News & Press: Practice Support

Thinking Outside the Box in Marketing Cosmetic Surgery

Thursday, August 18, 2016   (0 Comments)
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By Les James Blackstock, MD, MBA, of Enhance Clinic and AACS Physician Member


As young doctors enter the field, their eagerness to create beauty and use the skills they have learned is expected. But what good are skills and training if no one is in the waiting room?


Every doctor needs to know how to sell themselves, but most medical programs lack that aspect of training.


I went to the extent of getting an MBA to advance my knowledge of the business side of medicine, but nothing compares to hands on experience. The goal of this article is to share my wisdom in hopes that those in need will soon gain their own experiences.


Becoming a Marketer

Marketing is a constantly changing field of trends and challenge. trends vastly differ, I travel from Australia to the U.S. for training. I am constantly intrigued when I hear marketing “experts” selling their services to doctors. They often sound like they're reading from textbook and what you read in many newspapers and best sellers. I can understand why for many doctors it is much easier to hire the services of those experts because we are so busy, or hope to be after we hire them.


With respect to the “experts,” I would argue that much of that spending is wasted. Have a look at the websites for any major search term. What do you notice? They all look similar. Well that is because, “It works!” I hear the “experts” shouting from the sidelines. But does it really?


Think back to 1987. There were numerous computer shops selling hardware in complex places, with advertising espousing the technology. The machines were clever, but they were confusing and you had to look at a developing support industry to get the best from them. Then a little company from California decided to be different; they approached the industry from the perspective of customer needs – not just technology for technology’s sake. This company made computers that were user friendly and accessible. Did it work to think outside the box?  Well if you bought Apple shares then you would certainly think so.


So what does this mean for cosmetic surgery? Note, that I did not say what does this mean to the cosmetic surgeon. I argue that it is in the best interest of everyone to stop worrying about your slice of the pie and be more concerned with making the pie bigger.


Don’t spend your time expressing how you are “better,”use the “latest technology” or have the most “experience.” Stand out. Tell patients about the benefits that make cosmetic surgery worthwhile. It is not vain. It is not trivial. Cosmetic surgery is a life enhancement.


Of course, this can only work if you are passionate and committed to the field. If you have come to cosmetic surgery to make lots of money, I respectfully believe that you may have made a terrible mistake. You can make more working in the investment fields, designing an app or buying in a depressed market. While there are many other ways to make more money, cosmetic surgery gives us the opportunity to help people feel confident.


If you’re truly passionate about this field, don’t stop seeking the best training. I travel half way around the world at great expense and loss of income and travel costs so that I can learn from the best. I suggest that you join the AACS, or any organization that is aimed at teaching skills and spreading the word about cosmetic surgery. Share that teaching while sharing your knowledge with the general public.


Your passion should be seen in your work. If you aren’t willing to have cosmetic surgery on yourself then what are you doing in the industry? Those around you - your staff, relatives and friends - should all be signposts for your work.


However, here is where I diverge from classical thinking; don’t solely sell yourself. Steve Jobs did not put his face on Apple computers.


Build A Brand


There are two important factors in building a brand. First, make the brand a reflection of who you really are. You may be able to maintain an act for a while but it is much easier to be yourself and to be honest. People will be much more receptive to that. Secondly, understand what your market wants. Marketing is simple (just don’t tell the experts). Ask someone what they want to buy, go get that and sell it to them. Your brand will differ from market to market. Do you think you will do well selling Rolls Royce cars in a poor area or selling cheap second hand cars in an affluent area. Both will fail.


These ideas are reflections of my marketing. Instead of a prominent photo of me on my website, there are small candid shots of all staff members. This emphasizes the team approach that we embrace in the office. I’m not only clear with patients about who I am – I’m also clear about what I’m not in terms of qualifications and experience. If my services aren’t a good fit for the patient, I gladly direct them to someone with the necessary qualifications and experience. I will let you all in on a secret that I know because I asked people: most people don’t care about the doctors qualifications because they don’t always understand the difference in training. Frankly, what people care about is not how much you know, but how much you care. 


I put videos of my consultations and processes on my web site so people can access them before they visit me. Some may not like me and go to someone else. I speak about cosmetic surgery with any referral suggestion as often as I can. Additionally, I offer “freebies” and promotions on services to fill my booking spots where possible, aiming to work with people who are in the greatest need of my services.   


This approach may not work for everyone.  However, energy spent on image is the main competitive edge that our rivals possess. If the marketing was directed to teaching the general public how they can benefit from our services, imagine how much more successful we all would be.


For more tips and strategies on marketing and branding for your practice, be sure to join us at the 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting, coming up Feb. 9-11 in San Diego.     

This article was originally published for Surge.