Remember the good old days of advertising your product or service? You designed an advertisement about your services, and as soon as you posted it in your local publication the telephone rang.

The ad could be as simple as a graphic of a beautiful woman (not an actual patient) and a list of your services, along with your telephone number. Remember when your ad was the only one in the publication?

Times have changed, and it’s important that you change with them. The advertising strategies that worked for you even a couple of years ago may fall flat now. Therefore, it is time to revamp your promotional strategies.

Today, the demand for aesthetic surgery has exploded. A majority of the population is aging, and they want to look their best. However, while the demand has grown, so has the supply. The competition is strong. All types of medical specialties are moving into the aesthetic medicine industry.

This trend is forcing physicians to promote their services more aggressively than ever before. Take print advertising. What used to be one small ad is now pages of ads promising anything and everything.

Take my advice. Use target messaging to rise above the clutter.

Target Marketing

One message does not work anymore. Consumers have had enough. They are on information overload. Today’s consumers are bombarded with more than 3,000 advertising messages per day. It’s gotten so invasive—advertising appears on buildings, on billboards, on bathroom stalls, and even on grocery carts. You cannot go anywhere today without seeing a promotion for a service or product.

This mass attack is causing consumers to shut down and tune out advertising. They cannot take it all in because it is not registering as quickly as it is coming at them. They are exhausted by it all and don’t bother keeping up with it all—until they are ready.

Here is a marketing secret for the current aesthetic patient. Today’s savvy consumer sees and hears only what is interesting to them at any given moment in time. Period. Understanding and executing target marketing strategies will get them to notice you as well as give you improved results.

Target marketing involves breaking a market into different segments and then concentrating on the benefits that the segment will receive from your services. The beauty of target marketing is that it makes it easier and more cost-effective for you to hone in on specific groups rather than spend a lot more on one general message that is going out to everyone.

Segments of your database can be broken down into many different demographic and psychographic categories. Specific categories may include age, gender, marital status, children, education, income, lifestyle, and social class.

It is important to determine your preferred parameters in each category so you can match your services to their interests.

Now that you have chosen the specific categories you are interested in working with, it is vital for you to communicate to your patients in a manner to which they will respond. Offering benefits to your patients who have certain concerns is the only way to market to them. So, it is not about your services as much as it is about what your services will do for them.

Although you want to believe that it’s all about you, your credentials, or your trendy office, it isn’t. It is about the benefits that the patient can expect from you. Once he or she realizes that you understand their concerns specifically, they ask themselves if you have the qualifications to give them the results they want.

It’s important to speak to the patient about their specific concerns. Let them know that you understand how this concern personally affects them. Use every emotion you can, such as pain, shame, embarrassment, disappointment, resentment, and loneliness. They will bond with you much faster if you empathize with them. Every patient needs you to satisfy their basic needs, to solve their problems (or perceived problems), and to make them feel good about themselves.

Targets for Different Age Groups

Target messaging is the only viable option you have today to reach and attract new patients. If you decide that external mass media marketing is the way to go, you need to make sure the right message is going to the right prospective patient at the right time. Your goal with target messaging is to provide that solution to a concern your particular patient or prospective patient has at that moment so they contact you now that they are ready.

No two patients are alike. Everyone has their own set of values, priorities, and past experiences. It’s important to address each patient’s specific concerns and find solutions for them.

For example, when it comes to aging, consumers generally fall into three different stages of their lives. Each stage brings about different needs, wants, and concerns, which can vary greatly from one stage to the next. What was important to someone at age 20 can be something else entirely when they reach age 40. Your message needs to speak directly to that particular group and to their particular interests so they stop, notice, and act.

Aesthetic patients can be broken into three groups. Let’s look at the psychographics of each group.

Young girls (age 18 to 30) looking for improvement. This group can be young, naïve, and impulsive. They may perceive that some body part needs improvement, and they want a quick fix in order to make them feel better about themselves. They are still developing their personalities and preferences, and they want be accepted by their peers.

