Do Your Patients Think You’re Michelangelo? If Not, Read This…

I recently returned from the Aston-Baker Aesthetic Symposium in New York, The Cutting Edge. This event, held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, surpassed all my expectations — which is saying a lot. As one of the few people in the audience who wasn’t a plastic surgeon, I was in awe of the video sessions and the supreme skill of many of the surgeons performing the procedures. A 6-pack of abs being grafted from fat was like watching Michelangelo carve David from a marble block. Which brings me to an important point about your clinical marketing.

How many of your patients truly appreciate your supreme skills? How many seek you out because they know that you’re the best at enhancing their appearance? How many are appreciative of your medical expertise, your dedication to your profession, your considerable knowledge and your expert practice of aesthetic medicine…?

I hope a great deal of your patients — if not all of them — fit into this category. If so, well done! Your clinical marketing is doing a great job! It’s positioned you as the premier physician in your market. The best of the best.

However, the reality is that most aesthetic physicians wind up with… less than appreciative patients. Sometimes as high as 80 percent! These are the people who don’t show up to appointments on time, who cancel at the last minute, who whine and complain about your pricing, who perhaps have unrealistic expectations about results, and who — no matter what you do — always have something negative to say about your staff, your clinic or your services. These are the same people who will flee to social media to voice their unhappiness with you, rather than taking the mature approach of calling or writing an email to you.

So why do some aesthetic physicians manage to attract all the “good” appreciative patients to their practices, while others are left a large number of “problem children”?

The answer may surprise you. It’s not the actual skill of the aesthetic physician in question. It’s the strength of his or her marketing.

I recently met a physician whose name had already preceded him. He is well-known by his peers to be an outstanding practitioner of aesthetic medicine. He’s widely published in academic circles, and considered in the medical world as a leader in his field. But, unfortunately, his bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired (as does the way he treats his staff). His attitude toward marketing his practice is that it’s a “necessary evil” rather than an exceptional tool, that can be used to leap frog his income and grow his reputation. As a result, he’s cheap when it comes to marketing his practice, not only with his money, but with his “give-a-damn”. He only uses digital marketing to attract new patients (in the form of pay-per-click campaigns). His website is cold and clinical. He doesn’t provide patients with any kind of expertly written information to answer their questions and build rapport. He blatantly ignores any negative online reviews that are posted about his practice.

The consequence? His practice is attracting the “problem child” patients — those who surf the internet to self-diagnose their aesthetic treatments, and then go consult-to-consult looking for the highestdiscounts.

There is nothing that will erode your confidence or enthusiasm quicker than treating ungrateful patients.

Simply put, if your marketing isn’t as good as you are — you are letting yourself down and leaving A LOT of money on the table.

So what kinds of marketing should that physician be doing instead?

Let’s do a brief consult on this:

  • As his bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired, he needs to hire a medical practitioner who has a warm, caring bubbly personality to do the initial consult. He should be brought in only at the end, to confirm the treatment options and meet the patient.
  • He needs to treat his staff better. He clearly doesn’t like managing staff (frankly, it’s not my favorite job either). Rearrange responsibilities in the office so that all the staff report directly to one person (who isn’t him), who can manage his expectations and act as a buffer between him and his staff.
  • Do a complete re-branding of his practice. Eliminate the coldly worded cookie-cutter website, and position the practice around his own extraordinary expertise and accomplishments. Tell his back-story to give people an insight into his aesthetic philosophies. Create a physician-centric brand, instead of one that looks and sounds just like his competitors’.
  • Embark on a PR campaign to get his accomplishments covered in local media, as well as a few well-targeted national pieces of media (such as O magazine or Real Simple).
  • Manage and monitor his online reputation. Respond to negative comments and then embark on a damage control PR campaign to “bury” as may of the negative reviews as possible. Run a testimonial competition for his existing patients to get as many great testimonials as possible. Find the patients who do love him, and use their stories to showcase his successes.

That’s more than a good start to get a practice like this turned around and (dare I say it) transformed.

In all likelihood, many (or even most!) of your patients do see you as a kind of Michelangelo! Those are the kind of patients you want to make sure your marketing is bringing in. Remember:

Better marketing attracts better patients.

If you’re not filling your practice with the kinds of patients you love working with, then look at your clinical marketing. Find out what message is attracting those kinds of people, and fix it!