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What Your Personal Brand Says About You

February 11, 2008 |

Have you thought of yourself as the “Top Doc” to the stars? Or the best anti-aging physician of all time? Or even the best cosmetic dermatologist in your hometown? Is that how your patients see you as well? If not, you need to build a more cohesive image using branding. Branding is the art of attracting your preferred patient using very specific messaging that will get their attention.

What is Branding?

Branding is everything you do to attract and maintain quality patients. Branding is not sales. Branding is emotionally attracting the type of patient you want in your practice who chooses you over your competition. Your personal brand is who you are, what you do, and your leading attribute in the eyes of your preferred target market.

Branding is Not Marketing or Sales

Branding is more critical than marketing or sales because:

  • While sales may be convincing, and marketing can be generating;
  • Branding is influencing and changing the way people think

Branding appeals to our desire and touches our emotions. The goal is to emotionally predispose patients into entering into a relationship with you because they believe you are the best choice – for them.

With more information at their finger tips, today’s consumers are too sophisticated and skeptical to be sold. They want to arrive at their own decision on their own terms. Branding is helping them get there. Branding “pre-sells” your expertise, or you, before they even meet you.

So, how do you become your preferred patient’s first choice in aesthetic physicians even before they need a doctor? First, you attract and then you maintain quality patients.

Attracting and maintaining quality patients happens by promising to give your patients the results they want. Then, they return to you again and again, and they brag about you to their friends, creating invaluable word-of-mouth buzz. When you are in a competitive environment like this one, you need to attract patients and this is best done by creating visibility for you and your practice. Frankly, your visibility brings more prospective patients to you, but your ability will keep them. So, your name, as well as your face, needs to be circulating in the community in a tasteful, professional way that your preferred patient base will see.

Branding is all about perception. And, visibility builds credibility in the eyes of your prospective patients. If we see something in the media a few times, it sounds familiar to us and we get the impression it must be good. When prospective patients recognize you and say to themselves, “gosh, he looks familiar”, you are well on your way. All things being equal… the more visible competitor will win. We want to feel comfortable with our choices and familiarity breeds that comfort.

Your patients’ and prospective patients’ perception is your reality, and they define their decision to go to you versus all the others due in large part to your branding. They have made this decision, not based on real evidence, but on their decision that you are the best choice for them. They did not get to that choice using logic – they made the decision emotionally and then justified their decision with logic. Perhaps they saw you on the news or they saw your photo in the social column at a fundraiser or their friend passed along the informative newsletter you distributed to your patients.

Today it is too competitive to rest on your laurels. Your name needs to stay in front of your preferred patient base, so they visit you when they have a present need now or in six months or next year. You cannot assume they will stay loyal to you if you do not keep your relationship current with them. If you do not stay in touch – your competitors will.

You Must Build Trust with Your Patients

Patients go to doctors they like. Think about the service providers in your own life – your car mechanic, your hair stylist, your accountant – all get your business because they have a good relationship with you, and that counts as much as the service they provide.

You build trust with your patients by developing personal rapport with them and having integrity in the eyes of your patients. You build personal rapport by finding what you have in common with your patient. It could be your kids going to the same school or you are both from the East Coast or whatever. We like people who are like ourselves so look for the commonalities.

And, you build integrity by saying what you believe to be true, by giving your patients the best reasonable result possible and by doing what you say you’re going to do. Your patients want to know that your recommendations would be the same if you were talking to your own mother, and that they are not just the next sale for you.

The bottom line is trust. Your patient must trust you emphatically. They must believe and be reassured that they will get the best possible outcome for their particular concern and they will not regret it.

What Does Your Practice Say About You?

Start with your marketing materials. How many patients have you not attracted due to your poor marketing materials and lack of unique branding? More than you think. A new patient who has not yet developed a relationship with you has to go by clues as to who you are and what you value. They will look at your materials to help determine that. Even a patient who has been referred to you will solidify that referral by observing your personality through your marketing tools, as well as other signs. So, it is your logo, tagline, graphics, practice brochure, business card, Website, newsletter, ads and any other written communications you distribute.

Now look at the other details of your practice. Everything connected to you is your branding. It is your hair, shoes, clothes, and demeanor. It is your staff’s hair, clothes, makeup and demeanor. It is your office furniture, lighting, ambience, décor, towels, and products in your restrooms. It is the smooth flow of a patient’s experience while visiting you and going through the process. It is the follow up. Again, it is in the details.

Specialize – You Can’t Be Everything to Everybody

I know you want all the business you can possibly get your hands on but that is not how to grow a strong, sustainable practice for the long term. You need to specialize.

If you have done your branding correctly, it will attract those you really want in your practice and repel those you do not. First, define your target market by defining the criteria:

– geographic region by zip code, area code or county
– type of patients by:

  • lifestyle/hobby – tennis players, skiers
  • interest group – defined by associations or chambers
  • age/gender
  • occupation-based – city workers, professionals, stay-at-home moms
  • ethnic/religious
  • life events – marriage, divorce, death of spouse

Then, cater to that demographic group. Advertise in publications they read and programs they watch, attend events they attend and speak at association functions they are involved in. Locate your office in the same vicinity. Become one of them. They will see you as the only choice for them when it comes to cosmetic enhancement since they are familiar with you. And, the beauty of catering to a certain demographic is the referral base you will grow. Like-minded people spend time together, work together and play together. They will talk about you to their friends and family and grow your word-of-mouth faster than you ever could on your own.

Another way to specialize is to be known for a certain procedure so you become the “go to” physician. For example, become the laser specialist. Publish clinical and layman articles on the various laser technologies, speak at women’s groups on laser topics, develop a free laser guide for the public, and send the laser guide with a personalized letter from you to your colleagues. Any time one of their patients mentions a skin concern that could be treated with laser technologies, they will refer to you. The beauty of that referral is instant credibility for you from their physician as well as a new patient for you. That patient may have come to you for a laser treatment but will stay for additional services, treatments, procedures and products. And then, they will refer their friends and so on.


For those physicians who take branding seriously, the payoff could be huge. The difference between a good practice and a great practice is in the details. Pay attention to every aspect of you, your staff and your practice to ensure it is consistent with your personality and the image you are trying to portray.

Tips to Create Your Brand:

– Be sure your patients know why you are unique
– Tell your patients what you offer that most of your competitors don’t
– Do things differently to stand out
– Clearly convey your personality in your marketing tools
– Specialize and be selective
– Be where your prospective patients are
– Build rapport and trust with every patient
– Stay in contact with your patients throughout the year
– Refine your patient relations processes

Catherine Maley, MBA
Author, “Your Aesthetic Practice”
(877) 339-8833

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