Capturing Clients: Demystifying the Cosmetic Consumer’s Journey (Part One)
What is the buyer's journey?The buyer's journey is the process that a buyer moves through as they identify a need and become aware of a product or service that may address that need, evaluate it, and then make the decision to purchase.
Buyers don’t want to be openly prospected or pressured. They want to be able to gain valuable information that supplements what they already know, preferably from online sources, so they can formulate their own decisions.
The buyer’s journey is, in essence, a process consisting of the following three phases: awareness, consideration, and decision. Your clinic or spa needs to develop specially formulated content and marketing to target each of the three stages in the buyer's journey. Here, we will unpack the three phases in detail, and outline the ways in which you can target the buyer, while maximizing your own opportunities.
1Awareness phase:The buyer develops awareness that they have a problem. He or she identifies a cosmetic or aesthetic issue that they want to resolve, and they then determine how to prioritize this challenge or goal in terms of their time and finances. To comprehend this stage from the perspective of an aesthetic consumer, you may wish to ask yourself:
- What language does the buyer use to identify and describe this issue? Understanding the buyer’s persona is vital, as it means you can create and optimize content with keywords that resonate with the buyer.
- How does the buyer go about researching or informing him or herself on this issue and how to solve it? Online sources? Social Media? What websites/forums?
- What are the consequences of inaction on the part of the buyer?
- What misconceptions might buyers have about this issue?
- How does the buyer decide how to prioritize the issue?
According to Adweek, 81% of consumers source educational content online to help them find a solution. The most compelling way to capture their attention at this stage is concise and punchy SEO content in the form of blogs, social media posts, or even videos. Those who find your content useful or helpful may progress to the next step of the journey with your business in mind.
If we use the simple example of a buyer who wants to address their forehead wrinkles, blog posts that educate the prospect about forehead wrinkles, what causes them and possible treatments are ideal to capture their attention at this initial stage of the journey.
They are further enhanced if they include useful information and striking visuals that add value to what the buyer already knows. Take a look at these excellent examples of richly informative yet concise blogs, some of which integrate videos:
- Restor Medical Spa: This article on forehead wrinkles features effective videos educating the prospective buyer on the aging process.
- National Laser Institute Medical Spa: This blog outlines a variety of topical and minimally invasive solutions to forehead wrinkles, and refers to cost; many potential patients want to gauge the financial investment in a treatment, even at this early stage.
- Plushderma Laser Clinic and Skin Center Los Angeles: This article explains four of the most effective minimally invasive treatments available for forehead wrinkles, with links scattered throughout so the buyer can further deepen their knowledge of a treatment at their own discretion.
- What categories of solutions are buyers prone to investigate?
- How do buyers educate themselves about the range of solutions available?
- How do buyers settle on a category?
Referring again to the example of forehead wrinkles mentioned above, the consumer may consider categories such as Botox, dermal fillers, facial acupuncture, or more invasive treatments such as a browlift. He or she will then do their research such as asking friends about their experiences, reading online reviews from other consumers, blogs or articles, or referring to the social media posts of aesthetic clinics. Based on what they learn, they will move toward evaluating the category that they feel best addresses their needs and priorities—for example, Botox.
In the first stage of the buyer's journey you should be focusing your attention on educating a potential client. In this second phase, however, you need to emphasize why your solutions represent the best fit. Incidentally, you also need to highlight why some individuals may not be a good fit for your solution, as this helps safeguard customer retention and avoid a high churn rate of patients. Moreover, it represents good ethics.
This middle phase symbolizes the nurturing of a possible relationship with a client and establishing trust between the buyer and your brand. At this point, customers are generally looking for content that highlights the experts in the industry. The most effective content to target buyers at this stage of the journey are specialized procedural guides, live interactions (for example, a qualified staff member available on your clinic’s Facebook page to answer questions) and webinars.
Check out these medispa and aesthetic clinics’ approaches to appealing to buyers at this stage of the journey:
- The Face Place: This acclaimed New Zealand based clinic has a highly informed staff member available on Facebook during business hours to answer questions about procedures or facial treatments. Webinars are often posted by doctors educating patients on products and how they work.
