Considering Launching a Medspa out of your Current Medical Practice?

This article was written exclusively for Medmonthly Magazine, February 2014. The original article can be viewed here.
 
You’re a physician with a healthy practice, but you’re interested in adding Med Spa services and products. You are suddenly looking at line extension marketing and increasing awareness. Two strategies for growing your practice you, perhaps, have never had to do.

As a medical professional, your practice is defined as a service business. Pretty clearly, service businesses are defined by the American Marketing Association as enterprises that are established and maintained for the purpose of providing services (rather than or in addition to products) to private and/or commercial customers. The AMA defines those services as “activities, benefits, or satisfactions which are offered for sale or are provided in connection with the sale of goods.”

Entrepreneurs engaged in medical-based service businesses must recognize how service marketing differs from product marketing, especially if their growth includes products. Service marketing can be far more challenging than the marketing of products because of these three distinctive characteristics of service offerings:  1) Services are intangible; 2) Services are perishable; 3) Services cannot be separated from the provider.

This all changes when you add a line extension that puts you into a product-driven market and has many aggressive competitors. That’s not to say that you don’t compete with other service providers, but at the risk of sounding silly, the points of difference are, well…they are entirely different.

So, up until considering the addition of non-medical procedures to your menu of offerings, such as those that are cosmetic or product related, you’ve probably never thought of how you compete for market-share in your local/regional markets. All of that changes when you offer a competitive service that’s outside the range of insurance-covered medical procedures and care.

Since 1996, there’s been tremendous expansion in the number of medical spas available to consumers. See, right there. Did you catch that? Your patient just turned into a consumer.

What’s important to realize is that everyone is opening Med Spas, from dentists to general physicians and internal physicians to OB/GYNs. And even though you may want to enter the market, how will your medical spa differentiate itself from the one down the hall or next door, or near the supermarket?

First things first: If you are considering adding Med Spa services, create a survey to give your new patients when they are filling out their health background forms asking whether they would be interested in receiving medical esthetic services, such as injectables, skin rejuvenation and laser hair removal from you. When asking them, be sure to list all the services that you are thinking of offering and don’t forget to ask them if they want to be included in the grand opening celebration and offers.

It’s imperative that you check out your state’s medical and cosmetology boards to make sure you are in complete compliance before you invest anything in overhead expenses or marketing dollars. Many details and legalities must be considered, like making sure you have the right experience to determining the scope of practice for nurses and estheticians. Be cautious and invest time and money in knowing the legalities in your state. Smart money spent now saves headaches later.
  
Your second step is to develop a concept for your new line extension that is unique. If it isn’t something someone else has, even if only by the way you bundle, offer memberships instead of a la carte or exclusive products. It’s important to create a facility that will be easily separated from the competition. From the color you paint your walls and the d├ęcor you place in the waiting room to the retail product you offer for sale, you are establishing yourself as a unique facility. There needs to be consistency and professionalism. 


  1. Make sure that you choose to offer a product line that supports its claims and is results oriented
  2. Offer the most utilized treatments (botox, injectables, microdermabrasion, and skin rejuvenation treatments top the list)
  3. Watch the trade magazines for new and updated technologies in skin care
  4. If space allows, consider adding body contour device


Your third step is to create a unique personalized consultation process during which your potential customer is fully educated about the options that are really right for them, and why one service is recommended over another. After the consultation, clients should leave with a totally unique, personalized treatment plan listing all potential services—invasive and noninvasive—from which they can benefit from. Also, the treatment plan should outline the financial aspect of the services recommended should be covered so your customer can make an informed decision on next steps to take.

Once patient interest has been researched, legal and medical details have been ironed out, a concept has been determined and the Med Spa’s grand opening has been arranged, it’s time for your marketing to kick in. Here are fifteen marketing tips and strategies that will help increase your Med Spa’s visibility without eating up your entire budget.


