A surprising trend giving plastic surgeons a lift: Instagram

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A recent study claims the pressure to “look good” comes from seeing your own face popping up on social media: Over 40% of surgeons in a recent American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery survey reveals: patients said looking better in selfies on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook was an incentive for having surgery. The study discloses that constantly seeing yourself from unflattering angles can take its toll on self-esteem.

Americans are also finding inspiration through celebrities online. So, tying celebrity comments and advertisements into your posts can prove an advantage. In fact, half of facial plastic surgeons surveyed have found social media to be an inexpensive way  of advertising their services.  As an added point of interest, Dr. Michael Salzhauer of Miami claims to have accrued hundreds of thousands of followers by detailing his surgeries on Instagram and broadcasting real-time Snapchats.

By: James Polakof, PhD

 

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Are You Booking 7 out of 10 Cosmetic Surgery Procedures?

With the continuing influx of a variety of medical practitioners performing cosmetic procedures, competition for patients is growing at an alarming rate. If you are not booking at least seven out of ten prospective patients who contact your practice to inquire about aesthetic surgery, here are some suggestions.
First of all, is there some magic to this 7 out of 10 number? Assuming you have a solid reputation as a plastic surgeon, based on the hundreds of aesthetic practices my associates and I have worked with through the years, I find a booking percentage of 70% to be a very achievable result.
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It all begins with that first phone call or email inquiry. I find that too few plastic surgery practices properly discover prospective patient motivation for a procedure at the outset. It is not acceptable to simply identify the procedure of interest. Your patient coordinator, or patient counselor, must discover the “why” and concurrently develop a relationship. In order to accomplish this task, “bonding” must take place. It is imperative a bond be established between your coordinator and the prospective patient. This enables the prospect to feel more comfortable in sharing her or his innermost feelings and objectives. Furthermore, it is an established fact that a strong initial bond not only ensures a consultation, but makes it more feasible that a surgical procedure will be scheduled.

Should a prospective patient choose not to book a procedure at the time of consultation, then “partnering” and consistent follow-up is essential. Unfortunately, too few patient counselors understand the skill of partnering.When an effective partnership is developed during the consultation phase, prospects are far more likely to share their true feelings and welcome follow-up calls from coordinators. In turn, this provides the patient counselor with an opportunity to overcome objections and consistently render encouragement. In addition, consistent follow-up in a strong partnering relationship demonstrates to the prospective patient a “caring” attitude and greatly increases the likelihood she or he will eventually book surgery with the practice. Furthermore, it has been proven that once effective bonding and partnering take place between coordinator and prospect, new patient referrals increase considerably.

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There is a definite art to effectively bonding and partnering with prospective patients, which understandably, I cannot divulge for proprietary reasons. However I can affirm that with professional staff training and the implementation of productive techniques, we have seen growth in practices with prior conversion rates of 30 to 40% escalating to increases reaching 70 to 75% within relatively short periods of time. In view of the potential economic rewards, it may be a well worthwhile and valuable consideration to efficaciously train your personnel in the skills of bonding, partnering and following-up on a timely basis with prospective patients.

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8 STEPS TO INSURE YOUR STAFF IS ENGAGED AND MOTIVATED

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Step 1: Clearly define your vision. Make certain your vision as a
Plastic Surgeon is effectively communicated to your staff, and that they can articulate this mission statement to the public.
Step 2: Give staff members the ammunition they need to succeed.  Don’t assume each employee has the tools, training, and support required.  Professional training and creatively designed promotional materials are essential.
Step 3: Communicate well and often.  Quarterly training sessions and regular meetings can be utilized to reinforce your vision to employees.  Encourage employee participation and interaction during these sessions.  I often utilize ‘role playing’ during training sessions for client staff to insure comprehension and enhance communication.
 
Step 4: Get everyone engaged.  Develop strategies to engage your staff in planning and decision-making.  Whenever possible, ask for input and use their ideas.  This enables employees to become personally invested in striving for success.
Step 5: Coach for success.  Feedback is another great motivator. Don’t wait for scheduled periodic reviews.  Instead, offer feedback as often as possible.  Positive feedback should be given right away to encourage more of the same performance. Negative feedback should also be provided a.s.a.p., so that staff has the opportunity to self-correct.   And don’t neglect to say “Thank you!” for good performance.  Multiple surveys establish this is a powerful motivator which should be done often – in person.
Step 6: Act fairly, respect, and create trust.  Use your judgment, wisdom, and experience to create a supportive environment.  When problems arise, examine the circumstances, understand the context, and only then pass judgment.  Respect and trust your team.  You will receive the same in return.
Step 7: Try to make work fun.  Do this with a smile on your face.  Lighten up!  Making work fun really pays off, since people often accomplish much more when they enjoy their workplace environment.

Step 8: Implement incentive programs. Incentives have proven to be highly beneficial in motivating staff.  A major benefit is that incentive costs can be based on actual performance and paid out only after an employee has reached the desired goals.

Note:  Incentives do not always require cash bonuses.  Prizes, theater tickets and even time off have been effectively utilized as rewards for productivity, teamwork and loyalty.
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How to Handle Anxious Patients

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According to modern psychology, feelings of anxiety are produced by our thoughts and float freely into a person’s stream of consciousness.  Anxious feelings reduce a prospective patient’s ability to think clearly, which makes communication more difficult and often blocks a decision to pursue an aesthetic surgical procedure.  Here is how you and your patient counselor can recognize the common signals which communicate feelings of anxiety.
1. Anxious Speech Patterns.   Look for:
  • Speaking with a soft voice
  • Hesitant and cautious speech patterns
  • Qualifying words such as “maybe,” “perhaps,” “sometimes,” or “I guess”
  • Expressions that are vague or incomplete
  • Starting a sentence and trailing, as well as long pauses
2. Nonverbal Expressions of Anxiety.  Look for:
  • Swallowing before speaking
  • Trembling hands or fingers
  • Self-touching gestures such as wringing hands, touching palms to the face
  • Fidgeting with small objects
  • Foot jiggling
3. Anxiety-induced Behavior:  Look for:
  • Withdrawal and retreat
  • Overly defensive posture
  • Depending upon someone else to help make the decision
If you notice any of these signs, there are things you can do to ease a prospective patient’s discomfort produced by anxiety.  After training hundreds of patient counselors and staff, I have found success in coaching the utilization of empathy instead of sympathy.  Empathy means you understand and accept your patient’s feelings of discomfort; however, you mentally separate yourself and refuse to feel as she does.
The best strategy is twofold.  First, endeavor to calm the patient to the point where she (or he), is capable of communicating clear thoughts.  Lower your voice; slow your rate of speech; speak softly and deliberately. Your voice should communicate quiet confidence. In addition, consciously relax your body.  An anxious prospective patient needs to receive soothing, calming, and reassuring signals.
Second, lead the prospect back to the primary reasons behind her (his) motivation to have the procedure.  By successfully encouraging the individual to elaborate upon needs and objectives, ‘natural’ relaxation occurs and a bond is created, which in turn establishes trust and often a positive outcome.
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Social Media Video Content is Exploding!

It’s no secret that video content is on the rise. By 2019, video content will be the driving factor behind 85% of search traffic in the U.S.  Another recent survey reveals that 74% of internet traffic in 2017 is projected to come from video. Whether it’s YouTube, Facebook, or other resources listed below, video content on social media is what plastic surgery practices need to increase focus upon this year.  Additionally, surgeons, (or their consultants), must understand how each social channel is optimizing its platform to allow for more video content in user feeds, and how brands are using video content to engage their followers.

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Facebook video content
Facebook is also implementing new strategies to encourage their users to share personal stories through video content. (An excellent outlet for patient education comments and/or testimonials). This move comes after Facebook’s acquisition of Masquerade, who creates image filters similar to Snapchat.  Masquerade has built a fantastic app, MSQRD, with world-class imaging technology for video. Coupled with Facebook video postings, here is yet another method to increase your prospective patient reach.
YouTube
Because YouTube is so popular and strictly utilizes video, we sometimes forget that it’s a social network. But users connect with one another, share ideas, and find exciting new content – just like any other network. Plus, it’s the second largest search engine in the world, (after Google, its parent company), with over One Billion users.  This makes YouTube’s potential to reach prospective patients even more exciting.
Google+  
You’ve likely heard that Google+ pages and profiles can greatly help your SEO, and it’s true!   Google+ content gets indexed immediately and shows up in search results.  Recent numbers reveal there are 375 million monthly users on this social medium. This is also an excellent resource to reach men, as well as women.  (55% of Google+ users are male).  Since Google owns YouTube, the transition to posting videos is simple.
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Instagram video content
Instagram has rolled out Instagram Stories, which is essentially just Snapchat embedded into Instagram’s app.  This will enable plastic surgery patients to share behind-the-scenes content and provide prospective patients their views of procedures and products a practice offers.
Twitter
Video is becoming increasingly central to the real-time conversations happening on Twitter.  In fact, video Tweets have increased by over 50%.  Where previously, uploaded videos were limited to 30 seconds, now practices can create video Tweets up to 140 seconds in length. I recommend editing footage of your YouTube and Facebook postings to post on twitter. Often, you may end up with sufficient material for multiple segments.
Pinterest
When using Pinterest, you’re likely simply pinning photos and graphics. With a little creativity, you can employ video content from YouTube, Facebook, or your website to drive traffic.  Why is this important to plastic surgeons?  This social medium has over 100 Million active users and the number of searches done on Pinterest has also grown 81 percent annually.  Furthermore, the vast majority of users are women, who continue to constitute approximately 90% of all cosmetic procedure patients.
LinkedIn Video Posting
There are three places you can use video on LinkedIn: your profile, LinkedIn Publisher, and updates. Links from YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook all show up well in these areas.
Caution:  One important factor my colleagues and I learned early on in posting videos for our plastic surgery practice clients is to refrain from being overtly commercial.  Interesting – even amusing – patient stories, new aesthetic innovations, as well as celebrity, beauty and fitness tie-ins are among topics which can generate interest, preserve your followers, and motivate followers to share.  As important, in order to captivate viewers - “creativity” is king!
Perhaps neither you nor your staff 
  have the time or expertise to address the multitude 
of opportunities Social Media offers your practice?
HMA IS THE LEADING SOCIAL MEDIA RESOURCE
FOR PLASTIC SURGEONS IN  THE U.S.
 
Michelle Polakof, Ph.D. is the only ”Certified” Social Media Specialist in this industry, while Dr. James Polakof has received numerous copywriting achievement awards for his creative, motivational text!
Contact us for a complimentary, professional evaluation
of your practice Social Media program
HMAPRO@AOL.COM
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Do Favicons Make Any Difference in Branding to Prospective Patients

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When my web team and I advise plastic surgeons about the importance of a ‘favicon’ to their overall online strategy, some have responded, “Isn’t this a minor issue?” Our answer is, “Not if you’re serious about your own branding efforts!”

Favicons are small square images, usually 16×16 pixels, which are used by web browsers to show a graphical representation of the site being visited. The main reason to have a favicon is the obvious improvement in user experience. A website without one will show a generic browser symbol on all the points-of-interaction and if you care about your user experience, you must care about favicons.
Little Things Add Up
Favicons are one of those little things that most web designers don’t pay too much attention to. However, they are a very important part of the website, both from a user interface perspective and a branding point-of-view. Successful Internet ‘branding’ is comprised of multiple components. If your webmaster has ignored this ingredient with your website, then you might question – what other branding essentials might I be missing?
With today’s intense competition for patients, every plastic surgeon must think beyond simply having a functional website.  Indeed, you should evaluate how effectively your ‘brand’ is being projected to prospective patients, as well as patients whom you depend upon for referrals. When it comes to setting yourself apart from competitors, little things can mean a lot!
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10 Powerful Body Language Tips for Plastic Surgery Practice Staff

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1. To boost your confidence, assume a power pose
Research at Harvard and Columbia Business Schools shows that simply holding your body in expansive, “high-power” poses (leaning back with hands behind the head and feet up on a desk, or standing with legs and arms stretched wide open) for as little as two minutes stimulates higher levels of testosterone-the hormone linked to power and dominance-and lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

Try this when you’re feeling tentative but want to appear confident. In addition to causing hormonal shifts in both males and females, these poses lead to increased feelings of power and a higher tolerance for risk. The study also found that people are more often influenced by how they feel about you than by what you’re saying.

