Should cosmetic surgeons change their marketing tactics as the warm months of summer slowly turning into the cold snaps of fall?
Dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Joel Schlessinger M.D., says his practice is particularly seasonal in its approach to marketing.
“Since we have a limited summertime, most individuals plan their cosmetic adventures based on the time of year,” says Dr. Schlessinger, president of Omaha, Neb.-based LovelySkin.com. “For example, our liposuction business swells in the few months leading to swimsuit season (April and May, especially). Then, after September, it trails off greatly until the early spring.”
The cosmetic surgeon says he bases ad placement on the seasonal rhythms of patient demand. But weather changes aren’t the only drivers of cosmetic surgery preferences.
“When it comes to facial treatments, there is a rhythm there… that falls into broad categories, such as weddings, reunions and family gatherings,” he says. “We tend to see significant attention to the face and body during holiday seasons and, particularly, the Christmas holidays. Also, the summer wedding and reunion season is a huge time for our practice.”
Dr. Schlessinger uses not only traditional advertising avenues, such as television, but also social media and an e-newsletter to market treatments. The key is timing. The practice’s return on investment is best, he says, when the promotion coincides with patient intent, or need.
“Without a keen focus on the proper timing, money can be potentially wasted, so this is something that every dermatologist should consider when allocating and timing their ad budgets,” Dr. Schlessinger says.
Bart Zoni at DermWORX believes there’s an opportunity to market key skin care treatments as the seasons change.
“The key to post summer skin care treatment is to effectively deal with the extreme oxidative stress we put our skin through during the summertime. We recommend that our customers, promote resurfacing treatments using a number of different technologies in late September/early October.”
Additionally, he believes in the value of patients using a topical antioxidant cocktail 4 to 8 weeks before treatment to prep and help restore skin. “The benefit of this approach allows time to conduct a secondary pre-holiday treatment which encourages a repeat purchase for practices,” he says.
NEXT: Timing Is Everything
Timing Is Everything
Cosmetic surgery patients often consider two things before scheduling a procedure: recovery time and concealment, says Travis Schneider, a medical practice consultant and the co-founder of the practice growth platform patientpop.com.
“Once summer is in full swing, patients can become more hesitant to… schedule a surgery because they either don't wish to spend part of their summer vacation recovering or can't easily hide temporary marks or swelling,” Schneider says. “As it begins to cool down and people can wear additional layers, it becomes easier to conceal the swelling. And within the U.S. there are a number of holidays and extended weekends that allow patients additional recovery time without the expense of vacation days. These, among other factors, have led to many practices to reporting an increase in new patients during the fall.”
The first step when marketing to prospective patients is to determine which procedures they are most likely to be searching for, according to Schneider. Patients have to avoid the sun after chemical peels, for example, making the summer an inopportune time for the peels, he says.
Interestingly, print ads tend to resonate more with people during the summer months.
“By [summer], patients will have thought immensely about their body image,” Schneider says. “This is the perfect time to visually explain how a procedure can help them in achieving their goals. Print advertising allows for cosmetic practices to present their services in a colorful, prominent manner that will then help patients to visualize the impact a procedure will have on them."
NEXT: Marketing Year Round
Marketing Year Round
While marketing according to the season can generate increased business (and expenses), there are general marketing practices that are important year-round, according to Schneider.
“The first of these is local SEO [search engine optimization]. Over 12,000 people in the U.S. search the term 'cosmetic surgery' each month. Another fifty thousand search the term 'plastic surgery'. And according to Google trends, these terms aren't significantly impacted by seasonality,” Schneider says. “By optimizing a practice's website, getting quality reviews and following best local SEO guidelines, physicians can have a continual flow of new patients.”
Once a practice is ranking in local searches, the second marketing avenue to pursue year-round is dynamic product remarketing, according to Schneider.
“Dynamic product remarketing is where a prospective patient leaves the site without making an appointment and is then served up ads on social media and other websites they visit based off of the procedure they viewed,” he says. “This means that physicians don't need to change the procedure being advertised each season. Instead, ads will be automatically served based on a patient's specific need or interest. By coupling this with local SEO, a practice can both increase the number of potential patients that visit their site and then continue marketing to them in the coming weeks.”
Executive consultant Sandy Roos, cofounder and part owner of Practice Enhancement Specialists, doesn’t think it’s as important to adjust marketing by season as it is to make adjustments based on what worked and didn’t work the prior year. In other words, cosmetic practices should be tracking their marketing results.
“You need to determine who your demographic is and that’s where you need to focus your marketing,” Roos says.
But for those cosmetic practices engaging in seasonal marketing strategies, Roos recommends that they don’t promote treatments for Valentine’s Day the week or days before the big day. Same with Christmas, weddings and other big occasions. Why? You’ll have unhappy patients if they have bruising, swelling or redness on the big day. Rather, advertise and promote treatments at least a month early for optimal healing.