The holiday season, from around the time of Thanksgiving to just after the New Year, is rich with opportunity for cosmetic practices with a plan.
We asked marketing guru Nina Grant, vice president and agency managing director, at Practice Builders, an Irvine, Calif.-based healthcare practice marketing firm and ad agency, to offer Cosmetic Surgery Times’ readers a turn-key plan for September (yep, this month), October, November, December and January.
The time to start holiday marketing is now, with a calendar of promotions geared toward helping people achieve their cosmetic goals before the big parties, gatherings, galas, family reunions and holiday dinners.
Think about the services and procedures you plan to promote. There’s still time for a facelift in September, perhaps, but not in November. November might be more a time for fillers — something that doesn’t have downtime but makes an impact.
There’s your tip: Space out monthly promotions leading up to the holidays according to recovery time, Grant says.
But before you can choose the specific things you’ll market, the practice needs to understand its patient base.
“Practices need to have a very good understanding of who their patient base is, who the community is, and how they can broach patients’ needs whether it’s a tweak or more a makeover,” Grant says.
A practice can’t be all things to all people. Rather, practices should identify five or six gateways in which they’re strong. One might be mommy makeovers. Another minimally invasive body sculpting. For a facial plastic practice, it might be facelifts and facelift alternatives.
The idea is to identify those things that make the practice successful and create messages to reach those demographics.
“Then drill down to where do these women live and breathe in the community.” Grant offers these 5 steps to help you do it successfully.
Step 1. Let the Marketing Begin
Grant says she believes in planning to reach all the influencers, starting with the current patient base, or internal marketing.
In fact, Grant’s first tip doesn’t have to cost practices a dime but can have a big impact on fueling new business with the captive audience standing at your front desk.
“The patient base is going to be impacted by all the different ways you’re already communicating with them. That includes the front-desk staff when the patient is greeted. They can have standard scripting and can very readily start talking about the holiday season,” Grant says.
For example, front desk staff might say, “The holidays are going to be here before you know it. Have you thought about any care that you or your friends would like to receive? Here are some September specials.”
To make that involvement even sweeter, consider incentivizing staff with a bonus system for front desk leads that result in consults. The system should be based on a team approach, so people don’t accost patients in effort to win any competitions. And the front desk staff probably shouldn’t be held responsible for closes.
Finally, have a printed or online calendar of monthly specials that your staff hands or sends to patients along with their paperwork. You can brand the campaign “countdown to 2017” or calendar of beauty, according to Grant.
Another internal marketing tactic, is to have the messages of the month for on-hold callers. Of course, you don’t want people waiting on hold for too long, but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate key promotional messages for the month. (Remember to change the on-hold messaging, along with changes in the rest of your marketing.)
Rotating monthly posters that send the practice’s messaging are fairly inexpensive. Consider hanging those in the reception area, treatment rooms — wherever patients might travel through the office.
If you have an e-newsletter, reflect those messages in the corresponding news to patients.
“All those things should reflect the same messages,” Grant says. “Reiterate and reiterate because people don’t learn any one way. In marketing 101, it’s always layered marketing.”
Step 2. Professional Alliances
Whether yours is a practice in Manhattan or rural America, seek out professional alliances — like-minded businesses that don’t compete but reach the same demographic. That could include nail or beauty salons or cosmetic counters at local department stores. Get your messaging in the form of a postcard, for example, in the hands of the people who work there. And offer them incentive to help tell your practice’s story for that month. You might offer the team at a beauty salon 50% off Botox for leads.
Garnering professional referrals (which usually requires networking) isn’t a favorite among aesthetic physicians, but it’s important, Grant says. Cosmetic dentists, noncompeting dermatologists and OB/GYNs are generally good places to start. Let them know about your monthly calendar of specials. If the doctor doesn’t like to do this, the practice should consider having a rep in the field to connect with the local medical community.
The holidays are about giving. Seek out local charities and charitable functions. Consider donating services or products. Or make the announcement that in September, for example, a percentage of your business will go to a local charity.
Make yourself available to present at group and organization meetings. There are all kinds of groups that ramp up their activities during the holidays, including women’s groups. Find out who they are, where they are and what they do.
Have your own monthly seminars at the practice, inviting the public, and offering education, live demonstrations and more on what you’re promoting for the month. Grant suggests a healthy happy hour (with healthy nonalcoholic drinking options) the third Thursday of every month. Make it a happening for the community. During the holidays, you could team up with a local dietician or nutritionist who’ll offer healthy ideas for holiday appetizers.
Step 3. Traditional Marketing
Yes, there’s still a place for radio, TV and print media. If a practice has been using radio ads, for example, and they’ve worked, carry on, Grant says. But don’t venture into the expensive traditional advertising arena unless you’re prepared to be in it for the long haul. It takes weeks — even months — to make an impact.
Public relations, on the other hand, isn’t necessarily expensive, if you do it in house.
“Frankly, it’s not that hard to contact the local health news reporter for ABC or NBC [or other local media] and talk about something new that you’re doing. Then, if you appear on television, pop the video on your website for credibility,” Grant says.
Step 4. Digital is the Diva
The basics of digital marketing should be the foundation of any marketing program — at any time during the year. Elements for a well-rounded digital campaign include “a really buttoned-up website and topical social media, videos and systems for building online reviews,” Grant says. “Then, you’ll take that same [monthly] messaging and blanket your website. You’ll Tweet; you’ll Facebook post. RealSelf, that’s always a good venue,” Grant says.
In essence, get your messaging down; then send it through every one of these layers.
Step 5. Think Logically, Not Holiday ‘Crazy’
There’s a lot of marketing “noise” out there around the holidays, according to Grant. Chances are your competitors are among those vying for attention.
Make your campaign through these months and every month consistent — even gracious.
For example, Grant and colleagues at Practice Builders recommend that client practices have a Thanksgiving gift to their patients. It has to come from the heart, but the message is something like: ‘We wouldn’t be in business if it weren’t for the accolades of our patients, trusting us all these years.”
Then, you break the clutter, or noise, with a nice Thanksgiving gift,” Grant says.
The messaging will continue post-holidays, when people tend to be guilt-ridden about their seasonal indulgences. So, chances are good that January will focus on resolutions and the “new you.” Change your messaging to reflect those needs to your target patients and carry on, according to Grant.
And the layered marketing approach keeps going.
According to Grant, there’s seasonality of uptake in every form of healthcare. You really want to market during those heavy seasons, to have enough overflow so you can push those patients into the lighter season who really want to have a facelift or do lipo but didn’t want to disrupt their holiday plans.
The expert marketer adds, tips, messages, investment and planning aside, don’t forget to have fun with your marketing.