website visitors ample opportunities to subscribe to your blog so they can be automatically notified whenever you publish a new post.
Don’t over-promote your practice. A blog is not an advertising platform. Keeping articles informative reinforces your professionalism. It’s OK to talk about what you do, but don’t make that the focus of every article. Internet users are very good at recognizing a thinly-veiled sales pitch, and they don’t like it. Avoid “advertorials” at all costs!
Speaking of which, there are a several things you should avoid when blogging. We call them the “7 deadly sins of blog content marketing.”
You chose medicine as a career, not writing. That doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of composing great blog articles, but we’re betting you don’t have time. This is one more area in which the right marketing team can be so valuable for your practice – and why blogging is usually a foundational component of the inbound marketing retainers we provide for our plastic and plastic surgery clients. A well-run blog will very likely become your website’s main source of traffic in future years, so it’s crucial to get the content nailed down and the highest quality possible. Your practice’s reputation is on the line!
Participating on key social sites builds awareness of your practice and you as a plastic surgeon. It builds a fan base in the exact location and demographics that you’re trying to reach. It helps you engage with current and potential patients as well as referring colleagues. Recently, we’ve seen another significant benefit for plastic surgeons – the “everybody’s doing it” phenomenon.
With multiple celebrities using social media to spread the word (and pictures) about their multiple enhancement procedures, people are more aware and more interested in “taking the plunge” themselves. Millennials and older prospects alike are searching online to learn more.
A strategically smart social presence helps them find you and converts them into leads you can nurture. Nonetheless, social media cannot achieve the marketing results you want on its own.
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and YouTube are all excellent social platforms for plastic and cosmetic surgeons. You can educate and engage with people by sharing:
Each platform has a different type of audience and is best used for different purposes. For instance:
In addition to posting and sharing content, you can and should also implement targeted ads on Facebook and other social sites. (Read on … our next chapter discusses online advertising in greater detail.)
Social media success is based on interaction – two-way conversations with fans and followers, plus the additional reach generated when they share your content with their own friends and followers. Using social sites as a way to “broadcast” your own messages without listening and responding to others will not work. In fact, the more you listen, the more you’ll learn about what potential patients want and what concerns them. After you listen, then turn around and create marketing content that directly addresses these issues, and share it socially.
Similarly, it’s also important to avoid salesy content. Too much overt promotion is considered rude on social networks, and people will tune you out. People browsing social networks are looking for interesting and entertaining content, not hard sales pitches. Share content that connects with their aesthetic interests and gives them the option to opt in to learn more. Then you can have more direct sales-focused conversations with those specific people whose behavior indicates a strong purchasing interest. Let everyone else warm up to you over time. Above all, the way you present yourself must be entirely professional to build trust. Yet you also have to come across as a “real person,” so prospects feel comfortable with you.
You also want to respond to direct questions or comments as quickly as you can. That’s where the “conversation” comes from. If one of your followers posts something you find especially interesting, say so. Better yet, retweet or share it.
Specific examples of great content to connect with your audience include:
You cannot use social marketing effectively unless you have a clear idea what you want to achieve. That might be generating more leads, building your personal brand as a plastic surgeon, building your practice brand, and/or nurturing your existing leads to build up trust and help them become more ready to book a consult.
Consider your target personas. Which social channels do they use? Younger prospects are more likely to be using Instagram and Snapchat, whereas you may find their parents on Facebook. What kind of information are your personas looking for? Which surgical or non-surgical procedures? How do they go about their decision-making process? What questions do they ask?
Your target audience is using social media and other tools to learn about plastic surgery options, to make up their minds about moving forward, and to find a surgeon. With a well-planned social strategy, you can introduce yourself to them, become the source of information they need most, and develop a relationship that makes you their obvious choice when they’re ready to make their decision.
With all the talk about social media these days, it can be easy to overlook email. However, this classic marketing tool is as productive as ever. Perhaps more so, when you consider how well it integrates with other marketing areas. Using this channel along with your website, blog and social media interactions can produce powerful results for your plastic or cosmetic surgery practice.
One area where email marketing really shines is lead nurturing. Email is the ideal way to stay in touch with website visitors or others who have given you permission to communicate with them that way. You can specify individual recipients, but the most successful campaigns target specific groups of prospects within your contact list.
