Abstract: Knowing your current and potential audience, as well as backing a strong branding concept and making sure your business meets the highest in quality standards, are key to marketing and advertising success.
Branding. Marketing. Advertising. Public perception. These can be daunting undertakings when entering the medical aesthetic field. Marketing, advertising and public relations are three distinctly separate—and yet often interchangeable—fields that can confuse any individual working in or running a medical practice. If these challenges are met individually, success can be limited. However, if they are addressed correctly, the collaboration can be very successful. In this issue, “Insights” will cover three common questions that pertain to these distinct fields.
Q: Are print, radio and television ads worth the price and effort?
A: Any solid business plan will include marketing and advertising strategies. When making the jump into advertising, it is easy to wonder if the investment is going to pay off. It is important to calculate how much a new client would need to spend in order to justify the price of your advertising medium, which will help you decide upon the choices that make the most dollar sense for your business. Although there are numerous examples of advertising not being worthwhile, when done correctly, advertising can be a worthy investment of time and resources.
Meet your current patients’ needs. It is empirically more difficult and more expensive to try to persuade a new person to become a patient than to ensure a current patient purchases more goods and services. Do not advertise simply to bring in new clients if you have not fully saturated marketing to your current client base. You can do this through sending direct mail and e-mail correspondence, offering incentives that are only for your current clients, and building a comprehensive Internet presence where your clients can connect with you. These marketing solutions can be relatively inexpensive, and provide a strong return on investment for your business.
Determine who you are trying to reach. Are you growing your current patient base, ready to expand your business with new patients or starting from scratch with no patients at all? This is a question of target audience, and whether you are just entering the field or have been in practice for decades, it is an imperative one to ask before deciding whether to advertise.
Select the best type of media to attract your audience. Almost all media avenues, from print—magazines, newspapers and billboards, to broadcast—radio and television, will have market data available that reports demographics about your target audience, such as age, income range and gender. Simply ask the media company salesperson for this information, and it will be provided for you. Keep in mind that the rules of advertising are not the same for the Internet. Again, you will need to think about the target audience, but the way to determine the market data is different, such as how many clickthroughs or page visits the site gets. If you are not confident using this technology, consider working with a professional before deciding to use this advertising channel.
Plan a thoughtful advertising strategy. It is a general rule that people must see something three to five times before they consciously recognize seeing it. When applied to advertising, this means that one advertisement alone will not be as effective as multiple ads in the same media channel. The strategy will help you decide how much money you will need to spend on the specific media placement that will have the greatest impact on your target audience. Some businesses may choose to work with an advertising firm to assist them in creating a strategy and others will create their own. This step is critical.
Q: Do I use a separate brand for the medical aesthetic section of the practice?
A: A brand is the line upon which all the marketing, advertising and public relations tools must be built; it is a common thread that can either help a medical practice be successful or cause it to fail. A strong branding effort is important so that everything is consistent in style, look and feel. Unless you or someone on your staff has a good working knowledge of graphic design programs, you may want to consider enlisting the support of a local marketing or design firm or freelancer to refresh or create the branding for your business. Ask around and get bids from and interviews with multiple marketing companies before deciding who you want to work with for branding. The designs should then be incorporated into every marketing piece associated with your practice.
There are numerous examples of successful practices that embrace separate branding, and as many examples of successful practices that do not. The key is how the brand is promoted to the public and your patients. If there are two brands, ensure that there are some marketing materials that highlight both. Co-marketing of the two brands can help build recognition for both sets of patients.
Q: How can the safety and quality of medical aesthetic services be promoted?
A: The most important way to do this is to make sure that your practice is up to the highest medical standards in your area. Look at your facility through the eyes of your patients. From the moment you enter your office, is the experience elegant and professional? Do your staff members project safety and quality in their appearance by wearing clean uniforms and having neat hairstyles? Do they warmly communicate with knowledge and confidence? Take time to lie on the treatment bed and see what your patient sees—is there a tangle of electrical wires on the floor? Are there cobwebs in the ceiling corners? Are the back bar products and other implements clean, neat and orderly, or hidden inside a cupboard? Each piece of equipment should be spotless and all accessories should be well-maintained, so if your laser safety glasses are cracked, have them replaced. An unsafe or negative experience had by one patient who shares it with family and friends will dramatically outweigh any amount of marketing, advertising or public relations in which you’ve invested.
If you are confident about the quality and safety of your facility, then you can spread that message with carefully crafted marketing materials that also include photos of your facility. Provide brochures, fliers and leaflets in the reception area or at any local events to allow your business to be represented effectively. Testimonials from your current client base are excellent tools to use in your advertising materials.
Once you begin your advertising campaign, people will become aware of your business and begin forming an opinion about it. The best campaign is one that combines strong branding and targeted placement based on your strategy, and it will be worth the price and effort.