There is no exact science when it comes to marketing: if it was simple, it wouldn’t be a multibillion-dollar industry.
Whether it’s higher standing for your brand, more patient inquiries for your front office to cultivate, or more consultations delivered directly through your marketing, you take time out of your busy schedule—or engage with an outside resource—because you want a result.
On an almost visceral level, businesses like yours (specifically, those businesses where the people who run it are close to the action, and can see the fruits of their marketing labor literally walk through their door) can assess two simple facts about their marketing campaign: how much money and effort goes into it, and what value they get back.
But it’s the “what value they get back” part where things might not be quite as simple as they seem. Because when it comes to marketing, there are instances when what appears to be a bad return on your investment is actually something else. Let’s explore a few mistakes practices might make when assessing the return they get from their marketing.
You haven’t given your advertising enough time
It would be great if every time you create a new ad, the phone starts ringing with patients wanting to make an appointment.
But remember that aesthetic procedures are what marketers call a “high-consideration purchase.” That means consumers take a lot of time and care before making a decision to get a procedure with a specific doctor or provider. They can even take some time before whittling down a short list of providers to call or email for an inquiry.
Consider that consumers on RealSelf are studying procedures, reading reviews, sizing up before-and-after photos, scrutinizing answers, and looking at other markers of experience like RealSelf Verified status and what providers are board certified in. What that means is that while impressions on your profile might accumulate, it might take a little time for inquiries to start rolling in. And that’s related to another element it can be easy to overlook…
You’re not acknowledging the role of the marketing funnel
First, a disclaimer: the concept of the “marketing funnel,” a metaphor that describes a linear journey a consumer takes from becoming aware of you and your practice via your marketing, educating themselves about both your and your competitors’ offerings, more closely considering your practice given that education, before finally deciding to book with your practice, has been exploded in the last few years.
The journey consumers take before booking with your practice, or making any purchase decision, can be more complicated than that. And that journey doesn’t end when they book with your practice: from leaving reviews new potential patients will see to booking another appointment, they’re still very much in play even after you’ve captured them as a client.
But the general concept—that consumers traverse a series of steps before making a decision to book with your practice—still holds. You should keep it in mind when sizing up your marketing. Although you ultimately want to book great patients, remember that your marketing will first facilitate these other steps—awareness, education, consideration—before bookings start rolling in.
Look at metrics like impressions and engagement on social media and RealSelf to get a sense of how you’re faring on these important decision stages. Although they should eventually yield inquiries, consults, and bookings, they are also directionally important in and of themselves.
The advertising is not targeted effectively
Marketing efficacy can rarely be expressed in simple binaries: “working” or “not working.”
To the contrary, whether a piece of marketing is working or not is often a matter of optimization: making tweaks to your marketing campaign that increase its efficacy.
Targeting is a great example. If your practice specializes in mommy makeovers, for example, you’ll want to target women who are currently—or might soon be—in the market for the procedure. Your universe of possible patients would be current or future moms.
Using extreme examples to illustrate the point: targeting a paid Instagram campaign to men, or purchasing Spotlights on RealSelf that reach women looking at facelift-related content, would mean a lot of wasted dollars on people who are not interested in your procedure. But it would not indicate that Instagram or RealSelf don’t work as channels overall.
Ineffective targeting can also be a matter of making assumptions that don’t fully capture the behaviors of people you want to reach. Businesses can miss opportunities when they make these types of assumptions based on demographics, as with a business that uses a woman’s age as a proxy for the likelihood that she’s a current or soon-to-be mom. A business would have much better success targeting women based on interest-driven behaviors (say, reading parenting magazines or mommy blogs) or markers of intent (looking at mommy makeover reviews and before-and-afters on RealSelf) than making broad assumptions based on demographics.
Before you write off a channel as ineffective, make sure you scrutinize your targeting strategy.
The messaging is missing the mark
You’re targeting the right people for the right procedures, but are the words and images you’re using online connecting with that audience? If your ads aren’t delivering results, it could be that you’re not delivering the right message to consumers you’re intersecting online.
Let’s go back to mommy makeovers. In a trend mommy makeover surgeons are liable to see at work in their offices, the mean age of mothers at the birth of their first child is increasing. It’s gone up six years in the past half century—including a full half-year increase in the last five years after remaining flat for the decade prior.
And the only age segment that saw growth every five years since 2008: women forty plus.
So if your mommy makeover ads only feature women of one age group, you might be missing an opportunity to connect with the full spectrum of women who are considering undergoing the procedure.
Assess and test. Consider running ads with two combinations of creative and seeing which performs better overall—or which specific images might resonate with specific segments of the audience.
You haven’t invested enough
Are you spending enough? Procedures that are more expensive may require a higher budget to convert a patient. Keep this in mind when creating both your targeting and budget. Higher-ticket procedures may necessitate a higher budget.
Before you pull the plug on advertising that doesn’t appear to be working, consider whether you’ve spent enough money to get the result you’re looking for. If you’re willing to spend $100 per consultation and see no results after spending $70, there’s a good chance you simply haven’t invested enough to see a result. In this scenario, even $150 spend might not be enough to assess how worthwhile an advertising channel is.
Many advertising campaigns start off inefficient and perform better over time as you make tweaks to your strategy. Your first consult might cost $300, your second $150, and your third $75 as you continue to turn the knobs on your campaign. In advertising, learning costs money—especially at first.
Commit to a “learning” budget—consider it an investment in your marketing—and know that you might need to make tweaks to your targeting and ads to boost performance as discussed above. If you’re currently sponsoring your RealSelf profile with ads, talk to your Advisor to discuss ways you might get more from your spend.