Effective emails include these key elements:
You can use group emails for one-time promotions, such as announcing a monthly special. But some email campaigns consist of a series of communications. We call these “workflows.” A workflow may include as few as three separate messages, or as many as five or six. All the messages relate to a single topic, but in different ways. Messages are scheduled and delivered via marketing automation software such as HubSpot or Marketo. When a recipient completes your target goal action such as scheduling a consult, they do not receive further messages in the campaign. Your analytics will show which email and call-to-action prompted them to convert.
Let’s say you want to promote your Medspa’s face-related treatments. Your workflow might look like this:
Email #1: Have you considered a quick, rejuvenating chemical peel?
Email #2: Wouldn’t a facial feel great right now?
Email #3: There’s a skin treatment perfect for you
Email #4: We can help with financing
Email #5: Get the latest skin care updates
Note that the process of nurturing applies to past patients as well as prospects. Customer retention is vital for every type of business, including your plastic surgery practice. It is less expensive to retain customers (patients), because they already know and trust you. You can sell them more products and/or services without having to start from scratch. Specially targeted email campaigns enable you to do that. Staying in touch helps build loyalty, too – leading people to move from being satisfied customers to being proactive cheerleaders for your practice!
One example of a successful email for existing patients would be a monthly “must-haves and splurges” communication that offers one or two discounts in each product category. Or you could further segment your patient list by age and announce a special promotion just for “30-somethings.”
Due diligence ensures your email plan will operate smoothly:
Ensuring the deliverability of your email marketing is just the beginning. Are you getting the response you want? Each email campaign has a goal – to generate new leads or referrals, schedule more consults about certain cosmetic enhancement procedures, sell more products, boost blog subscriptions, increase Instagram followers, and so on.
Studying all your inbound marketing results tells you what you’re doing right and where you are missing the mark. That way, you can continuously refine your marketing to make it even more successful. For email, valuable metrics include:
Click-through-rates are particularly important because they show conversions – the purpose of your email campaign. You can see details, such as which target segment(s) are converting, what offers they’re responding to, and you can weed out individuals who have not responded at all over time.
Two factors motivate email readers to convert (click-through) – relevance and timeliness. You may have a goal for your campaign, but people want to know what’s in it for them. Cosmetic procedures are extremely personal. So in our workflow example, emails appeal to the reader’s emotions, using words like:
Additionally, you’ll notice that we specifically avoid words that imply guaranteed results, unrealistic results, or words that hurt people’s self-esteem. Never say or even imply that people are unattractive in some way – only talk about working together with them as their ally to help them bring about the best possible version of themselves.
When you send the right message to the right target audience, you can expect maximum response. If needed, you can further boost responses by adding incentives such as discounts or exclusive offers to increase click-through rates. You may also want to limit availability (“first 10 respondents”) or time (“offer expires September 10”). Use that sparingly, though, because the “act now!” tone is not usually in keeping with the professionalism you want to project, and you also don’t want to let your audience become too accustomed to continuous discounts.
When your emails are a mix of fascinating education, strategic special offers, and even a bit of “just for fun” content, the people on your list will always look forward to receiving each and every email from you, and you will have email results that will be the envy of your peers.
One of the greatest benefits of inbound marketing is its ability to build up long-term assets that deliver for you month after month: a great opt-in email list, a passionate social media follower base, continuous organic search traffic, and a highly-reviewed Google Maps listing.
Nonetheless, there are places on the internet where you can use paid advertising to augment your other efforts to promote your practice. We call these opportunities “paid media,” or just advertising. There are several types of paid media, including:
These ads appear at the top of search results, based on the keywords you select and other targeting factors. Google AdWords is one example, although you can also advertise on Bing and Yahoo!, too. These ads work great for connecting with people right at the point when they’re considering a purchase of some sort.
Display ads are the ones you see while visiting websites, again based on your targeting criteria. You might have heard these referred to as “banner ads.” Content can include text, images or other graphics, even videos.
You can promote your surgery practice via paid, targeted ads on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In addition to creating custom ads from scratch, you can also “boost” your existing social posts to give them expanded visibility. Social media ads have the added benefit of extremely granular targeting based on the behavior and demographic data that social media platforms have on their users.