They are not likely to shop around because they don’t know what to shop for. They turn to the Internet to discover which celebrities have undergone procedures and make a decision based on that.

The most popular procedure for young girls is breast implants. They will go to the least expensive physician who can take care of them right away. They are impulsive when they decide on something—they want it now. This group also relies on their friends. If one person gets a procedure done, then others may follow suit.

However, young girls are very cost-conscious because they haven’t made much of a living yet, or have not saved money. They look for an easy way to pay for the procedure.

Ad lines that work best for this particular group include the following:

  • “Be the envy of the other girls”;
  • “Feel better about yourself now for $50 per month”;
  • “Affordable financing available”; and
  • “Tell a friend, and you both receive a discount.”

Middle-aged females (age 30 to 50) interested in rejuvenation. This group is older and more selective. Their goal is to maintain their youthful appearance and head off the signs of aging. They want to look as good as they feel. They will be seeing their first signs of aging such as crow’s feet and smile lines. They will also start noticing the effects of sun damage and the blotchiness, brown and red spots, and textural changes in their skin.

This group has had their children and may be left with a body they didn’t ask for and may want their figure back. Their hormones have wreaked havoc on their skin, and they may have developed uneven skin tones. Their wrinkles are more prominent, and they are now noticing mild sagging skin. This is when they notice they are not “young” anymore but are going into a new stage of life.

Socially, they may be entering the workforce again now that their children have grown. Or, they may be going through a divorce and will start dating again. Whatever the case, they are looking to keep their looks intact.

This group is more willing to research aesthetic enhancement by visiting the Internet, reading beauty magazines, and consulting with their friends. They might like to use botulinum toxin Type A, wrinkle fillers, laser procedures, liposuction, and body-contouring procedures such as tummy tucks.

Ad lines that work best for this particular group include the following:

  • “Life is just getting good”;
  • “Look as good as you feel”;
  • “You’re not ready to look old”; and
  • “Bring back your youthful look.”

Older women (age 50-plus) who want renovation. These people are aging and are dreading it. They will go to great lengths to turn back the clock.

Social pressures also influence this group to make changes. They may be going through a divorce that is acting as a huge wake-up call and has them wanting to take control of their life again. They may be in a rut and may want to regain energy, vibrancy, and youthfulness.

Many in this group are professionals who have no intentions of slowing down. They feel great and want to stay competitive in the workforce since they are not about to retire—just yet. That means they need to keep up appearances in the workplace.

They don’t want to be ignored and want to still matter when they walk in a room. They will most likely have the financial means to invest in themselves with the big-ticket items. They may have an inheritance or divorce settlement, use equity in their home, or just have had more time to save for aesthetic enhancement.

This group is ready for the real stuff—facelifts, “blephs,” and eyebrow lifts. They have sagging body parts and want to look 15 to 20 years younger.

As this will be one of the biggest emotional and physical investments they will ever make, they will most likely consider it for years before actually going through with it. Or, some major life event will happen to motivate them to act now and stop waiting. Perhaps a family reunion or a wedding is on the horizon and they want to look their best.

The following lines work best for this group:

  • “You don’t mind looking older, but you do mind looking old”;
  • “There’s still plenty of quality time left”;
  • “Turn back the clock”; and
  • “Look almost as good as the bride.”

Target marketing is actually easier than general marketing. General marketing tends to talk about you and what you can do for the aesthetic patient. Target marketing is much more focused on the patient and what they want and need. Your message is much more clear and speaks directly to a certain group about the benefits they can get when they choose you to perform the desired procedure.

Target marketing is what can get your telephone to ring.

Catherine Maley, MBA, is the president of San Francisco-based Cosmetic Image Marketing, a public relations, advertising, and marketing firm that specializes in helping aesthetic practices grow. She is author of Your Aesthetic Practice: A Complete Guide, which includes survey results of what aesthetic patients want and do not want as well as how to market your aesthetic practice. She can be reached at (877) 339-8833 or .