What Women Want (A Lesson in Clinical Marketing)

One of my marketing mentors, the late Gary Halbert (who was one of the best direct response copywriters of all time), once said that people buy things for two reasons — the first is the reason they’ll tell you, the second is the real reason. Good aesthetic practices pay attention to the needs their patients tell them about. Great aesthetic practices pay attention to a patient’s real unspoken desires.

For example, one of your patients might tell you that she wants a procedure to look younger, eliminate that bump on her nose, or lose the saddle bags. All good, logical reasons. But the real reasons she wants any of these procedures goes straight to our hard-wiring as humans: our need/desire to receive praise from others, to be admired, to feel better about ourselves, to outwardly reflect an inner change (new child, new job, newly wed, newly single…)

That’s why clinical marketing that just itemizes all those minute, detailed facts about this or that procedure completely misses the mark. I was recently talking with a plastic surgeon from Ontario, who was lamenting the fact that many of his new patients have a tendency to “self-diagnose” their cosmetic procedures — expecting him to be some sort of order-taker. “They do all this research on the internet, and they come in and tell me they want blepharoplasty or platysmaplsty. I take one look at them and tell them that’s the last thing that they need!”

The truth is that your patients don’t usually want to know all the technicalities about a procedure. Sometimes too much information can be terrifying to them. What they’re really looking for is a physician they can trust to make the best decisions for them. The important word here is trust. They want to be able to say to their physician: I’m not liking the sagging in my cheeks and the bags under my eyes. How can you help me?

No one walks into your practice wanting a new nose. They walk in wanting to walk out feeling better about themselves than they did when they came in. They want to feel transformed. Now, that’s a lot of expectation to put on one surgeon, but this is where the proper patient selection becomes so important. As you know, some patients will never be happy, no matter what you do. Others are thrilled at even the slightest change (even when you might be thinking to yourself, Really? You’re happy with that?)

It’s also why crafting a total experience for a patient becomes crucial, and why I strongly encourage all our private clients to think outside the box when it comes to providing complimentary services for patients. Proper lessons in makeup application, paired with a couple sessions with a personal stylist, can make all the difference to a facelift patient (who would be merely satisfied with the “regular” service, versus one who could be shouting your praises from the rooftops and telling all her friends). If you choose only to treat the “symptoms” of the patient (the sagging skin, the pockets of fat, the mis-shapen nose), instead of the “whole” patient (the desire to feel transformed), you’re missing out on a Texas-sized marketing opportunity for your practice…