…to grow your aesthetic practice by 20% in 2007

The new year is for new beginnings—and a perfect time for you to review your practice, consider new possibilities, and open yourself up to fresh opportunities. Making minor observations and executing simple ideas can be the start of a great year.

Here are some suggestions to help you get moving in the right direction for 2007.

Know Where You Are Now and Where You Want to Go
Remember the old saying: “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?” This is as true for an aesthetic practice as it is for any other business competing today. It’s important to analyze all aspects of your practice, and that starts with number crunching. 

You need to know the numbers, and you can’t guess at them or assume them from anecdotal information. You need quantifiable data so that you can make better business decisions.

Go back through 2005 and 2006 to determine and compare simple statistics, such as how many consultations you had, how the prospects heard about you, how many were converted to procedures, and how much revenue was generated. You also want to track results from specific marketing efforts such as ads you ran or events you held.

You may well have a sophisticated-enough computer system to generate these reports for you automatically. If you don’t, it’s worth the time and the trouble to do it manually. The numbers will tell you what’s working, what’s not, who comes to you and for what—and whether they stay and book or leave, never to be heard from again.

Hold a “New Year” Staff Meeting
In January, hold a “new year” staff meeting away from the office in a comfortable, quiet setting. Make sure that every staff member is available for this important meeting. Provide food, and allow an entire morning or afternoon so you’re not rushed.

Start the meeting by sharing the data from task No 1 with the staff. You don’t need to give them your entire profit-and-loss statement, but do give them data to show how much (or little) your practice grew in 2006—because you are all going to work together to improve the numbers in 2007. Now tell them what you envision for the numbers in the upcoming year, and be sure that they are obtainable yet aggressive. People perform better when they have quantifiable numbers to strive for rather than being asked to “do better this year.”

Ask for their help and suggestions on how to achieve your 2007 goals. They will be much more inclined to help you if they are included in the process. I guarantee that they have great ideas for enhancing your practice. They spend much more time with the patients than you do, and they bring a different perspective. So give them a comfortable platform to provide their input.

This strategy meeting will leave your staff feeling more energetic, eager, and willing to pull together as a team to help you have a banner year.

Conduct an E-mail Marketing Campaign
E-mail marketing is, by far, the cheapest and fastest way to communicate with your patients today. It allows you to keep in touch with them throughout the year and build their loyalty.

But how do you collect e-mail addresses from your patients? For starters, make sure that you ask for their e-mail address on your patient-intake form as well as in your other communications such as newsletters, a display at your checkout desk, and feedback forms from your events.

Now, what do you e-mail them? Your e-mail messages should be brief and eye-catching, and they should include very special promotions so patients continue to want to receive communications from you. Content is very important: Make your messages informative and easy to read. Invite patients to call or e-mail you for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Run a New Year–New You Promotion
Many of us compile a list of new year’s resolutions to help us improve our lives. One of those items is often to take better care of ourselves and look our best. Now is the time of year to educate your patients on the various ways you can make their new year truly new.

Through a newsletter, postcard, special invitation, or e-mail marketing campaign, tell your patients what you can do to help them reach their 2007 goals. You will want to send this to all current patients, any 2006 consultations who haven’t booked yet, people you haven’t seem for a while, and those who need to return to finish their treatments. Because you have already had contact with these patients and prospective patients, they are reasonably likely to respond.

Develop and Nurture a New Alliance
Think about special relationships you have with noncompeting businesses, such as hair salons or retail stores in your community that share your patient demographics and would be willing to work together synergistically. This can be as simple as displaying your brochures in their facilities, personally referring your patients or customers to one another, or doing something more assertive such as a comarketed direct-mail piece to both of your mailing lists (following privacy regulations, of course).

You might also consider a joint evening event at which you both give presentations. The beauty of this collaboration is that it gives you instant credibility and prestige to an entire new group of prospective patients—the physician, beautician, or retailer they already know is personally vouching for you and introducing you to them.

I wish you an incredibly successful and enjoyable 2007!

Catherine Maley, MBA, is president and senior marketing strategist of San Francisco-based Cosmetic Image Marketing. She can be reached via her Web site, www.cosmeticimagemarketing.com.