Aesthetic Marketing 3.0: Giving Patients What They Really Want

marketing 3.0, aesthetic marketing, social media

What do patients want? Based on the most popular procedures, you could say flatter tummies and larger breasts. That’s true, statistically speaking at least, but it’s not the whole truth. These days, patients also want to find doctors who do more than just enhance body parts; they want doctors who understand their needs and desires and who can help them achieve their better selves.

That’s where Marketing 3.0 comes in. Developed by author, professor, and marketing expert Philip Kotler, the idea posits that past marketing strategies are unlikely to work when trying to reach current (and future) consumers. According to Kotler, the general progression goes like this:

Marketing 1.0: Selling products to a target market without considering their needs and wants. Marketing, he notes, is considered mere selling, an art of persuasion, and even cheating.

Marketing 2.0: Consumers are well-informed and can compare several value offerings of similar products [and services]. The product value is defined by the consumer. Marketers must identify unfulfilled needs and wants and convert them into profitable opportunities.

Marketing 3.0: In this human-centric era, consumers will be treated as human beings who are active, anxious, and creative. They will request more participation in value creation. They will demand their deepest anxieties and desires — not traditional needs and wants — identified and fulfilled.

Sound familiar? It should. After all, few fields encapsulate the Marketing 3.0 model better than aesthetic medicine. People considering their options are looking beyond specific procedures and body parts; in many cases, they’re also hoping to recapture a sense of who they are and gain (or regain) more confidence in how they engage with the world.

With the above graphic as a guide, here’s what a Marketing 3.0 program for aesthetic practices might look like:

Objective: It’s no longer about promoting procedures to a mass audience (Marketing 1.0) or even generating patient satisfaction and loyalty (2.0). It’s about meeting patients’ needs on both a rational level (“I have an issue I want to resolve”) and an emotional one (“I want to feel better, be healthier, and gain more confidence”).

Enabling forces: Just as the Industrial Revolution enabled mass production and computers enabled the spread of knowledge, the internet and social media have created a world in which patients connect with other patients for information and support. Participating in the online conversation empowers doctors to connect with them, as well.

How marketers [should] see the market: Today’s patients don’t respond to generic advertising and other broadcast platforms; they want their doctors to understand them as people, to respond to them as individuals, and recognize that they have unique issues and concerns. Socially savvy doctors tailor their interactions to the specific person they’re talking to — via online Q&As, for example — even though their responses are often seen by a much larger audience.

Key marketing concept: Under the Marketing 1.0 model, a practice might tout that it offers this or that procedure; under 2.0, that they do more of them, do them better, or provide them at a lower cost (aka, differentiation). Marketing 3.0 isn’t really about the practice at all; it’s about the patient — hence the term patient-centric marketing — and what the procedure in question will help her achieve. (Don’t worry; she’ll get the fact that you offer it.)

Interaction with patients: By the time a potential patient reaches out to your practice, she’s already spent days, months, or longer researching her options and interacting with other like-minded consumers. They read online reviews; they ask other members of the aesthetic community for recommendations, and they “pay it forward” by sharing their own aesthetic journeys. In a world where your reputation truly does precede you, doctors who “meet” potential patients online stand a much better chance of meeting them in person.

Power of branding: Given the above, it’s clear that the days of companies, including medical practices, dictating how the public views them (Marketing 1.0 and 2.0) are over. Potential patients form their opinions based on what other patients have to say, how responsive doctors are to online inquiries, and how they’re treated during initial visits. And because they subsequently have the power to share their own experiences, they help establish your brand in the eyes of others. Practices that encourage that process will be the ones that thrive in today’s 3.0 world.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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