Medi-Spa Best Practices in Marketing

Lisa Starr


If your spa offers medical spa services, make sure your marketing plan is both effective, and legal!

Happily, the demand for non-surgical cosmetic procedures has continued to increase. According to the America Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2014 saw a 4% increase in minimally-invasive procedures, with 13.9 million performed. Botox was the leader in this group, with 6.7 million procedures comprising almost half of the total, followed in descending order by soft tissue fillers, chemical peels, laser hair removal and microdermabrasion.

When medical services first started being offered in spas, there was a tendency to classify spas as either medical spa or day spa. But the lines have blurred quite a bit in the last 5 years; many day spas and even resort spas offer some medical services, even if it is confined to a couple of days per week, and spas that began primarily focusing on medical services may have evolved into offering massages, body treatments, and other non-medical choices.

So when it comes to marketing such a facility, your campaign has to take into account the degree to which you are considered “medical” spa you are and what type of medical spa services you offer. A facility owned and run by physicians, with a predominately medical service menu, is going to have a totally different marketing approach than a day spa that offers one or two medical treatments per week. Consider what treatments and clients are driving the bulk of your revenue, and devise your plan accordingly.

The Medical Spa Approach

If you are thinking about opening a medical spa, or are a medical practice that may expand into medi-spa services, give some thought to your physical facility and curb appeal. Medical offices are often in medical parks or office buildings, and don’t leave much of a visual impression.  However, clients that seek out medical spa services generally expect the business to keep more flexible hours than your typical 9 am to 5pm (much like a day spa).   If your patients arrive for treatments in the evening or on a weekend, is the area a ghost town? Can you add some lighting, or other décor touches that set you apart from other medical offices? Spas should have a warm, friendly feel, unlike the clinical environment of a  typical doctor’s office. Your customer service staff should be smartly uniformed and very friendly. Add some spa touches to your waiting area; plants, coffee table books, electric candles or a small fountain do wonders for ambiance.

Whether your spa offers medical services or not, facials, botox injections, or body treatments are generally “want to” rather than “need to” items, so the marketing focus should be on the patient’s potential results.  For example, “this laser treatment tightens your skin, which could make you look up to 10 years younger,” instead of, “relax and rejuvenate with a microdermabrasion facial.”

On the spa side, we would say “this treatment WILL relax you” instead of “this treatment MIGHT relax you,” but on the medical side, keep in mind that old chestnut, “under-promise and over-deliver.” Potential medical spa clients are searching for solutions to problems or annoyances in their physical appearance, but you cannot promise results in your marketing materials. Bodies are all unique and different, and while we can’t really promise results on the spa side either, those results are not visible or measurable in the way medical spa procedures can be.   

Events that combine education and entertainment are an effective method of promoting medi-spa services. Having a group of 20-30 women in your target profile in for an evening lecture and/or demonstration by the physician, with support from the esthetics staff, allows them to ask questions and get comfortable with the concept of medi-spa services while feeling comfortable with their friends and acquaintances.  Add some compelling imagery and promotions, and you’ll gain patients on the spot.

The Marketing and Medical Law

It is crucial that you and your marketing team are aware of what the potential legal issues are regarding marketing messages in your state. For instance, in California, it is illegal to use the phrase “as low as” or refer to prepaid services in your marketing. As with all laws, not knowing is not an excuse. You must also consider HIPAA guidelines, especially when using social media. Even when clients post positive remarks on your business Facebook page, the appropriate response is to thank them for their comments, not to acknowledge that they were, in fact, a patient. It is wise to place a disclaimer on your social sites reminding visitors of the public nature of the forum, so they are not compelled to over-share. If you use before and after photos on social sites or in any marketing, be sure to get a written consent from the patient, and don’t give medical advice online. Make sure to research the laws in your state before marketing or advertising your medical spa services.

Using these guidelines, practicing a high degree of professionalism, and delivering great results, will all help you to grow your medical spa business.

About the Author

Lisa Starr

Lisa Starr brings over 30 years of industry-specific experience as a consultant, educator and writer to Booker through GOtalk. Lisa also works for Wynne Business, a leading spa consulting and education company. Among other things, Lisa’s expertise lies in business operations and finances, sales and marketing, inventory management, human resource development, and business process improvement. She is a well-known speaker within the trade show circuit and is a frequent contributor to industry

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