  1. Include a complete educational consultation to help patients understand the different available treatment options.
  2. Organize seasonal promotions to encourage clients to try different services.
  3. Organize weekly promotions to create excitement.
  4. Host educational evenings twice a year to introduce your patients to all the services you offer.
  5. Hold anniversary events every year and invite the local paper in order to make it a VIP event.
  6. Send birthday cards to your clients that include a gift certificate or discount on Med Spa services.
  7. Perform community service in your area to create branding while helping a good cause.
  8. Produce a loyalty program that offers Med Spa dollars and discounts.
  9. Create a Med Spa service menu and keep it visible for anyone and everyone to take.
  10. Direct mail to your clients twice a year to promote events and special promotions.
  11. Create an e-newsletter to educate your clients about your services and products.
  12. Make sure you dedicate virtual space to your new line extensions on your website and in social media. Offer incentives to “like” and “follow” your business online.
  13. Donate to different charity events.
  14. Participate in women’s trade events.
  15. Organize evenings of education in golf clubs and gyms.

 
So many marketing tactics can be created without spending too much money; however, if you have the budget, you should seriously consider investing in a public relations firm that will prepare a yearly marketing plan for your Med Spa facility.
  
There are endless details involved in transitioning into or opening a Med Spa as a line extension to your medical practice. However, if you do your due diligence, research the market, consider your competition, stay visible in your community and exceed patients/customers’ expectations, you’ll be the proud owner of the most popular new Med Spa in town!

Why Zen Works in Website Design

WebZenWEB
There’s hardly anything as corny as a marketing riddle, but here goes. Responsive web design isn’t a website that gets you referrals nor is it a website that drives new patient traffic but both are outcomes of having a website that features responsive web design. So what is it? Did I get you curious?
Well first of all, let’s do an experiment. Pull your site up on your desktop or your laptop. I’m assuming you have a screen at least 12-15” wide. Can you see your whole page? Do you have to scroll down to see the content on your home page? How about your other pages? Can you see the tabs for your site’s main pages at both the top and the bottom of the site? Is the font crisp and clear? Is there reverse type? Do you have flashing elements loading?
Now, grab your phone. Whether it’s an android or an iPhone, you’ll note that the screen fits in the size of your palm. Now, pull up your website. What do you see? Are you looking at a 2X4 version of your whole home page in an unreadable font size? Or, are you looking at a miniscule piece of the left hand corner of your home page? Do you have to scroll down and across just to see the name of your business? Is the sunshine or the light above you making the screen so dark you can’t read the letters anyhow? Do you see funny shapes where the flash was unable to load?
Ok, ok…just to prove my point. If you’ve got one, pull out your Ipad. Try the exercise again. What elements do you see in a warped presentation on that screen?
Websites that were designed as recently as three to five years ago were not designed as responsive. Yes, what I’m getting at is that they were designed for desktops and laptops. Where a mobile site was launched as a .mobi it was a separate site from the original site, and even so, it wasn’t a particularly intuitive design model.
With the popularity of multiple mobile devices of different shapes, sizes and resolutions comes the advent of responsive web design; really out of necessity rather than form.
It originated because designers had to physically re-write their sites to adapt to each new platform.
Specific phones and tablets needed uniquely formatted websites, and companies struggled to keep multiple sites for their products working right.  As a result, web design became time-consuming, costly, and just darned tedious.
Zen works across platforms! Responsive web design contains a set of techniques that adapt website features for each platform automatically, making the site functional, practical and user-friendly regardless of what device the user chooses to use to access it.
Responsive web is zen. Zen is simple. Zen works.
• Gives you increased flexibility
Websites will be able to fit any screen size on any device, ensuring that brands can reach consumers effectively. That means people will be able to look you up anywhere. Even when they are waiting in their doctor’s office shopping for a new doctor that won’t keep them waiting so long.
• A better user/prospective patient experience; Reaching more people in more places.
The designs are highly adaptive and will optimize website content for each device in its own way. The site will look great, be intuitive, and be help your prospect find what they are looking for easily. A happy prospective patient is a happy long-term patient.
• Reducing your bounce rates
In the past, bounce rates were high for mobile devices, largely due to functionality issues from websites that hadn’t been optimized for that particular device. They’ll find your site, no problem. No bouncing. Your site will come up under your domain name on any device. ANY DEVICE!
For more information on cross-platform compatibility, AKA, a simple, zen design that is beautiful on any screen your patients and prospective patients use, contact a strategic website design company that knows a site can be beautiful and effective in today’s multi-screen world.
This article was written for exclusively for Medmonthly Magazine (December 2013) by Lori Gertz, Chief Freakin' Genius at Freakin' Genius Marketing. The article can be viewed here. 

