CHANGING THE CONSULTATION DYNAMIC
Attracting and retaining customers often comes down to a unique combination of expertise, service excellence, and a perception of novelty or differentiation, all combined with a dose of “prove it.” Digital skin imaging tools provide this unique combination and are changing the way businesses interact with clients. Providing a unique assessment not available via a consumer mobile app or internet-based tool empowers clients to see the possibilities and opportunities of skin imaging and inspires them to make confident in-spa decisions.
Skin imaging motivates clients to act, accelerates decisions, opens lines of communication, creates market differentiation, generates spa excitement, and provides a platform for external marketing. By using specialized lighting modalities, high quality optics, and image processing, skin images can educate clients on the different aspects of skin health. Integrating imaging with consultations opens up the lines of communication by uncovering existing skin concerns and visually demonstrating the importance of preventative action. Quality skin imaging technology provides valuable insight into surface and sub-surface skin conditions, enabling skin care professionals to improve the effectiveness of consultations, document pre- and post-consultation treatment results, and use images and results to attract new clients and retain existing clients, thereby increasing revenue.
Using reliable, quality imaging tools changes the consultation dynamic. Professionals are no longer just selling a service or product, they are objectively recommending and tracking progress for the skin concerns identified by an objective source. Using tools that enable professionals to reliably capture photographs in the exact same way each time allows them to show credible before and after results, convincing the client that their investment is resulting in a positive change and motivating them to continue with the suggested treatment plan.
SEEING IS BELIEVING
Today’s clients are not passive recipients of information – they want to know the facts and have a wealth of information at their fingertips. They are less motivated by traditional advertising claims. Before making spending decisions, clients of all ages are doing their research and looking for proof of efficacy in the experiences of other consumers similar to them. Clients want objective reassurance that they will have a positive outcome. Gaining the confidence of prospective clients cuts the selling cycle, increases sales, and shows a clear return on investment.
Image analysis tools can also help to leverage successful outcomes to market the business’s brand or practice. Images depicting improvement over time for multi-session procedures, such as the progress of body contouring treatments, can illustrate obtainable positive results and motivate others to seek those treatments. Additionally, images and data can be used for informational client videos or educational presentations and at local events. It can also be used to create website and social media content.
Technology also enables cross-selling opportunities. Attributes such as aging simulations and skin-age analysis allow professionals to extend the conversation and explore prevention and maintenance as topics rather than just concern-based discussions. Technology facilitates the integration of product recommendations into the consultation and image documentation process, allowing for an easy transition from a discussion about the client’s needs to the development of a treatment plan and homecare regimen that addresses their concerns.
ANYTIME, ANYWHERE TECHNOLOGY
By leveraging technology in client interactions, skin care professionals and their clients reap the benefits of a streamlined consultation. Professionals become more efficient, see more clients, and increase client satisfaction by reducing wait times and creating pleasant in-spa experiences. Mobile and cloud-based solutions can help professionals make the most of their investment. Using these tools allows them to conduct consultations in multiple treatment rooms simultaneously, adapt the platform to their preferred workflow, and extend the consultation past the initial visit by providing clients with remote access to their results and recommendations. In addition, versatile portable solutions enable professionals to conduct skin health events and consultations in new and interesting locations.
A tool that offers the clients anytime, anywhere access to their information caters to today’s consumer who is accustomed to instant gratification. Following an initial consultation, if the client has the ability to revisit the consultation remotely, it encourages post-visit communications, further building the spa-client relationship. This proactive sharing of image and consultation information keeps clients engaged and motivated and encourages them to continue investing in their results. Issues or concerns with their regimen or long-term plans are addressed proactively by monitoring results, which creates loyalty and identifies educational opportunities for clients. In addition, clients will have had a unique experience. By providing an easy way for them to share their results with friends and family, they will be excited to refer others to the spa.
SEEING THE BIG (DATA) PICTURE
Technology does, however, require an initial investment of time and money and is valuable only if professionals can prove its success. The best way to evaluate success is with data. For example, the same technology that enables increased client interaction at an event also enables skin care professionals to accurately evaluate and build on an event’s success. Professionals can track metrics about how many consultations they were able to perform at any given event, what products were recommended, how much time was spent with clients on average, and which clients remained engaged post-consultation by reviewing their images and recommendations remotely. These metrics can be used to identify a correlation between the event and the frequency of post-event remote access. This database can then be used for target marketing communications to clients based on their personal product or treatment preferences; this enables professionals to have strategic touch points based on their levels of interest. With data, a host of business-building opportunities emerge by giving professionals visibility to their clients’ trends, allowing professionals to reach their clients and prospects more effectively.
MAKING IT EVENTFUL
Once professionals understand the benefits of technology, its value, and how to use the associated data, they can use it to attract new clients. Sample before and after images, along with the aggregated data about overall client results and satisfaction, are a powerful marketing tool that can be leveraged through newspaper and magazine advertisements, waiting room and client brochures, posters, and referral coupons. With client consent to use consultation images and aggregated anonymized client data, professionals are empowered to proactively attract new business.