With more than half of online searchers using a mobile device to conduct their search, catering to these prospects is critical for lead generation and conversations. Mobile ads are designed specifically for easy viewing on a tiny screen, and they enable you to put your offer in front of people when they’re out and about, not just at their computer.
Retargeting ads display to people who have already visited your website when they are viewing other websites. (Your site places a cookie on the user’s device to track it). This keeps your practice in front of your prospects, and the ad’s relevant offer gives them a second chance to take a next step with you.
Most ads are just that – direct pitches that promote your premium content or special offers that motivate readers to click through to your website. Regardless what channel you use or the specific ad format, paid ads are typically very short and concise. But there is one more type of paid media, called native advertising.
“Native” advertising is different. In this case you’re paying to place informative content on someone else’s platform. Native advertising is longer (because it’s meant to inform) and could be an article, an infographic, a video or something else. It is “native” because it is formatted to look like the page where it appears. It is advertising because you pay for the placement. It promotes your surgery practice indirectly via branding and links to your website. Buzzfeed has been one of the pioneers of native advertising, with pieces such as this, this, and this. Native advertising can also take the form of “sponsored stories” run through display networks such as BrightInfo, Outbrain, and Taboola.
One big benefit of paid advertising is the ability to ramp up your marketing results very quickly, while you’re waiting for your earned media (social media followers, email opt-ins, organic search authority) to slowly grow over time. Ad campaigns can be turned on at the flip of a switch. Another benefit of paid advertising is the ability to quickly track and evaluate results. You can study real-time data to determine if adjustments are needed (to content or other details), and make those adjustments right away. You can also use A/B testing in your ads to allow you to compare just one ad element at a time, to pinpoint what is attracting the most clicks and conversions. You can also apply what you learn from PPC ad data, such as keyword search volume, click-through rates, etc, to hone your organic search strategy.
While paid media can be very effective to generate leads and trigger conversions, it is also a complex undertaking. There are numerous factors that go into creating and managing successful paid ad campaigns. Aside from choosing the best channel(s) to reach your plastic surgery prospects, you have to consider:
There are many metrics you can track and analyze in paid advertising, but some of the most important metrics usually are:
High click-through rates indicate your ad is getting a lot of attention. People are interested to see what’s next. But if they don’t take the next step and convert by scheduling a consult, downloading your e-book, etc. you have paid for a click with no ROI. What you pay per click can vary tremendously depending on your target audience, the channel, even the time of day.
The truth is, paid media can be a waste of money if it isn’t done right. Almost more than any other marketing channel, it needs a person or a team with deep expertise in the subject guiding and managing the campaigns. But if done right, it can be extremely powerful.
Like other elements of inbound marketing, paid advertising performs best as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy. Your goal is to connect and build trust with as many potential new patients as possible, and it takes a multi-pronged approach to do that. Repetition has always been essential for marketing success. By giving prospects multiple opportunities to see your name, content and offers, through both paid and organic channels, you are reinforcing your plastic surgery brand. That builds trust and confidence. And it helps set your practice apart from competing practices.
While your focus should be on digital marketing first, don’t discount offline marketing for your plastic surgery practice. Keep your eyes open for opportunities that align nicely with your specialties and patient demographics. And remember that offline tactics can significantly increase response to multi-channel campaigns. Let’s look at some of the types of offline marketing to consider:
We’ve found three types of publications that work well for plastic surgeons. You can advertise, or make connections with the editor, or get in touch with a contributing writer who can place an article about you or some aspect of your practice:
Billboards can be an excellent choice in smaller markets (but beware if you’re located in a large metropolitan area — they can be prohibitively expensive in places like that). You can use billboards to boost general awareness of your practice, or to promote a specific procedure or new technology. Bear in mind that content has to be very brief – viewers have to grasp your message at a glance.
When it comes to offline marketing, economies of scale really come into play. Traditional mass media are just that – great for reaching a broad spectrum, but not so much for narrower audiences. Ads are expensive, especially given the fact you can’t make an impression without running many ads. One campaign can blow your budget right out of the water.
