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Medical Spa Marketing: The Rise Of The "Social Shoppers"

How active are you in attracting new patients through your social networks?

The growth in the online ad market is undeniable. Double digit gains of over 20% for 2011 were seen and 2012 will likely follow suit. This mega trend in marketing has changed our marketing strategies in our practice as well as how consumers are choosing their cosmetic provider. I have seen many mature practices where 60% or more of their patients come from internet sources. I have several colleagues who currently grow their practice through web related activities or word of mouth referrals exclusively.

Patients seeking cosmetic services have evolved their research methodology considerably from simple web site searches a few years ago to a search that is much more comprehensive. Patients want much more information about their providers outside of a curriculum vitae and a smiling photo. Three years ago, outstanding patient result photos were enough (btw, most practitioners fail to remove outdated photos or marginal results). In the age of social media, I refer to a certain group of internet savvy patients as “Social Shoppers”. This means that essentially if they don't have a best friend that has personally experienced your practice, then they need to perform enough research to feel like they know your practice personally. An outstanding website with great results is a large portion of the picture, but patients want unbiased affirmation that you have the expertise and track record of results for their particular procedure of interest. In our practice, we have always emphasized specialization and core expertise. By only performing certain types of procedures and literally refusing potential patients, we have grown our practice in core areas and augmented our expertise. There are reams of data to support better outcomes when people focus on certain tasks repetitively. Variety is the spice of life but repetition is the sugar!

A task list to satisfy “social shoppers” 

  1. Encourage your patients to review you online. You have great results and there should be evidence of this online for your patients to see.
  2. Actively blog about topics relevant to your core expertise and interest area. Focus on being an expert in your community and region.
  3. Become involved in social media cosmetic services forums
  4. Find your voice. As your writing volume increases, you will find a voice that demonstrates your expertise, attention to detail, and empathy. 

Reader Comments (2)

I think that you're preaching to the choir on this one (at least a little) since we're obviously all using and involved in a social network that 's much more sophisticated than posting endless links on a Facebook page that no one reads. That being said, I certainly agree with you that the internet and social connections are not only key to a heal thy practice, but that in the next five years the may be the only way that most clinics are promoting at all. I think that many if not most physicians now understand this and are actively looking for 'how' to use the internet most effectively and with the greatest ROI for their time. I for one am busy and don't want to waste my time competing with hundreds of other doctors on Realself when there are much better uses of my time that promote 'me' instead of 'us'. (BTW, although you and I might be able to post on Realself, there are many docs who can't since they've restricted access to boarded plastics and derms, effectively eliminating what is probably the majority of docs performing cosmetics if you include tech and nonsurgical treatments.)

I would like to find the solution and I don't know if I have it yet, but I'm learning. There's always a learning curve and for myself I want to make smart decisions that allow me to focus my effort on a few areas where I can realize some benefits sooner and gain some real expertise. I don't mind spending time, I just don't want that time to be wasted and I think that jumping in a pool where there are already thousands of other docs that have a huge head start is probably not the most productive use of time. (Sorry for the rambling.)

06.18 | Unregistered CommenterShaw MD

I stopped using Yellowpages and the local magazines five years ago and haven't looked back. I've tried radio, TV, print, coupon books, and most of the rest of 'traditional' advertising/marketing. What has worked the best is: patient referrals of all kinds (personal and online), our business to business programs, and internal marketing to our existing patients (kind of referral marketing as well). It may be possible to use these types of advertising since I would guess that the number of people using them is dropping, but they certainly didn't work for me.

06.18 | Unregistered CommenterDermgal

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