I recently held a webinar and had an excellent question and answer period at the end. Here are some of my favorite and, I think, most pertinent questions as well as my answers. These are all very important questions to ask when you are thinking about marketing your practice.
1. Does my practice NEED a designated marketing person – how much money should I be spending?
I can tell you the really successful aesthetic practices don’t leave marketing to chance.
They realize it’s ongoing so they have people accountable for seeing to it that promotional projects get done consistently and on time.
If you have a staff person who loved planning her wedding or her sister’s baby shower, start with her. Give her 5-8 hours per week of blocked time to concentrate on your promotional efforts. If you absolutely don’t have the staff or the time, outsource it to someone else who will see to it the marketing gets done.
Regarding how much you should spend, a general rule seems to be 3-5% for a mature practice and more for a growing practice; however, those numbers should increase a bit during tough economic times because your patients need more guidance (and reasons) to see you.
2. What is a reasonable budget for effective use of the web/website? How to measure ROI?
I have seen numbers all over the board for website design from some of you spending $500 you paid to your nephew who knows computers to $25K for a really neat website with flash.
But website design is only one part of it.
You need to make it friendly so your prospective patients who visit but it also needs to be friendly to search engine spiders so you are found on the internet and that takes sophisticated back-end coding.
So, in answer to your question, here’s what I would say: work with a reputable vendor who understands the aesthetic industry so you are not paying overtime to get them up to speed.
They will most likely charge you $2,500-$5,000 to design your website to maximize it and
An additional $1,500-$5,000 per month to maintain it and keep it fresh for the search engines.
They will also provide you with very specific reports about traffic to your website and that will help you understand your ROI.
3. At what point should I lower my prices? Does cost become the main obstacle in this economy?
There’s a saying that says, “if they come for price, they will leave for price” so I would be careful starting a new aesthetic patient relationship with discounts – it can set up the wrong tone for the rest of your relationship.
And, one of the big reasons patients are shopping around for price is because they have nothing else to compare it to so I would rather see you use my internal marketing strategies to build those on-going relationships with your current patients who trust you and will continue to stay loyal to you.
Now with that said, here’s some reality. Everyone likes a good deal so give your favorite patients a little something extra. Give them added-value rather than discounts. For example, give them a little extra Botox on their next treatment. Throw in a little mole removal or give them a free product on the house.
It will help solidify your relationship and their loyalty.
But, if you do want to discount, do it strategically with perceived value. And do it for a reason- for example, rather than offer them $50 Off, give them a $50 gift card for their birthday that’s good towards any of your MI procedures. They will perceive that as a gift of free money and that’s a good thing.
4. How do I optimize my website on a budget?
For starters, don’t pay extra for flash. It’s outdated, annoying, slow and expensive
But do use videos of you, your practice, your staff and your patients. And, the more photos, the better. It adds the proof your prospective patients are looking for.
And the home page should be all about the patient and the benefits they will receive from you.
And, then you need fresh content on a regular basis because content is king on the internet.
Write 300-500 word articles on topics your patients would be interested in, and upload them continually to keep your website updated and relevant.
If you don’t have the time or the interest, you can hire ghost-writers on the internet at reasonable rates. You can also hire videographers for $20-50/hour.
5. How do I compete with non-plastic surgeons for facial non-invasive and smart lipo spas?
If you build relationships with your current patients, you shouldn’t have to compete aggressively with these others.
Here’s an analogy:
You know when you’re dating someone and you have all of their attention for about one year and then after that, they start taking you for granted, picking their friends over you and not treating you like you were special?
Doesn’t that open the door for someone else to swoop in?
Well, it’s the same way with your patients. Don’t give them a reason to wander off to your competitors.
So, in case you didn’t like that answer, here’s another one:
Be sure your patients know just how skilled you are. Use your association, hospital and medical society logos in your communications. And, be sure your patients know you are board certified and exactly what that means in terms of education and training that went into it since most lay people may have heard of the term but are not real sure what it means.
I promise aesthetic patients are interested in price but most are just as interested in safety and reassurance they will get consistent results.
Catherine Maley, MBA is a business/marketing consultant to plastic surgeons. She speaks at medical conferences all over the world on cash practice building and trains staff to be converting rock stars. | View Author Profile | Get a Free Copy of her popular book, Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying