Practice Playbook: Dr. Arian Mowlavi Focuses on a Niche

Practice Playbook: Dr. Arian Mowlavi Focuses on a Niche

1024 576 The RealSelf Team

What does it take to get a return on your investment in RealSelf? In this series, we’ll walk you through the approaches your peers have taken in order to get peak performance from their profiles.


Procedure specialization-oriented · Focus on photos

Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Arian Mowlavi believes in focusing on what he wants to be known for and dedicates a significant chunk of his time to advancing this niche. By tackling research projects and modifying traditional techniques, he has been able to improve surgical outcomes and subsequently showcase those results to consumers.

He employs undergraduate students to convert his research and patient work into marketing, with a particular focus on before-and-after photos and videos to give consumers a look at his see-it-to-believe-it results.

Next, he actively uses RealSelf as a channel to show that content to the world, driving to 100-plus leads per month, a level he maintained even through the coronavirus-prompted shutdown: “RealSelf provides me something that’s priceless, and that’s exposure. You guys are exposing me to the whole country, the world. That’s what I need.”

Dr. Mowlavi’s RealSelf strategy drives 100-plus leads every month.

RealSelf Profile By the Numbers

Specialty: Plastic surgeon

Years in practice: 16

Joined RealSelf: 2013

Location: Laguna Beach, CA

Patient reviews: 254

Star rating: 4.9

B&A photos: 3,613

Answers: 10,769

Dr. Mowlavi’s Marketing Philosophy: MASTER OF ONE 

Dr. Mowlavi is seeing success by focusing his time on a highly specialized procedure. “We’re very concentrated on a body contouring arena that has been coined “high definition,” he told us. “It’s something that I’m pioneering and writing about, which I have had the privilege to share as a lecturer throughout the country.”

Right now, Dr. Mowlavi has a handful of active research projects in play, which will be published in peer-reviewed journals when work has concluded.

“Anytime you’re super specialized in something, you’re going to have more success,” he offered. The recommendation is based, in part, on his keen understanding of how consumers decide—by body concern and procedure. “I would really recommend that doctors focus on their areas of expertise and try to put more of the resources into the areas where they know that they do a beautiful job, because at the end of the day, you’re getting compared to other doctors who do similar work.”

“They’re calling me because of the results—specifically the before-and-after photos.”

One Big Idea: Amp up your before-and-after strategy

Get resourceful to ramp your volume.

Dr. Mowlavi works with undergraduate students striving to get into medical school on research projects surrounding high definition body contouring, affording them coveted publishing opportunities. In exchange, those students help him with social media, uploading before-and-after content, and writing blog posts and articles.

Leveraging student help is an important part of his formula for being so prolific, including with before-and-after content. “Success on RealSelf is about how much effort you put into your profile, and this includes uploading before and after photos,” he said. “You have to do good work, but you also have to spend the time to present it. It’s not automatic—you have to devote resources.”

Add video to the mix.

“We get beautiful results, and before-and-after photos are indispensable to demonstrating this to consumers,” Dr. Mowlavi said. But those results have been so dramatic that he’s actually gotten occasional comments expressing disbelief at the outcomes.

Recognizing that before-and-after images are meant to give consumers a concrete sense of what’s possible and help them appreciate what is possible. Dr. Mowlavi added videos to inspire even greater confidence. “You can’t argue with video. I do a video showing what I’ve achieved at the end of surgery while the patient’s still on the bed. They’re very important – almost more important than photos.”

Dr. Mowlavi currently has more than three dozen procedure videos posted to his RealSelf profile.

The critical bookends: pipeline and ROI

Dr. Mowlavi invests so much time into his content because he knows it’s necessary to win over scrutinizing consumers. “They’re very smart these days,” he observed. “They study you inside and out.”

But he also knows that the content is only as good as the number of consumers who see it in the first place, and his practice’s ability to convert those visitors into consults and patients.

Consistent posting is driving traffic.

By employing undergraduate students’ help to publish consistently and keep his volume of profile content high, Dr. Mowlavi is also signaling to RealSelf that his profile is relevant, facilitates impressions and gets his content seen by consumers.

Connecting with virtual consults.

Dr. Mowlavi does 5 to 10 of them daily. And during the month when his office was closed during COVID-19, he continued to employ a full staff to help double down on virtual consultations.

His office is currently booked up for a month for in-house consultations, due in large part to the backlog generated by the pause, plus low-traffic social distancing measures currently in place at his office. In this way, virtual consults let his office provide a high-touch next step for consumers from his profile as soon as same-day.

Profile tip: Dr. Mowlavi has enabled virtual consultations on his profile, which lets him appear in search results for consumers looking for doctors who are available to meet virtually, and is a beacon for profile visitors who want to take the next step to set up an appointment.

Taking time to quantify results.

“If you don’t calculate ROI,” Dr. Mowlavi warned, “then you don’t know what you’re doing or why you’re doing it.”

Each month, Dr. Mowlavi tracks what he’s spending on RealSelf and, crucially, how much business he’s getting back, starting with identifying inbound RealSelf leads and then tracking those leads through to consults and procedures completed. (Dr. Mowlavi told us he’s doing “very well” in terms of ROI on RealSelf.)

One crisp takeaway

Leverage before-and-after photos to demonstrate your expertise and think about how you can maximize the opportunity by 1) focusing on fundamentals for static photos, and 2) considering ways to amp them from there, including adding multi-step progress photos.