- Spa Medica: This site provides a wealth of information regarding injectables suitable for treating forehead wrinkles, with diagrams, videos and before and after photographs to add value to the material presented. Furthermore, there is information highlighting unique and notable features of the clinic and its staff.
- Renew Beauty Med Spa: This spa provides a user-friendly guide to Botox for wrinkle treatment, emphasizing the toxin’s benefits and also contraindications for candidates who may not be such a good fit.
3Decision phase:The buyer settles on a solution in the form of a good or service. They may have informally or formally made a pro and con list and decided on the solution that best meets their needs and priorities with particular attention paid to financial commitment and expected outcome. To make sense of the buyer’s behaviour at this stage, ask yourself:
- What criteria do buyers use to evaluate the solutions available?
- When buyers investigate the solutions provided by your spa or clinic, what demarcates it as unique? What about your clinic’s offering may incite concern?
- Who is involved in the buyer’s final decision?
So our hypothetical buyer has decided after some research that Botox is their preferred method of addressing forehead wrinkles. However, they now need to settle on a clinic to undergo treatment. Asking and answering the above questions is vital to understanding what draws buyers toward some clinics, and away from others.
What are the most important critical factors that measure in their decision? You could informally ask your buyers what would figure most in guiding their selection of a clinic. For example, buyers may value:
- A free pre-Botox skin consultation or a consultation with a refundable charge if they proceed with the treatment.
- A fixed quote prior to treatment.
- An experienced and highly qualified aesthetician administering the Botox.
- Ease of scheduling and booking online.
- A guarantee of satisfaction or money back.
At this stage of the journey, buyers generally just need a final push and call-to-action to encourage them to make a purchase decision. If your clinic has the right offer and content, this can make a dramatic impact on ensnaring buyers. Effective content at this stage tends to be case studies featuring real people, trial offers and demonstrations. This also tends to be the stage of the buyer’s journey that is most saturated with marketing content, so make sure your offerings stand out.
Here are some innovative and impressive examples of clinics executing stage three content well:
- Lidlift: This clinic boasts an impressive array of real life case studies, showing how Botox can erase forehead wrinkles and crow’s feet.
- Erickson Dermatology: This clinic provides a comprehensive case study of one client’s experience with Botox, complete with video account.
- Sona Med Spa: This clinic provides a rich overview of the treatments and procedures available to treat fine lines and wrinkles, along with an offer for a complimentary consultation to craft a customized treatment plan.
The value of understanding the cosmetic consumers buyer's journeyThis three phase journey is the essential process all buyers undergo as they move towards finalizing a purchase. However, the specifics of this process are unique for different buyers depending on what it is they are seeking to purchase, which is also true of aesthetic and cosmetic consumers.
Defining your clinic’s buyer’s journey is paramount to developing an intimate understanding of what drives your patients to seek treatment or surgery, and forming a robust understanding of their needs. These answers can be sourced in part from casual conversations, more in-depth discussions with clients and prospects, or formal surveys (with an incentive for clients to answer).
Furthermore, formulating a more complete understanding of your audience strengthens the connection between your business and customers, and enables you to create marketing material that clients and prospects will really relate to. Awareness of the nature of your product or service and how it impacts on the buyer's’ journey is also vital. A client will spend a lot more time in the consideration or evaluation stage if they are thinking about a more costly and invasive treatment like a brow lift. They will require more engagement and nurturing as they develop a relationship with your brand than a client contemplating Botox.
Use the buyer's journey as a starting tool to delve into the psyche of your clients and to determine how to market your services and products in an appealing and effective manner. Work to define your clinic’s buyer's journey to ensure you are capturing as many potential buyers as possible. Your awareness of this process allows you to subtly target buyers as they often unconsciously move through the steps of the journey. And most importantly, your clients also benefit as you are more equipped to give them what they want in the form that they want it.
Morrison, Kimberlee. November 28, 2014. “81% of Shoppers Conduct Online Research Before Buying”. Adweek. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/digital/81-shoppers-conduct-online-research-making-purchase-infographic/