Hitting the Mark

How to identify and connect with your target market.
Business Consult July/August 2018

For a medspa or medical aesthetic practice to grow and prosper, it’s crucial to find and entice the people in your community who can support your business—particularly if your office is in a highly competitive area. To claim your share of the market and connect with that target base, it’s also smart to identify the unique characteristics, or differentiating factors, that set your practice apart from the competition.

How can practice owners identify their target markets and entice those prospects to visit their offices? The first step is to conduct a feasability study.

Identify Your Base

A feasibility study consists of two parts—a competitive analysis and a demographic survey. It is used to help businesses identify potential patrons in their regions as well as the number of competitors vying for the same customers.

The Demographic Survey: Several sources can help you analyze the demographics of your local area to determine the size of your community, average age, gender breakdown and income levels. Free resources include the U.S. Census Bureau (census.gov), local libraries and your local chamber of commerce. Paid marketing services, such as Demographics Now (demographicsnow.com) and Claritas (claritas.com), compile this information and create reports for businesses.

If you are planning to open a new practice, this information will help you determine if enough potential clients are in the local area to support your practice. For existing practices, this information can help you refine your offerings and marketing strategies based on the age, gender breakdown and income levels in your local community.

The Competitive Analysis: Do you know how many other aesthetic practices are competing for your patients? That is the purpose of the competitive analysis.

To find your competitors, you can drive around your area, go to the local chamber of commerce, use a Google search, and review business listings and advertisements in local papers and magazines. If your practice is in a large city, look at similar businesses within a 10-mile radius of your location. If you are in a smaller municipality, that radius will expand based on population density: the lower the population density, the larger the radius of competing businesses.

Next, determine which of these providers are direct competitors. A direct competitor offers the same services you offer, is using the same concept or has positioned itself in a manner similar to how you have positioned your medspa or medical aesthetic practice, has a medical director with the same expertise and/or has a similar facility.  

Think about how you can establish a competitive advantage. Be creative. Your challenge is to discover wants and needs in your community that your competitors are not fulfilling. For example, do you offer unique treatments or services, better pricing or a superior facility or location? Can you boast ample or free parking, more convenient hours of operation or more impressive credentials?

Understand Your Target Market

Now that you have identified your unique attributes and target patient base, you need to learn more about who your prospective patients are to develop targeted marketing messages. For example, how old are they, where do they live, what are their income and educational levels, what are their hobbies, and what health issues or aesthetic concerns are they likely to have?

Consider where they get their information. Do they watch TV, use social media, print media or radio, or do they rely primarily on word-of-mouth? (This is more likely in a small town.) Also consider how they communicate (via phone, email, text messages and/or social media).

Once you get an understanding of their demographics and habits, pay attention to what they value (e.g., family, financial success, happiness), the type of lifestyle they have or aspire to, whom they admire, and the challenges they face, such as stress, long hours or signs of aging that make them feel less competitive in the workplace.

The easiest way to obtain this information is to ask your current patients. Send patients a survey asking them to share their experiences at your practice. Also ask why they chose your practice.

Most of us have heard of the 80/20 rule—80 percent of your revenue will come from 20 percent of your clients. For even more targeted feedback, ask your top 20 percent —either personally, by mail or during a special focus group event—why they chose you as their provider. This will give you insight into your differentiating factors and also provide information about whom you should target.

Differentiate Your Practice

Now put your information to work with targeted messaging. Make a list of the things that you do differently (and better) than your competition as well as the services you offer that they do not.

To differentiate your practice from its nearby competitors and appeal to your target base, you may decide to expand your office hours, create new treatment packages or design new advertising materials highlighting your unique attributes and how they can help your most likely prospects attain their aesthetic goals. Identify community events that tie in to your differentiating factors to increase your exposure in the area.

Remember, you cannot be all things to all people. Instead, find your niche, find your target patient base and focus your efforts there, especially if your practice is located in a highly competitive market.

Cheryl Whitman is founder and CEO of Beautiful Forever, an aesthetic business consulting firm. Contact her at cheryl@beautifulforever.com, 561.299.3909.

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