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Ep.02: Are You Chasing the Wrong Patients?

Are You Chasing the Wrong Patients?

Are you chasing the wrong patients? Thanks to advancements in technology, everybody is a potential prospective patient for your cosmetic services, but everybody is everywhere so what do you do?

In this episode, Catherine will describe the good and bad of each demographic to help you decide where to put your resources to attract the “right” patients to you. This information is fundamental in establishing an effective marketing plan. Not to be missed!

Are You Chasing the Wrong Patients?

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Hello and welcome to “Beauty and the Biz”, where we talk about the business and marketing side of cosmetic practices. I’m your host, Catherine Maley, author of “Your Aesthetic Practice – What Your Patients are Saying”, as well as consultant to cosmetic practices to get them more patients and more profits.

So, today’s episode is called, “Are you chasing the wrong patients?”. This is really important because as a consultant, what happens is I see the two extremes – I see a cosmetic practice that spends a ton of money on everything – they’re everywhere trying to be everything to everybody, and what happens is they typically burn out because they’re spending so much money and they don’t know what’s working. Then they just assume nothing’s working and then they quit because it’s so expensive that it’s just it’s not worth the money. Or I see the other thing where they just stop it completely and they say, “forget it, I don’t understand marketing, I’m not going to do it anymore. I’m sick of throwing all this money at PPC and not understanding what I’m getting back. I’m not getting the return I want“ so they often stop and the real answer is somewhere in the middle.

So hopefully with this episode I’m going to give you some pointers on not chasing anybody but figuring out who it is you want to market to. So here are the initial challenges. Because of what’s happened in our industry, do you realize every single person is a prospect for one of the services you offer? If you really think about it, because not just that this is still a very new industry – what twenty years ago this was only for the elite or for the celebrities or for the very affluent people (and even then all they got was kind of a funny looking facelift or a rhinoplasty).

But you go forward to now with the technology. The way it is you can do surgical, you can do non-surgical for every body part, so that makes it difficult because now you’re trying to target to everybody, and that’s never a good idea because everybody is everywhere. You are going to run out of time, money, and effort trying to chase everybody because you can’t. There are seven or eight billion people now on the planet. You’re just not going to be able to. So you want to get smarter with this, and also there’s just too much noise out there.

Things changed literally in the last, let’s say three years. As if the internet wasn’t a big enough change, social media is really changing the game because look at all the platforms there are so now you’re trying to figure out, geez do I need to be on all these social media platforms? Do I stick to the old school that I was doing, such as print and TV and radio? Do I do all of it? Do I do none of it? Do I do some of it? It’s tough because all that noise is coming at you because if you’re considering doing this, so is everybody else and now everybody who jumped in the game is everywhere. They’re doing some TV, they’re doing some print, they’re doing social media, and it’s getting very, very noisy out there.

We all know that our email is full. I don’t know if anybody still watches TV (a little bit I guess, maybe more cable TV or Bravo or HBO). It’s just there’s so many channels now of everything that it’s difficult for anybody to even hear you or hear your message.

On top of that, the technology advancements are really changing the game. It used to be

you had to have plastic surgery if you really wanted something transforming your body or face it needed to be surgery. But nowadays, holy cow, there is so much you can do now before you get to surgery. That’s a big issue. A really big issue for plastic surgeons because if you don’t develop that relationship early with your patient with the non-surgical, now you’re going to miss them for the surgical because they will have bonded with somebody else doing the non-surgical. Then they’ll say, well who do you know? Who would you refer to? And then you know you missed the boat unless of course they happen to be referring to you, so technology really changed everything.

So with all of this noise and all of these channels of media, what’s happening is your staff and you are frazzled, and your processes are confusing because you never know what’s coming at you. You’ve got patients calling you (which you want them to call you), but you’ve also got them emailing you, texting you, DMing you, commenting on your Facebook, commenting on Instagram, and you’re trying to keep up with all of this because somehow you need them to become a cash paying patient and that’s a huge challenge.

So here’s my point – cosmetic patients are not created equal. They’re just not. For example, at almost every practice I go to, someone’s got a NeoGraft. I am NOT cutting down NeoGraft, let me just say a hair machine somewhere in that office is hiding in the corner because they were sure that this was a really good idea. I will tell you I have not seen it work very well in almost any practice and I’ll tell you why. Most of you have cosmetic surgery practices, let’s say who are catering to the 85% females that make up this industry, when you all of a sudden start a new marketplace and go after men.

