I’m sure you’ll agree that over the last decade, we have seen a seismic shift in the competitive landscape of the UK aesthetic industry.
Competition is higher than ever before.
Supply and availability of treatments is outstripping demand.
It’s no longer enough to just treat lines and wrinkles – your patients need more from you.
And for consumers, social media is fast replacing word-of-mouth as the most popular way of obtaining information.
Too often I hear the words, “my business isn’t going in the direction I want it to” or “I’m not getting enough bookings” or “I’m thinking of giving it up because I can’t get my business to work”.
These are all problems caused by changing market forces, and your future success will depend on your ability to adapt to those changes.
It has less to do with your level of clinical expertise or even your knowledge of business, but more about you as a person and your ability to innovate and change with the times.
Here are 5 key shifts we all need to make to turn the significant challenges of the next decade into a major opportunity for business transformation…
1. MAXIMISE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE
Over the last decade, many aesthetic practitioners I have spoken to say to me “I just need more new clients and patients”.
Unless you are new to aesthetics, then you already have a database that I bet you don’t reach out to as often as you should.
If you are not investing the appropriate time, money and resources into retention marketing, or worse – if you’re letting patients walk out of the door without a follow-up appointment or call booked in the diary – you are driving your patients right into the arms of your competitors.
For many aesthetic practitioners, they don’t want to appear pushy or ‘salesy’, so there is often what I call a ‘crisis of conscience’ – completely understandable.
I remember an aesthetic doctor I worked with recently who didn’t want to feel pushy calling his patients personally.
Instead of thinking of it as a sales call, I asked him to think of it as a service call; (who wouldn’t want to hear personally from their doctor right?)
So he reached out to his patients to let them know he was moving premises and still had a few appointment gaps before Christmas.
What followed was a barrage of relief from his patients – “I thought you had moved on”, “I didn’t know how to get hold of you”, “thank goodness you contacted me” – which led to lots of immediate bookings and his patients feeling special, because he had remembered them.
The key point here is that you will always be a medical professional, in your heart, but now it’s time to be a businessperson, in your head.
Instead of thinking that you are ‘selling’, think of it as ‘serving’, as that’s what it is when it’s done ethically.
A decade ago, it was enough to rely on one or two sources of marketing – with referrals and word-of-mouth being the ‘easiest’ marketing method.
Today you can’t rely on ‘hope marketing’. Hoping that your patients will tell their friends about you, hoping that they will come back.
It’s time to become obsessed with patient retention.
Yes, it will still require effort, but not as much effort or money as it costs to get a new patient through the door.
It is expected to be another volatile political year. So, with continued uncertainty ahead, it is critical to pay special attention to costs, pricing and business operations so that there’s comfort in efficiency, whilst continuing to look for areas to grow and innovate.
Think of your aesthetic business as a boat with a few leaks in the bottom of it – those leaks are time, productivity, money, patients, profits, staff – to name but a few.
‘Plugging the leaks’ is critical before new patient marketing can be focused upon.
One client I worked with hadn’t paid any attention to their set-up costs and outgoings, and when we looked in more detail, we discovered they were overpaying for many services, products and other overheads.
When they did the same exercise for their home expenses (without me involved), they managed to save over £2000 a month on unnecessary expenses, including paying for pet insurance for a dog who was no longer alive!
I have seen a few things like this over the years, so ask yourself – where can you plug the leaks and be more efficient and profitable?
Look at every expense and ask yourself:
“Do I need this, or do I want this?”
“Is this going to grow the business, or will this be a cost to the business?”
and “What can I reduce, negotiate or eliminate?
2. YOUR TEAM’S HAPPINESS MATTERS
I wholeheartedly believe that it’s people who make a business thrive.
Yes, we need a steady stream of patients, but we need a happy, engaged and motivated team.
Employees don’t just necessarily want more money; they want to be happy at work and that means feeling like they matter and that the work they do contributes to the future success of a business.
Furthermore, as many people are unhappy with the state of our country and the world right now, keeping them happier at work boosts productivity and profits.
Clinics who become more culture-conscious will focus on employee engagement, morale and happiness because they recognise there is a strong link between engaged employees, productivity and profits.
I remember, some years ago, when leaving my last employed job to set up my aesthetic business thinking that I would never treat my employees the way my last boss treated our team.
He never acknowledged or thanked anyone, the internal communications were non-existent, everyone was walking on eggshells, and the mood was often angry or dark.
