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Wednesday
Mar192008

What should Medical Spa MD become?

mcgyverCan Medical Spa MD be turned into a marketing an purchasing co-operative?

Hmmm. I've been struggling with this for some time now. Certainly I get any number of emails from physicians each week. In most cases they're looking for information, but a growing number have been interested in some sort of 'banding together' as independents. Here's a good example from one of the discussion threads on this site:

"These laser companies and allergan and restylane have sucked the money out of the medspas are the only ones making any money, and yet they do a piss poor job of creating any new markets for there wonderful products. Everone's ads all look the same, they are too full of too much information about things that people don't care about. Medicis has been generous as to product samples, but I would much rather have clients calling me and asking for the product rather than spending an hour convincing them why they need it and that they won't look like that dancing with the stars actress lady or why they won't look frozen, or why they won't get burned.

It is late, I have insomnia, and I have been in this business for a long, long time. There are 900 members plus on this site. 900 times $300.00 monthly membership is $270,000 times 12 months is $3,240,000.00. Nice ad budget. They get the Seal, they referral links, marketing support, reps would be begging to give group discounts and deal on a large scale. No franchises, just The America Medspa Advisory Board:"

- DO YOU FEEL MY PAIN 

"Bravo. That was one of the more accurate and heartfelt assessments of the state of this industry. The Devil is in the details. I have personal experience in bringing together 20 or so former franchisees into a marketing cooperative and I can tell you that it became a full time job to the detriment of my medspa. We saw the same thing with Jeff, the founder of this site, who had to pull away to move forward on other issues.
Hopefully one of those initiatives, i.e. the marketing support will become available soon and the type of coming together you are speaking about will evolve within this community.

Regardless of what one thinks of the tone and tenor of some of the ongoing discussions here, one must admit that this site stands alone in bringing individual medspa owners together into one community.

If and how that can be harnessed remains to be seen."

- Mark 

My response to DO YOU... and Mark:
Certainly there is the possibility to do that very thing with Medspa MD. I'm guessing here but the medical marking portal that we're rolling out should be absolutely killer and there have been some major tech companies who have expressed interest in getting in front of the members of this site.

In the past I've said no. In general, because the site lacked the numbers to pose significant enough buying power. The 'offers' would have been of little to no value. (There was also a problem in that I could have been placed in a situation where I had a conflict of interest with existing Surface clinics.) However, that's changing.

Medical Spa MD will pass 1,000 signed up members within days. Approximately 70% of these members are physicians with the remainder being nurses, PA's, estheticians and tech companies. The buying power of 1000+ physicians practicing retail cosmetic medicine is considerable and there's a very real possibility that Medspa MD's members could now get considerable pricing considerations, very high quality products, and I could make enough money to make it worthwhile. (I'm of the opinion that transparency on my end is important and there's certainly something of a financial consideration on my end.)

So, I'd really like to get some feedback on this.

What would you like to see on this site? How should it be structured? How much would you be willing to pay? How much would you think I should make?

There are some thinks in the works that I've posted about before for sure, but I'd really like some feedback from you guys on this.

Reader Comments (15)

I see a tremendous value for a small business owner to have a cooperative. Depending on how deep they can go, there should be different levels of service and prices for marketing. I have been thinking of how to get a laser company or pharma company to pay you to do this and my brain stalled. They must have some new laser devise that does not allow that neuron to fire. I have been looking at some different software lately for marketing, as an example, that dental offices use for patient reminders,texting them appointments, sometimes it can be integrated into new software, used for email campaigns. These range in price from 200-$250.00 per month. Text services range from $200-$250 per month. Constant contact is like $40 buck a month. To be a member of the American Aesthetic Medical Society as a para-medical is $95 per year, $400 for physician, 200 nurse( i think, too late too google it right now) all you get is a cert to hang on the wall and a nice subscription to their magazine.

The site might get better access to the internal marketing departments of the laser and pharma companies (or are they trying to hide the fact that they don't really have one, its just a kid at the fed ex kinkos)
I have a shelf full of allergan and restylane brochures and table cards and wall mounts and you name it, not to mention the junk I have already thrown out, all the little doo dads, widgets that we give out at open houses, which I have to admit are nice and save us money, however, I am once again marketing for them or someone else. My point being, maybe they should SAVE A TREE and come up with some better campaigns. These options are not budget breakers, and if you are working with various companies, this could be the way to go. Mostly what we need need collectively is not another company athat makes brochures, but better designers, planners, creative advertisers. I find it ironic now that I used the "cheese" commercials to site my example of how different companies in the "cheese" industry banded together to take "cheese" to the next level.
Here is the Columbia study that I am talking about, the CMAB is part of the Dept of Ag, but it is about the strategic marketing plan, and that they band together the different producers in the industry.

http://www.californiadairypressroom.com/CADColumbiaStudy.html

There will be many challenges as well. The focus will have to be on what is collectively agreed upon. There will always be different opinions on who should do what treatments, physician vs. physician, nurse vs. physician, aesthetician vs me. It is a together we stand, divided we fall mentality. If the standard if that a group that has dedicated themselves to best practices in medicine, fighting for the consumer to keep cosmetic prices affordable, fighting for practices to earn a profit, whatever.