Events can also be a powerful marketing tool, offering a creative way to highlight expertise in an interesting, low-pressure environment. Events create excitement, attract both loyal clients and new prospects to the spa and offer potential clients a good reason to try the spa’s services, which is the first step to creating loyal customers. For example, using skin imaging technology at an event to provide free consultations intrigues potential clients and provides an easy way to connect with those who dropped in on a greater scale. Event types can be educational or learning-focused, hands-on, charitable, special-guest focused, or themed. The possibilities are endless.
At a learning event, use the technology to focus on teaching attendees about different skin concerns, treatments, and how-to topics. Options might include an aesthetician addressing the benefits of proper skin care and the effects of aging or a makeup artist revealing the latest techniques in contouring and highlighting. Similar to a learning event, a hands-on event takes a topic and allows attendees to roll up their sleeves to learn and do at the same time. They may perform an at-home treatment in the spa or see the results of their own analysis in the context of the topic that is being covered.
Events that have a cause or charity tied to them are very effective at attracting clients because there is a “feel good, do good” element. Donate a portion of the event proceeds or assign a monetary value to the skin imaging consultation and donate that amount to a cause or charity. Shopping or spending for a cause is something people take pride in and it is what helps make these events successful.
Inviting a special guest to host an event is a simple and effective way to get people to attend. Invite a local athlete or fitness expert for an overall health-inspired event. Work with a local popular chef or restaurant to cook a healthy meal. Team up with a makeup artist to provide “big day” makeovers that complement skin imaging consultations.
Professionals can also make their event an invitation-only affair. People love to be part of exclusive, special events and a VIP event can help attract potential clients. Create an event for loyal clients, inviting them to bring a guest; offer special spa hours, discounts, and elevated customer service. Secure their skin analysis session with a deposit that assigns a value to the experience and then apply it to their product or service purchase.
To expand the spa’s reach and increase the number of potential event attendees, team up with a local business for an event that combines specialties. Ideas include a health-themed event with the local gym, smoothie bar, or holistic practice and a beauty event with local hair salons, makeup artists, or even a local dentist. Market to the professional woman with a focus on skin care for the woman on the move. Team up with the local chapters of organizations that cater to professional women, plan an event with the Chamber of Commerce, or even reach out to the local PTA. Bringing technology to these events makes skin care professionals the partner of choice and allows them to engage and reach new clients that might otherwise have been inaccessible.
Seasonal events also draw in clients. Winter is a perfect time to start clients on a treatment plan. The summer months offer the opportunity to remind everyone how to protect their skin. Bring an event to a local park or an annual 5K run for sun safety awareness and skin fitness. Portable imaging technology that can uncover subsurface sun damage makes a greater impact at outdoor events, communicates the importance of sun damage reversal during the winter months, and stresses the importance of prevention during the summer months.
Bridal shows with a focus on preparing for the big day are always a great way to extend reach by getting exposure to brides, bridal parties, and wedding attendees. Imaging can help attract a crowd and provide a unique experience at the event that makes professionals a memorable exhibitor. Bridal-themed events in the fall and again in the spring doubles the professional’s impact.
When all is said and done, nurturing relationships, either with other business owners or clients, helps professionals create a client base. The stronger their relationships, the more likely clients will be to tell their friends about the spa return to the spa themselves.
GETTING THE WORD OUT
Now that skin care professionals have the technology, data, themed event, and potential partners, how do they get people to come to their spa? A simple public relations approach can ensure a well-informed public and a full appointment book. Send a small write-up to the local newspaper and other media outlets that highlight the professional’s capabilities, promotions, special event, partners, and unique technology, complete with before and after images. Contact the local news station and offer to give demonstrations. Reach out to local organizations with event or special offer details. Attract ideal clients by giving them something of value for free to get them started. Often, the idea of a free, personalized skin imaging consultation is enough to get them in the door. If professionals use a specialty brand of products, contact the company, offering to speak about the great results documented with imaging technology. Professionals can also agree to announce the company’s new products or services through media outlets or offer them space at an event.
Technology can play a vital role in illustrating expertise in advertising. Highlight skin imaging technology and planned events using webinars, blog posts, and social media and network with people to start to attract a following. With a structured sales funnel setup, professionals will be able to convert the followers and fans into paying clients. Skin imaging results and the associated data make all of this easier. Use the technology and tools to initiate, plan, execute, and follow up on events. With a striving and successful business, pictures will be worth much more than 1,000 words.
Diana Ordonez is a director of product management at Canfield Scientific where she is responsible for consultative imaging tools, mobile applications, and cloud services, including the highly successful VISIA Complexion Analysis system, as well as strategic partnerships. Ordonez is a frequent speaker at industry conferences about using facial imaging systems to improve conversions, increase revenues, and market the capabilities of a medical spa practice. She is a member of the trade group Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW) and happy to be a contributor to DERMASCOPE: The Encyclopedia of Aesthetics & Spa Therapy. Ordonez holds a Master of Arts in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Montclair State University.