First, let's begin with a few key considerations:
Always be marketing! Even when your schedule and treatment rooms may be booked solid, remember the analogy that marketing is like gardening - and the "seeds" you plant today may not come to fruition for 30 days, or even several months.
Add value, never take it away! Promotions can either empower or hinder your practice growth efforts - and if your promotion strategy is built on a bedrock of slashing prices, undercutting competitors or "giving away the farm," you will quickly find yourself in a very precarious situation. Remember that with each engagement with a new (or existing) patient, you set a precedent. There is perhaps nothing more frustrating than "training" your patients to avoid making a purchase until the next deep discount or sale comes along.
Don't neglect your "VIP" patients. In general, these will be your top 20% of patients who, by dollar value, are worth the most to your bottom line. While email blasts and mass communications are indeed worth considering, there is immense value in considering these individuals as your "little black book" and personally reaching out to them (by phone) to offer them priority scheduling and a first look for new treatments and procedures, or letting them know when there is a special event or promotion. After all, they are the most likely to purchase from you in the first place!
Avoid phrases and terms that dismantle value. Although there are some rare exceptions, words such as "discount", "free", and "cheap" are used by lower-tier brands that cater to the masses. Instead, aim to use words that convey quality and appeal to more affluent consumers (i.e., savings, incentive, complimentary, affordable, exceptional value, etc.).
Think Outside the Email Newsletter
All too often, when practices think "seasonal promotions" or "monthly offers," they believe it to be synonymous with sending a themed e-mail newsletter, or putting up a handful of social media posts. Nothing could be further from the truth! Marketing always works best… when it works together. In other words, each month and through every season you have a unique opportunity to ensure all of your marketing channels and projects work in perfect harmony. Each time you launch a seasonal or monthly promotion, consider how you can leverage consistent messaging across all of your marketing channels and patient touch points, both online and offline. At a glance, here are the key avenues you'll wish to consider:
- In-practice signage
- Website pages
- Email newsletter
- Social media
- Print collateral (postcards, brochures, etc.)
- Loyalty program / VIP program communications
- Contests and giveaways (dependent on your local regulations)
- Promotions and incentives for new patients
While January is often a period where consumers are feeling the "wallet pinch" of holiday spending, one type of treatment that remains in constant demand, year after year, is weight loss and body shaping. Whether you offer non-invasive body technology such as CoolSculpting or SculpSure, you are a surgeon offering liposculpture, or perhaps your med spa has a medical weight loss program to offer - these are generally "big movers" during the month of January. Ideally, if you can address a patient's body concerns through multiple solutions, this is the perfect time to bundle them in a value-added format (for example: Purchase X sessions of CoolSculpting, enjoy Y dollars towards any of our medical weight loss programs!) that drives patients to take action and begin working towards their best body ever.
Generally speaking, marketing in February places Valentine's Day front and center - and while this is a great idea, it's only the tip of the iceberg. February is also the Oscars, and the Super Bowl! Each of these events presents you with the unique opportunity to showcase different treatments and speak to a different segment of your audience. In my experience, here are a few of the most successful promotions we've offered.
Valentine's Day - While promotions of lip enhancement are indeed popular, they are also ubiquitous. We have seen success with offering "couples" promotions - whether for two significant others, or even for two friends. When two patients make a purchase together (for example, Jane pays for laser hair removal for both herself and her partner John, on her credit or debit card), each receives an additional complimentary session or a special price. Valentine's Day is also an opportune time to offer a special savings on gift cards or gift certificates (i.e., for every $250 in gift cards purchased, you'll receive an additional $50 gift card!).
Awards Season & The Oscars - There's nothing quite like a little "star power," and one of the best ways to leverage it is by showcasing your most gentle, non-invasive "red carpet ready" treatments as well as showcasing any celebrity PR or endorsements your device vendors may have gathered for treatments. Patients are always looking for new and innovative ways to get the "celebrity look" and experience Hollywood's latest treatments for themselves.
The Super Bowl - Despite being one of the most widely-watched events of the year, all too many practices neglect promotions or offers around the Super Bowl as they feel it isn't relevant to them! From a "Guys' Night Out" event in the weeks leading to the Super Bowl (featuring male-centric treatments such as PRP for hair restoration, "brotox," etc.) to a "Game Day Ready" bundle featuring your best skincare products for men, there are numerous ways your practice can score big with male patients at this time of year!
Spring is always a prime time for renewal, and your patients are ready to break free from their winter blues! March is a perfect opportunity to showcase treatments such as chemical peels, IPL, and lighter skincare products compared to the heavier options your patients may have preferred to use during the winter months. Furthermore, March wouldn’t be complete without mentioning St. Patrick's Day! Let your patients feel lucky with value-added promotions around laser packages, complimentary gifts (such as a moisturizer) when they purchase a minimum spend on dermal fillers, and complimentary units with each neurotoxin purchase (i.e., purchase 50 units of Xeomin, and receive 10 units at no additional cost). For those practices that offer dermaplaning, it ties perfectly into the theme of Spring Renewal, and is an ideal "entry point" treatment for patients who are newer to aesthetics.
