Strategic Planning for Internal and External Marketing
In the medical spa, esthetic and plastic surgery industries, practices around the country are in all stages of business; from planning to open their doors for the first time, to thinking about an exit strategy to pass the baton. A common denominator through each of these businesses is failing to come up with a strategic marketing plan and a marketing budget, which leads to big mistakes that are unforeseen at first.
Therefore, we advise our clients to come up with a line item breakdown of how they plan to spend their hard-earned dollars on marketing.
We recommend breaking down your marketing plan into three separate categories.
Internal marketing, which will include (but is not limited to) the following items:
• Business cards for each team member, in addition to appointment reminder cards. Remember to allocate both design and printing costs!
• On Hold” messaging for your phone line. This can often be a one-time fee that includes voiceover work and music, although there are services that provide a rotating message recording for a monthly cost.
• E-newsletters. Remember to allocate the monthly software, such as Constant Contact or MailChimp, as well as the design fee for the creative designs.
• Automated email/text message patient reminders. We recommend utilizing software that will do this for you to make sure it’s done consistently. There are a number of options available that will speak with your EMR or CRM system for a monthly fee, such as Solutionreach. However, check to see if your own internal system already has this capability.
• Phone number tracking system. If you’re planning on instituting a number of separate marketing campaigns, consider using a service such as CallTrackingMetrics.com to track the success of each campaign. In addition, some of these monthly services allow your calls to be recorded for quality control.
• Events. Yes, an event will often come with an independent budget, so break down how often you’ll want to hold each event, how vendors can contribute to lower your expenses, staff overtime, marketing expenses, and more.
• Strategy to obtain patient online reviews. Consider how you’d like to grow your online presence from your current patients. For example, print postcards for each team member to hand out at the front desk… but remember to allocate a designer and printing costs to this campaign. It can be small, but worth it!
• Private label skincare products. This is an incredible way to remain top-of-mind with your patients… patients who already trust you with their skin! They’ll look at your name, address, phone number and branding every morning and evening while at home or on the road. This upfront investment will ultimately be a revenue-generating expense as retail.
• Practice-branded bags for retail products. Why give your patients their new purchases in a generic bag? This small touch goes the extra mile. Remember to include the setup fee, as well as an expense for the bags themselves.
• Practice-branded scrubs for all team members. This unifies your practice and makes everyone appear to be a strong team. Plus, when your team leaves your office and runs errands after work, they turn into walking billboards! Be sure to include both the costs for the scrubs, as well as the embroidery of your office’s logo.
• Practice-branded, post-procedure ice packs. If you perform a procedure that requires you to send your patient home with an ice pack, spend just a little bit more and splurge on an ice pack that’s branded with your logo. It’s something they’ll keep in the future, and you’ll remain in their freezer for months or years to come!
In addition, remember to include branded office décor in your marketing budget, including, but not limited to:
• A television or monitor with customized rotating marketing messages in both your reception area and treatment rooms. There are a number of services out there that provide both the monitor and the monthly service fee, including Mediplay, so be sure to look around for the best option for you.
• Customized practice-branded brochures. Sure, those free vendor brochures sound great, however we
always recommend that our clients create customized brochures for their offices, including information about their services, their team… and branded to THEM. Be sure to include costs for both the design and the printing here… and trust us, it’s worth it to pay a little extra to have them arrive in your office already folded!
• Customized Before and After Photo Books (Reception Area & Treatment Rooms)
• Customized, practice-branded artwork throughout your entire office! This could include customized canvases in your treatment rooms, framed press pieces in which the practice is an expert source, framed photos of the providers receiving their certifications, at their white coat ceremony or on mission trips, framed patient testimonials and before and after photos, and more! Get creative, but make your office a permanent Throwback Thursday. Splurge on quality printing and matching frames.
• Finally, remove magazines from your reception area unless you are featured in the publication, which adds to making you the local expert.
External marketing, aka “What We Normally Think of When We Talk About Marketing,” could include any of the following items:
• Your website, including a monthly hosting, search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click campaigns (PPC). While we see a lot of practices try and skimp on the monthly SEO, know that it’s not worth it to try and go without this option. This is one of the best ways for new patients to find you locally! Budget for not only the creation of a website by a professional inside our industry, but for a monthly plan as well.
• Donating to silent auctions, charities and fundraisers. This is a great way to spread the word about your services to a population of potential patients who support local businesses AND have the pocketbook to do so.
• Traditional advertising, including billboards/TV and radio ads. Be prepared for a large budget to make a bang in this arena! While these traditional outlets may show some return on investment, you’ll pay a pretty penny for them. GO BIG OR GO HOME! A minimal investment will not usually make any impact to your ROI.
• Online review sites, such as RealSelf, Healthgrades and Yelp. Check out what you’re able to obtain with a free version of each of these sites, and what you’re able to obtain with a monthly plan. Do your homework and see what works best for you. Make sure your results are defined ahead of time and that the vendor guarantees these results or your subscriptions are adjusted accordingly.
• Industry Journals. Writing articles and publishing papers for an industry journal is better for the practice who wants to gain industry recognition than the practice who is purely looking to bring in new patients. However, this is still a free way to continue to spread your name.
• Social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. While social media offers a lot of free options, be sure to budget for your team’s time, as truly working the social media system WELL takes time. In addition, explore what a monthly budget for sponsored or boosted posts will be able to do for your practice.
• Influencer campaigns. If you’re interested in pursuing an influencer campaign, we always recommend consulting a professional to make sure you’re remaining HIPAA compliant through the process. That being said, budgets for this vary, so be sure to research accordingly.
Of course, if you have a team member who is dedicated to marketing in your office, remember to attribute their salary, software and supplies to your marketing budget.
Finally, after that plan is executed, we advise (and often work with our clients) on analyzing the success of that plan to make sure hard-earned dollars are working in the best way possible. We recommend each spend should average a 3.5:1 return on investment in order to be considered a success, so be sure to measure the success of your campaigns closely.