By Andrew Rosenthal, MD
Consulting and treating patients, managing workflow in your plastic surgery practice, and putting out “fires” as challenges flare up in your office can lead to long, busy days. Too many tasks that need to be addressed right away can mean little time for long-term planning, including marketing your practice effectively to new and existing patients.
However, making the time for marketing can be essential to the long-term vitality of your business. So, how can you promote your practice in a meaningful and efficient way?
The following tips are based on my personal experience, as well as the experiences of my colleagues in plastic surgery. We all face similar challenges, and these moves will help you relay your message about new services and products to patients.
Show Your Plastic Surgery Practice’s Strengths
When I finished training 19 years ago, we were told the way to be successful was just to follow the three As: Be affable, able, and available. Today, that’s insufficient. There was a time when it was considered heresy for a plastic surgery practice to have a website. But times have changed, and your site now serves as your first impression.
Think of your landing page as your practice’s curb appeal. It needs to be well-designed and easy to navigate. Obviously, you need to have basic information about your location, hours, and services, and before and after photos of your work. But that website has significant utility, which people often ignore. You need to nurture it with blog and social media posts, links to patient reviews, frequently asked questions, and more. Don’t just let it sit.
Keep It Professional
Always promote your practice ethically. Some plastic surgeons’ marketing campaigns get close to being unethical or unprofessional, including the photos they promote or videos they share to social media. If done correctly, social media offers numerous ways to keep your name on patients’ minds. The biggest thing to avoid is inappropriate use—don’t post “partying” photos on social media. A good rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t want your grandma to see it, don’t post it.
Be honest with yourself and your patients about what you do well. It’s about finding your value proposition, really promoting yourself, and never falling into the trap of badmouthing other practices. Remain genuine and true to yourself. If you’re trying to be someone you’re not in the services you offer, patients will pick up on that. You could end up not only unsuccessful, but unhappy as well.
And trying to market on price is a losing proposition. It suggests you don’t value what you do, particularly as a board-certified plastic surgeon. You want to be confident about what you’re doing, promote it, and charge a fair price. Don’t haggle. Price is like the truth—if you stick to it, you will never have to remember what you said (or quoted a prospective patient’s friend).
Keep Multiple Audiences in Mind
Although marketing campaigns often focus on bringing new patients into your plastic surgery practice, marketing to your existing patient base has a much lower cost of acquisition. Many practices don’t emphasize marketing to the patients they already have. Social media reaches current patients well because they’re already connected with the practice.
A website should be tailored to referring physicians as well, particularly in reconstructive practices. Referrals can account for a large portion of a plastic surgery practice’s business, so some professional-level marketing is warranted as well.
Think Digitally First for Your Plastic Surgery Practice
Know your options for marketing your practice—digital advertising, email, direct mail, etc.—but don’t try to do everything at once. Remember: You can’t “boil the ocean.” So how do you choose among the many options in an intelligent way?
A multipronged approach can work well. Multiple interactions with a brand can amplify the message. Some people learn about services through social media, digital ads, a friend’s recommendation and more, before they seek care from a specific practice.
Digital outreach is essential. But if the day-to-day challenges of running a successful plastic surgery practice mean little time for developing an effective campaign, you don’t have to go it alone. Consider outsourcing the marketing to a vendor with expertise and experience in this area. At ModMed, for example, we offer a service called AMP that can help create or optimize a website, build your digital marketing presence, handle reputation management, and open an e-store so a practice can sell products in a convenient way directly to patients.
Andrew Rosenthal, MD, is medical director of plastic surgery at ModMed in Boca Raton, Fla., and a board-certified plastic surgeon.