While our team was working on our clients’ content for next month, we happened to stumble onto a website called Plastic Surgery Coupons and it sparked an immediate reaction among our team.
This website peddling coupons for plastic surgery isn’t the only offender (although the very thought of using a coupon to discount a breast augmentation or facelift, like you would a box of cereal or jug of milk, is rather offensive). Discount sites like Groupon also allow aesthetic medical practices post group discounts for surgical procedures. Most often, the discount is for a breast augmentation or a liposuction procedure. It allows a potential patient to pay up front for a procedure that they haven’t even had a consultation for.
Internet Marketing Isn’t Just About Getting Patients Through the Door
While our aesthetic medical marketing agency is devoted to showing our clients real ROI through increased patient calls and appointments, there is a line that should never be crossed. Yes, Groupon and Living Social get a lot of traffic that can get your practice more exposure; yes, people are Googling “discount plastic surgery.” However, ethics dictate that this type of marketing is distasteful at best.
Most people don’t want to see the discount plastic surgeon. If you’re having a difficult time getting patients through the door, it’s better to spend money on classy marketing tactics and PR instead of discounting invasive procedures.
If you must use Groupon or similar sites to drum up some business, use it for non-invasive procedures like facials, microdermabrasion, or skin care products. While those don’t bring in top dollar for your practice, it gets people through the door and provides the opportunity for them to experience your practice. Once they’re there, wow them with an amazing customer experience and get to know them. What are their concerns about their appearance? What are their hopes and dreams for the future? Connecting with them helps them come back again and again, and the next time they think, “I’ve always wanted to get a little liposuction in my thighs,” they will think of you first, because they have established a relationship with you and wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else.
Discount Sites Kill Online Reputation
You’ll notice above that I said, “If you must use Groupon…” At Total Social Solutions, more times than not, we discourage the use of group discounting sites like Groupon and Living Social, not because they don’t work, but because of the sudden negative impact it can have on a practice.
Many of the new clients we sign on who have a bad Yelp rating ran a Groupon special “once upon a time” and were torn apart by those customers who came in for treatments. Each negative review typically begins with, “I purchased a Groupon for laser hair removal,” or, “I found a Living Social deal for a facial,” and the one or two star review begins to describe the “worst customer service,” late appointments, cancelled appointments, or a bad treatment experience. A single Groupon or Living Social deal may bring in a slew of new business, but your practice often walks away with a tarnished online reputation.
Aesthetic Couponers Rarely Return
The premise behind these popular discount sites, as stated above, is that you woo people with an amazing deal in the hopes that they will return again and again for more treatments, providing long-term value and profitability.
While it makes sense that this could happen, the truth is rarely that cut and dry. Why is this? Consider the audience for a moment.
Groupon users, Living Social deal seekers and Extreme Couponers are looking for the next deal. They live their lives based on scoring the “best deal,” not shopping for a new service provider. They are rarely brand loyalists; they most-often shop based on price and price alone.
While this isn’t true of all discount site users, it is true about the vast majority who will set foot in your practice. So while you’re expecting to wow them with amazing service and treatments that make them feel pampered like they’ve never been pampered before, the truth is that almost all of them will never return, but instead go to your competitors down the street when they run their own online deal.
Bottom-line is that you want patients who see the value in your skill, expertise, education and service. You want patients who are willing to pay top dollar for that experience. You want patients who come to you because you’re the best of the best, and even though your competitors are running Groupon specials down the street, they wouldn’t dream of going to them, because they trust you and you alone.
Do you have a Groupon/Living Social horror story about your business? Share it in the comments!