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Ep.22: The 3 M’s of Smart Marketing for Plastic Surgeons

The 3 M’s of Smart Marketing for Plastic Surgeons

In this episode, discover how to:

Identify your core markets and why!

Connect with your target demographics with appealing messages that get through to them!

Choose the marketing channels that will be most effective based on your chosen audience!

…And much, much more!

FREE practice-building content

FREE advice call with Catherine

Episode transcript:

Welcome to “Beauty and the Biz.” Discover how to grow your practice with effective cosmetic patient attraction, conversion and retention advice from author, speaker, trainer and cosmetic practice business and marketing coach, Catherine Maley MBA.

Hello and welcome to “Beauty and the Biz” where we talk about the business and marketing side of the cosmetic practice. 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 “The Three M’s of Smart Marketing for Plastic Surgeons,” and this one came about because I just got back from speaking to the surgeons in San Diego and since I’ve been at this for a really long time, the topic used to be I need more leads. I need a lot more leads and actually what you need our patients, but I need a lot more leads and now the discussion is how do you convert these darn leads. Now, because it’s gotten so wacky out there, that you know converting is an art, in itself so getting a lead is one thing, getting them to say yes and giving you money is quite another. So, I thought I would give you tips and tricks for marketing. So, the three M’s of smart marketing for plastic surgeons, here we go.

You’re going to discover how you spend less but get better results because we all know the challenges are horrendous. The absurd amount of information and competition is really confusing the patient and not just that, all of these different marketing channels have opened up so now the patients have to somehow find your website. So, you have to have a great website. You’ve got to have SEO to make sure or help people find your website. But you know they keep saying, SEO is dead because they want to get the audience that found you organically and you’re not in authority because you’re not ASPS or ASAPS or AACS. You’re not those and those are the authority sites so that’s already a challenge.

So, I mean I can go down the list. I was typing up all the various marketing channels I could think of and I came up with two columns in a matter of minutes. So, I’ll just do it quickly articles, blog, directories, doctor referrals, alliances, fundraisers, billboards, print ads, social media and I mean social media all of those you know, now TikToks popular with little kids and it’ll be the next Instagram down the road, so you have to figure that out. Also, Facebook Ads, press releases, real self, link building, YouTube, practice newsletter, TV ads. radio ads cable ads or PR if you can get it, public speaking, retargeting with banner ads, direct mail, email patient events and I’m sure there are whole bunch more. But because of that we’re all deluged with marketing messages all day. So, the cosmetic patient has too much noise going on in their heads. They can’t even focus for a few minutes on your message, so they have enough time to get to know you, enough to actually connect with you. And then, of course there’s too many technology choices.

Before we didn’t even talk about non-surgical procedures or treatments at a medical surgical conference. We always just talked about surgery and a little bit about marketing and a little bit about business. But now these conferences are full of non-surgical marketing and business because you’ve got to get good at all of this. As if it wasn’t enough to be a surgeon now you have to get good at being a marketer, being an injector, buying all the lasers and all of that and then now we’ve got the generational differences as well because before this was definitely for the older, more mature patient who had not only the need but they also had the financial wherewithal but now we’ve got patients in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s even 80s. So, you’re trying to figure out how do I do this. What do I do to get new patients.

So, here’s what most surgeons do. They’re very much an all-or-nothing is how I have found that to work out. They will get very serious about marketing. Let’s say they come back from the conference; they’ll get very serious. They’ll throw a ton of money at whatever the internet, radio television, PR, all of those things. They’ll use them or they’ll spend the money about two months or three months because it’s expensive and then they’ll say, oh forget it this was too expensive and then they decide to do nothing. So, that kind of all-or-nothing, mentality is going to hurt you because there’s a different approach here. This is my absolutely, favorite saying, “the key to success is not doing more, it’s doing more of what works.” I live by this because I’m a big doer and I used to do, do, do, just because it made me feel better to be busy but was that really profitable.

