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I’m a plastic surgeon in a very competitive area. The marketing is out of control and everywhere you look, you see ads, billboards, and Websites offering deep discounted surgical procedures.
I don’t want any part of this. It cheapens not only them but also our entire industry. Now I have to address it at my consultations since many of the patients are bringing in cheaper quotes than what I charge.
I do not want to play “Let’s Make a Deal” with prospective patients. I am a skilled surgeon who deserves to charge top dollar for my skill and expertise but I’m losing to these discounters more than I’d like so what do I do?
Wouldn’t discounting hurt my brand and image?
Dear Dr. P,
This is such a loaded question because there is no right answer.
There’s only a right answer FOR YOU so I will give you some fodder for thought.
Let’s talk about your brand and image first.
Your image should reflect your values which means if you believe you are better than your competitors and will give the patient better results and service, you should charge more.
However, being a better-trained surgeon than your competitors no longer guarantees you top dollar. If nobody knows you, it doesn’t matter how good you are. Strategic Marketing is needed to keep you busy in today’s busy world.
Regarding “Branding”, consider the top consumer brands today like Neiman Marcus and Mercedes-Benz. They have risen above all others because they deliver a really great product and service.
But they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars per year to position themselves in the consumer’s mind as THE BEST. Their “relentless” efforts to educate consumers, provide extraordinary service and experiences for their consumers and stay front and center by repeatedly being seen in the media, have built their quality brand.
And, interestingly, even THEY feel the pressure to offer discounts to the deal-conscious consumer of today:
As a plastic surgeon, unless you are a regular cast member on the Housewives, you’ll never get the regular mass exposure it takes for prospective patients to see you as a “Brand” and agree to pay you anything you ask.
So, in answer to your important question about discounts, it depends on HOW you would present discounts since there is an art to it. Here are some pointers:
- Do not offer discounts to strangers who don’t know you.
- Offer “Themed Gift Cards” to your current
patients who already know, like and trust you so they return to you for additional services.
- Add an expiration date for a sense of urgency
so they act now rather than think about it and forget to act at all.
- Include a minimum to increase the value of the revenues collected.
Have you tried this type of “strategic discounting”?
If so, how were your 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