On the other hand, many cosmetic practices have found a path to TV success, by focusing on local programming such as morning shows. They are sponsoring their local station’s “Medical Minute.” The subject matter and audience are a good match, and the sponsorship is more budget-friendly than purchasing 30- or 60-second commercial spots. So there can be an opportunity to reach a desired audience cost-effectively.
Local morning shows are always looking for good-looking, well-spoken guests, and their primarily-female viewers are eager to learn how to look better. Be aware that in some markets you’ll pay a sponsorship fee to appear as a “guest,” but it could still be well worth the cost. You’re not only educating people and promoting your practice, you’re putting a human face behind your name. That personalization builds trust.
Advertising on cable TV channels with a strong local audience can also be a cost-effective option.
Plastic surgery is highly visual, so radio might initially seem like a strange choice for marketing. Here again, though, you might find opportunity where you didn’t expect it. Does a local radio station have a health-related program (like the above-mentioned Medical Minute)? Or a short medical news segment? Again, sponsorship that gives you an 8-10 second tag at the end of the spot could be worth the price.
Generally speaking, direct mail is not a good choice for plastic and cosmetic surgeons if you’re looking to attract new patients. It’s very difficult to target for an audience as specific as yours ,and it gets expensive very quickly. However, direct mail postcards might work as a way to introduce yourself, if you could target a particular local, high-end 55+ residential community. Or to announce the Grand Opening of your new office or surgical center. Or to promote your medspa, which oftentimes has a broader audience than the surgical side of your practice.
A more effective approach to using direct mail is one-on-one communication with your former and existing patients. Send birthday cards to patients, personally signed by your staff – with a celebratory gift certificate, of course. Or have your aestheticians send individual thank-you cards to their clients.
Branded promotional items keep your name in front of people – but not if they are too perishable. Something like lip balm will be seen and used repeatedly, and it is relevant to the healthy lifestyle aspect of your practice.
People’s attention is always shifting. That’s why all your practice marketing has to be dynamic. Never close the door on something just because it didn’t work once in the past. You can set the idea aside to try again at some point in the future. Do everything you can to determine why it didn’t work – can you tweak it to improve the chances of success? Testing is an integral part of marketing success just as it is in medicine.
Prospective plastic surgery patients are like consumers of any product or service – their buyer journey starts with research. Testimonials and online reviews feature prominently in their decision-making process. So one way to grow your practice is to systematically grow your online reviews.
Sheer volume matters because it subtly reinforces the fact that a lot of patients have already used your services. No one wants to be a guinea pig.
There are several ways you can encourage patients to write reviews:
A text or email has the added advantage of serving as a reminder for them to post that review while their experience with you is still fresh in their mind.
Review volume is important, but quality is paramount. While a 5-star rating is wonderful, no one is perfect, and no matter how fabulous you and your staff are, you’re bound to get the occasional negative review. Don’t fret, your prospects understand.
Review sites can work against your practice if you don’t regularly track the conversation. You need to know what people are saying about you, and respond appropriately. That means you need a system for managing both positive and negative reviews.
In either case, timeless is critical, because if you don’t respond quickly, it becomes glaringly apparent to posters/readers that you aren’t paying attention. That will erode trust instead of instilling it.
There are more review sites out there than you might think, and there is no way you can focus on all of them, so you want to zero in on the ones most likely to be used by your prospects. These key sites are a must:
If you have time to manage more sites, you might also consider:
Create an Awards & Honors page on your website. Professional accreditations and formal recognition from medical associations, local lifestyle publications, and public “contests” all underscore the credibility and personality of your clinic/practice.
Display icons/links for all your social media endeavors on your website, where they will be immediately visible to visitors. These can serve as indirect reviews and testimonials, underscoring that your practice is up-to-date and engaged with patients.
Your plastic surgery practice can reap significant benefits from hosting and participating in special events. Including events in your marketing mix can:
Events create awareness about your practice and your brand as a cosmetic or plastic surgeon. They educate prospects about cosmetic enhancement options they may not have considered -- or may not even know exist. Events also offer a comfortable environment compared to the pressure someone might feel in a one-on-one visit. That’s especially true if they attend with a friend.
Events show the lighter, personal side of your practice. Since nothing is more personal than the decision to undergo plastic surgery -- or even a simpler non-invasive procedure -- it is essential to build rapport with prospects. A chance to meet you and your staff in an informal setting gives you a “face” and a real-live personality. That builds trust and confidence.
Choose events that are relevant for your target audience(s), then target your invitation list accordingly. Here are some ideas:
Partner with a well-known charity, either one that is strictly local or a national entity such as American Heart Association. Support one of their special events as a sponsor or donor, or host your own event that honors their “month” (February for the AHA, October for Breast Cancer Awareness month, etc.). The American Cancer Society’s No-Shave November is a great way to connect with men.
Depending on the organization’s core audience, you can donate one item or gift certificate or provide several – for instance, one very generous item for their oral auction plus a few lesser-value items/gift certificates for the silent auction. You can also volunteer at event(s) – that’s even more beneficial if your staff is outfitted in T-shirts or other apparel with your practice name and logo.
A typical event includes all or some of these components:
Focus your events on socializing and fun, with a presentation that adds value. Highlight your key points and do not forget to leave your guests with a clear call to action and a way to follow up, such as scheduling a personal consult with you or one of your aestheticians. For instance, this is where offering a follow-up incentive can really pay off.
No business can survive without building a strong base of repeat customers. It’s an old (and true) maxim that it costs less to keep a customer than secure a new one. It’s also true that repeat customers typically spend more than first-timers. But there’s more to it than that.
Patients return to your practice for additional surgical procedures or to visit your medspa because they were delighted with their first experience. And the next one. Every time they return, you earn more revenue.
But happy patients also become “evangelists.” They spread the word about their great experience(s), posting online reviews, sharing on social media, and telling friends and co-workers in person. The value of this free advertising is incalculable. It increases brand awareness, and it brings in new patients.
All this fills your appointment schedule, giving your practice stronger, more consistent cash flow. The more “face time” you have with patients, the more opportunities you have to upsell and cross-sell them. So it’s easy to see how rewarding customer loyalty can be lucrative for your practice. Offering meaningful rewards also sets your practice apart from the competition, another factor in attracting and retaining patients.
That depends on your type of clientele and your range of services and products. You can also shape rewards to focus on new services, or procedure or products you want to specifically promote at a given time. Changing up your rewards periodically keeps things interesting. And, besides, isn’t your practice all about renewal and freshness? You can base rewards on a points system, or on the amount a patient spends.
Clubs and memberships are very popular. They imply exclusivity, and they encourage consistent repeat visits. For example, your club could focus on injectables and dermal fillers, with monthly visits at a discounted price. Or it could focus on monthly spa treatments. Or include a short menu of monthly “preventive skin maintenance” procedures such as microdermabrasion or chemical peels.
You can charge a one-time or annual membership fee which may or may not be applicable to future purchases. Besides monthly visits, memberships may include regular discounts on other products or services.
Some vendors such as Allergan have created customer incentive programs that providers can offer their patients. It’s worth investigating ways in which your vendors and suppliers can help you reward patients for procedures or skin care products. But be careful here. These programs often require your patients to sign up for and redeem rewards directly from the vendor, after supplying their email address or other personal information.
At least some of your patients may see this as an invasion of their privacy. So if you’re going to offer this type of loyalty reward, make sure you have other options that appeal to your more privacy-conscious patients.
You have every right to put limitations on eligibility or the way in which rewards are redeemed. But convoluted programs and rewards that take too long to attain aren’t worth the effort. You want patients to value and use your program, so they in fact feel rewarded.
Don’t weigh them down with yet another plastic card, track memberships in-office using your CRM software. Create an app or give participants a web portal they can use to check up on their own status at any time.
Your loyalty program is a service your practice offers. You have to let everyone know about it, and keep it top-of-mind with patients, to generate maximum participation. The mere fact that you offer great loyalty rewards will help attract new patients.
Post in-office signs about your loyalty program, and personally invite patients to sign up. Better yet, give them a tablet they can use to register right then and there.
Once they sign up, tracking their individual usage makes it easy to promote more frequent visits. For example, you can send email reminders – “one more visit and then the next one’s on us” or whatever message is appropriate.
