A Special to Plastic Surgery Practice

By Peter Sonnenreich and Janice Zoeller

New survey results suggest that many dermatology and plastic surgery practices are turning to the Internet to grow their businesses.

According to the survey of 137 plastic surgeon and dermatology practices, more than half of respondents (57%) say it is “very important” to increase their cosmetics business. Their greatest challenges include excessive competition and attracting new patients.

To build their business, plastic surgeons and dermatologists have embraced the Web as a marketing tool. More than three-quarters (76%) hired a Web designer while 43% invest in a search engine optimization service. Nearly half (46%) of survey respondents have email addresses for more than 60% of the clients.However, fewer than 30% of respondents send email blasts monthly or more often and only 8% invest in a reputation management service.

Other marketing strategies include staff training, incentivizing staff,customer satisfaction surveys, and offering free initial consultations. More than one-third (35%) of practices incentivize staff to promote products and services. (The average practice sells 20 products from the office.)Some 41% regularly survey their customers. More than half (54%) of initial consultations lead to new purchases, say survey respondents.

The survey also showed that the greatest proportion of projected 2012 revenue for dermatology practices is generated by botulinum toxin injections; for plastic surgery practices, it’s surgery. Most dermatologists report an average of 2 or 3 procedures annually while 70% of plastic surgeons report 2 procedures or fewer. Most patients are women (71%) but for 59% of practices, the proportion of men seeking cosmetic procedures is increasing.

The survey was conducted by Renew Advantage.