Practice Marketing: Missed Opportunities

Strategies to retain aesthetic patients

It is very common for medical aesthetic practices to vacillate between one of two extremes when it comes to marketing their products and services. They either try to do a little bit of everything or they eschew marketing campaigns entirely; after all, shouldn’t their skills be enough to bring in patients and keep them coming back? The reality is, neither approach is going to get you where you want to go in terms of long-term growth and success. It takes strategic planning to ensure that you are using your marketing resources wisely.

Following are five effective—and often overlooked—marketing strategies that offer a high return on investment.

Cross Promote All Services

Sarah has been coming into your practice for two years for Botox, chemical peels and skincare products. She loves her doctor, the staff and her results. So why did she go somewhere else to get her laser hair removal? Because she didn’t know you offered that service

The beauty of this industry (pun intended) is that as the aging process continues, your patrons will continue to seek out your services. Cosmetic patients want to look good today, next month and for years to come, so be sure they are aware of all the rejuvenation services you offer. You can do this by creating a menu of services and dis­playing it in multiple sizes and formats throughout your facility.

A brochure-style menu of services can be displayed at the checkout desk. Ask staff to hand the menus to exiting patients or place them in retail bags. Enlarge the menu to poster size, frame it and hang it in your reception area and each of the treatment rooms and/or rest rooms. Add a bulleted list of services to the back of your business cards and referral cards.

Keep in Touch

I interviewed hundreds of cosmetic patients for my book, Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying. Do you know the No. 1 reason they visit a practice but never return? Indifference.

Patients may like you. They may be happy with their results. But if you forget to stay in touch, they are likely to wander off to a competitor who courts them as a customer.
You need to keep your name in front of existing patients, so when they are ready to book a new treatment, they will think of you first.

Email marketing is the cheapest way to communicate with your patient base, but up to 80% of recipients do not open mass email messages, so you also need to get personal. Snail-mail birthday cards in colored envelopes to celebrate each patient’s special day. Send personalized letters once or twice a year with information about a new procedure, and include a discount card inviting the recipient to try it.

Event invitations are welcome marketing messages that perform double duty. The invitation reminds patients of your services, and when they attend an event, you get valuable face time with them. The more face time patients have with their practitioners, the more likely they are to stay loyal.

Ask for Referrals

When I asked patients why they didn’t refer others to their chosen practitioners, the No. 1 answer was both simple and surprising: They didn’t know the practice wanted referrals, so it never occurred to them to spread the word.

Each of your patients has, on average, 150 people in their circle of influence. This includes family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, hair stylist, gym buddies, etc. Can you imagine if every one of your current patients referred only one of these people to you? Let your patients know that you want—and value—referrals by setting up a display at the checkout counter with wallet-sized referral cards that patients can take and hand out. Include your contact information and a list of your services on the cards.

Another effective way to encourage referrals is to give patients copies of the their before-and-after photos to show friends and family members. At their post-op appointments, give the patient a handwritten note card with photos enclosed that says, “Thank you for your trust,” and be sure your name, telephone number and website address are clearly visible at the bottom of the photos.

Focus on Lead Conversion

It does no good to spend a lot of money, time and effort obtaining leads if you don’t convert them to bookings. Keep in mind, converting leads is a learned and practiced skill just like your procedure skills.

A good consultation begins with the right mindset. Many physicians and staff feel as if they are selling or pushing their aesthetic services on prospective patients, when in reality, they are serving patients who want to look good and feel great. Prospective cosmetic patients come to your practice because they seek a solution to an aesthetic concern.

Often, the most significant challenge for the patient in consultation is the many choices she has to make—which procedure is right for me, when is the right time to undergo treatment, how much will it cost and who should perform the service? One strategy to improve your conversion rates is to simplify the process for patients by providing three options with a range of costs, downtimes and potential outcomes—good, better, best—from which to choose. This allows the patient to focus on which option is best, rather than deciding whether or not to choose you at all.

Create a Marketing Plan

Aesthetic practices and medspas typically have up months and down months. You can help soften the dips of this revenue rollercoaster by creating an annual marketing plan that maps out patient-attraction strategies for each month of the year. Make sure your plan covers the three Ws: what you will do, when you will do it and who is accountable for getting it done.

Medical practices and medspas have protocols in place for nearly every aspect of their businesses—treatments, billing, charting, check-in, etc. Marketing should not be the exception. Maintaining a robust schedule and a strong patient base is the result of many carefully tracked marketing efforts working synergistically to keep you busy all year long.

Catherine Maley is the author of Your Aesthetic Practice/What Your Patients Are Saying and founder of Cosmetic Image Marketing, which specializes in cosmetic patient attraction, conversion and retention. Contact her at

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