How to Grow Your Practice

How to Grow Your Practice


or Why I Care Enough to Tell Others about My Amazing Doctor

Not too long ago, my family and I moved across the country. We settled in a wonderful little beach community where every day is paradise and first world problems are tempered by the scenic views and fresh salty air. That said, the flu still rolls in annually and the kids get sick and need preventative care, a mole removed here and a referral for something there. So, what’s a marketing strategist mom to do in an entirely new community?
Oddly enough, it wasn’t a rush to the internet. I create websites for professionals. I know that the content is direct and on point, albeit a bit contrived. However, I also know that what they sell is not what I am shopping for. I’ll write about that when I cover creating a website that works to grow your practice.
As a parent or a potential patient, I’m shopping for expertise, kindness, responsiveness, intuitiveness, and someone I can like as well as trust. Oh, did I mention that they have to be on my insurance plan? The Affordable Care Act should give that one a run for its money very soon!
Actually, the first place I turned to were the parents of the kids my kids attended school with. Chances were anything my kids caught would come from that source anyhow, so I might as well have them cared for by the same professionals.
“Oh sure,” I could imagine hearing our new providers say, “I saw Jimmy with this virus yesterday, aren’t they in the same class?”
So I rang a parent or four.
“Jill, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but I’m looking for a pediatrician for Olivia. Preferably someone that takes my insurance, but more importantly, I want someone who has walk-in acute care services, convenient hours outside school and one who returns phone calls promptly. Do you love your doctor?”
Approaches like those inevitably opened the floodgates to some of the most valuable Word-of-Mouth references and recommendations as well as, a finely detailed list of who-to-avoid’s I have ever culled.
As a marketer, I couldn’t help but want to template Word-of-Mouth, akin to catching lightning in a bottle. How can a medical professional initiate Word-of-Mouth when it seems so counterintuitive to manipulate something which should arise out of a natural satisfaction for their service?
Now I want to preface all of this by sharing that I believe that Word-of-Mouth is neither a panacea nor a magical alternative to a well-considered marketing plan, but it’s definitely an important part of the 1:1 relationship building that can help you grow your medical practice beyond your wildest dreams.
The terminology alone can stir up false impressions because there are really two, entirely different, meanings attached to the concept of Word-of-Mouth.
Inbound referrals that are the result of Word-of-Mouth are often pre-conditioned to already need and want to hire you. I was shopping for a pediatrician. Jill led me to one she loved. Scenarios like mine are a major appeal to the whole concept. All you have to do is show up to the consult after one of your patients like Jill sells you to me and you’ve got me in your pocket. I’m already inclined to try your services so it’s almost like you’ll have to un-sell me to make me go away.
Now, this technique of Word-of-Mouth mustn’t be confused with the need for a deliberate program to generate referrals and fill your pipeline with prospects. You don’t want to rely solely on your current client base because if you do, you will be disempowered to grow your own practice. You want to promote referrals to your existing clients so they will refer spontaneously but you also want to pursue other mechanisms of getting people to talk about you.
The reason that Word-of-Mouth advertising is increasingly important in healthcare marketing is because patients are increasingly proactive about their healthcare.
Patients have a strong voice in making health and medical choices for themselves and their families and even more to that point, 1:1 Word-of-Mouth references of a patient are being amplified in social media comments via Facebook, Twitter and others. Don’t even try to guess how many clients I get who are trying to recover their reputations from one unfortunate YELP campaign by a disgruntled client.
The question remains, how do you inspire positive Word-of-Mouth advertising in your patient roster? What can you do to ignite commentary? As wonderful as it would be if it did, it generally doesn’t happen spontaneously. People need a reason to talk about you, your staff, the service they received and/or the overall patient care experience they received in your office.