I have only ever come across a toxic environment like that in a clinic once before, but the owner knew they needed help to become a better leader and that it all started and ended with them.
As we enter a new decade, the competition for great staff is even higher, especially in London, so look after your ‘A-Players’, nurture them and attract others like them, don’t allow your team to be dragged down by a toxic culture.
Hire, train and fire based on values, have a notice up on the wall in the staff room stating
‘No BMWs – No B*tchers, Moaners or Whiners”
and check-in with yourself often…
Are you leading by example?
Would you want to work for you?
3. BE REAL, AUTHENTIC AND VISIBLE
If you have held back from being visible, now is the time to get yourself out there.
As the saying goes, “people buy from people they like”, and patients buy from practitioners who are real, authentic and visible, as they feel more connected to them.
With that connection builds trust and breaks down the barriers before they have even met you. Especially if you appear in videos and social media stories.
I often hear practitioners being afraid of raising their head above the parapet, for fear of being judged, or getting negative comments, but in today’s highly competitive aesthetics marketplace, being known as the face of the business will help to make the telephone ring.
Long gone are the days of stock images, blue and white websites, using logos for your Facebook profile photo.
People need to see the real you.
A very experienced surgeon I know has become so much more visible on her Instagram page, by showing her personality and creating content with emotion and entertainment, not just education.
This real, authentic and visible marketing means that patients are coming into the practice and instantly recognising her, already feeling like they know her.
What a compliment it is when your prospective patients feel like they know you before they have even met you!
The focus has shifted. The sheer amount of free educational content now available, which has been added over the last decade, full of ‘Top 5 Tips’ and ‘How To…’ content, has somewhat flooded the online world.
In this new decade, the more you can use your personal stories, reasons for being in aesthetics and (with permission) the stories of your patients’ journeys, using real emotion to engage with others who are feeling just like they did, the more you will attract the right patients to you.
For me, 2020 is the year that I will be out there more, writing content, doing more videos, more stories, but being even more open and let’s face it, open means vulnerable.
Shall we do this together?
One client of mine does this so well, I love their Facebook page.
Email me if you want to find out who it is; they entertain me, educate me and at the right moment create emotion.
They have got it nailed.
4. GET PERSONAL
There is too much noise and too many options for today’s consumer.
They will naturally go towards those businesses which offer them personalised service; reducing the noise and giving them precisely what they want.
It’s now up to you to be that business.
Providing your clients and patients with a personalised experience is essential.
A good example of customised service is Amazon, when we browse the website as we shop, we see product suggestions which are like our earlier purchases, and not something irrelevant.
Start by personalising your marketing communications, don’t just send mass emails, but segment your data so you know which patients have had which treatments and services.
Follow up with a text or a WhatsApp, or a telephone call, and if your emails aren’t being opened (20% open rate is as good as it gets these days), then send a personalised letter in the post.
As we know, the competition for attention in an email inbox is huge and is going to get worse as time goes by.
Whilst there’s still a place for email marketing, it’s time to be more real and authentic; write your emails using your voice, not that of a third person, to properly connect with your audience.
When it comes to customer service, nothing beats the human touch.
Many times, I have called up the customer support for a company, pressed buttons and dodged automated responses to connect with a real human being.
I don’t want to talk to a chatbot, I want to talk to a real person when it’s urgent!
The growth of online communities and groups continue, as Facebook’s algorithms prioritise these in our newsfeeds and notifications.
Could you create your own online community, sharing wellness or skincare content, stories and videos to reach a wider audience and connect with them?
5. JUMP ON BOARD THE INFLUENCER MARKETING TRAIN
Influencer marketing is like celebrity endorsement in the age of mass media.
Instead of using big movie stars or musicians, you can target micro influencers or personalities who have a strong following within your target market.
Micro-influencers have social media channels that are very active. Their followers and peers (who might also be influencers) engage more with their content, rather than just viewing them and leaving ‘likes’.
You need to get on this train before your competitors get to the top micro-influencers of your target audience.
So, what are you going to do differently this year?
Pick at least one business goal that’s achievable but so exciting it fills you with the drive to do whatever it takes to achieve it.
And if you haven’t already done so, please do one thing now to make 2020 a very successful year for you.
Grab one of these special packs and give your business the kick-start it deserves.
It will only take you a moment and you’ll be setting yourself up for a tremendous new year – and decade.
Wishing you continued success and every happiness