If you’ve been in practice for any length of time, you’ve no doubt heard the old saying that healing is an art, medicine is a science, and healthcare is a business. If so, it’s also probably true that the first and second parts played a significant role in why you pursued the profession in the first place.
The third part? Maybe not so much — and yet, you can’t operate a successful practice without running it as a business. Naturally, that means providing excellent outcomes and a great patient experience, but in a field in which potential patients have an ever-expanding array of options, it also means understanding the larger market and your place within it.
Conducting a competitive analysis can help. Simply put, there’s no better way to gain an edge on the competition than by analyzing what they’re doing, determining what their strengths and weaknesses are, and capitalizing on what your research reveals.
Determine who your real competitors are
The field of competitors extends beyond your fellow board-certified practitioners; it also includes non-core providers expanding their practices by performing aesthetic procedures and med-spa operators offering a proliferating array of non-surgical and/or minimally invasive alternatives. And since analyzing them all isn’t feasible, the first step is to determine which ones pose the biggest competitive threats.
No doubt you can easily identify several, but conducting a variety of local searches for the services and treatments you provide can reveal gaps and counter guesswork. Conducting local searches, e.g., “breast augmentation Miami” or “Juvederm Denver,” can reveal practices and providers you may not have considered otherwise. Their ads and/or search rank is no guarantee of market dominance, but can help narrow the list for further analysis.
To further fine-tune your results, take advantage of the many free web tools that provide insights into how other websites perform. SimilarWeb, for example, lets you monitor engagement (total visits, pageviews, etc.) for any website, while Open Site Explorer provides a sense of relative authority by tallying and analyzing links.
Analyze your competitors’ practice websites
At the simplest level, spending time on competitors’ websites will help you determine where they focus their efforts, but it can also reveal differences in style, personality, and practice philosophy. At the same time, the types of content they showcase, the frequency with which they update it, and their use of images, video, etc., can be indicators of their marketing budget and degree of sophistication.
As a baseline effort, consider making a list of the attributes on your own website — photos, videos, FAQs, contact forms, calls to action, navigational tools, etc. — and compare them to what you find on others’ sites. The results will not only reveal what features they highlight, but also similar ones that you also offer that may warrant a higher profile.
Then, consider a deeper dive into the quality of their content. Do they have a blog, for example, and if so, what subjects does it cover? Does it demonstrate real thought leadership or simply regurgitate common knowledge about treatments and procedures? Defining quality may be a subjective exercise, but seeing what subjects others write about — and what they don’t — can provide insights for your editorial calendar.
Ascertain your competitors’ social presence
While analyzing competitors’ websites can provide a sense of how they operate, it won’t provide any insights into how they engage with aesthetic consumers. Their social activity, on the other hand, will, which is why it’s worth determining what social networks they maintain a presence on, how often they post new content, how many fans/followers they have, etc.
Beyond the basics, the real goal is to see how they engage with potential patients. Do they answer questions in online forums, encourage patients to post reviews and make it easy for social searchers to contact them? If they’re active, they’re likely gaining exposure just as potential patients are at their most interested; if they’re not, consider it a golden opportunity to make an impression at a crucial point.
If you want to win, it helps to know who you’re playing against
Given the elective nature of most aesthetic services, effective marketing is a must, and you can’t be effective without understanding the market in which you operate. Analyzing the competition can provide powerful insights as to what works, what doesn’t, and how to adapt going forward. After all, you can’t capitalize on opportunities if you don’t know they exist, and you’ll never win if you don’t get in the game.