Here are a few techniques that can inspire some deeply valuable Word-of-Mouth juju:

Understand your patient’s motivation for making a referral
People will tell others about you because:
  • You did or said something that was amazing.
  • They look well informed by sharing information about you.
  • They feel compelled to share your wisdom because they trust and value what you have done for them.
  • They want to be associated with you.
  • Something you just wrote or said will be of great value to someone they care about, who needs that help right now.
Some of the impetus for Word-of-Mouth is similar in Entrepreneur’s list of WOM “trigger” activities. A few are here:
  • Word-of-Mouth is triggered when a customer experiences something far beyond what was expected. Slightly exceeding their expectations just won’t do it. You’ve got to go above and beyond the call of duty if you want your customers to talk about you.
  •  Don’t depend on your staff to trigger Word-of-Mouth by delivering “exceptional customer experience.” Deep down, customers know service comes from an individual, not from an establishment. And even the best people have bad days.
  • Physical, nonverbal statements are the most dependable in triggering Word-of-Mouth. These statements can be architectural, kinetic or generous, but they must go far beyond the boundaries of what’s ordinary.
At some point you might need to budget to deliver the experience that will trigger Word-of-Mouth. Heck, it might be by adding a play area for the children of adults who come to see you, or it might be to develop a targeted newsletter or e-book as a free giveaway. Although Word-of-Mouth is (mostly) free, some activities that inspire WOM may need a budget in time and/or dollars.
The take-away? In my case, Jill’s expectations were regularly exceeded by her doctor who is now happily our doctor. I tell others about professionals I love to use even when not asked specifically because I am ever impressed by the deepening relationships I have with them. Now mind you, if I am disappointed, I will also share that.
Positive Word-of-Mouth advertising and patient referral is inspired when expectations are surpassed. The ordinary and every day patient experience will never be anything to talk about and is quickly forgotten, so don’t count on it filling your prospective patient pipeline. When your current patient is motivated to share their experience and put their own reputation on the line in making a referral it’s never ordinary and neither are you. Go the extra mile to strategize it and reap the benefits of a healthy, growing practice.
This article was written exclusively for Medmonthly November 2013 by Lori Gertz, Chief Freakin' Genius, Freakin' Genius Marketing. The original article can be viewed here. 

Skype makes monsters of us all

Reprinted from the LA Times OP-ED; July 10, 2013

To many of us of a certain age, Skype is an answer for which there was no question.

By Jack Shakely
 
When God saw that our egos needed deflating, he invented Skype.
Skype is the 21st century invention that sci-fi movies had been predicting for decades: phonavision. Actually it's "computavision," with a tiny camera at the top of your computer screen. Very "Futurama." But what "Soylent Green" and other futurist movies didn't tell us is that this new invention makes you look like you died a week ago Thursday.
I enthusiastically signed up for Skype a few years back when my grandchildren were still toddlers. The idea of being able to talk with and see my grandsons was very appealing. But reality trumped the ideal.

The 2-year-old resolutely refused to sit in front of the computer screen and screamed and clawed his way up his mother's arm like a skittering spider monkey. The 4-year-old was more benign, but after wiping peanut butter and jelly all over the screen and pounding on the computer keyboard, he too lost interest and started wrestling with the dog.

I initially chalked this up to short attention spans until I looked down at the far right corner of my computer screen and saw staring back at me the grimacing death mask of a character out of the cast of "Marat/Sade." I had Skyped my grandchildren, pulling back the curtain on a bed-headed, stubble-chinned lunatic of a grandfather. Nobody, including me, had any use for this person.

I'm not trying to finger Skype as the sole perpetrator of this cruel technology. I'm sure there are many equally mean-spirited phonavision variations out there, all with the same design flaws. For one, because the camera is at the top of the screen and the image of your unlucky caller is mid-screen, it is impossible to maintain eye contact. Looking at the person on the other end of the call makes you look like you are talking to your lap. The only way to remedy this is to look directly into the camera, which means you can't see the other guy.

Which may be just as well. Because the other design flaw, and I'm not quite sure how they do this, is to make everybody over the age of 50 look a decade older on the spot. I've read that television adds a few pounds to you, but decades? And pounds? And where are my friends buying their clothes? Ratty Bathrobes 'R Us?
I have an old friend, an editor and teacher, who lives halfway across the country. Every few weeks for the last 20 years, we get together by telephone to discuss everything under the sun. Just before Christmas, she told me she was getting a new computer and suggested we jump headlong into the new century via Skype.

