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Ep.69: Differentiate or Die

How would your patients describe you to their family and friends?
What adjectives would best describe the type of service provider you are?

Differentiating yourself from the pack will help you grow your practice, increase your revenues, maintain your fair share of the market, attract better patients and beat your competition.

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Beauty and the Biz

Ep.69: Differentiate or Die

Catherine Maley, MBA: Hello and welcome to Beauty and the Biz where we talk about the business and marketing side of plastic surgery. I’m your host, Catherine Maley, author of Your Aesthetic Practice and consultant to plastic surgeons to get them more patients and more profit. So today we’re going to talk about– It’s called Differentiate or Die. How’s that for a title? Actually, it’s not my title. It’s a title of a book. And it’s a popular book on advertising. And it’s talking about whenever there’s an abundance of choice flooding the marketplace and bombarding consumers. You need to stand out to survive differentiating yourself from the pack, it’s going to help you grow your practice, increase your revenues, maintain your fair share of the market, attract better patients and beat your competition. So, this is a super important topic. But then the question is, how do we differentiate? I highly recommend you start by answering this question. Why you? How would your patients describe you to their family and friends? What adjectives would best describe the type of service provider you are? What makes you stand out from all other surgeons? Now, if you’re struggling with this question, survey your patients, they’ll tell you ask them directly or through an anonymous communication, why they chose you over your competitors. That is such great Intel, you can mail a survey to them and have them return it anonymously using a postage paid envelope. You can even email them a survey using Survey Monkey. And or you can even hand them a survey when they’re leaving your practice. Since their experience with you will be fresh. However, you do it here are some survey questions that are very pivotal in getting the kind of information you’re looking for. ask things like, what do you like most about coming here? What do you like least about coming here? On a scale of one to five being the five being the best? How would you rate the staff? On a scale of one to five being the best, how would you rate me as a surgeon? What’s one thing we could have done better? Have you gone to anyone else for the same treatment you get here? And if so, how do we compare? Also, would you refer your friends and family to us? Why or why not? Love that.

Now here’s the important step. Once they’ve told you why they choose you, capitalize on that vital information. So, if they say You’re the best, because you spend so much one on one time with them, and you really get to know them. Be sure that’s highlighted in the initial telephone call and in your external marketing messages. Or if they say you’re the gentlest injector know that in all your communications, these are hot buttons for many prospective patients, and they should be highlighted. Now another great exercise is to have a team meeting without you the surgeon there. And have your team brainstorm these two questions. One, why we love Dr. Smith, and two, why patients would love Dr. Smith. Now here’s another idea to help you gather Intel, have your patient coordinator Be on the lookout for prospective patients who tell her they’ve been on several consultations. And they’ve researched a lot of surgeons in the area, get their input on what they like or didn’t like about other surgeons they visited. And that will help you differentiate, because then you can tweak your processes accordingly. And there’s so many factors that can pull you away from the fray. Here are several to consider. Of course, if you’re board certified, you should mention that but you’ve got to explain what that means. It’s important your patients understand you went through rigorous training and testing to be board certified in your specialty, while others might have gone through just a simple weekend course. And now here, here’s a list of a whole bunch more, you went to a top medical school, you did your fellowship with a very well-known surgeon, you conducted case studies, you co-authored white papers and clinical trials, you’ve had special training at a well-known teaching hospital or university, you’ve performed X number of procedures. And if it’s not that many, let’s say you’re still kind of new, because I normally would have split each procedure up, I would have said Oh, you’ve done 2200 Press dogs. But let’s say if you’re new just count up all the surgeries you’ve done, because nobody ever wants to be number three, they want to be number 3003.

Also, you train other surgeons on your innovative techniques. And I’m using that word innovative for a reason. If other surgeons turn to you to watch, you do something like that you’ve put a spin on something that’s a pretty big deal. You sit on advisory boards, you’ve been in practice so many years, and the list goes on, you’re a specialist in a certain procedure, you were the first to get advanced technology in your area, you have an incredibly exceptional facility with breathtaking views, or waterfalls, or hotel accommodations. You offer superior results. And it really shows in your before and after photos, you offer a wild patient experience and explain what that means. via video, you offer tons of convenience or privacy or accessibility. You personally call patients the night after their or the night of their surgery or procedure to make sure they’re okay. Your waiting times are short, or your no waiting has a guarantee on it. You remember patient names and details like they were family, you offer exceptionally friendly, professional and courteous staff. And boy, I sure hope that’s true, your staff is representing you, I really hope you’ve got the right people there, you know, surrounding you. Here’s some more you ensure a painless treatment or procedure somehow you offer rapid recovery solutions. You’re well known around your community, you’re from the town you practice in your active or even you’ve been the president or past president of your professional medical society, you’ve got additional training in art, or sculpting or something creative. So once you’ve completed your own list, please review this regularly with your staff, because they need to be prepped on your credentials. And they’ve got to be reminded who they’re representing, as well as the vital role they play in getting your practice to stand out. So, differentiating means defining who your perfect target market is, and then catering to them and their interests better than everyone else. So, it’s determining what’s most important to that patient group and giving it to them consistently. Because your patients learn to trust your brand and expect the same experience and result every time. So as long as they get that they’re going to trust you and that you’re going to give it to them, then they’re going to tell their friends, and then they’ll be less apt to wander off to check out your competition. So, you can also differentiate yourself through affinity, which is treating those who can afford the best. But if you’re going to do that, you’re going to charge five times more than your competitors. But then you’re also going to have five-star customer service, and seriously exceptionally great results. So, it’s your reputation and delivering on a promise. It’s not being everything to everybody, but rather the absolute best to a chosen group, then you and your staff consistently promote those services as your personal brand. So be sure those unique points are integrated into every aspect of the patient experience, including your signage, your patient, welcome package, your advertising, your PR, your on-hold messaging, your scripts, when answering the phone and every other detail that you can also use. Here’s the things you can use quality, service, or price as a standout feature. Of course, you can’t have all three, so you have to pick one. Or you can be first in the marketplace to offer a new procedure. Or you can even put a spin on an existing procedure and put your name on it and market it as your signature procedure. And I just made this up on the fly. But what do you think about this? You could have Dr. Smith, all in one mommy makeover package. And you’d include surgery plus recovery plus daycare. Hmm, that’s cute. Actually, I came up with that because I do that search, the converting club where I work with coordinators, and one particular coordinator. She wasn’t getting any objection, other than a whole slew of, but I don’t know what I’m gonna do with the kids. So, I said, you know what, in your case, it doesn’t seem like price is the problem. It’s daycare. So why don’t you figure out some kind of a service that can watch the kids during the day, you know, while they’re recuperating or while their husband’s away. I thought that was a great idea. Anyway, let’s talk about connecting with patients. I truly believe building relationships with your patients is one of your biggest differentiators. So, when you connect with a cosmetic patient emotionally, you really do have a friend for life. And we all know the Maya Angelou thing. They may not remember what you showed them. They may not remember what you told them, but they will always remember how you made them feel capacitors. So Have friendlier and Kinder staff, then you’re calm, and then your competition. Since the patient spends more time with your staff than with you, please be sure you have the greatest staff representing you.

