Balancing act

By Wendy Lewis / 01 Dec 2013

Wendy Lewis on the art and science of clinic marketing: striking the right balance

Among marketers of aesthetic clinics there appears to be a growing divide. The lingering question is whether clinic marketing is about art or science. I would argue that it is really about both, and that striking a healthy balance is the key to success.


Many marketing experts are all about doing the math. They throw out countless methods of analytics to test and measure clicks, calls and ka-ching. They are rather obsessed with outsmarting Google. They promote the ROI (return on investment) on every strategic decision. These marketers have a formula that they ascribe to for promoting a clinic. Some are just passionate about it; but others are dogmatic that theirs is the only way and nothing else matters. In my view, these sort of tactics sometimes work for a period of time, but that is not engraved in stone. Why? Because they are failing to calculate perhaps the most obviously inconclusive element – the human factor. Yes, that is right – we are dealing with h-u-m-a-n-s, i.e., patients! No one can truly predict human behaviour 100% of the time. There are too many twists and turns to account for. We can make assumptions, an educated guess, or even base conclusions on past behaviour. However, this method is just not as foolproof as SEO experts will lead you to believe.


Marketing an aesthetics clinic properly surely requires skill and expertise, but it also requires a basic understanding of human behavior. Marketing is about telling your story, building relationships and giving customers direct value. This is where the artistry comes in. Marketers must inspire and connect with a target audience on a deeply personal level. Regrettably, scientists are not inclined to do that very well. It’s just not in their DNA. Having a robust online presence and online marketing are vital for growing a successful clinic today. But some clinics may be overlooking the benefits of tried and true marketing methods by focusing solely on their web strategy. So before you sign up for complex and costly marketing strategies, keep in mind some simple tactics that may be more cost effective and have always worked. These methods may include, but are not limited to, eblasts, open house seminars, loyalty programs, and giving five-star service.


Social media is a vital tool yet many clinics still have not figured out how this form of marketing will benefit their business. Those who are still on the fence about diving into the social space are missing out on an important channel in which to highlight their services and products in a unique and creative way. A strong social media strategy should be an integral part of a proactive clinic marketing programme in today’s competitive market. Social media offers up the perfect combination of art and science. It affords marketers more flexibility to think outside the box. Facebook, Twitter, and some of the newer key platforms including Instagram and Pinterest, are a marketer’s dream come true. Small businesses like solo practitioner clinics in particular must make the most of every opportunity to promote their brand. However, there are some obvious forms of marketing that may be overlooked in the day-to-day operations of a busy clinic. For example, having a powerful email signature on every email sent from the clinic, treating every patient professionally, offering good value for money on popular repetitive treatments, and servicing patients efficiently and in a timely manner. All of these pivotal touch points can have a dramatic effect on your bottom line, yet they are much harder to measure than tracking how many people clicked on your landing page or how many seconds they spent on the photo gallery. Social media is all about people. It is a form of human communication. It cannot just be measured by clicks and likes. Techs may be brilliant at links, algorithms, writing code and programming. PRs and writers are good at words, visuals, and communicating with people. Being creative or artistic dictates a way of thinking and of viewing the world. Creative people have been said to use the right side of their brains more than the left. They tend to be more open-minded thinkers and are often more emotional. So if you are a right brained sort of person, you will probably succeed best in a career that allows you the freedom to go a little crazy. Left brained people, on the other hand, are usually good at science, math and music. They are more analytical, adept at tasks that require attention to detail and numbers, and tend to be more logically minded. Sound familiar? It should. It is widely accepted that doctors and especially surgeons are often left brained kind of people.

There is a place in clinic marketing for the scientist and the artist. They can co-exist beautifully. However, you can only wear one hat at a time. Figure out what you are good at and like to do, and delegate or outsource the aspects of marketing a clinic that do not come naturally to you. 


What do you want to be - an artist or a scientist? Until you make up your mind, you won’t be as effective as you could be in your endeavours. You will probably get frustrated, spin your wheels in the wrong direction, and go through your budget faster than you should. There is a place in clinic marketing for the scientist and the artist. They can co-exist beautifully. However, you can only wear one hat at a time. Figure out what you are good at and like to do, and delegate or outsource the aspects of marketing a clinic that do not come naturally to you. Every clinic can benefit from a healthy combination of these opposing buckets of expertise. Understanding what you want to be known for will shape your entire business from the content you create to the people you have on board. It will dictate the culture of the clinic that you are presenting to the community. Decide who you want to have as customers to create a dialogue that speaks to them. Don’t try to appeal to every single patient out there, and get more focused. If you choose too narrow a niche, you may be limiting your marketing too much. If your target demographic is too broad, for example, women over 40, it may be too expensive to reach that group efficiently because it is too big. Identifying a secondary and even tertiary target audience should also be considered in your clinic’s marketing plan. Decide what the solutions are that your clinic offers to your target audience. Listen to what your patients are already saying about your clinic online and pay attention to them. At the end of the day, technologies come and go. Hot platforms get cold and new ones arise to take their place. But one thing remains constant; people love a good story. Rather than focusing only on the how, focus on the why, and let the scientists do their thing.


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