Jeff, I think that the position is a very important one. I do not know how to answer your question in regards to compensation. I know that so many people have been taken by franchises, I have worked for 3 different offenders. I know that you will come up with a fair plan. I agree that transparency is an excellant notion.

I applaud Jeff, Do You and Mark for bringing this issue to the forefront. In California here, we have a malpractice company called CAP-MPT which I belong to. It is also a physicians-coop entity where the premium is kept at the minimum for it is run entirely by physicians. One caveat I must emphasize here is the needs to help "standardize" treatment guidelines among practices. It is one thing to buy equipment and market for clients. However, ultimately it IS the delivery of care that would keep or fail that practice. As one of the more experienced aesthetic practitioner, I would be willing to participate in some format here where I could be of help in this fundamental process, including traveling to wherever needed to help in teaching and setting uniform protocols. Aesthetic medicine should be, hopefully, of no difference than any other medical fields where STANDARDS of practice can be solidly established and practiced among all of us.

03.20 | Unregistered Commenterpmdoc

While I generally find this website to be somewhere between great and fabulous, I would like to weigh in on the new background color scheme. You have black print on a background that varies from white to black to progressively darker shades of gray. The text is VERY hard to discern due to lack of contrast between the text and certain portions of the background. Please consider going back to a more ocular friendly text and background. Otherwise keep up the great work.

03.20 | Unregistered Commenterworc md

worc md,
Work in progress so I'll take that under advisement.

Dear Mark,

It sounds like a great idea. However, the med spa owner looks at all other med spas as competition for the same client. They do not want to spend one dime on internet marketing, they do not see the value. They want to continue with their val pak and local advertizing.

Some how they think if they build it they will come. How wrong are they. They really need to take advantage of teh internet marketing resources out there and calculate the ROI (return on investment) All med spa owners should think twice before they say no to internet marketing. The web is very powerful and can be used for or against you.

03.21 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

Hi Jeff,

To be quite frank it would seem that the marketing intiative would be a pretty good indication of how much of a market for services exists within this community. If you can provide quality service at reasonable or slightly less than whats available then you will learn in short order this sites revenue potential.
I couldnt imagine anyone begrudging you whatever profit you need to make to deliver a quality service.

I for one, look forward to marketing services built by someone who has actually built a successful medspa company. (what a unique concept)

Regards,
Mark

03.21 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Kelly

I agree the internet marketing angle is greatly under utilized.

Dexter

You mentioned SEO. I would be interested in blogging this. I learned some time ago what a powerful marketing tool this could be. Ive had a computer programmer working on software that takes this several steps further. Two years in the making we are about 30-60 days out from completion. The core software is generic but almost fully automated. This way it can be used for any industry, just by filling in pertinent information.
The software will perform the following:
SEM- Enhance to leverage traffic to your current website.
SEO- Optimization so your website will rank higher on all search engines independent of pay per click
Trending analysis- see what people are looking at when they go to your site
Campaign analysis- see what other marketing is effective (print, TV, radio etc...) getting your website hits.
Competitive analysis- when someone does a search, see where they are going.
CMS- it will include a Content Management System so you or your staff can go in the back door of your website to personalize/change text after you have the above information.

We can always customize for additional user need.

It can be set for all the procedures/services you do. We can make this for multiple users such as Jeff's marketing site idea, with each user getting info for their geographic area, or for an individual area.

If no one wants to blog this, e-mail me and we can talk
oncallmed@hotmail.com

03.21 | Unregistered CommenterFlorida PA

Jeff
Being in this business for only 7 months I see a huge potential for forming a "buying group" and making you profit along the way. I spoke with a gentleman on a flight who ran a co-op for mom & pop hardware stores that bought drywall etc.and paid similar prices that the large chain stores paid due to volume discounting etc. The co-op purchasing agent then took a percentage of the discount and/or savings cost to the members as his fee. For example,if members join and state roughly how much Juvederm etc. they are able to purchase a month, then the price can be shopped either through Allergan, a Canadian Pharmacy, a US distributor etc.for a discount. After the co-op gets established then the group may be able to actually set the price of what the group is willing to pay for a product. Not initially, but eventually it may be no different than what Costco does--this is the price we are willing to pay, we'll take x number of units a month . . . will you do it? If not we'll find a supplier who will. You wouldn't need to warehouse anything, you are just the go-between for us (your members) and them (the suppliers). Great Site! Thanks

03.22 | Unregistered Commentersr

Sidetracking a bit here, but I think the most important thing in all of our minds should be how to get a seperate board certification for non-invasive cosmetic medicine. I don't know if you keep up with legislature, but dermatologists and plastic surgeons are working VERY hard to pass bills in various states to corner in on the market. And nobody is putting up a fight and there is no other "specialty" that really suits the field better... at least to legislation who is being supported by groups of derm / plastic docs... I'm sure you all already know about how they successfullythe "must be a derm / plastic to operate remote facilities" law in Florda... your state may be next. Can we bond and make a written / oral exam and make this speciaty an ABMS specialty open to any physician who can prove competence in injectables, lasers and such?

