Please Note! Due to the high volume of irritating spam and slow-down of participation here, we are no longer accepting new comments, questions, or subjects on this Forum. We are keeping all the subjects and comments for review as there is a lot of good stuff here relating to practice-building subjects. So, dig deep! Thanks to everyone who participated here but it is time to move on to bigger projects educating the public about acupuncture! Matt Bauer
10-Dec-2012 09:46 AM
in“What Every AOM Student Should Be Taught About Earning a Living.” Matthew Posted:
What I would love to hear from people is what ways are you using to market your practice so that you can get that client base that is large enough so that word of mouth referral type marketing can take over.
I have only been in practice for close to 2 years and have done very little aside from my website and that was enough to get to the starting gate but if I want to go to the next level and get to the point where I am able to sustain my family I need help. Things I am considering:
So I guess my question is what are others doing. Matthew what did you do in those first few years to help the growth of your practice. What worked what was a waste of time?
10-Dec-2012 11:06 AM
Great questions! Thank you so much for your post. This is what I hope to encourage: specific questions about important practice building issues. Many of the things you indicated you are thinking of doing are what I recommended in my book in my chapter on “Getting Them in your Door” and “Getting off to a Fast Start” and “Growing Your Practice Over the Years.” If you have my book, please re-read this. If not, you will find a good deal of specific advice there. But now for your questions:
There are two categories of marketing to work on – One is reaching out to the public the other is working with your existing and previous patients. Never forget the value to your existing/previous patients. They are your “warm market”. You should have a database of your patients especially with their emails and send them some sort of notices to keep you in their minds. Let them know how difficult to build a practice in this field and ask them to help you help their friends/relatives by referring them to you. Keep reminding them that because acupuncture works by stimulating the body’s ability to heal itself, this means you can treat a very wide range of conditions – not only the type of problems thay themselves were treated for. In my book, I give advice on topics that would make an effective newsletter.
As for reaching-out to the public – I don’t consider anything I did to get people in my door to be a waste of my time because I had time to waste. I didn’t have money to waste though and I encourage people to be careful about spending more and more thinking that is the answer so the only thing on your list I would hesitate doing is spending the $1,500 on the local AM talk show. That could pay off but I advise to take full advantage of the free and low costs options first. As for talks with business groups – I know what you mean. I hated that idea. I could not think of anything more out of my character than that but after doing some of those I was glad I did. What I preach in my book is that your biggest marketing goal should be introducing yourself to your community as a caring, intelligent professional. And those groups help you to do that.
Here is a quote from my book from the beginning of my section on marketing :
“A smart marketing campaign needs to find the delicate balance between spending enough to attract patients by introducing yourself to your market and not spending too much that could make you go broke before you get your practice going. It takes time to get your name or your clinic’s name in peoples’ minds and often people who are interested in contacting you will procrastinate for months before making contact. If you are going to place ads in the local newspaper for example, don’t judge the success of the ad by how many calls you get the day or two after the ad runs. It just doesn’t work that way. Marketing is a cumulative process. Your challenge is to survive in practice long enough to allow that accumulation to take place. It usually takes a good two to three years before the cumulative effect of your marketing efforts will start to reach their full potential so be careful about spending a lot of money on advertising early-on if money is tight.”
There is so much more to offer on this topic but I hope this helps. Let me know what you think and don’t forget about your existing/previous patients!
10-Dec-2012 05:29 PM
This is a good topic. I always love to hear what others are doing. Here’s what I’ve done so far, in case it sparks any ideas. For background, I’m in my third year and in a small town and I am an extreme introvert. I’m not busy enough yet, but my word of mouth is growing. Just like what Matt said, I tend to think of marketing as “seed-planting” so I get less discouraged when there isn’t an immediate influx of new patients after an event. I haven’t done anything yet that involves a huge investment of money – I think in terms of how many new patients do I need to see to make that back and then some.
· Chamber of Commerce: I go to the once-a-month networking meeting as often as I can. Being an introvert, my goal is simply to talk to at least three people I already know, and meet one new person. They also put out a monthly newsletter with paid inserts that aren’t too expensive. I did an insert once and got enough referrals that it paid for itself a couple times over.
· Health fairs/local festivals – I do at least three of these a year. I get a booth and do free mini-treatments right then and there, and then give a discount offer if they sign up that day for a new patient visit (I used to give coupons out and no one would come in with the coupon – when I switched to having them sign up that day I started getting takers – not many but at least a few)
· During my clinic anniversary month I do a free treatment day on the actual anniversary day for new or return patients, (new patients get a mini-treatment and then I offer them half off their first “real” visit) and then a discount off all treatments for the week following. I advertise this in the local paper the week before and so far have always gotten great results from it.
· Newspaper ads – I do this probably 2 or 3 times a year – again, small town, so I usually get enough new people to cover the cost and a little more.
· I once went out to a local nursing home and gave a free treatment afternoon to the employees of the home. I’d like to do more of these with local employers.
· Local radio – our local radio station has a lot of listeners, but I haven’t done this one yet because our station requires a bigger monthly commitment whereas the newspaper I can just do now and then when I have a little extra.
· I’m on Facebook, Pinterest, and Scoop.It but so far only have a few patients connecting through there because I haven’t announced it more widespread yet.
· Raffles – anytime Rotary or local schools or sports teams or cancer fundraisers have a raffle event, I put together a pretty bag of herbal tea and a gift certificate for a free treatment.
· I send out a snail mail birthday card to patients with a discount coupon to be used during the month of their birthday.
· I use the acufinder monthly newsletter.
· Anytime something changes in my clinic, I send out free press releases to the local newspapers in the closest three or four towns.
Hope this helps. What else have others done?
10-Dec-2012 06:01 PM
Good stuff. Thank you very much for posting. The thing to remember is that it takes time for your efforts to really start to add-up. I seriously thought of calling my book “Survive Then Thrive” as surviving those first few years is so important to allow the exponential growth that should occur to take place. People often will not seek you out until a problem of theirs takes a turn for the worse. That is why you don’t just place and ad or do a talk and then see how many new patients you get in the next week. Establish your name or clinic’s name in people’s minds and they will come when things take a turn for the worse. As this keeps happening over the years, the growth compounds until you reach the point I have been at for many years now of not having to do any marketing to stay super busy. Years 4-6 should be much better than 1-3 and years 7-9 even better if you have done things right from the beginning. More please!