Planning Small Business

Cosmetic Differences? How Selling Treatments Has Changed With The Times

In some ways the world has changed very little over a few decades. We may have thought the cell phone would kill the landline but it didn’t. The microwave hasn’t outlasted the conventional oven, not even close. And while we have robot vacuum cleaners, the rest of the house still needs humans to do it. Oh, and CDs, which were once the future, are now almost as retro as vinyl. So that has changed, but it’s then changed again.

The point is that in many ways the more things change the more they stay the same. We can chart progress by developments that take place, but while those developments go on, we see other “futures” come and go. We haven’t dropped the landline, because how often do you forget to charge your phone or lose signal for no reason? Although the microwave made cooking faster, it definitively didn’t improve quality.

So whatever it is you’re selling, the fact is that you have to make sure it has something that makes it stand out. That can be its modernity, the barriers it breaks down, and those are good things. But equally, it can be about how stalwart an item or service is. When it comes to marketing, there is one example of just how powerful novelty and modernity alike can be. You’ll probably remember it.

Image from Flickr

Once upon a time, Coca-Cola decided they were going to change up the formula of their world-famous soft drink. The New Coke! People were excited to try it. And then they realized that they didn’t like it anywhere near as much as the old. So Coke reintroduced the old formula alongside the new, calling it Coke Classic. Turning a commercial foul-up into a masterstroke, they have since more or less phased out New Coke. Coke Classic is… just Coke again.

The Coke story is a testament to the power of modernity in raising awareness, and to the power of tradition in brand loyalty. More important than tradition, though, is the thing that makes is traditional. Reliability. So when it comes to cosmetic surgery marketing, it is important to explore the future, but you also need to emphasize reliability.

Why is reliability of such importance in this instance? Simple – if you’re looking to have anything done that features the word “surgery”, there’s no room for doubt. If you are going to be altered, you want it to be done well and done safely. You want to have some concept that the people carrying out the work have one iota of a clue what they are doing. Otherwise it’s a step into the unknown in an area where you can’t afford that.

Image from Wikipedia

So what does this mean for marketing a cosmetic surgery business? Formal print ads underlining the surgeon’s decades of experience? Two-page spreads in newspapers of high regard? A whispered word in the ear of exclusive clientele at a party? Of course not. In marketing, even if the message is reliability, the medium needs to be modern. In a world where people are getting online for the first time in their seventies, modern methods aren’t just for reaching millennials.

It is a tricky balance to strike. Not least because cosmetic surgery is an industry that moves fast and – not unlike marketing – the methods evolve. Customers who are experiencing age-related degeneration may want lifts and tucks. The younger market may want enhancements in areas that are structurally sound. Treatments like Botox are being used by 18 to 80-year olds and especially those in between.

To reach as many customers in as many markets as possible, it is therefore important to think about how you market and where. While ensuring that reliability is at the forefront of your message, some treatments are “exciting”. Others are more a matter of repair. It’s hard to sell a neck tuck as being a thrill ride. No-one wants it to be an adventure; if it is, then it’s gone badly wrong.

This is why marketing has had to evolve, not just as an industry but within businesses who are using marketing. As a business, your marketing approach cannot be monolithic. You can’t sell your business to an 18-year-old who wants to be a model and an 80-year-old who wants to be 55 in the same ad. You need to micro-market – if you want to attract the 18-year-old and the 80-year-old, you need to go to them separately.

Of course this isn’t easy, and you may very well need to outsource some of what you do to experts. Because, let’s face it, when you call something “micro-marketing”, margins matter. In micro-anything, the details are fine. You wouldn’t perform micro-surgery with a mallet. You can’t open a micro-brewery in a warehouse. And if you get narrow, targeted marketing wrong, it can be an expensive mistake.

So you will have some questions to answer, and may be able to answer some, most or even all of them yourself. But if you have doubts, you’ll be well advised to seek some assistance. You need to know:

  • Who am I trying to reach?
  • What am I trying to tell them?
  • Where can I find them?
  • How do I need to speak to them?
  • How do I know if I am getting the message right?
  • How soon is too soon to change things?
  • Conversely, how late is too late?

Especially if you are on a limited advertising budget, all of these questions are important. You may only have one shot at getting it right so it is in your interests to be sure before you take the shot.

Going back to the Coke story for a moment, they were able to make a serious misjudgement look like a brave gambit. The reason for that is that, when it went wrong, they had a working formula to go back to and could say “You don’t have to choose”. They had the money and the means to go to the people who liked the Old Coke and give them reliability. They could at the same time cater to those who wanted modernity. Few companies have that money and can afford to make that mistake. Your margins are finer, but they’re not impossible.