You have to completely retool everything because men don’t buy like women. Men don’t like the same experience that women like. Men also don’t chitchat with each other and spread the word so I struggle with them going after that 15% of the market. I realize it sounds great when that rep shows up and says one male patient is worth fifteen to twenty five thousand and you don’t have to do the work because we’ll call in technicians. I realize that sounds fantastic, however, you get the one you’re so excited and then it fizzles out again. I hear it over and over you never get any drive going, you never get any anything going because it’s a real stop and start. What I would suggest if you do have that machine in your office and it’s sitting around, rather than try to open up a new media channel for you to find men (which costs a fortune because now you’ve got to do PPC and you’ve got to be where men are on the internet and you have to have the right copy for them to actually respond) but if you do have one of those machines, I would at least market to the females in your practice and get them to bring their men in.

I just think that’s the faster, easier way because here’s the issue – men, we all know, and it’s not good or bad it’s just how we are wired, men are very private. They’re quick and they have that huge fight or flight response so they don’t want pain or hassle. It’s got to be they don’t want any fanfare they just want to get in and get out fast. And again, they’re just not sharing with each other. So if you do happen to do a man’s hair, the chances of them passing out referral cards or giving a friend a referral comp card is not good. You’re not going to be able to have events where men come in and talk about their lack of hair. It’s just not an easy road to hoe that’s all I’m saying.

So then we look at the other patient. The younger patient. And this is the new kind of patient who’s super tech savvy and frankly, this is kind of the millennial group that is pretty materialistic, but they’re broke. The irony of that is that they have very weak brand loyalty so they often are also a tough group. It’s not that you don’t want to go after them; I’m just giving you the facts of the characteristics of certain groups so you can decide who you want to go after.

So what a typical millennial younger patient is saying to themselves (or to you) is, “text me your offer and then I’ll see what all my friends (real or fake) say about it on my favorite social media sites.” And that’s about your best chance. So you’ve got to be on Instagram or snapchat and probably not on Facebook as much with this group, definitely Instagram and snapchat are the best, but boy you have to really be on it so they follow you, so they talk about you, and it’s just another way to do it. But they’re also sharing and they really like cheap and fun so everything you put on there has to be entertaining and price cutting and Groupon-ish, LivingSocial-ish. They grew up on that. If you think about it, in today’s world a lot of the millennials, all they go on is price. They really don’t care what kind of credentials you have, they just want to know how much is it, and have you been on TV, or have you done any celebrities. (That’s certainly helpful by the way). But they still don’t have any money, they’re Millennials.

Unless of course it’s the affluent group, but I don’t know if you can live off of affluent Millennials. You could throw so much money at it that you know you’ve got them coming in from all corners and all websites but they’re not going to fly in to get their lips done so I’m struggling with that group as well, because they’ve grown up on that Groupon price cutting mentality with no loyalty so I don’t consider them a long term patient. They will come to you for price, and then they’ll leave you for price. They’re also the biggest no-shows. They’re also a pain in the neck half the time when you’re trying to present to them, they just don’t care about hearing how great you are they just want to know how much it is. And you know what else, they’re usually the first to complain online. So it’s not good or bad, it’s just that group can be a tough group.

Now we go to the middle-aged patient, and frankly I don’t even know what that is anymore. They’re not Millennials, I guess maybe they’re kind of the baby boomers, the youngest ones. Now this is an interesting group because they do have more money to spend, they’ve just been around the planet a lot longer. They’re fairly loyal, they do want convenience and value but they distrust mass advertising. They grew up in the days where it was kind of a close group for the media – there were only those three newspapers, three TV stations. They don’t trust the advertising anymore so this group says to you or to themselves, “I’m going to research what I want and then I’m going to talk to my closest friends to see what they know, and then I’m going to research some more before deciding.” So this group really does love a lot of content. But now look what you have to do to reach this middle age group.

Typcally let’s just say they were the mommy makeover group and they need a breast lift, tummy tuck, and lipo. I personally love this group because you have a lot to work with and they actually chitchat with each other. Moms know moms, they have more financial wherewithal, maybe they’re married. Hopefully they’re married with the kids, the kids are grown or maybe they got divorced and now they have some extra money. But they have a need, a big need because if they’ve had two or three or six kids you know they’re ready for a little body transformation. But since they like content so much they’re gonna read your whole website in detail, they’re gonna read your blog post, they’re gonna study your social proof.