03.24 | Unregistered CommenterCaliDO


I definitely would like to look at all sorts of way to lower my costs across the board (marketing/advertising, maintenance contracts, new equipment purchases, supplies, insurance, etc.). A couple of my concerns on this would be:
1. not wanting to share the same ads with competing businesses in my local area.
2. in terms of group buys for equipment & supplies - would we still get listings on the manufacturer's websites (i.e. Botox website) many clients still find it comforting to see you listed on the manufacturer's websites.
3. Logistics on forming a purchasing group.

I also echo CaliDO's (and others on this website) that we do need to look at forming another board for non-invasive aesthetics/cosmetic medicine to prevent actions from dermatoligists and plastics from unfairly cornering the market.

03.26 | Unregistered CommenterRichard

"ABMS" is no longer accepting new specialties. Besides even if they did, there would have to be a fellowship attached to it.

The best way to fight the plastic and derm guys is to start an organization and lobby like they do.

Jeff this site may have to take that role. (if you charge for it.)

03.27 | Unregistered CommenterPMD

Richard

I have struggled with exactly what you you do as well. I really hate to compete with similar business in yellow pages, intenet, mags, newspapaers, whaterver the medium may be for a number of reasons. One is that I dont want to hang my shingle next to the guy that is offering a service that I consider substandard or cheap, so will there be a set of standards that this collective needs to agree upon, that is the hard part. I am in a medspa that has limited direct physician supervision, nurses that perform all injections and photofacials and some laser hair and chem peels, and aesthetician that is allowed to do laser hair and chem peels, no photofacials. We do self impose limits. One nurse is just learning advanced techniques on injectables, the other has been doing these for years, we are very fortunate to have her depth of her experience. What I am trying to say is that we are are no plastic surgeon, we do not compete with them. We are also not the $99 botox place.

What I would hope to see the collective power to do is an effort to increase market share. This takes money, and with money you can buy a clever creative market awareness campaingn that bring the treatments to the masses, and increase lobby efforts. This is real, I had a plastic surg send his daughter who works for a news station into our office to ask me how many units a vial of botox contains. He sits on the states medical board. I am working right now lobbying in our state, a few medspas have seen past their competitive nature to help each other out hire a lobbyist and we are going to fight them. In my spare time, of course.

By the way, this website makes my life easier already in the research we needed. Thanks, WPS or WSP was one of the posters very helpful that gave our effort some good direction. Is there a thread on this already? Should we start one?

DO YOU FELL MY PAIN:

You know, it is really amazing as to the number of med spas that I contacted to help with the minimal cost of lobbying and the vast majority that either gave me lip service (no money) or just stuck their head in the sand. I have even set up a LLC to deposit the funds we receive.

Many of these efforts by the medical community to restrict the use of who can own and operate lasers are political in nature and are not patient safety issues no matter what they state. I have, repeatedly asked for statistics that show that this is a high risk industry. No one has ever responded with anything to back up their claims, period.

Someone has to make sure that any proposed regulations are fair to all parties, not just an elite few.

As screwy as I think a lot of Massachusetts laws are, I do believe they got it right when they involved the medical community, the esthetic community and the consumers to form a committee to propose regulations for this business.

I just wish every state would do this and not allow one community or another to try to monopolize this industry.

By the way, I really appreciate your compliment. I, usually, get just the opposite.

Good luck!!

03.28 | Unregistered CommenterWPS

This industry definitely needs another association where members can receive quality education and network. The board is great but this would be a great addition. It would also be nice if there was a consumer website that could provide info for members in their area that meet particular criteria like actually have a physician involved.

The 2 associations I know of now are pitiful. John Buckingham of Solana medspas is a founding member of the Medical Spa Association. This group is just awful. There are many members who are probably ethical people and don't know who they are dealing with. For those if you who don't know about Buckingham search this site and learn about his criminal background and his other shenanigans.

The Medical Spa Society is a little better. Actually a lot better than Buckingham but still they are a group with a clear agenda.Their objective these days seems to be promoting Smart Lipo as aggresively as possible. I'm not a fan of Smart Lipo but the real problem I have is that an organization that claims to provide unbiased education should do just that.

If there are any organizations I've missed please let me know. The conversations on this board are very stimulating and informative. And sometimes very funny! Keep up the good work. If you start an association with meetings I'd be happy to join.

I'm with Happy Med Spa Owner, I'd really like to see this site become something approaching an association of some sort. Certainly I think that there's a huge amount of value that's yet to be tapped into. I've had the same reservations about the existing groups. The 'Medical Spa Association' is just a front. I'll be among the first to join if someone can get this to happen.

I'm guessing that it won't be Jeff to really start this but I would certainly consider his 'blessing' as a sign that it's on the up and up.

04.20 | Unregistered CommenterDr. Tech

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