Pros & Cons: Popular Aesthetic Marketing Options

Pros & Cons: Popular Aesthetic Marketing Options

1024 683 Kelcy Heringer

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more than $16 billion is spent on cosmetic procedures in the U.S.1 If you want to keep up with existing practices (and get ahead of newcomers), your marketing plan needs to be strategic, diverse, and effective. So consider the pros and cons of common marketing options to help get your share of local consumers.

Social media pros & cons

+ Everyone’s doing it: Facebook has 2+ billion users. Instagram has 700+ million. And Twitter? 328+ million tweeters.

+ Hashtags extend organic reach: Consumers interested in particular treatments can easily discover relevant posts and your account with just one click—no marketing spend required.

+ It’s free to post: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter make it quick, easy, and free to share content on a regular basis.

– Free can mean hard to see: If you don’t pay to boost a Facebook post, as little as 6.5% of the audience you’re trying to reach (including people who Like or Follow you) will actually see it.2

– #fewertweeters: Twitter reported that monthly users in the U.S. dropped from 70 million to 68 million in the first half of 2017.

– Instagram skews younger: If your treatments are mainly for an older audience, know that more than half of Instagram users are under 30.3 Though this can be a big pro, if you offer treatments like Botox® that are seeing growth from consumers in their 20s.

Your website pros & cons

+ Branding: Your practice’s website is your main online presence, allowing you to start establishing a brand identity and trust with consumers.

+ Mobile-friendly: If your site is built to be responsive (automatically adjusting layout for smartphone users), consumers can easily navigate your site and contact you directly.

+ SEO matters: Search engines refer 300% more traffic to websites than social media does.4 Using search engine optimization techniques to show up higher in search results is a must.

– The web is crowded: Competing with other local practices and national aesthetic websites can be tough, when search rankings depend heavily on popularity and how relevant your content is.

– Outsourcing costs money: While it’s often worth the expense, many practices rely on external companies to create and manage their website.

– Less effective reviews: Aesthetic consumers choosing a doctor find 3rd-party reviews 50% more useful than testimonials on a doctor’s website.5

E-newsletters pros & cons

+ Good for retention: Driving repeat business is easier when you show up in a patient’s inbox with helpful news, tips, and discounts.

+ Relationship building: How you engage when patients aren’t onsite is just as important as your quality of work and bedside manner when they are.

+ Measurability: You can easily track how many people open your emails, click on links, and take advantage of special offers.

– Not great for acquisition: If you don’t already have someone’s email address, you can’t send them the newsletter you worked so hard to create.

– Labor-intensive: Especially for multitasking staff members that handle marketing, finding time to write, design, create, and send e-newsletters can be tough.

– Inboxes fill quickly: If your recipients don’t read right away, they’re not likely to circle back a day or a week later.

Newspaper pros & cons

+ Offers work well: Because newspaper ads rank highest on consumer trust and have a “here today, gone tomorrow” urgency, special offers can be very effective.6

+ Variety of ad formats: Chances are, your local paper has ad sizes and formats that can easily fit your marketing budget.

+ Going digital: Many newspapers now offer digital extensions, where your online advertisements can reach the readers who’ve switched from print to web-based news.

– Declining offline readership: As consumers continue the shift to getting their information and news online, printed newspaper circulation has decreased for 28 straight years.7

– Poor branding: Printed newspapers have cluttered pages and low resolution photos, so grabbing attention and making a good impression can be a challenge.

– Shorter shelf life: With a printed newspaper, your ad has a window of just one day to grab attention.

Magazine pros & cons

+ Consumers trust them: Like with newspaper ads, consumers place the most trust in magazine ads when making a purchase decision.6

+ Higher quality photos: Before & after photos aren’t just for your website. Magazine ads showcase your work in all its glossy, high-resolution glory.

+ Longer shelf life: Unlike newspapers, magazines often stick around for months on coffee tables and in tote bags so you have more opportunity to catch a reader’s eye.

– Health care marketers are slow to adapt: 47% still rely on print magazines, compared to other marketers at just 35%.8 Would you rather keep up with the competition, or get ahead of them?

– Long lead times: Print deadlines require submitting ads months in advance. There goes advertising your new treatment option that required a big equipment investment.

– Infrequent publications: Most magazines come out just once a month, yet conventional wisdom says you need to reach a consumer seven times to make an impression.

Radio pros & cons

+ Broad exposure: You can potentially reach a lot of local consumers. For instance, 82% of med spa clients are age 35+,9 the same group that still listens to the radio.

+ Demographic targeting: Choose a radio station that appeals to your potential clientele, such as “top 40” current popular hits for a younger audience or talk radio for an older audience.

+ More affordable than TV: Ideal for a local business, radio spots are easier and cheaper to make, and less expensive to get on the air.

– Low awareness: If your radio spot airs but people are too busy yelling at traffic or focusing on their computer, does it really make a sound (or an impression)?

– Pay more for your target audience: Costs vary based on listener demographics, day and time (with weekday drive time the peak price), and demand from other advertisers.

– Lots of variables: Accurately understanding what you’re buying requires parsing the factors above, plus deciphering radio industry lingo like AQH (average quarterly hour).

The good, the bad & the ugly

Marketing your practice can be tricky. But you don’t want to take for granted the growth the industry is seeing. It’s more important than ever to establish strong marketing strategies, which starts with maximizing the pros you get out of your marketing channels while minimizing the cons.



(1) American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2016 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report.

(2) HubSpot, The Decline of Organic Facebook Reach & How to Outsmart the Algorithm.

(3) Pew Research Center, Mobile Messaging and Social Media 2015.

(4) Search Engine People, 40 Unbelievable SEO Statistics You Need to Know.

(5) RealSelf survey data, 2017.

(6) Marketing Sherpa, Marketing Chart: Which advertising channels consumers trust most and least when making purchases.

(7) Pew Research Center, Despite subscription surges for largest U.S. newspapers, circulation and revenue fall for industry overall.

(8) Content Marketing Institute, Research Finds Health Care Content Marketing Lags Two Years Behind.

(9) AmSpa, 2017 Medical Spa State of the Industry Report.

Kelcy Heringer

Since 2015, Kelcy Heringer has overseen marketing at RealSelf, the world’s most popular aesthetic treatment website. As Vice President of Marketing, Kelcy guides the strategies that attract and engage the active community of aesthetic providers on RealSelf. Prior to joining RealSelf, Kelcy’s 10 years of experience include medical marketing at Allergan, as well as marketing and product management at Valeant Pharmaceuticals.

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