2. To increase participation, look like you’re listening
If you want patients to speak up, don’t multitask or be distracted while they do. Instead, focus on the patient as she/he is speaking by turning your head and torso to face them directly and by making eye contact. Leaning forward, nodding, and tilting your head are other nonverbal ways to show you’re engaged and paying attention. It’s important to hear people. It’s just as important to make sure they know you are listening.

3. To encourage collaboration, remove barriers
Physical obstructions are especially detrimental to collaborative efforts. Take away anything that blocks your view or forms a barrier between you and the patient.  Even when sharing coffee, be aware that you may create a barrier by holding your cup and saucer in a way that seems deliberately to block your body or distance you from her.

4. To connect instantly with someone – reach out and touch
Touch is the most primitive and powerful nonverbal cue. Touching someone on the arm, hand, or shoulder for as little as 1/40 of a second creates a human bond. Shaking hands is a good beginning, but reaching out with a warm touch to the hand or arm during communication is a comforting and winning gesture.

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5. To stimulate good feelings – smile!
A genuine smile not only stimulates your own sense of well-being, it also tells patients that you are approachable, cooperative, and trustworthy. A genuine smile comes on slowly, crinkles the eyes, lights up the face, and fades away slowly. Most importantly, smiling directly influences how others  respond to you. When you smile at someone, they almost always smile in return. And, because facial expressions trigger corresponding feelings, the smile you get back actually changes that person’s emotional state in a positive way.

6. To show agreement, mirror expressions and postures
When people unconsciously imitate your body language, it’s their way of nonverbally saying that they like or agree with you. Subtly mirroring a patient can build rapport and nurture feelings of mutuality. Mirroring starts by observing a person’s facial and body gestures, and then subtly letting your body take on similar expressions and postures. Often, the patient will feel understood and accepted.

7. To improve your speech, become “Italian” – use your hands
Brain imaging has shown that a region called Broca’s area, which is important for speech production, is active not only when we’re talking, but when we wave our hands. Since gesture is integrally linked to speech, gesturing as we talk can actually power up our communication and hold a patient’s attention.

8. To learn a person’s true emotional state – watch their feet Under stress, people will often display nervousness and anxiety through increased foot movements. Feet will fidget, shuffle, and wind around each other or around the furniture. Feet will stretch and curl to relieve tension, or even kick out in a miniaturized attempt to run away. Studies show that observers have greater success judging a person’s real emotional state when they can see the entire body. You may not know it, but instinctively you’ve been reacting to foot gestures all your life.

9. To sound authoritative, modulate your voice
Prior to communicating with a patient, in person, or by phone, allow your voice to relax into its optimal pitch by keeping your lips together and making the sounds “um hum, um hum, um hum.”  Be careful that your voice doesn’t rise at the ends of sentences as if you are asking a question or seeking approval. Instead, when stating your opinion, use the authoritative arc, in which your voice starts on one note, rises in pitch through the sentence and drops back down at the end.

10. To improve your memory, uncross your arms and legs
Body language researchers have reported a fascinating finding in a recent study.  When a group of volunteers attended a lecture and sat with unfolded arms and legs, they remembered 38% more than a group that attended the same lecture and sat with folded arms and legs. To improve your retention, uncross your arms and legs. If you see your patient is exhibiting defensive body language, change tactics, take a break, or get them to move.  Don’t try to persuade or motivate them until their bodies open up.

 

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Blogging Tips for Plastic Surgeons: Getting more eyeballs on your content

by Dr. James Polakof

There are many reasons why plastic surgeon should blog about cosmetic surgery subject matter on a consistent basis. Certainly a big advantage is that it further establishes your expertise and credibility. It also serves to increase traffic to your practice website by improving organic search visibility. In addition, blogging actually humanizes your image, while at the same time supports social media marketing. As you share your blog posts on social media, you increase traffic to your website – a feat that would be much more difficult without highly-relevant, topical information such as that found in blog posts. Finally, it’s been proven with my clients that consistent blogging improves prospective patient response and conversion rates.