My friend is a true beauty, with a mass of blond, cascading hair framing an intelligent and inquisitive face. Or she was until she got Skyped. The poor creature I gazed on looked like Jane Wyatt the day after she left Shangri-La.

My friend looked pretty rough, but at least she didn't make me gasp, as I did her. Talking to her lap, she recovered enough to laugh and say, "Well, Jack, I guess we can stop calling you the Gray Fox, huh?"

To many of us of a certain age, Skype is an answer for which there was no question. And the telephone, which is still in play, thank God, has a built-in design superiority. Every telephone is a time machine. Leaning back and looking out the window with the phone in my ear, I notice that my male friends have regained their flat stomachs and lost their bald spots. My female friends don't wear much makeup because they don't need it, and somehow they all seem to be wearing those starched cotton shirtwaist dresses I so admire.

And I can peek in on my grandchildren every day on Facebook without scaring the bejabbers out of them. Forward into the past.

Jack Shakely is a novelist, a former newspaper editor and president emeritus of the California Community Foundation.

Looking Forward and Back


So, in the last 8 years how much has really changed in your life?

Well, first of all if you had a baby who was born in 2005, that tiny little person is now in second grade and challenging your patience and your parenting skills daily. If you were just walking down the aisle, you are one year beyond your seven year itch. Congratulations if you won the bets others placed at your wedding! If you were just going to medical school, you are exhausted but finished and now facing years of loan payback. 

I was awestruck when I saw this picture on NBC's blog. I've blown it up so you can see it better despite its resolution challenges. I know that research supports the onslaught of the concentration of mobile technology use in the world, but this picture spoke a thousand words to me.

Did you know:
  • More than half of U.S. mobile ad spending is local.
  • Google’s gross annual revenue from mobile advertising is over US$2.5 billion per year. 
  • Consumer reaction to mobile ads The MMA and Lightspeed Research (October 2010), in UK, France and Germany, 45 percent of consumers (especially younger people) noticed mobile advertising and of these, 29 percent responded to it. Of those that responded to the ads, the following went on to make a purchase: Germany 49 percent; UK 47 percent; and France 22 percent.Time sensitive special offers or discounts (especially coupons) were most likely to lead to purchase.
  • People were most likely to purchase  content such as apps, music and games.
  • NBC News writes of its picture comparison of St. Peter's Square,
     "What a difference eight years makes."


Why your business needs a mobile-friendly site

Of those viewers in the US who react to seeing a mobile ad:
42 percent click on the mobile ad; 
35 percent visit the advertiser’s site; 
32 percent search for more information on their phone; 
49 percent make a purchase and 
27 percent call the business.
71 percent of smartphone users that see TV, press or online ad, do a mobile search for more information. (Source: US Consumer Mobile Movement survey April 2011)

Yet, surprisingly, despite  these conclusive findings, 79 percent of large online advertisers still do not have a mobile optimized site. (Source: Google/Kelsey 2010)

Want more proof that you should include mobile technology and an optimized mobile strategy in your marketing plans?

U.S. mobile ad spending will grow from US$790 million in 2010 to $4 billion in 2015. Local ad spend will grow from US $404 million to $2.8 billion.
• This makes locally targeted mobile ads 51 percent of overall U.S. mobile ad spending, growing to 70 percent by 2015.
• Mobile local advertising includes ads that target users in specific locations or contain location-specific calls to action. (Source: BIA/Kelsey June 2011)
Mobile local search volume is expected to surpass desktop local search for the first time in 2015, but advertisers will continue to invest more in desktop local search.
• In 2011 mobile users performed 19.7 billion local search queries compared with desktop users 54.9 billion local search queries. In 2015 there will be 85.9 billion mobile local search queries, compared with 84.0 billion queries. In 2011 mobile local search revenues were US$400 million, rising to $3.2 billion in 2016. During the same period, desktop local search revenues will grow from $5.7 billion to $10.2 billion.
 “While mobile local search volume will exceed its desktop equivalent, ad dollars will remain lower, because advertisers aren’t yet keeping pace with the growth of mobile local ad inventory, but we expect that to evolve.” (Source: BIA/Kelsey April 2012)
US expenditure on mobile advertising and marketing is estimated to be US$416 million in 2009; $743 million in 2010 and will be $1,102 in 2011. In 2010 mobile ad formats were dominated by messaging ($327 million), but display ($202 million) and search ($185 million) will catch up in 2012. Video lags at ($28 million). (Source: emarketer.com (October 2010)

