On September 28, 2018, Page 1 Solutions announced the acquisition of Strategic Edge Partners, a boutique marketing agency for aesthetic medical practices. Dana Fox, former President and CEO of SEP, has joined Page 1 Solutions as the Vice President of Practice Development, bringing her 30 years of industry experience to the clients we serve. I sat down with Dana to learn a little more about her and the expertise she’s gained over the years.
Saralyn Ward: First off, welcome to Page 1! I would love to hear a little bit more about your background, and how you arrived at this point in your career.
Dana Fox: I have always worked in marketing, in some capacity, throughout my entire career. I have a background in art and I love to write. So there were a lot of natural things that led me into marketing, I started in skincare and nutrition and moved into medicine in 1993, because I had a passion for cosmetic surgery, and knew I was going to avail myself to services at some point. So for me, aesthetic medicine was a natural curiosity and that’s how my career in medical marketing started.
The first specialty that I worked with was oral and maxillofacial surgery – at the time I knew nothing of surgical specialties or medical specialties. I knew nothing of turf wars and nothing about plastic surgeons versus facial plastic surgeons, so all of that was brand new. I started by bringing aesthetic medicine into oral maxillofacial practices, and then very quickly started working with plastic surgeons, and then ultimately with all specialties that could offer aesthetic medicine. Eventually I was endorsed by the American Society of Plastic Surgery, so from then on, the vast majority of Strategic Edge clients were plastic surgeons.
Saralyn: In your experience, what sets a successful aesthetic practice apart from those that are underperforming?
Dana: I have a statement that I make routinely from the podium and in working with practices: It is never the what, it is always the who. Who is going to be the guiding force in a practice? Who understands that there are accountabilities that go along with good marketing and good practice management? The practices that are highly successful have a very clear vision about what they want to accomplish. They have written goals, they have a plan of attack, and they also can assess what they're not good at. They can decipher, here's what we know really well, and here are the things that we don't know so well. Then they decide, “we're going to hire a consultant or an expert in that area to bring us full circle.”
Saralyn: That's a great skill. And speaking from the patient side, what do patients look for in a practice?
Dana: Patients rarely – if ever – make decisions about where they're going to have their surgery or procedure based on what physicians think. Patients make their buying decision entirely at the emotional level. Now, that doesn't mean that they are not logical, and that they don't research. But to make a decision for someone to cut into your body or to laser your face, you are making a decision at a very emotional level. The vast majority of patients have to like the provider. They have to like the doctor. If they don't like the doctor, they are not going to write a check for fifteen- or twenty-thousand dollars for a procedure. Patients have to like the doctor first, and then they have to trust them. It's not the other way: they don't trust them first, and then like them. They have to like them first.
Saralyn: How do you help a doctor who struggles with that component?
Dana: Well, if you have a doctor that does not have good people skills, perhaps they are a brilliant scientist or a brilliant surgeon but are lacking communication skills. Especially if it’s a male provider to female patient – if that doctor is smart, he will surround himself with people that will be honest, and will let him know, “You know, you really are not good at this, let us buffer your communication and explain you to the patient.” Then, his job is to not overwhelm his patients with his vast scientific knowledge and all of the potential risks of the procedure.
A surgeon’s job is to connect with their patient on an emotional level and get them to like him. I always ask them, can you do that? If you can't do that, then we want him to talk to the patient as little as possible. And we want him to surround himself with very, very strong nurses and very strong patient coordinators.
One of the providers in a medical practice whose value is not always fully understood, is an RN. Nurses are next in line in importance after the physician. In any kind of research or surveys that we've done, nurses are always the most trusted people in the practice. So a lot of physicians say, we don't want to spend the dollars for an RN salary. But that is a big mistake. The compensation difference is so worth that additional level of education and care, if for no other reason than patient satisfaction.
Saralyn: What makes you excited about joining forces with Page 1?
Dana: Page 1 has that technical SEO and social media expertise, and a command of all the hard sciences, if you will, of marketing. And I, I'm going to bring the expertise of practice development, as well as a touch of creative visual branding that they did not offer previously. The strengths of our brands are so complementary. I think our joining forces will be a really good marriage of our companies’ strengths. Now Page 1 is a true force to be reckoned with.
Saralyn: Now, I’d love to ask you some personal questions, to get some insight into what makes you tick. How do you start your day?
Dana: I start my day with a trip to Starbucks for a grande dark roast and a walk around my little town. If I'm on the road, I will try to find an area around the hotel that's safe and has some attractive component to it to explore. After my coffee, I hit the gym. I always use the Stairmaster, I lift weights and I work with a personal trainer two days a week. I try to take good care of myself so that at the end of the day I can also enjoy a cocktail.
Saralyn: My kind of girl! To what do you attribute your success?
Dana: I have the tenacity a bulldog. I do not give up. I keep going – whether it’s around, over, or under, I make certain that I just keep moving forward. And I do not let negative feedback define my success. I like to take negative experiences, learn from them, and then get over it - just go on to the next thing. I don't hang onto disappointments – I've learned discipline from them.
I’ve also learned that when you're dealing with the personalities in this industry – plastic surgeons, dermatologists and MDs – you're dealing with high performing people that are extremely well-educated and are generally the smartest people in the room. Taking those things into consideration, they may not necessarily value advice beyond hard medical science. And yet, by teaching them some of the soft sciences of personal connection, management of staff, and branding for patient satisfaction and loyalty, they will be more successful than they have ever been.
Saralyn: That statement is a great lead-in to my last question, which is: In your mind, what is the value that your consultation brings to a practice?
Dana: When I work with a medical practice (whether it's a solo practice or a group), I'm invited in to help them improve. My job is to improve something that they have defined: either staff development, internal marketing, or conversions. Maybe there's sufficient traffic coming to the website or through the phone, but once they get into the practice, something goes awry – something doesn't happen that needs to happen.
When I bring my 30 years of experience into that environment, within a very few hours, I can quickly assess what I believe either needs to change or improve, or something that they need to do more of. Rarely do I leave a practice where I have not found five or six things that will really help their bottom line and help them personally. It's not my job to come in and just thrash and burn and fire people. That is never a good idea. But you can see where there are specific people within a practice that might be in the wrong role. They might be in a in a phone capacity, for example, but maybe phones are not their best strength. Maybe they would be far better in a patient coordinator role where they are not necessarily the client’s first point of contact or first impression, but they are better at building relationships, for example, with patients.
At the end of a consultation, when I go back to my office, and I spend four or five days evaluating what I saw and heard, I start making my recommendations. It just flows onto the page. And very rarely do I have a practice that says, gosh, this was not what we hoped for. I would say that out of the 1,500 practices that I have physically visited and consulted with, there have probably only been three times where I have perhaps misread what the expectations were. I think that's a pretty darn good track record.
To learn more about consulting and practice development opportunities with Dana Fox, speak to your IMC or call 800-368-9910.