Often, some of the biggest marketing mistakes that aesthetic practices make come from a place of having the best intentions, or perhaps trying to follow what appears to be working for other practices.
Nowhere is that more evident that in what I would describe as one of the largest pricing (and profit) pitfalls I see practices making – their “price per unit” strategy for neurotoxins and “per syringe” pricing for dermal fillers.
How often have you seen a billboard, radio ad or sandwich board shouting “New Patients Only! BOTOX $8 Per Unit!”? For me, it’s been more times than I’d care to recall!
One of the main reasons the “per unit” pricing model is so disheartening is the fact that it speaks to a much bigger problem in the industry – the inclination to undercut competitors and pursue patients based on price.
Let’s explore the issue a little bit further, and explore some viable (and practice-building!) alternatives.
Charging (and advertising) per unit means a patient is choosing your practice based on price – and that may ultimately the reason they choose to leave.
I frequently use the example that someone can choose to purchase a grey wool sweater at Neiman Marcus, or they can choose to purchase a grey wool sweater at Wal-Mart. While the goods on offer may be comparable, the experience offered to a consumer (and the clientele who frequent each establishment) contrast and vary substantially.
Price shoppers are loyal to their wallets, not to a provider! Price shopping, by its vary nature, discourages seeking quality or doing adequate research in the pursuit of a deal above all. It lowers the standard of treatment for everyone.
Your aesthetic practice is no different, not only do you need to consider what type of patient (ideally, not those who are price shoppers!) you wish to attract and serve – but consider what goes into your pricing and the experience you wish to create.
Do This Instead: Aim to distinguish both your practice and procedures so patients see the value in selecting your practice over others and don’t consider price as a decision factor – instead seeing the unique value that justifies your price point.
Advertising based on price is the fastest way to have patients see your practice as a commodity.
Part of moving away from “per unit” pricing is changing the conversation with your patients. Ultimately, a patient is coming through your practice doors because they seek a particular result and the solution to a cosmetic concern. Solutions are unique to each patient, and aren’t delivered in a set number of units.
Although all consumers consider price, what they ultimately are looking for is value. Consumer psychology studies have shown that it is human nature to make a purchase based on emotion, and justify with facts afterwards. People want an outcome (emotional reaction) rather than a set number of units (logical justification).
When you charge per unit (and lead with this in your marketing) it leads a prospective patient to see your practice as identical to competitors, rather than a distinct brand and alternative. While some products (such as apples at different grocers) may indeed be commodities, all injectable providers are not created equal.
Brands get the patient’s attention, while commodities are lost in a sea of obscurity. The more competitive your market, the more things principle rings true.
What patients are really paying or is not the product on offer itself (such as Botox, Xeomin or Dysport). They are paying for the high-value elements that accompany their procedure such as your patient experience, your skills and training, your standards and quality, along with your technique.
Do This Instead: In your marketing messages and advertising, focus on those elements of your practice that can’t be emulated by other practices, that patients aren’t able to “shop around” – your training, skills, technique, and patient outcomes are an excellent place to start. When your practice is distinguished, you are able to create a “category of one” for your practice.
A price-driven model is detrimental to your brand both short and long term.
Did you know that at Louis Vuitton, when merchandise remains unsold after a season, it is literally incinerated?
A harsh example indeed, but the principle in practice applies to your practice – the world’s most coveted brands refuse to diminish their value at any cost; even if that means burning merchandise!
With a new patient, you set a precedent and their expectations for their relationship with you from their very first visit.
From a patient’s very first interaction with your practice, you are “training” them on what to expect from your practice. A patient who comes to you because of a discounted offer will ultimately see price cutting as the “norm” in your practice. When is the last time you saw a Rolex boutique or Maserati dealership have a blowout sale?
That said, please don’t think I’m writing off promotional offers as a whole. Indeed, in my experience, chemical peels or “instant gratification” procedures such as a HydraFacial can be among the best ways to leverage a promotional strategy to attract new business, but constantly relying on discounts to drive new business never works well in the long-term. Similarly, I am no fan of “group offer” sites – they attract low-quality patients, and position among providers who likely aren’t to your standard. You become poorly regarded by association!
Do This Instead: Use discounting and promotional offers sparingly, and only when paired with a campaign to further convert engage both new and prospective patients. Ideally, any low-priced offer should be part of what we refer to as an “ascension model” – to upgrade them to progressively higher-value procedures that offer superior results. As an example, you may run a Facebook campaign for an attractively-priced chemical peel. Once someone comes into the practice and receives the treatment, they are then entered into an email nurturing and patient education campaign for laser resurfacing.
With a “per unit” model, clients are less informed and expectations are poorly managed.
In the age of RealSelf, Yelp reviews, pop culture constantly highlighting aesthetic procedures and social media chatter – many patients are confused by misinformation and armed with unrealistic expectations.
We’ve all seen the bargain hunting patients who are all too quick to tell you the specific number of units they desire, what treatment protocol is right for them, and what they believe they should be paying for your expertise.
If a patient believes that they are simply “one treatment away” from their desired appearance and outcome, more often than not they will find themselves disappointed and jaded. From your very first consultation, ensure your patients understand that they will most likely require (and greatly benefit from) a number of procedures, different treatments, and ancillary products.
Do This Instead: In your marketing, I highly encourage you to lead with patient education. From a short video clip, blog post or infographic on a particular injectable product or procedure, to shining light on what can go wrong when patients “go low-budget” for their aesthetic treatments…be an advocate for industry standards and reputable information.
Not only will this set better expectations, but it will also ensure your patient comes back to your practice time and time again. Better still, it positions you as a credible thought leader and serves to raise your industry profile in a medical aesthetic realm filled with misleading or blatantly incorrect information.
Want to take this learning even further?
Just for readers of this blog, I’d love to send you a complimentary (courtesy of Med Aesthetics Group!) digital edition of my book “Now The Patient Will See You” – this typically retails on amazon for $18.97!
With dozens of checklists, templates, and evaluation tools, this book will help you forge ahead more efficiently, confidently, and intelligently. You will be able to leverage the power of branding to enhance your existing marketing activity for maximum results. At the same time, it will accelerate your growth through a framework for market leadership that takes most practices years (if not decades) to understand and execute. Download your copy at http://www.brandingmd.co/medaestheticsgroup