We’ve all read the story of “Jack and the Beanstalk”. The tale of an idle, foolish boy who takes his cow to market and comes home with nothing but a bag of magic beans. And all because someone tricked the poor lad into giving up the cow.
A sorry tale indeed. Amazingly though, it still holds true today in the aesthetics industry…
These magic beans take the form of clinic marketing experts and agencies who have a habit of over-promising (and subsequently under-delivering) by claiming they can bring you waves of new patient leads in a ridiculously short amount of time, with zero effort or work required on your part.
Okay, it’s true that the odd bean will grow into a magic beanstalk. But when that happens, it will be more by luck than judgement.
So just in case you’re tempted, I’m going to give you a rundown of Three Magic Beans you want to avoid – especially if you’re just getting started in aesthetics.
Magic Bean 1: Brand Marketing Agencies
To be clear – I don’t mean professionals who create and design brands. I’m referring to those who promise to ‘Get more exposure for your brand’ or ‘Get your brand out there so the world knows who you are’
When it comes to brand awareness, I’d proceed with caution.
Huge corporations like Disney and Virgin can afford to invest in this type of marketing. But it’s expensive and hard to measure. For a small independent aesthetic clinic, it can be a road to ruin.
Now don’t get me wrong here – I’m not underestimating the value of brand awareness. Quite obviously, you need an identity! And if the right people know about you, it can only be good for business. But there is a right way and a wrong way to build that awareness.
The wrong way is the typical agency route: finding a group of people and repeatedly exposing them to your logo and a strap line, in the hope that it will eventually sink in. It doesn’t work; because if people don’t know you or care about you, your brand is going to wash over them, no matter how many times they see it.
The right way is to connect with the people you come across – by helping them in some way. That means doing a great job for patients, so they tell others about you. It means sharing free (and useful!) information with the people who visit your website. It means keeping in touch with people who show an interest in you through emails and social media posts, sharing new advice every day, until you become part of their lives.
Basically, it means serving the market instead of bombarding it with endless noise.
Every message should help the patient to solve a specific problem. Your brand itself is NOT the message.
If you follow this principle, you’ll find that you attract new patients and grow awareness all at once. And it won’t be superficial awareness from people who recognise your logo and recall what business you’re in. It will be a genuine, deep awareness from people who value you and refer you because they know what you stand for.
Magic Bean Number 2: Social Media Marketing Agencies
Ask any Social Media ‘Guru’ what really matters online, and it’s a pound to a penny they’ll tell you “engagement”.
It’s a lovely abstract metric for them, because they get to bill their clients for ‘Likes’ and ‘Retweets’ and ‘Shares’ and other virtual thumbs-up that look impressive on screen but rarely add to the bottom line.
The thing to remember is, there’s no link between engagement and actual sales. Just think how many pages you like on Facebook, or how many people you follow on Twitter, then ask yourself how many of those people have you bought from?
We like and follow someone just to find a fleeting distraction, but we buy to solve a problem or fulfill a desire. It’s not the same thing.
The solution? Try holding your social media manager to account…
Look through every sale you’ve made in the last 6 – 12 months and see what you can directly attribute to the activities of your social media manager. Be honest – how much money have you paid them so far, and have you seen a return on that investment?
Now, compare that with your other sales and marketing activities. Chances are you’ll see a classic 80:20 curve, where one or two things bring in the bulk of your business.
If all of this shows you that your social media manager isn’t pulling their weight, well at least you know where to focus your efforts for next month.
Magic Bean Number 3: Search Engine Optimisation
If you have a website, you’ve probably had a conversation with your website developer about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Perhaps you’re already paying them a monthly fee to do SEO for you?
SEO is the process of growing the quantity of visitors to your website by increasing the visibility of your website to users of a search engine (like Google)
The aim is to ensure your website appears at the top of the list when people in your area ‘Google’ the name of a treatment or service you provide (e.g. Botox Manchester)
Admittedly, there was a time when SEO was worth the investment, but there’s a big debate over how sustainable it is in the long term. Many internet marketing experts believe SEO is dying a slow death.
It’s true that all websites need to be ‘optimised’ to an extent so that search engines can recognise and index them correctly. After that, SEO managers are paid to ensure a website is continually ‘worthy’ to search engines for the top spot – and they deploy a variety of digital tactics to accomplish this.
The problem is that such tactics can also be used to make a poor quality website look worthy of the top spot, and as search engines like Google have been deceived once too often, they are continually changing their algorithms.
That means it’s harder to ‘manoeuvre’ your site into position now. Most of the websites that make it to the top spot are there on merit, not by manipulation.
Not only that, but the top results in any given search are getting pushed down the page by Sponsored Listings (Google Ads), so being ‘top of Google’ isn’t the prime position it was.
The list of reasons to call time on SEO is growing, so be wary of anyone who claims they can take you to the top of Google, and keep you there forever.
Finally – if you’ve been paying an extortionate amount of money for someone to manage your SEO, for six months or longer, and your website is still not ranking highly, my advice is to call it a day and re-invest that money into other business and marketing opportunities.
Find something that gives you complete control, is easily measurable, and scaleable.