The Aesthetic Consumer Decision Journey, Part II: The Path to the Ideal Doctor

The Aesthetic Consumer Decision Journey, Part II: The Path to the Ideal Doctor

150 150 Rob Lovitt

ideal doctor, aesthetic marketing, board certification, cosmetic surgery

As previously noted, the decision journey aesthetic consumers undertake is long, non-linear and, initially at least, focused more on possible options (e.g., procedures) than potential providers. It’s not, however, an all-or-nothing affair as the research people conduct on their aesthetic concerns inevitably exposes them to providers who can resolve them.

A lot of providers, which is why potential patients eventually narrow their search to a handful of doctors who warrant more serious consideration, thus creating a so-called “consideration set” that helps guide them toward a final decision. Knowing the roles various factors play in those decisions — what potential patients hope to learn about the contenders, in effect — can help you shape your content and increase the odds that you’re among them.

The ideal doctor is professional, open and honest

While board certification and experience are obviously important (more on them below), aesthetic consumers consider a host of non-technical factors as they narrow their searches. Case in point: When we asked members of the RealSelf community to name the three most important qualities in their ideal doctor, they cited professionalism (71%), honesty (63%) and being a good listener (54%).

The ideal doctor backs it up with proven skills and supporting evidence

There’s more to professionalism, of course, than an honest approach and pleasant bedside manner. As they conduct their research, aesthetic consumers want to see evidence that that professionalism extends to doctors’ skills and the results they provide. When we asked people what factors influenced them before they selected a doctor, the top three choices were experience/skill level (78%), board certification (73%) and results as shown in photos (72%).

Perceived experience and proven results set the stage for confident decisions

Creating a consideration set is, by definition, a process of eliminating options so it should come as no surprise that aesthetic consumers rely on the characteristics above — experience, credentials and photos — to create theirs. For many of them — 68%, according to RealSelf research — that consideration set consists of just two to five doctors, underscoring just how important it is that your content showcase those elements.

Online reviews help seal the deal

Making it into an aesthetic consumer’s consideration set is one thing; having them actually pick up the phone or send an email is another. So what makes a potential patient take that next crucial step? To answer that, we asked more than 1,800 community members why they contacted the doctor(s) they did by ranking seven possible factors. One in four cited board certification as the No. 1 driver but reviews came in second, cited by another 20% — more than photos (14%), referrals (13%) or years of experience (13%).

Doctor Takeaway

If you want to be considered, consider consumers’ top concerns

Potential patients are as unique as their individual aesthetic concerns but they also conform to patterns when choosing a doctor. During their oft-extensive research, they ask questions, read reviews from other patients and select (or reject) potential providers based on the information that research reveals. As the above data demonstrates, much of the winnowing takes place long before they actually contact your practice, which means your reputation is, in large part, defined by your online persona. Given the stakes, emphasizing the factors that aesthetic consumers use to gauge it can help ensure you make the cut.

Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including, and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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