They like loyalty programs, but they really like details, so in this case you could actually (if you like to write, which would be terrific) you could actually be like a visiting writer on mommy blogs and there are tons of them. If you just go online and Google mommy bloggers, you’ll see plenty of them and some of these people, well they have half a million to a million followers. Now granted the issue there is not everybody lives in your town, but number one you’ll get notoriety, you know name recognition, you’ll get some attention, and number two, there is a chance they might fly in.

Maybe or maybe not, but all exposure is good exposure on something like mommy blogs. You can always use that also constantly in your marketing by the way. “I’m a writer for this mommy blog” gives you a lot of credibility now. This group happens to still like Facebook ads, and this is what’s interesting that you may not know – We have tested social media advertising to death and as popular as Instagram and snapchat are, I’ll tell you who the buyers are. The buyers are actually on Facebook. We’ve proven it over and over again, so please don’t ignore this group. They are typically older, but that’s you know, the middle-aged (what I call middle-aged. I wish I were still middle-aged I think). But this group on Facebook ads you might have better luck doing something like offering them a special report. And then you have to know how to do this (and if you need help you let me know) but special reports have worked very well with this group

You also want to give them their before-and-after photos but the way I would do it is strategic. I would actually give them their before-and-after photos (I would literally hand pass them to them during their post-op appointment when they are totally ecstatic) and I would have it be a thank you greeting card, and inside I would have it say thank you for your trust. And then I would have the photos of their before and after and then be sure you put in there a couple referral cards as well as your contact information. What happens is they will hang on to those photos and they are, I promise you, going to share them with at least two or three of their closest friends. I know everybody says oh this is a big secret I’m not going to tell anybody. I guarantee females can’t keep a secret very well. I don’t know any of any of us who can so they’re gonna tell at least some of their closest friends.

In addition to that, this group still likes to go to fun patient events. But you want to make them fun, so things like I’ll tell you what I used to do a lot of events and my best theme was always girl’s night out. It was always regarding drinking, shopping, socializing, leave the kids at home with the husband, come on out and have some fun. You know, “it’s time for you,” that kind of thing worked beautifully so we would have really fun events where the surgeon would be giving many presentations but then when they come back out we would have vendors there for jewelry or massage. It was just a fun thing to do. I also by the way always had a video or some type of computer imaging there. It’s really fun. What I like to do is keep them in the mood of cosmetic rejuvenation – like, “what else can I do? I know you already had a mommy makeover now what can I do? Oh my god I didn’t know fillers to do that and Botox could do that” and on and on.

Now we’ve got the mature patient and frankly I guess I’m one of these now. A mature patient is someone 60 or over and this is the patient that has endless needs. I really like this patient because they’ve just been on the planet longer than anybody else so they’ve got wrinkles, red and brown spots, blotchy skin, crepey skin, sagging body parts, or lots of fat pockets. I mean they really have a lot going on and what I like about them is they’re the most affluent and they’re the most loyal because they did come from the era of a few magazines, a few newspapers and a few TV stations. They actually value personal relationships and frankly in today’s world that’s getting to be a losing art or a missing art so developing relationships with this group is can be quite lucrative. They also value quality and they respect that a lot. They actually respect that you are a board-certified plastic surgeon or that you went to medical school and you did special training and on and on. Like they really think that’s a big deal, they don’t just look at price, they’re looking at the full-blown who are you, do I like you, do you have the credentials that I’m interested in, and I need total renovation so can you help me. That’s a great group so their message would be who do I trust to be the expert and or who do I know who could refer me to someone.

This group really does give offer referrals, they are not the type to just go in and see you once and say “yeah sure let me sign me up for that.” They typically need to build some relationships and they need referrals from their friends, so in this case I would make sure again more content. This group also loves content but they also love heartfelt communications.

If you’re still in a community where you have good postal service and you want to go after this group because it it’s a much bigger ticket item, because they need so much more, they need a facelift a brow lift, lips, neck lift, and on and on so they would be worth some Direct Mail. I would actually just find them in your own current database, send them direct mail such as a heartfelt letter saying we certainly offer an awful lot of cosmetic rejuvenation packages, surgical as well as non-surgical, why don’t you come on in for a full facial rejuvenation consultation and let’s see what we can do. You have to write the letter correctly so you’re not cutting them down. By the way, you know who did this really well, they went out of business, but Lifestyle Lift. They were excellent. When I turned 50 I was obviously they on their list and when you turn 50 they would send you a package and it was the facial rejuvenation package and they included at that point a CD, a booklet, before and after photos, and a complimentary consultation. I mean it was a big deal and at the time I thought, how dare you I’m only 50 I don’t need this (but then needed it five years later). But the point being that was a little early but if you’re going to do a direct mailing piece like that, do it when somebody’s more like sixty. I think you’ll catch them better and then you can also do educational events.

