By Michael A. Fiorillo, MD, Pearl River Plastic Surgery, for eRelevance

Many aesthetic health care practices have misdiagnosed their marketing programs by falsely concluding that they need new patients to increase revenue. This misdiagnosis is bad for the practice’s health because it prescribes batch-and-blast emails, antiquated advertising programs, or overpriced marketing consultants.

It costs an average of $1,000 per customer to acquire new aesthetic patients, meaning that if you want to add 1,000 patients, you have to spend $1 million. Obviously, this is enormously expensive, and the truth is that these new patients only generate an average of 13% of practice revenue. Despite this data, many aesthetic health care professionals are focused on new business. This is the wrong medicine, and it’s not going to cure the ailment of how to increase income and thrive.

It’s time to get a second opinion.

Forty percent of revenue comes from existing patients, and 32% comes from patient referrals. Consequently, aesthetic health care providers should not focus on patient acquisition, but instead look at what they can do to increase the value of existing patients.

While this sounds simple, most practices are stuck in their existing marketing programs. The challenge is that most practices have office staff who lack the time and marketing expertise, trying to develop unsophisticated marketing campaigns that don’t work. You have to rethink your entire approach to marketing if you want to break out of this rut and increase your practice’s revenues.

At our practice, we found the cure for our marketing misdiagnosis by adopting a sophisticated, multichannel approach to marketing without relying on untrained staff or expensive consultants.

In the past, we misdiagnosed our program, too. We incorrectly assumed there was no more revenue available from existing patients and set our efforts on acquiring new ones, which was expensive and unreliable. We also sent batch-and-blast emails to existing patients, which gave us a false sense of marketing adequacy. But in fact, we were spamming our clients by overwhelming them with unnecessary emails, something that could have potentially driven them away. Besides that, the average email open rate is about 20%, meaning that we weren’t reaching 80% of our audience.

So, what was the cure? We created a comprehensive monthly marketing program aimed exclusively at existing patients and focused on the following three elements:

  • Sending relevant offers to existing patients. There is nothing better than a loyal patient who already trusts our practice. Our job is to make sure these people are receiving relevant offers about services that might interest them. Today, we divide our patients into groups so we can send them relevant offers based on their specific needs. By targeting, we avoid annoying our patients with batch-and-blast techniques that only serve to hurt the relationship.
  • Digitally surrounding clients across seven different channels. Sending emails is not enough. We have built out a multi-channel effort that is aimed at generating responses to specific offers. We are reaching more people because we are communicating with them where they are and where they want to hear from us—from social media to texting to a smartphone app.
  • Measuring the actual business impact. By measuring the impact of our campaigns, we can see what is working and what is not, and plan our next communication accordingly. We can track how specific campaigns led to booked appointments, which allows us to focus on the messaging and offers that resonate the most with groups of patients.

Our marketing program is not unlike the before-and-after pictures of our patients. Before, we were spending a lot of money on advertising and not seeing results. After, we’ve cut our advertising budget and are seeing results. Before, we weren’t re-engaging patients enough to get them back into the office. Now, we are generating dozens of hand raisers with every campaign.

This new, sophisticated marketing approach has been a game-changer for our practice. One of our first campaigns, for laser hair removal, resulted in 64 responses, and we received 66 responses to an injections special.

We weren’t measuring actual business results with our campaigns in the past, but now we are measuring the results down to scheduling appointments. Before, we were only reaching 20% of patients because we were email blasting and not doing it well. Now, we are reaching 95% of patients across seven different channels with relevant offers. And finally, we were distracting our staff with marketing work (which they are not trained to do), but now we are enabling our staff to focus on patient care, which is what we actually pay them to do.

Has your practice had a marketing misdiagnosis? If so, it might be time for a second opinion.

Michael A. Fiorillo, MD, is a double board certified cosmetic surgeon renowned worldwide as an authority in the field. He is a distinguished author with numerous publications on plastic surgery including peer-reviewed medical articles, books, and textbooks. Highly respected by his clients and the plastic surgery community, Dr Fiorillo’s expertise has won him the trust of the thousands of patients that have attended his practices in New York and New Jersey since 1998.