The most effective loyalty programs give patients the flexibility to choose rewards that are meaningful to them.
You have to spend money to make money. This expression is as true today as it ever was – perhaps more so, considering the highly competitive environment in which plastic and cosmetic surgeons now practice. In order to spend effectively, your practice must have a marketing budget.
Inc. magazine says you shouldn't think of your marketing budget as an expense or cost center. “The best way to develop a marketing budget,” they advise, “is to treat that budget as if it’s an investment – something that delivers an expected, quantified return over time.”
This is one of the toughest aspects of marketing. No one wants to overspend, but if you don’t devote enough resources to building your practice, you can’t expect it to grow. At least not at the speed you’d like. The only way to create awareness of yourself, your practice and the procedures and treatments you offer is to tell people.
What you should spend depends on how long you’ve been in practice, your services offered, your geographic location and desired marketing reach and your marketing goals. In general, industry experts recommend that mature practices budget 6-7% of total revenue for ongoing marketing. Newer practices generally need to spend a larger percentage of revenue – closer to 10% – on marketing.
Every practice at the beginning has a series of initial setup tasks that need to be done, and the marketing side of your practice is no different. Initial marketing setup oftentimes runs about $20,000-30,000 and includes:
For ongoing marketing, we typically recommend the following for our plastic surgery clients, based on the revenue figures shown. You can see how the recommended marketing mix evolves as your practice becomes more established and better known. If this all seems like a lot of work, it can be. Hiring an experienced team such as ClearPivot on an ongoing retainer lifts the burden from your shoulders. You can focus on treating patients and generating revenue, confident your marketing is proceeding to plan and budget.
As your practice matures, it’s dangerous to think of marketing as a “maintenance” program. You will always need to generate new leads and bring in new patients, and you cannot rely on your reputation or referrals alone to make that happen. You have to work constantly to stand out – and above – the competition.
To help implement your budget, you’ll need to build a marketing calendar. This gives you a year-at-a-glance visual of planned marketing activities. You can be sure you’re making the most of peak periods and filling in the seasonal scheduling gaps plastic surgeons often experience. A calendar also makes it easier to plan relevant promotions, using holiday or cause-related themes and local events as “hooks” to draw additional interest.
Think of your budget and calendar as works in progress, though. You need some flexibility to take advantage of unforeseen opportunities. For instance, if a new product or tool becomes available, you’ll want to do a marketing campaign around that as soon as possible.
It’s not only a matter of “how much,” but where you put your resources. To ensure you’re spending most effectively, you have to track and analyze your marketing performance metrics. Sometimes ideas don’t work as planned – nothing is perfect for every practice in every locale. That’s why ongoing testing and refinement are so important. With sound analytics and testing, you can keep doing the things that are generating the most leads and new patients, and jettison tactics or channels that aren’t producing results. That way you can achieve the highest results for your hard-won dollars.
There’s never been a better time to be a plastic or cosmetic surgeon. With increasing public interest in aesthetic enhancement options, and new aesthetic technologies emerging on the market, you have more opportunities than ever to attract new patients. But you face more competition than ever, too. It will take smart, strategic marketing to set yourself apart and build your brand, so you can grow your practice.
We’ve covered a lot of marketing ground in this guide. But today’s prospective patients are moving targets – searching and interacting online in multiple ways, using multiple devices. To be successful, your practice must reach out to them where they are, with relevant timely content. That requires a holistic approach and well-integrated tactics that reinforce your message in every place your prospects are spending their time. Properly orchestrated, your website, landing pages, blog, email campaigns, social media, and paid advertising all work together to bring awareness, generate leads, and convert them to patients.
Digital marketing works because it’s all about them – up until the point that they choose you! It takes know-how, experience and a deft hand to accomplish that. Just as patients look to you for appearance or self-image enhancement, your plastic or cosmetic surgery practice can partner with a professional for marketing enhancement. We think you will be pleasantly shocked at your results, not to mention the return on your investment.
If you’ve been struggling with any of the following issues:
Let's chat about working together. Think of it as a marketing consult. We can discuss your situation and see if partnering with ClearPivot to help market your cosmetic or plastic surgery practice is a good solution for you.