Now in this case, it’s not a fun event. I think this group is much better with educational events where it’s maybe fifteen to twenty five people. It’s in your office (I prefer your office so they get to know you again and again; more face time with them is always better because they need to trust you and see you eye-to-eye) but you can do it also at a restaurant. It’s a bigger deal to do it there but anything you can do to get them in a small (I was gonna say romantic) no just an intimate setting where you’re also doing before and after photos and telling patients stories and it’s always super helpful to have one of those older patients in the audience telling her own story that’s really helpful. So that’s the older patient.

So now you say great, now what do I do with all this information? So here’s what we’re gonna do. I love this saying and I live by this in my own business – “the key to success is not doing more, it’s doing more of what works.” And that is how you stop chasing the wrong patients. So the first thing you do is you follow your successes. You just look at the data – I love data because the answers are always in your numbers. So if you would just look at the data and say who is giving us money currently here’s a really easy way to do it. If you wanted to do it old-school way, you just take a piece of paper or make an excel sheet.

Pick the last 40 to 100 surgeries you did and just look and write down in an excel sheet their name, the referral source (as in where do they come from), which procedure did they want, what were the revenues collected, and then things like age, the zip code, and gender and that list alone will give you a much better feeling for who seems to gravitate towards your practice for what kind of procedure. Please do that, it’ll be very eye opening for you and then I would love for you to tell me what your results are.

I used to run a surgeon’s coaching club and we did this and the surgeons were blown away by the answer. It was never what they thought it was. I’ll just say that now if you do have technology something like next tech and you have figured out how to work the darn thing, you can pull a report called “breakdown revenues by procedures” that’s brilliant because at least that’ll tell you which of your procedures are the most popular, and not just popular, the most profitable. Another thing you want to take a look at is things like how much of my revenue is surgical versus non-surgical.

Now before, revenues (basically like eighty percent of your revenues) were always by the surgeon. Frankly probably more than that, but now that non-surgical has caught on, quite a few of you have nurse injectors and estheticians so you might have lost count of what kind of revenues are coming in. There’s a really good chance half of your revenues are coming from surgical and the other half from non-surgical and you want to know things like that because that’ll help you understand what am I marketing.

For example if it turns out that your procedures you love to do (let’s say micro needling) but then it turns out the room is tied up for 45 minutes it’s still okay but it’s not as a high ticket item as an injectable is. And I’m not saying it’s good or bad, I’m just saying when you know your numbers and it turns out micro needling is a small revenue stream for you, you want to address that.

Here’s what you would do to bump it up. You want to add it into a package so they get several of them and they pay you upfront so it’s a nice big-ticket item. You can also add skincare to it and you can also add PRP to it because that really pumps it up. The last one is you want to pull up, another computer report called “breakdown revenues by referral source” this is another one that will surprise you.

Most of you will say oh no, most of my patients come from the internet, but it’s not true. Whenever I go to a practice and you’ve been around for more than let’s say 15 years, typically your word of mouth is much bigger than you realize it is and I’ll tell you what happens if the staff does not put the right category together and call it word-of-mouth referrals. What happens is sometimes they call it word-of-mouth referrals or they start a new category and they call it family and friends or they have different names for it but let’s just call it relationships. Call it whatever you want but when it gets down to breaking it down you’ve got to get clear about was this a referral of any kind? Did a doctor refer? Did a patient refer? Did a staff person refer? Did an alliance of refer? (Like the Med Spa down the street). You know where did those people come from because the goal is you want to go get more of them because they’ve already proven that they’re good referral sources because they’re referrals have given you money so the whole point of this is follow the money instead of chasing everybody. Only chase the people who actually give you money and go find more of them and their friends.

Okay so I hope that makes sense. I hope you enjoyed this, and if you did please leave me some comments, please share this with your colleagues and staff. Of course I would love for you to subscribe and then of course follow me on Instagram at Catherine Maley, MBA. Okay I hope this was good and I’ll talk to you later.

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Catherine Maley

Catherine is a business/marketing consultant to plastic surgeons. She speaks at medical conferences all over the world on practice building, marketing and the business side of plastic surgery. Get a Free Copy of her popular book, Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying View Author Profile.


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