Most professionals, including plastic surgeons, seem to deliberately create bland, whitewashed communications when they market their practices. They look at what everyone else is doing or saying on websites, in newsletters, in invitations and other collateral, and try to stay within that bandwidth.

This is odd behavior when you consider that the purpose of marketing is to stand out in the clutter.

As a relationship marketing specialist, I always advise clients to think of the people they’re marketing to as friends, and address them accordingly. Sure, they have to put their credentials and training out there. They have to show they’re up to the task they’re being hired for but once that’s established, it’s OK to go easy on the professional demeanor.

What works when communicating with friends?

• Sharing what you really see and feel

• Being opinionated (a.k.a “interesting”)

• Warmth

• Honesty

You can tell when people you meet socially are just parroting books, TV pundits, or preachers and likely avoid them like the plague. Don’t you feel more drawn to authentic people? The same filtering process goes on when people browse websites.

Compare these two “Our Philosophy” paragraphs from two different websites.

Example #1:

“Dr. John Smith’s meticulous skill and attention to detail have received praise from his patients. He has extensive experience in performing many advanced procedures for the body, breast and face. He understands your wish for a natural result.During your consultation he will educate you and explain all the options for each procedure. He wants to help with this very important decision.”

Example #2:

“Dr. John Smith is an oil painter and sculptor who practices medicine as a science and an art. He understands how personal aesthetic perceptionsare, and fully explores your wishes and dreams during your consultation. His respect for his patients’ individuality includes taking into account ethnic ideals of beauty that may depart from the mainstream, thus assuring the most appropriate results.”

I don’t know about you, but if I had to choose between these two surgeons I’d definitely go with Smith #2.

If you take the “corporate voice” out of your communications and let yourself get real, two (really good) things will happen:

1. People will feel like they know you.

From a sales perspective, that’s really valuable. It lessens the perceived risk and helps them feel like they can trust you. Lack of trust is the No. 1 barrier to booking a surgery. Just by letting your real, unique self emerge when you communicate you can improve conversion rates and shorten the buying cycle.

2. People will understand why you earn so much money.

When you convey the nuances of your art, people can’t commoditize you. People price-shop commodities because commodities are identical to each other — price is the only differentiating factor among them. To get rid of price-shoppers, show your true self.

 Joyce Sunila is the president of Practice Helpers, providing e-newsletters, blogs and social media services to aesthetic practices. You can contact Joyce at or visit the Practice Helpers website at