These are some of the most credible sources in the industry! Apart from that, numbers don't lie. Expectation has been realized and if you haven't witnessed it first hand, scroll up again and look at that picture. Mobile technology is a venue where your brand can make an impression on global or local markets of all shapes and sizes. Seize the moment. Don't wait another eight years to enter the future now.

Algorithms Don't Feel, People Do


Reprinted from the Harvard Business Review Blog

As a 30-year advertising practitioner, and a Chief Creative Officer of North America's now largest digital agency, I'm truly amazed at the sophistication of the technologies and platforms for delivering ads to virtually every device, from the smallest hand held screen to Walgreen's massive canvas in Times Square.
Vast amounts of Silicon Valley capital have accelerated our ability to deliver behaviorally targeted messages and videos that follow you from destination to destination and device to device. Publishers have even begun offering "in app" custom ad units specifically designed to match consumers' touchscreen desires. As an industry, we have an amazing set of providers and tools at our disposal that connects the consumer with the brand.

But as any smart advertising person will tell you, the creative message itself plays at least half the role in determining the effectiveness of any advertising component. It's the creative that will always tell an intriguing story, involve and hopefully, leave you inspired to act. This balance between medium and message has largely been lost, as we seem more seduced by the algorithms — the containers and software solutions for delivering messages to devices — than the evolution or effectiveness of them.

We are still very much in the ideas business. Despite how much more sophisticated the algorithms get at search, contextual and behavioral ad serving, advertising still has to move you. And that comes down to the kind of creative that makes you feel an emotion... not just "think" or push you into "lower funnel" activation as many marketers are so anxious to do.

This means drawing you in, getting you involved, and making you react emotionally, which is just as important on a hand-held device as it is in a 30-second TV spot. Creatively, this has been the challenge for the web banner, the video pre-roll, and even the next in-app-native touch-screen rich-media ad. These units may drive our impression-based ad-supported model, but they've yet to adequately prove the ability to make the consumer feel.

This emotional requisite often referred to as the "The Big Ideal" or "Higher Order Benefit" was once the holy grail of real advertising currency. These days, it seems emotional ideas have been replaced by sophisticated algorithms that can deliver near-real-time metrics and drive dynamic optimization of creative ad messages. These algorithms allow us to churn out countless versions of copy and banner executions for one campaign — changing layouts on the fly and cramming the call to action into an ad from beginning to end — in many cases before we've even gotten the consumer's attention.

Is this the future of advertising we are destined to produce? Turning the craft of brand storytelling into algorithm-driven copy factories?

The task we face as advertising practitioners is how to combine our efforts with media brethren to create seamless brand experiences and cascade them through new technologies and media platforms. In doing so, we serve a more involved, emotional system of messages on behalf of brands to the right people over time.
We have the technology. We have the talent. We have the ability to redefine the story to make one feel. We just need to remember that the medium isn't the message and no matter how seduced we are by the science of advertising, we must remember that algorithms don't feel, people do.

Perhaps you are wondering how anyone could be so egocentric as to call themselves a genius? Ahhhh...but the genius is in fact, YOURS! 
We excavate your genius, setting aside all of the negative self-talk you might have had when you previously had an out-of-the-box idea. We call it "Strategic Insurance" and it's freakin' genius! It starts with excavating, coaxing and brainstorming about your business, your core customer, your potential customers and your service or product line, then we move into digesting and shifting to account for a growth strategy, and finally, the piece de resistance of developing your genius into a one-of-a-kind customized business plan inclusive of totally measurable, accountable and easily actionable tactical marketing solutions.

Drop us a note today to discuss how we can help you realize your marketing goals online and offline.