When actress-turned-health-advocate Suzanne Somers started talking about her “stem cell facelifts,” people listened. Consumers quickly adopted the term and began researching the procedure online.
A search on Google yields more than 400,000 results for this term, including listings for videos, images, and surgeon Web sites.
But what is a stem cell facelift? Does such a thing even exist?
There is no clear or uniform definition for a stem cell facelift. Harvesting fat and then reinjecting it back into the face is not a facelift per se. Facelifts by definition involve surgery. While adipose tissue does contain stem cells, and certain fat-processing techniques may yield higher concentrations of such adult stem cells, there are no guarantees.
Regenerative medicine is pushing the boundaries of science, and thanks to the 24/7 spin cycle, terms and techniques that may not be ready for prime time are becoming part of your prospective patients’ vernacular.
And therein lies the dilemma for both anti-aging doctors and marketing professionals. Do you or don’t you capitalize on these trends? And if you do, how do you do so in an ethical and responsible manner?
It’s a balancing act—and a delicate one at that.
ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY
Some practices monitor the news, set Google Alerts, and immediately fire off marketing copy to capture new patients based on trending items such as stem cell facelifts. They’ll add pages to their Web sites loaded with keywords and launch e-mail blasts touting the new procedure. While this strategy can allow practices to take advantage of the latest buzz, it can also backfire. Media are quick to embrace a new trend, but are just as quick to launch a second-day investigative piece discrediting it. Such hit-and-run media coverage can wreak havoc on your marketing efforts if you don’t tread carefully.
Does this mean that you should steer clear of anything new? Not at all.
Buzz words can be used effectively in your marketing campaign. The term “mommy makeover” is a perfect example of how a trendy term turned into marketing gold. Consumers began searching online for mommy makeover, and now Web sites and blog posts that rank for mommy makeover-related terms have the potential to attract people interested in these high-value surgeries.
But most buzz words don’t have such a happy ending. “Lipodissolve” is a cautionary tale. This fat-melting technology initially showed promise and quickly became a media darling, but that didn’t last and the procedure soon fell under intense FDA scrutiny. Some Web sites that rank well for this term are now attracting the wrong kind of attention.
RIDE THE BUZZ
The best way to handle new procedures or trends is to dip your feet in the water by blogging about them first. For example, by posting about Suzanne Somers discussing her experience with the stem cell facelift, you can ride the buzz without getting swept up by the tide.
The blog post should include the key terminology, but focus on the procedure as a news item, not a proven treatment you are offering in your practice. This approach allows you to gain traction on the search engines without directly promoting an unproven procedure. If bad news subsequently appears about the new technology, another blog post can easily be added to update your “news” item.
Once a new technology or procedure becomes more evidence-based and embraced, add the information to your Web site and begin to position your practice as a leader. If done properly, your previous blog post should already rank on the search engines. Update the blog post with new information, indicating that you now offer the procedure. This strategy is a win-win-win. You are covering the latest news, obtaining visibility for your practice, and behaving responsibly.
David Evans, PhD, MBA, is the CEO of Ceatus Media Group, based in San Diego. A recognized authority on Internet medical marketing strategies, Evans has spoken at meetings of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, and American Society of Plastic Surgeons, among others. He can be reached at or (858) 454-5505.