Can Offer-Based Marketing Work for Aesthetic Practices?
7 Minute Read
Offers aren't always discounts, they don't have to cheapen your brand, and every practice needs an offer-based strategy to capture and command the consumer's attention in this era of digital overload.
If it sounds unusual, it's only because incompetent advertisers have dumbed down offer-based marketing and turned it into a bargain-basement race to the bottom.
But John Wheeler is no stranger to the unconventional approach. With a background in pastoral ministry providing a depth of compassion and empowerment to his work as the CEO of Esthetics Center, he has built his company around "creating the perfect patient experience." What that means for the rest of us is nothing less than a case study in results-oriented marketing. When I sat down with John to interview him for a podcast focusing on how he built the Esthetics Center brand, I was particularly interested in what he had to say about marketing offers.
The number one, most important takeaway?
Like it or not, marketing offers work.
As John noted in Episode 15 of Next Level Practices, these kinds of offers generate increased demand as a matter of simple economic law. But as with anything, implementing an offer-based strategy in the realm of aesthetics requires a more nuanced approach in order to ensure success. What follows has been edited from our discussion, and you can listen to the full episode here:
So without further ado, let’s dive into the arena of offer-based marketing.
What is a Marketing Offer?
A marketing offer can be anything that encourages a potential customer to obtain a product or service.
While marketing offers often take the form of discounts or free trials, a more expansive view of what is possible in an aesthetic offer can open a door to creative and delightful experiences for prospective patients.
As a general rule, we feel that most offers are better suited for non-surgical practices — but at the same time, such offers are almost a requirement for any kind of display or direct-response advertising, whether surgical or otherwise.
The answer often lies in getting creative with your offers so that they reflect the attitude and professionalism of your brand. Later in this article, we will present some examples of how offer-based marketing can work for aesthetic practices and take a look at why these types of offers can be so successful.
But first, let's attempt to dispel one of the most common misconceptions about marketing offers.
The Elephant in the Waiting Room
One of the most frequent concerns I’ve heard about offer-based marketing is this: “Well, you've given them a discount — now they expect it.”
I absolutely loved John’s response when I challenged him about this. “It's just not a thing,” he said. “When you're offering a high-caliber person the right reason to come in once and try you, if you're good at targeting, you're not targeting bargain hunters. You're targeting people that have a yearly income of typically $100,000 or more.”
My key takeaway: discounts and marketing offers that appeal to high-caliber, qualified prospects. By using an offer to get the right person in the door in the first place, you can then focus on retention without relying on a repeated series of Groupon-style offers to keep them interested.
Consumers who make aesthetic decisions based on cost alone probably aren’t the customers you actually want in your practice. Your practice should be able to set itself apart from the competition on merits of professionalism, quality, and service. No amount of discounts will ever mask inferior results — the marketing offer is simply a point of leverage to push them over the edge of indecision to get the procedures they’ve always wanted.
So if you’re doing offer-based marketing the right way, it just isn’t an issue.
How to Do it Right
No one wants the downward spiral that comes with a race to the bottom dollar. When practices start undercutting each other in pursuit of the lowest price, they can lose sight of what makes their own surgical center or MedSpa special to patients.
We often say that “aesthetics matter in aesthetics” — or to put it another way, it’s important to ensure that every detail pertaining to your practice contributes to maintaining an integrated and elevated brand.
Quick tip: Don’t mention your offers to existing patients. Use them to bring new people in the door. And avoid showing the same offers to people who've already redeemed those offers.
Doing offer-based marketing not just tastefully, but effectively, requires offering the correct discount to the correct prospect at the correct time. The secret is to identify what new patients would consider valuable enough in order to set aside any anxieties or doubts they have about saying yes to aesthetic procedures and products.
What's going to motivate them to do that? Why should they trust you? Why should they care? These questions must be answered at the very beginning of implementing any kind of offer-based marketing campaign.
And finally, marketing offers must be part of a larger strategy, because they won’t succeed on their own. Email or SMS follow-up can be effective ways to re-engage with your customers, for example — but that is the subject of a full-funnel, multichannel, integrated approach to marketing, and beyond the scope of this article.
For the purposes of this discussion, here are some types of marketing offers that we have found can be effective for aesthetic practices. Remember, these are just for the sake of providing examples, and what works for one practice will not work for others. But hopefully these ideas can help you get creative in working out what kind of offers will work for your practice.
Is there anything you can do to pamper your patients and give them a luxury experience? Maybe you already do a lot of little things that just need to be packaged in concierge trappings and dressed up as a special offer for new customers. Think champagne and cigars, a personalized robe, or providing limo service from the airport for patients arriving from out of town.
Gifts can fall into many different categories. Free skincare products and free syringes of fillers are the most common giveaways we see for MedSpas, while surgical practices frequently offer free consultations or free cycles on certain devices. Depending on your target market or demographic, gift cards can be an appropriate gift, while something more exotic may be just the ticket.
Look for ways to combine products or services in unique ways for first-time customers. While in reality this is a type of discount, the emphasis is on combining things that will work well together to give patients greater value. This carries the added benefit of introducing them to additional procedures or product lines that can keep them coming back for more.
There’s a reason discounts are so common: they work. And it is important to use discounts as needed. But sometimes there are limits from industry on what discounts can be offered, or rules and guidelines on how to implement such discounts.
Discounts are often percentage-based, such as 20% off, but it can also be effective to set an attractive price point at a fixed rate. One example of this would be to offer fillers at $225 for new patients, with a limit of 20 units per client.
Don’t be afraid to try new things to find out what works best for your practice. Maybe that means a system for racking up rewards points. Or if you’re looking to get more adventurous, try hosting a meetup with a celebrity influencer — the sky’s the limit. (Let’s see, how could a MedSpa skydiving crossover offer work…)
Every aesthetic practice needs an offer-based marketing strategy.
This may be brand-new territory for you, especially if you have a surgical practice, but the truth remains that marketing offers are unquestionably effective in bringing in new patients for aesthetic services and products.
Influx Marketing can help you implement an offer-based strategy. Just like the free consultations I mentioned in this article, we offer a free in-depth analysis of your website and your current marketing efforts. Click here to start the conversation.
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