Well, here’s how you find out. You follow your successes first and what I mean by that is you look at your data and you determine who has given you money because they’ll give you a lot more if you go back to them. So, for example you should be able to pull a report called breakdown revenues by procedures. If you can’t, you need a CRM software program that allows you to have this kind of report because it’s vital to your planning and your growth for your practice. So, when you break it down by procedure that’s a clue of how you’re seen by the public. So, for example if you think you’re the breast aug guy let’s say because those are those are the easy ones we all know that. So, the breasts aug would be great but it turns out you get a lot more revenue from your abdominoplasties. Well that’s really good intel so maybe you say, huh although I spend all my money on breast aug advertising they seem to like tummy tucks so maybe I’ll go there, is the point. Now, if you’re not sure about that or you can’t pull a report at least go to your surgery calendar or your schedule, and just have your staff note the last 40 to 100 surgeries you did and that will determine okay who is on this surgical table, how old were they, male/female, what zip code did they live in and what did they have done and what was the PNL on them.

Another really good report to pull to help you spend less and get better results is break down your revenues by referral source. Now, what happens is these kind of numbers become very anecdotal. You think you know what they are, or your staff thinks they know what it is and so you anecdotally with emotion make these numbers up. You’re much better off taking the emotion out of it and actually letting the numbers tell you what really is happening in your practice. So, for the referral source a lot of you’ll say, oh I got everything from the internet. Well, if you break it down you’ll find out that’s true, but they first heard about you through word of mouth from a girlfriend oftentimes. So, be careful with that to just assume it came from the internet. Quite often it’s very difficult for them to just find your website willy-nilly in today’s crazy Google search world, So, they oftentimes have come from maybe it was your magazines or something or maybe it was your neighboring salon or spa that you don’t even know is a big fan of yours or I mean, quite frankly most of them should be coming from word of mouth or even other doctor referrals. You just don’t know unless you ask, and you document it so you could have reports that pull it out for you.

So, the point is, once you know those things now you budget proportionately to your successes and you drop any other advertising you’re doing that you think is working or you wish it was working but it’s not. I’ll tell you I just was somewhere and I can’t say where but they were throwing a ton of money at the local TV station and I get that because it’s mass advertising and an awful lot of people see it and I’m all for it as long as it shows up in the numbers, the revenues that they came from TV. But sure, enough it turns out hardly any came from TV and those that did never converted just because in this particular geography, and this particular surgeon and this practice TV was not where it was at. It was word of mouth and it was also internet, but he never would have known that had I not pushed for the numbers. So, numbers are really important.

So, here are the three Ms of smart marketing. I did go to school for business and for marketing and we’re taught early on the whole thing about marketing is your market plus your message plus your media equals your success or your failure. So, now we’ll take those three. We’re going to start with the market and when I consult I always ask the doctor who is your preferred patient. If you could have the perfect patient walk through your door who would they be? What happens is it’s difficult to answer that because they oftentimes have a vision, actually they have forgotten who their vision is because you’re just scrambling trying to get patients. So, you haven’t maybe even thought about this, but it really is time to take a breath, sit back and say you know what, who do we want for a patient? Whether it be a patient or maybe it’s a particular procedure that you like because if you do like breast aug and that’s what you want to do all day well then who are the breast aug patients then?

We all know it’s the younger usually and I’m generalizing always, usually it is the girl in her early 20s who just wants boobs you know or it’s a tummy tuck. If you really like tummy tucks then at least you know she’s older, she goes up the food chain a bit which I love because now they’re not in their 20s. Now they are older. They have the financial wherewithal; they have more sense about them. They will care more about who you are and your skill and expertise or maybe you just you live off of eyes. I know a surgeon who for lots of reasons he had to keep an easy schedule so he couldn’t leave his house early in the morning or late at night to handle hematomas and all of that. So, he decided to just stick to an easy [11:02inaudible] in his office with under local and he made a nice living doing that, but he knew that that’s what he wanted to do for his own personal reasons.

So, the beauty of that is well now we know who to go after because you don’t go after the 20 year olds, you go after the 40-plus people but because that’s the first sign of aging. So, do you see how much easier it is once you pick your body parts then that will help you define your market. So, the whole point of this is extreme targeting. Instead of going after everybody which I hear all the time, I just want everybody. Well you’re not going to get everybody in this mass advertising complicated, complex world. There’s a saying, “the riches are in the niches.” So true; think about this a long time ago, 19 years ago I decided that my niche or niche, however you say it. I’m from Chicago so we say niche. My niche was plastic surgeons. If I had said to you I’m a specialist in plastic surgery and dentistry and orthopedics and pediatric surgery and go on and on and on I wouldn’t have made any impact because then I’m not a specialist anymore. Do you see what I mean? People, human beings we want to go to somebody who really knows their stuff and who’s an expert at certain things. So, keep that in mind when you’re doing mass advertising or you’re putting yourself out there it’s really best to pick something that they can get to know you for and then they’ll stay for more as they get to know you more.