Now, when it comes to outside marketing, you need to grab attention of stranger internet patients, which is no easy feat. So, you need an updated high-end website with excellent SEO. So, you pop up in search results, then you want to add videos of you, your staff, your office and your patients raving about you and their results. And if these prospective patients are shopping around on the internet, they visited several websites. So, yours is going to stand out with all these videos and all this interaction going on. And they’ll feel as if they already know you, if you give them all these video visuals. Now, of course PR is a great differentiator. And it used to be huge before but now that the media is so segmented, it’s still great if you can get it but it’s not like it used to be. But still, it’ll help you stand out a lot as the expert when you’re being interviewed for your local or national publications or radio stations or TV stations. And it’s also nice to put all that on your website, and you know mark it as seen in and then use their logos, that means it is still very impressive. It’s more likely to happen though if you retain a PR agency. And that can be costly because they want retainers and the retainers are typically Gosh, anywhere between five to 20 grand a month, depending on where you live. And you probably want to use those because they are more likely to be able to get you exposure, then you’re going to be able to get on your own. Or you can skip the traditional mass media PR outlets and look on the internet for popular YouTube shows or podcasts and or influencers who have huge numbers of followers, you would then reach out to them, follow them, interview them, do procedures on them, videotape your consultation with them, and then their cosmetic rejuvenation journey. Um, there’s a lot more to that. But it’s just if you want to do that, you certainly can if you’ve got the interest in it. Now, another way to stand out is to focus on one procedure. Now this will be counterintuitive, since you do all sorts of procedures for all sorts of different patients. However, when you externally market one particular procedure or pain point, you attract prospective patients who want that procedure or who have that particular pain point.

Now, if you could handpick the patients who visit your office, what would they look like? I mean, what would be their age, gender, social, economic status, geographic area, interest, ethnicity, and so on. Now ask yourself, what are they most interested in when it comes to aesthetic services? Is it price, or the procedure or technology or innovation or expertise, or credibility, or status or convenience, or quality or something else? So, for example, you decide you’re going to be the high-end plastic surgeon in your area that’s committed to quality surgical procedures, five star customer service, and you charge the highest prices in town. So basically, you’re going quality versus quantity. Or you decide to cater to the mass middle market who wants a great deal. So now you focus on quantity versus quality. Now, those are two very different approaches that need to be marketed very differently. And by the way, one is not better than the other. You just have to cater to your own personality, what makes more sense for you. Just be sure your branding or your look and feel get your message across. So, your prospective patients understand your values, your philosophy and your positioning. And here are my last thoughts on standing out and differentiating, be extraordinary. The way to stand out from the average plastic surgeon is to be above average. There’s ordinary and then there’s extraordinary, which by the way is extra ordinary. To get to extraordinary, you’d be doing have more than your competitors be doing have. I mean that’s the truth and there’s really no secret to it. So, I’ve worked with the top plastic surgeons all over the world. And here’s what I know. The surgeons who are extraordinary, they might make it look easy. And you may believe they just got lucky. But my experience has shown they’re seriously working at it. They mark it more by writing more speaking more, participating more, they advertise more. They spend more on PR more on internet marketing more in SEO more on website design. They surround themselves and paid highly for a team that helps them grow. They focus on their numbers and they make changes as needed. They constantly learn growing, adapt to the changing marketplace, and they’re driven to be better than their competitors. I mean, that is seriously it. So, I hope that makes sense. And that is it for this episode. I sure hope you got a lot out of that. And if you did, I’d love for you to subscribe to Beauty and the Biz. And a five-star review would be terrific and appreciated. And if you’ve got any feedback or questions for me, just feel free to leave me a message at my website or you can certainly DM me on Instagram at catherinemaleymba. Thanks so much and I will talk to you soon. Bye bye.

Picture of Catherine Maley

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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