I recently watched a video where a nanny posted a conversation she had with her young charge about communicating.  They were frustrated in trying to connect because the young girl did not have a cell phone and the nanny couldn’t reach her through other avenues.   The girl said “I have an idea!  Someone should invent a phone for the whole family.  It could stay in one place and maybe be connected to the wall so it would ring and anyone in the house could answer it. Wouldn’t that be easy?”  

After laughing, I realized that many things we used to do to build an aesthetic practice have fallen to the wayside, replaced with digital activities instead.   Marketing, patient acquisition, referrals, appointment reminders, etc. are all done digitally now.  In some cases, this can be efficient, but in many situations, this eliminates the personal touch that used to draw patients to a practice or retain them within the practice. Maybe it is time to bring back some of those “old practices” to refresh your patient communication. 

New Patient Acquisition

When aesthetic treatments first started entering the mainstream market in the early 2000s, there was no social media.  Practices were just starting to develop websites and many injectors were just beginning to use email and text.  The majority of patient awareness campaigns were either word of mouth, in office or print advertising.   Many injectors wore product “bling” t-shirts and would actively chat with people they met in their daily lives to educate them on the products and services in aesthetic medicine.   The primary way that new patients came to a practice was truly through word-of-mouth referrals from another patient or with injector-driven awareness. 

Many people I know have hundreds, if not thousands, of unopened emails and DMs/texts may be read and then passed by.   Because of this glut of messages, a bigger return on investment might be achieved with a more personalized approach to seeking new patients by focusing on patient referral programs. 

Share business cards with patients so they have them in their purse or bag to give to a friend when someone comments on how great they look.   The practice might offer existing patients a complementary treatment of a new service or a small discount for referring their friends to your practice.  And you can simply ask a patient to refer their friends to you by saying something like “You look fantastic!  If you have friends that comment on how refreshed you look, I’d be honored to take care of them as a patient as well if you ever feel like sharing my name.” 

Promotional Marketing

If digital marketing is the only form of marketing for your practice, you might investigate bringing back postcards or mailers to advertise your special offers.   It may sound old-fashioned but competing for awareness with 2 other pieces of snail mail as opposed to 500 emails might actually give you a good return on investment.   If you are sending a text, give them a link to your website so they can visualize the treatment special and take an action instead of just glancing at their phone. 

You also can get out of your comfort zone and personally visit potential patients or referral sources.  Take business cards to nearby businesses and invite them to a special educational event for the community.   Start conversations with anyone you meet and educate them about where you work and what services you provide.   Have a special ‘friends and family’ event to let those close to you experience your career.  This is a great time to offer a discount if they will allow you to use their pictures as part of your before/after portfolio.

Patient educational events are also a great way to help prospective patients learn about the potential outcomes you can offer.   Many practices held patient events prior to COVID, but an entirely new segment of potential patients might appreciate you holding these events again, especially since so many new products and services have been introduced in the past 3 years.

Patient Reminders

Personalized communication with patients is also another way to set your practice apart from the sea of marketing messages.   Many younger patients have never received a thank you card in their life except from a wedding or shower.   Take a minute to send a quick note to each patient, thanking them for choosing you and enclosing a couple of business cards.  Inquire how they want to be reminded of upcoming appointments. While some may prefer texts, others may want more personal communication.  If you haven’t seen a patient in a while, send them a personalized note saying that you miss them instead of just a generic email with a special offer. 

In the age of impersonal communication and marketing, reminding patients that you are a provider who cares about them will help your practice stand out and encourage word of mouth referrals.   Bringing back old habits might bring new patients to your practice!

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