Summer is known for a lot of things from barbeques and beaches to vacations and ice cream. Is it really any wonder that summer is a slow time for many aesthetic practices? Most prospective patients are way too busy having fun to give up their “me” or family time to convalesce. But don't fret, our marketing experts share some strategies guaranteed to help you get through your summer slump and ready for a busy fall.
Lost and Found
After about June 15, activity in many aesthetic offices wanes as more people travel on vacation. Additionally, patients do not want to have aesthetic services that require a healing period, such as chemical peels or surgical treatments. These slow summer months last until about August 25 and are the best time to mine your current database for those “lost” patients. Many practices use appointment reminder and newsletter services to reach out to their patients. Most of these services only allow a two-year window for mining patients. If the patient has not been in the practice for an appointment in more than two years, reminders and newsletters are not sent to these patients.
Use the summer time to research those dormant patients and develop marketing tools to get them back. Review the types of procedures that these lost patients took advantage of and make sure to draw them back with information about improvements in those procedures.
Also, use the summer months to build your online reputation. Automated review platforms can be beneficial, because they send emails to patients after a consultation or a treatment to get reviews. The automatic sending technique is impersonal and does not generate the best types of reviews. Cherry pick patients you know are really happy and personally invite them to post a review. Ask them if they would provide comments about the outcome of the treatments. Reviews that include positive outcome descriptions are the best for generating revenue. Some review systems have the ability to email or text individual invites with a customized message. Use one of these tools to build your five-star profile online.
David Evans, PhD, MBA
• CEO of Ceatus Media Group, based in San Diego.
• He can be reached a firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get Out There
During the summer, cosmetic and aesthetic practices are notoriously slow, especially surgical practices. Most patients would rather spend their time beach bound with their families instead of recovering at home. Prepare by:
Knowing that it's coming. It's easy to spend your hard-earned money as quickly as it comes in, but saving throughout the year is key to making sure you're able to continue paying staff and keep the lights on during the slower months.
Using this time wisely! There's no better time than a slower season to work on some maintenance issues. While this may involve actual maintenance, like painting the office and fixing that running toilet, it's also a time to get demos on new equipment, talk to your skincare rep for team training, engage in a webinar series, or write protocols for your practice's problem areas.
Utilizing a college intern to help! A marketing intern can help with a variety of items in your practice that you're able to store for future use! Connect with colleges a semester ahead of time to assist in finding the perfect person for your practice, and make sure to find a student who fits well with your culture. While a manager inside your practice should still be closely supervising work before it gets published, work with interns to assist in the creation of videos for social media, writing blog posts for your website, cleaning up and organizing your database, and more.
Finally: Connecting! Use this time to connect with other local businesses for referrals. Call back patients who haven't returned in three months or more for their neurotoxin treatment. Visit with your practice's neighbors to explain more about what you do. Get out there and network in person!
Mara Shorr, BS, CAC XIV
• Serves as a partner, as well as the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Shorr Solutions, assisting medical practices with the operational, financial and administrative health of their business.
• Level II - XIV Certified Aesthetic Consultant and program advisor, utilizing knowledge and experience to help clients achieve their potential.
• A national speaker and writer, she can be contacted at email@example.com.
Jay A. Shorr, BA, MBM-C, CAC XIV
• Founder and managing partner of Shorr Solutions and a professional motivational speaker, an advisor to the Certified Aesthetic Consultant program and a certified medical business manager from Florida Atlantic University.
• He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• More information on the practice management consulting company Shorr Solutions can be found at www.ShorrSolutions.com.
Serve Up Summer Specials
Many aesthetic practices and medical spas cringe when June comes around on the calendar—for good reason. Typically, since school is out, moms and dads are busy with their kids and family vacations, and of course, spending time outdoors, which limits their interest in skin treatments that preclude patients from getting sun exposure and can put a crimp in their outdoor activities. There are some exceptions, notably students who seek rhinoplasty and chin augmentation, and those in professions where summer is the only free time available for bigger procedures. Another group are therapists, who tend to take August off, and professors and teachers who are out of work from some date in June through some time in August. If your practice caters to a group of these patients, you may be spared from the summertime blues, at least in part.
Attracting repeat clients and new patients is a year-round thing. With proper planning, summer can also represent an ideal opportunity to grow your practice. Utilize this slow season to boost your business by networking locally. Consider targeting a new patient market. For example, join a local business organization and get busy networking with other service businesses in your area to collaborate on an event or co-marketing programs to drum up excitement in your service offering.
Use slow periods to boost your email marketing game. Make sure you have an opt-in for your mailing list on your website landing page and social channels. Add a pop-up, hoverbar, or sidebar box to encourage new visitors to sign up and build your list. Come up with an incentive to attract sign-ups, such as an e-book as a free downloaded reward for giving up their email address and joining your list. Choose a timely topic, such as “Three Ways to Get a Vacay Ready Shape” or “Year-round Tips For Your #BestSkinEver.”
Summer is the perfect time to introduce special offers to stir up business when you need it most. If you've been reluctant to try bundling non-surgical treatments, the months of July and August are calling your name. Tap into the tactic of launching a Facebook and Instagram campaign to increase followers and boost engagement. Create a timely and compelling offer, such as “25 Percent off a series of (fill in blank) non-surgical body sculpting treatments” or set up a patient appreciation day with 20 percent off all treatments that are paid for on the day of the event. These can help get your register ringing.
Try a weeknight practice seminar. Keep it fun and lively with a theme like “Summer in the City” and offer 20 pecent off a select range of treatments, or host a “Casino Night” with an affiliate business in your area to cross promote, and donate a portion of all proceeds to a local charity.
Lastly, slow times are ideal to catch up on everything you've wanted to add to your marketing plan but haven't had time to do. Get moving on your video marketing. Hire a videographer for a day or half day or utilize an easy video set-up in your practice. Invite happy patient advocates to talk about their experiences on camera. Create a list of videos you want to get done; consultations, treatment demos, patient commentary, “welcome to our practice,” etc. You can develop enough footage to use for months to come when you will really need it.
• Founder/President of Wendy Lewis & Co. Ltd., a marketing communication and social media boutique in New York City.
• Founder/Editor-in-Chief of beautyinthebag.com.
• Author of 12 books including Aesthetic Clinic Marketing in the Digital Age
• She can be reached at WL@wendylewisco.com.