Most of us hate marketing. We hate wasting our weekends giving spinal screenings to bring in low-quality prospects. We hate committing large monthly payments for radio/TV ads that don’t pull. We hate being psyched up by some pumped-up, platform speaker to set up an elaborate system of new patient acquisition that doesn’t work. It sucks!
Stay With Me…
There’s hope though; keep reading. I’ll outline the 7 essential elements of effective marketing. I know you’re feeling jaded; maybe you’ve heard it all before. Keep your eyes open for just another few minutes and learn what a quality marketing program looks like. Read every word, and learn to say “no” to lousy advertising (and there is a lot of it). Once you know what to look for, your practice will flourish, even in highly competitive markets. You may learn to enjoy the part of practice most doctors hate, marketing.
If you’re currently helping a large flow of quality new patients, it’s because you have a program in place with all the features below. Congratulations! Don’t get over confident. You’re going to need to continue bringing in new patients as long as you’re in practice. Markets change, and your marketing program has to evolve too.
Secret #1, Is It Simple?
I’ve been in practice over 30 years and have helped nearly 20,000 new patients as a solo practitioner. I’ve made every error, and know what works. Great marketing plans have certain qualities and simplicity comes first. Like a flower attracts bees, your center should draw people in. An example of a simple program that works is an attractive business card with a picture of you and a strong offer on it.
Be wary of any program that has multiple steps that must be done exquisitely well to bring in new business. Gathering a great number of “leads” with a generous tempting offer and qualifying them through a series of machinations meant to motivate them into patient-hood can be an enormous drain of time, money, and energy. For example, online webinars can be complicated, requiring multiple steps to generate leads. They are difficult to execute successfully. Chiropractic isn’t complicated. Your outreach program should be simple.
Secret #2, Does It Pass the Sniff Test?
If it’s immoral, unethical, illegal in your state, or just doesn’t feel right, don’t do it! Follow your heart. As a chi-ro-prac-tor, you’ve embraced a philosophy based on inborn intelligence. What does your gut tell you?
If it’s just a stretch where you’ll have to grow as a person, develop additional talents, work harder or do something that’s “uncomfortable” for a while, no problem. Suck it up and get it done. In fact, do it immediately.
Secret #3, Are The Results Measurable?
If you can’t count quality new patients who stay, pay, and refer in more people like them, you don’t have a good plan.
Just spending money to create “an image” is stupid, bordering on reckless, for small business. Sending out another round of tired postcards, running another hackneyed newspaper ad, or doing anything just to do it is a terrible idea. If it’s not profitable, DON’T DO IT! You’re going to go broke before you “build a brand” or “create awareness”.
Secret #4, Does It Go After the Low-Hanging Fruit?
Anyone can benefit from chiropractic, but not everyone senses the need, can follow through, and pay for your service. A good program draws people who understand why they might need care and are ready to invest in their health.
Marketing is like picking apples. If you shake an apple tree, ripe fruit will fall that’s ready to eat. The fruit already on the ground is usually full of worms. The apples still up in the tree after a hard shake are probably green and not ready to eat. For example, a good speaker can close 85% of a crowd with a highly motivating presentation and a tempting offer, but it’s a terrible idea. What if only 20% understand their need for care? What if only half of those people are motivated to do something to help themselves? Do you really want to cater to a crowd that doesn’t want your service? Don’t “shake the tree” too hard or too often.
Secret #5, Can You Start Small?
A good program lets you start small and experiment. Television and radio contracts don’t usually allow you this flexibility. Often, they require large significant monthly payments for an extended period of time with no guarantees. They broadcast to a huge area outside your market as well.
An example of a program that’s “scalable” would be a limited number of letters distributed by hand to neighbors near your clinic on a trial basis. If this works, you can expand it. If it doesn’t work, you can change the program. If you’re new to an area, try having a letter distributed to the doorsteps of neighbors in an unsealed blank envelope with nothing on it. People will definitely open your mysterious envelope and read the letter inside just out of curiosity. If it has an offer that’s warm and professional, you will attract potential patients.
Secret #6, Are You Excited About It?
There’s nothing new in marketing, just an endless number of ideas that may work. The internet offers an amazing array of exciting possibilities for doctors ready to serve more patients. Select a program you’re excited about. Even a lousy program will work if you’re enthused and the best programs will stop working when your attention goes elsewhere.
If a program is one you really want to try, you may have a winner. Make up your mind and do it quickly.
Secret #7, Does It Change With The Times?
All quality advertising starts out slowly, generates awareness quickly, and eventually reaches a peak and dies out. Good business people recognize this and act accordingly. They start lots of potentially good programs and cut ones that don’t take off. It’s almost as if these programs take on a life of their own, build, and die as they grow old. If you recognize this fact, you will act on ideas quickly and discontinue ineffective and worn-out programs skillfully.
You live in an overmedicated, sick society that needs other options in health care. You must reach out in your own unique way and serve as many people as you possibly can with quality care. As our illustrious forefathers would advise, “Early to bed early to rise, work like hell, and advertise.”
STEVEN VISENTIN, is a 1982 graduate of The National College of Chiropractic, a solo practitioner and clinic director of Care Chiropractic (www.carechiropractic.com), in Denver, Colorado. He is an accomplished public speaker and author of an e-book entitled, “Blow-Your-Head-Off Practice-Building Secrets”.