Here are 3 easy-to-implement blogging tips for getting more eyeballs on your content.

1. Ask readers one question inside your post. Make it very specific and request they post their answer on your blog. Believe it or not, some will! You can ask something simple like “What do you think? Agree or disagree?” (or) “What solution have you found to this problem?”

2. Engage with those who commented. There is always something to learn from another perspective. Sending a personal email to the person who commented, thanking them for taking time to do so, with a link back to the post where you replied is also an option. A new personal connection created this manner may lead to a consultation or referral.

3. Share your post with your email list! If they do not know the post is there, how can you expect to get traffic to it? Add a teaser (a short few sentences to your email and link to the post).

Again, consistency is a vital key to blogging success. Surgeons should preferably blog once a week, or at least twice a month, in order to maintain interest among followers.

BUT – I Do Not Have Time to Blog Consistently

How many times have I heard this from my clients? I must admit it’s understandable that after a long day of surgery and consultations along with typical management headaches, a plastic surgeon is often exhausted with little energy to write a blog. But look at it this way. If your blogs only add two additional surgical patients per month, (and I’ve seen greater numbers with my blogging clients), that’s likely an additional $120,000 in income per year!

So might it be worthwhile to hire a professional writer with a comprehensive understanding of cosmetic surgery to ghostwrite your blogs? I must admit, I’ve written many, many blogs for my clients that produce results. Once a professionally written blog is completed, you need only take a few minutes to review the content and tweak the text to your satisfaction.

So what do you think of my blog? Do you agree or disagree? Did I provide you with some good food for thought?

I would love to hear from you. Simply email your comments to me at hmapro@aol.com

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A Plastic Surgeon’s Secret Weapon – PINTEREST

Originally when Pinterest first launched its paid advertising service
‘Promoted Pins’, it was only available to large businesses. But now, Pinterest has released a new product which enables plastic surgery practices to promote their “Pins” in order to increase click-throughs, improve reach and potentially drive more traffic to their sites. Here are some helpful tips:1. Understand your Audience.
Pinterest is largely used by women, who continue to constitute
approximately 90% of all cosmetic surgery cases. Therefore, the subject matter that your practice “pins” should conform to the interests of patients and prospective patients.2. Creativity is King!
The majority of active Pinterest users (over 60%) click on Pins that go to blog posts, articles and even photos. Clearly, engaging content is what users seek. Additionally, it’s probably no surprise that the most popular topics on the platform are those that lend themselves to being quite visual: beauty, fashion, pre & post-op photo’s and content related to holidays and events. Boards containing images from blog entries and particularly photos of staff members are also popular. Keep in mind that with Pinterest, ‘creativity’ is king.

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3. Look to Pinners for Inspiration.
Of course, working with a professional social media specialist can provide a significant edge in creativity, identifying trends and generating positive response. If you get stuck in a creative rut, check out the board of people who are pinning your pins for inspiration. Someone who is pinning your pins will likely have related content on their boards that can help you better learn what your typical patient or prospective patient is in interested in.

4.Make Certain your Boards are Well-Categorized.
Pinterest is different than your practice Facebook page, where a
hodgepodge of information is posted in chronological order, rather than in order of importance or by topic. By allowing you to create multiple boards-one for each category of your products or services, for example-Pinterest helps keep users engaged. So, make it easy for them!

5. Determine Posting Frequency.
Pinning excessively might overwhelm or annoy your audience, but pinning too little might cause your followers to forget you exist. Create a posting schedule, and then gauge the audience reaction before drastically increasing or reducing the frequency of Pins.

Important note: In order to stimulate your imagination, if you would like to
see samples of postings for plastic surgery practices created by
Dr. Michelle Polakof and Dr. Gloria Polakof, simply e-mail us and as a professional courtesy we shall be pleased to forward a variety of examples which should prove helpful to your practice.

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