Today’s energy-based devices can reduce fat, tighten skin, tone muscles, and more—and each shiny new device comes with all sorts of bells and whistles. It’s no wonder you are thinking of taking the plunge. Before you sign that dotted line, take advice from our marketing experts on how to do it right.
Try Before You Buy
Purchasing a piece of capital equipment for your practice requires extensive research in this competitive market. Many practices have had to close their doors because they took on too many lasers and light-based devices (or the wrong ones) and didn’t market them effectively. A $200,000 laser can become an expensive coat hanger if you aren’t prepared to launch it with a well thought-out plan.
The first question to ask is: Why do you need this device? Does it fill an unmet need in your practice? Do you want to upgrade an existing system that may be ineffective or outdated? (In that case, ask for a trade-in to offset the price.) Does it provide a treatment that your patients are asking for and going to your competition for because you don’t have it? For example, if you don’t see patients currently who want their tattoos removed, investing in a high-priced tattoo removal system may not be a wise business decision.
Next, do your homework by going to workshops, reading consumer and physician reviews, and evaluating other brands on the market. Talk to users about how the system has worked out for them. If you’re considering buying a device, try out a treatment, have a staff member try it, or both. If you cringe in pain, your patients will too. If the experience is not pleasant, or there is considerable downtime of a week or more, it could be a deal breaker.
Other key considerations include the service profile of the company you are dealing with, your relationship and confidence in the rep, and the reputation of the company’s technologies in the industry. Try to avoid buying “me too” devices that may be cheaper, but won’t necessarily help differentiate your practice from all your competitors. Aesthetic patients are savvy and know to ask for brands they are familiar with.
Before you sign a contract, consider how many treatments you have to do to break even and whether that number is realistic for your current practice and patient base.
You must also formulate a launch plan that includes details on how you will introduce the new treatment to your patients, including timing and staff training. Set aside a reasonable budget for a marketing strategy that includes a targeted social media and email blast campaign, a dedicated landing page on your practice website that explains what the device is, what it does, how it works, and who is a good candidate, signage in patient areas, and a launch event for patients.
Lastly, you will also need to get your own before and after photos to add to those that you get from the company. A robust portfolio of real patient results is an essential marketing tool. Patient testimonials are the next level up and can go far in promoting the treatment online.
Start with Your Existing Patients
David Evans, PhD, MBA
Simply placing a new energy-directed device in your office does not guarantee more revenue. Before you make a decision to purchase a device, plan the proper marketing strategy and dedicate the necessary resources to ensure success.
Start by marketing the new device to your current patient base. Deploy an e-newsletter announcing the addition to your practice and offering special packages for existing patients. Be prepared to update your website with a page, or as many pages as needed, to promote this new technology. It is best to place the information on a new page and add it to the navigation than bury it on an existing page. A new page allows for a much more targeted search engine optimization strategy. When patients search on Google for “your town + new device,” they will be sent to your site by the search engine. Your new information educates visitors and encourages them to book an appointment or consultation. To further emphasize the new procedure on your website, place graphics in a variety of places announcing the new device.
Have a plan of action to immediately obtain reviews. Use a review solicitation tool that allows you to modify the invitation text to focus on the new device. A five-star review that mentions what a great experience a patient had with you and the new treatment is marketing gold.
Also, staff should be educated on how to describe the benefits of this new treatment, either over the phone or in person. Updated literature (typically provided by the device manufacturer) should be in place before the marketing campaign begins.
Ask Yourself the Key Questions
Mara Shorr, BS, CAC XIV and Jay A. Shorr, BA, MBM-C, CAC XIV
It’s easy to get caught up with FOMO (fear of missing out!) when it comes to the newest devices.
Before committing, ask:
1. Is the device in my budget? You don’t want to go broke on a new device, no matter how great it seems.
2. Does the device have proven results among a patient base that mirrors mine? If the device treats the aging face, but your practice’s specialty is injectables for patients in their 20s, this isn’t necessarily the device for you.
3. Will my patients pay the fair market value of the treatment in my practice? If your patient base is barely accepting $10/unit for Botox, a shiny new machine probably won’t go over well.
4. Do I have the funds and the team members to appropriately market the new device? If you don’t have those resources, the device will end up in the laser graveyard in your practice.
5. Who else in my geographic area is providing the treatment? You don’t want to be the last one in the neighborhood to get the device but if you are the very first, it’s likely no one has heard of the device and it’ll take that much more time and effort to market it.