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Blindspots to success


Cosmetic practices have all the bells and whistles -from new technologies to skilled practitioners. So, why are so many competing on price?

Cosmetic practices have all the bells and whistles -from new technologies to skilled practitioners. So, why are so many competing on price?

According to Robert Rullo, cofounder of The Aesthetic Blueprint, it’s because aesthetic physicians don’t know how to market in an age of  experience marketing.

Mr. Rullo, who presented at the May 2017 Aesthetics and Medical Dermatology symposia in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, says the economy has evolved beyond a service economy, which focuses on giving great service. But even products in a service economy become commoditized.

“So, the next, new level is the experience economy. … people will pay handsomely for a great experience. Everybody is focused [on] giving good customer service and patient care, when that’s not enough,” Mr. Rullo says.

There are five blind spots that practices don’t see or commonly recognize as issues. Not addressing these could prevent a practice’s successful growth, he says.

Blind spot #1: Failure to truly understand your customers’ wants and needs.

In order to create a great experience, you must connect with customers in a personal way that addresses their issues and needs - not your own, according to Mr. Rullo.

The place to make that connection is during the face-to-face initial consult

One tool to help doctors better understand their patients is to refer to human needs psychology he says.

There are six human needs that everyone has.

  • Certainty. That’s the need to know that you’re ok.

  • Uncertainty, or the need for variety.

  • Significance - the need to feel important and wanted.

  • Feeling love and connection.

  • Growth - the idea of progressing.

  • Contribution, which is recognizing people’s need to give back.

Of these six needs, two are most dominant. 

“All decisions in life are made in an attempt to fulfill these two needs. Understanding which needs are driving a patient’s decision making can make all the difference in building a long-term trusting relationship with them,” he says.

Blind spot #2: Not creating experiences to differentiate

Shifting into the experience economy is an opportunity to engage individuals -creating a positive, memorable experience for them, Mr. Rullo says.

“…the experience economy is about using your products or services as a stage or prop to create a memorable experience. Again, the focus is on the customers’ needs and wants; not yours,” he says.

The focus on creating an experience is why Starbucks can charge $3 to $5 for a cup of coffee, which costs the company pennies to make, he notes.

Aesthetic physicians tend to focus on customer service, but in today’s economy that’s not enough to be competitive. Create experiences that build loyalty.

Mr. Rullo offers his ideas:

  • Use the concept of PHI proportions and the mathematics of beauty. Use calipers and facial marking to determine volume loss and areas for correction, this enables you to engage the patient in a personal way. It’s similar to being fitted for a custom-made outfit, he says.

“People feel special when something is tailored specifically for them,” he says.

  • Another suggestion is to have patients bring a photograph to the consulation that shows them in their 20s. The simple task creates a shift in the patient’s experience. It’s likely something they’ve never been asked to do before. He recommends taking a current, baseline photo and merging it with the youthful photo to create a split-face concept. Doctors can use the photos to show patients where, aesthetically, things have changed.

Simple things, like these, help doctors make a connection and build trust, as well as results in a different patient experience, he says.

Next: Blind spot #3


Blind spot #3: Failing to understand that you are the most important sales person in the practice

It’s a big mistake for doctors to think they’re not salespeople, Mr. Rullo says. In fact, as leaders, they’re the most important salespeople in the practice.

The problem is more the term than the role. Selling is about influencing; not selling per se, he says.

“If you don’t like the word sell, think of influence. It’s not influencing them to buy something; it’s influencing them to make the decision that best serves their needs or interest. And you’re the person to help them understand that. That’s the external influence,” he says. “The internal influence is as critical. It’s to make sure, as the number one salesperson, that you influence your team on the idea of your core values and your visions. Without a focused, cohesive team no business can successfully grow.” 

Blind spot #4: Succumbing to the draw, or attraction, of immediate financial gratification

Rather than look at their patients as individuals, many practices view patients according to their procedures. Some are botulinum toxin patients; others are filler clients. That’s more of a transactional mindset, which is unlikely to send a practice’s success soaring.

Instead, create a vision to add more value to each patient’s life than anyone else. If physicians meet patients’ needs beyond their expectations, patients will gladly pay a premium price for products or services, he says.

Blind spot #5: a self-limiting psychology

Aesthetics is a sea of sameness, which is one of the reasons it is becoming commoditized, Mr. Rullo says. To be successful, doctors have got to get out of their comfort zones and try non-traditional ways to attract customers.

And if they fail, so what?

But most physicians fear for their reputation, so they keep doing the same thing. As a result, they wallow in mediocrity, he says.

“In fact, what people are thirsty for is differentiation and authenticity,” Rullo says.

Mr. Rullo challenges doctors to get out of their self-limiting beliefs and mindsets about marketing and take risks to differentiate themselves and their practices. He suggests that doctors promote their practices in ways that they would not have promoted them in the past.

One example: partner with a high-end car dealership. In this powerful cross-promotion, the doctor works with the dealership to offer free consults to people who take test drives. As a result the doctor wins, connecting with people he or she might not have otherwise reached, and the car dealership sweetens its customer experience.

Most doctors would never do that with a car dealership because of their self-limiting mindsets.

Doing something that no one thinks will work can make all the difference, he says.

“No one ever believed that women would buy shoes online.  Zappos proved them wrong to the tune of over $1 billion,” he says. 

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