April marks the start of wedding season - and your brides-to-be (not to mention bridesmaids!) are always looking to glow and feel their most confident on the special day. Remember, several treatments may take as long as 6-8 weeks to see full results, and so the time for brides to be thinking about enhancing their appearance is now! I have also seen "bridal party" style promotions work exceptionally well for treatments such as HydraFacial treatments and traditional facials. With Earth Day also taking place in April, it is an ideal time to showcase any natural skincare products you may have on offer or educating patients on the organic nature of PRP treatments.
May is a very merry month indeed! With both Mother's Day and prom season taking place this month, there's perhaps no better time to target multiple age demographics in your practice concurrently. For Mother's Day, in a similar fashion to the Valentine's Day promotion described above, it's an ideal time to showcase your gifting opportunities such as gift cards and skincare bundles. You may also wish to combine several treatments to create a "Special Day for Mom" package. For those practices offering a wide variety of body technologies (or surgical practices) you may also wish to create a "Mommy Makeover" bundle for those moms looking to treat themselves and look better than ever.
Prom season is an opportune occasion to reach out to and build relationships with your youngest demographic of patients - teens! From acne-fighting treatments to microblading, dermaplaning and facials (as well as treatments such as the HydraFacial), there's nothing quite like the magic of prom season… especially when you can help your patients feel more confident. Of course, be sure to obtain proper parental consent when dealing with this age group.
As spring turns to summer, your patients should be turning to your practice for quality sun protection solutions. SPF reigns supreme during the summer months! June also marks Father's Day - and this provides an excellent opportunity to showcase your male-focused treatments, such as PRP for hair restoration, laser hair removal for areas such as upper arms and back, and "brotox." We have seen success in offering a "Father's Day Gift" (such as 10 complimentary units of BOTOX when 50 are purchased) or a men's skincare product when a female patient makes a minimum purchase for herself. Remember, sometimes the best way to access lucrative and loyal male patients is through the women in their lives! Finally, June is also Acne Awareness month, which allows you a unique opportunity to educate your audience about acne, its causes, and the solutions available at your practice for both acne and acne scars!
July & August
Industry-wide, as patients leave on vacation and have children out of school, the summer season tends to be a period of reduced traffic to your practice. A strategy we have used to overcome this seasonality is offering a special savings (i.e., 15%) when patients pre-purchase treatments ideally suited for after the summer season ends (such as IPL), which they can then schedule during September or October. If your practice offers a monthly subscription or membership model, this can be an excellent way to ensure that even if your practice is not seeing typical traffic, it does not have as substantial an impact on your revenue.
With school back in session and the "lazy days" of summer well over with, September is often a point in the year when your patients (especially those with children) are back to work, and back into their routine. They may have some more "me" time in their schedules that didn't exist before September due to the family demands summer often brings. With this in mind, we have seen "Back to You" packages and bundles work incredibly well, along with educating patients about the damage they have liked caused to their skin over summer - and why solutions such as IPL are ideal.
Perhaps more than at any other time of year, Halloween affords the opportunity to come up with fun, whimsical bundles and promotions all based around "spooky" themes and titles. Of course, for those practices that offer it, a "Vampire" style treatment is a natural fit (being careful to avoid any trademarked terms unless licensed to use them, namely the Vampire Facelift®, which is a registered trademark).
The centerpiece of most November promotions - in our industry and beyond - is indeed Black Friday. While there are any number of promotions that can be incredibly successful as a Black Friday offer, the key is to ensure your patient base is educated about the promotion well ahead of time using the avenues described at the beginning of this article. If your practice does choose to employ a price-reduction strategy, Black Friday may be the one date where this is most acceptable and will do the least "damage" in taking away from the positioning and standard pricing offered by your practice.
One method I have executed with much success for many clients is a non-perishable food (and/or winter clothing) drive for the holidays. In exchange for their contribution, a client (or non client!) receives a gift voucher for a nominal amount (i.e., $25) to be used during a specific period in the new year (such as the month of January). This campaign accomplishes three objectives simultaneously:
- People who may not otherwise come through your doors will get to see your practice when they make a donation
- With gift vouchers, we are able to mitigate some of the seasonality that may be seen at the beginning of a new year
- Most importantly, we are able to support a great cause and help the community
Ideally, if you can alert local press outlets about your campaign and work alongside a community organization doing a similar drive (Boys & Girls Club, local police department, United Way, etc.) this can make such a campaign even more successful. With some clients, I have also implemented a "12 Days" promotional calendar offering 12 special offers, each available for only 24 hours leading up to the holidays. These typically begin with promotions on skincare and smaller ticket items, concluding with substantial savings on higher ticket treatments such as laser and body contouring. Our goal is to have your patients say "Yes!" to as many offers as possible.
Bringing It All Together…
As you think about your promotions for the remainder of the year (and years to come), remember that one size does not fit all when it comes to marketing. The best way to discover what works for your practice is through testing, followed by refinement and optimization. What’s more, don’t make marketing planning an activity done “in the dark” or on the spur of the moment – make it an engaging, enjoyable process that brings your entire team on board to provide feedback and input. I am known for saying that every member of the practice is a sales person (or as I prefer to say, a solutions provider!), and having them involved and informed about your marketing from the outset empowers them to do this part of their job mandate so much more effectively.