So, extreme targeting and that means by age, gender, ethnicity, zip code, income, interests. Now, this is also going to help you save money because now you’re going to choose media and then you’re going to go further and pick the hours that you run your ads because you have a better feeling of who are these people. Are these people who are out partying all night or are they people who are early risers kind of thing. You want to know that when you’re running ads because there’s nothing cheap nowadays about internet advertising.

Now this next step. It’s kind of a stool with the three legs. The first leg was market so you’re going to choose who’s your market or which procedure do you like and then what’s the message for that market. So, for example if you did want to go after let’s say mommy makeovers know what’s your message going to be. Well it’s going to be things like, “Want your pre-baby sexy back,” or “Mommy makeover equals firmer breasts and flatter tummy,” or, “Will a mommy makeover give you back your pre baby figure”  So, do you see how that kind of message really will resonate with a mom who, she’s had a couple kids, she’s losing her figure, used to be real sexy. She used to get the, you know how much you hate being whistled at by the construction workers. Well you hate it even more when they stop. That’s the irony of that. Trust me I know.

So, anyway then let’s go on to like let’s say facial rejuvenation now you’ve got a facelift patient. She’s been looking in the mirror for years and so her message is “Tired of looking old and tired” or “How to turn back the clock and look younger,” or “Go for it, want to look younger?” Yes, she does. So, do you see how important the message is to that market or let’s say you’re doing rhinoplasty and that’s another issue because you’re going to call it rhinoplasty and your patients are going to call it nose job unless they’re sophisticated and now they know what rhino is. In today’s world I think you have to be really drop-dead easy simple. So, I would actually be using the word nose and rhino together if you have to but definitely nose job. So, they’re kind of message would be, “Hate your nose?” or something like, “Get the nose you want not the one you have,” and boy the younger patients are all about photos, before and after photos and those are fantastic but what’s even better our celebrity photos of those who had a rhinoplasty.

The younger generation is so influenced by the media and celebrity status and, you know celebrities just to give you a tip here. It doesn’t have to be Beyoncé. It can be a celebrity in your own neighborhood which is even better and somehow an influencer in your area, so they have a nice following on, Instagram or Snapchat or TikTok and they have a nose job done by you and they document their experience with you and videotape it. Wow, that’s just golden if you can get that.

So, the last leg of the stool is which media are you going to use, and you know what this isn’t that complicated. It is right now because you haven’t done it this way before. But when you’re a marketer you just sit down and you literally say these three things, who’s my market, what’s my message to that market and then where do they go for information? Which medium am I going to use to get to them? So, for example if you decide you do want to go after breast aug, well we know that it’s the younger patient so they’re all about mobile. So, you want to make sure your mobile-friendly on your website then you want to use mobile marketing and now there’s geo-targeting. TI mean, God they’re watching us like hawks nowadays. Our cell phone is telling them everywhere we are.

So, if you just happen to have gone somewhere the geo-targeting knows that and they can retarget you to talk about breast aug. You also want to use things like Instagram and TikTok for the breast aug patient but then if you want to go up the food chain and go to the mommy makeover or the tummy tuck group they are more mature. so they’ll be on Facebook Ads. You know what’s really funny, everybody talks about all these different social media sites, but do you know the one hands down, I mean hands down wins. When it comes time to advertise Facebook is still your best bet for advertising because Instagram is still just a fun thing to look at pictures and Facebook there’s a lot more content and people are willing to stay put a little longer and you can set up a back-end funnel easier. Anyway, so you would also do PPC otherwise known as Google AdWords. You can be special guests on mommy blogs because they like a lot of content. So, that would be the media choices you’re going to use there.

