Melbourne, Fla.-based facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon Ross A. Clevens, M.D., says his cosmetic practice hosts two to three patient seminars a month. Generally 50 to 80 people attend each, for a luncheon or dinner gathering at a local restaurant, hotel, country club, bistro or museum.
It may sound like a mighty big investment, but wait — Dr. Clevens reports that an average 40% of attendees book practice consults, and revenues from the patient seminars are 10 to 15 times what they cost.
Dr. Clevens, who presented on the art of the patient seminar earlier this year at the Vegas Cosmetic Surgery and Aesthetic Dermatology (VCS) 2016, tells Cosmetic Surgery Times that patient seminars are an ideal avenue for attracting new patients to the practice and reinforcing relationships with existing patients, who often attend.
There are other benefits, according to Dr. Clevens, who owns Clevens Face and Body Specialists, which has three locations along Florida’s coastline. Among those, patient seminars are an opportunity for guests to have face-to-face experiences with the doctors and staff.
“[The seminars] create a level of comfort and familiarity. People buy relationships,” Dr. Clevens says.
Dr. Clevens says his practice used to host seminars, without asking for the sale (or in the case of cosmetic surgery, the consult).
“Everyone would thank us for a pleasant afternoon or evening, and they’d leave,” Dr. Clevens says. “[Now,] we actually ask for consults.”
At the end of the presentation and toward the end of lunch or dinner, Dr. Clevens says patient care coordinators walk around the room, speak with every attendee and ask if they would like to book a consult.
To keep in touch with all attendees, including those who don’t book at the event, Dr. Clevens’ staff captures each attendee’s name, address, email and a quick survey of cosmetic procedure interests. Then, soon after the seminar, the staff calls everyone who attended, thanking them and asking if they’d like to book a consult, if they haven’t already.
Finally, everybody is added to the email list.
NEXT: Seminar Dos and Don’ts
Seminar Dos and Don’ts
1. Do have a plan. Dr. Clevens says his practice has a detailed algorithm for how to run a seminar — from marketing that begins four weeks prior to the event, to a detailed plan for the event, including needed supplies, assigned roles, seating, etc. It doesn’t end there. The plan also needs to address everything from cleanup to follow-up, with a series of ‘touches’ and phone calls to cultivate prospects.
In fact, Dr. Clevens’ practice has developed a template. The seminars include the two key physician presenters (one on breast and body plastic surgery; the other on facial plastic surgery). The marketing manager emcees the event and patients are on hand to give testimonials during the presentations.
“Sometimes the presentation is an overview of the key procedures in plastic surgery; sometimes, there is a focus on a particular procedure or technology,” he says.
2. Do proper marketing for the events to ensure adequate attendance.
“Market through multiple venues,” Dr. Clevens says.
Those venues include email, print media, postcards in the office for patients to see, asking phone callers to attend, collaborating with business partners to increase attendance — even partnering with a business at the event to encourage their customer base to attend. Some examples, are financial planning businesses, women’s boutiques or golf shops.
3. Don’t hold seminars that compete with other big local or national events.
“It’s tough to hold these seminars during the Christmas season when people busy. You might want to hold one, instead, during early December. You don’t want to have an event on Super Bowl Sunday, on Election Day or during presidential debates,” Dr. Clevens says. “We scour the list of events in our community and make sure there isn’t a charitable event going on that day.”
4. Don’t cut corners. Dr. Clevens and his staff book the events at upscale places.
“You’re dealing with a population that has a certain level of expectation,” he says. “At my practice, we’re dealing with a lot of patients who are having major cosmetic surgery, and so the dining experience must exceed their expectations.”
5. Don’t put all your marketing eggs in the seminar basket. As active as Dr. Clevens’ seminar schedule is, patient seminars do not make up the biggest part of his marketing budget. Internet marketing activities, including website management, search engine optimization, Pay per Click and more, have that distinction.
Each marketing strategy is like a spoke on a wheel, and they work together to drive patients to the practice. The seminars are closely tied to what the practice does on social media, and are promoted on the practice’s websites, Facebook page, Twitter and more, he says.