Now, if you wanted facelift patients you could still use the TV and face to face events because the older, more mature patient really likes relationships and trust and I would definitely count on word of mouth. In this case I would almost do direct mail. Not almost, I really would do direct mail because you don’t need them flying in from all over. I know that’s a good ego trip to have them flying in from South Africa but quite frankly the bread and butter will always be around your area so why not start there and see how it goes. But, they’re all about trust and credibility so they need a lot of content, a lot of social proof and a lot of interaction. And then let’s just throw in hair grafting because a lot of you somehow decided that hair grafting was a good hobby to have in your practice that used to be all females and now you’ve got men in there needing hair. It’s not my favorite way to go because now you have to open up a whole new market, a whole new budget, to advertise to men because they’re not going to be where the women are. They’re, going to be on the internet for sure but of course you want to go to like the sports and the business section, so you want to have ads there. Pay-per-click is a good place but it’s very expensive and frankly you have to go after mass advertising because bald-headed men don’t just hang around together and men in general don’t refer and chitchat like women do so it’s going to be a lot more throwing it out there. Throw out a big net and just see if you can find the needles in the haystack. The men who actually are bald and care about it, so they want to do something about it.

But no matter what you do for marketing just make sure you have a really killer system set up. Nobody wants to be advertised to anymore or marketed to so you have to keep it kind of fun, interesting, informative, funny, entertaining but when they click they have got to go to a killer page, and this could be a web page. It could be a separate landing page from your website because you don’t want them moving around, you want them to stay put on this page and whatever you talked about, let’s say you talked about mommy makeovers when they go to this page there better be tons of before-and-after photos of mommy makeovers and especially from different ethnicities or gender or ages because the customer and patient needs to see themselves in these photos. You better have testimonials; video testimonials are way better from other patients who’ve had mommy makeovers who could not be happier. You have to have really great reviews saying this is the pain I was in. I hated my body. My husband was suffering from that because if a woman is not confident with her body there’s not going to be a lot of action going on in the bedroom, that kind of thing. So, other women need to hear other women’s stories and that’s what gets them to stop procrastinating and do something about their own problem.

I would put videos on there. I would put a welcome video on there from you discussing a mommy makeover. Even though you think everybody already understands, like we’re deluged with content. They’ve never heard about a mommy makeover from you and that makes all the difference. So, here’s the crucial part. You have to have a call to action. You can’t just say schedule your consult. That’s too abrupt, I think. There’s too much resistance there because it’s a yes or a no kind of thing. Instead I would have let’s say a gift card for a discounted consult fee because I wouldn’t go free consult because you have a problem with the no-shows. But, I would have a special gift card for a special price for a consult or you offer a free gift at consult or offer them a free report, “Five Things you Must Know about a Mommy Makeover Before you have One,” or some kind of a checklist. Are you a good candidate for a mommy makeover, or you’ll give them an initial quote that you can email or text them.

The whole point is we call it lead magnets in marketing and I’ve done it forever to build my own list. You’ll see I’m constantly giving you free things as long as you give me your name, your email or your cell so I can stay in touch and nurture it. Well, you want to do the same thing. Any patient who’s mildly interested will be a lot more interested and a much better quality lead when they give you their name, their email and their cell. So, now you can stay in touch and nurture those leads. So, the whole point of this podcast is extreme target marketing because you want to be so much more strategic with the market you choose, the message they want to hear and then the media they use to get their information and that’s how you’re going to spend a lot less and get much better results when you’re this focused. So, if you need help with this of course let me know. We can look at your cosmetic patient attraction plan to make sure it’s working for you. So, you can get a hold of me by dm-ing me on Instagram or you can send me a message on my website at

I hope that was useful to you. Please if you haven’t already please subscribe to “Beauty and the Biz” and share me with your colleagues and your staff and of course I look forward to all your comments, questions, feedback, suggestions for future topics. I have to do this every week, so I’m always open for more topics and then if you want to follow me on Instagram it’s catherinemaleymba. Okay that’s it for this time. Talk to you later.

We hope you found valuable insight on this episode of “Beauty and the Biz.” For more episodes tools and Catherine’s free book visit, that’s and be sure to subscribe to get the latest practice building strategies delivered to you and don’t forget to share this “Beauty and the Biz” podcast with your staff and colleagues.

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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.


Beauty and the Biz is for Plastic Surgeons who know they don’t know everything and are open to discovering the pearls to grow and scale a sellable asset when they’re ready to exit.

Listen in as Catherine interviews surgeons who talk about the business and marketing side of plastic surgery and listen to Catherine’s pearls from consulting with plastic surgeons since Year 2000.



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