It is amazing to see how the more things change, the more they remain the same.
When it comes to marketing, there have been astounding changes in how and when you communicate with your patients and the public about chiropractic.
Who knew that someday DCs could completely avoid newspaper ads, Yellow Pages ads, direct mailers, and postcards to reach patients. Or that there would be more devices connecting people than there are people.
If you don’t believe it, look at the devices you use every day. Chances are good you have a smartphone, a tablet, and a computer. Maybe you have a landline, but if you do, you’re probably wondering whether you need it anymore.
Yet, while we have never been more “connected,” we’ve never communicated less. In a time when our thoughts are reduced to 140 characters or fewer (BRB, LOL, BTW), we’re losing our ability to connect with real people.
Text messages and email really stood out five years ago, but they’re now often annoyances. Email used to be top priority. Now most people have stuffed inboxes and multiple email accounts. Text messages used to get an immediate response—until everyone considered everything urgent.
And then let’s not forget Facebook, where what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas (or anywhere else). It’s now out there for the world to see, and not just in seconds, but in real time.
Marketing in a digital age
But what does all of this have to do with marketing your practice on a budget? More than you might imagine. People, yourself included, are overloaded with information, particularly in digital format. And let’s not forget those moments when many wake during the night and check their phones, just in case. As a result, the sense of urgency and significance of all this communication seems to be diminished and lost in the noise.
When you talk to social media experts, you are advised that for Twitter, less is more. If you don’t keep your message to fewer than 140 characters, you’ll exceed peoples’ attention spans. Other advertising gurus from the past, such as David Ogilvy, used to preach that “long copy sells.” But whether marketing in the past, now, or in the future, there are some things that are timeless and make an impression regardless of whom you are communicating with.
An enduring message
Sincerity and direct contact often make a stronger impression and are more effective than long copy or short social media messages. Despite popular belief, pen and paper are not dead.
They are spot-on and have more meaning today than they have had in a long time. For example, look in your desk drawers, dig through the clutter, and there’s likely a handwritten note from someone there.
And the letters you’ve kept are probably not from famous people, but from those who took the time and effort to think about you, write a note, and mail it to you. Why do you keep them? Because they are special. When things aren’t going well, there is nothing like going through these acts of kindness to remind yourself why you do what you do. It helps to remember that the rewards are not just the stuff in life but the people who took the time to communicate directly with you.
These are the feelings that you simply don’t get from an email, a tweet, or an email blast to your “friends list.” While those can be nice, it’s likely you’ve never printed one out and put it in a special place, like the top right drawer of your desk.
A personal touch
The takeaway is that when you have an opportunity to write a personal note, a thank-you note, an appreciation for a referral, or a welcome to the practice— do it. Even when you receive referrals from other professionals, don’t miss the opportunity to send a thank-you note in addition to your clinical findings.
Why? Because the effort you took will likely make a lasting impression. You can also make strong connections by taking a moment to recognize people in your community for their good deeds, or your patients who have been promoted in their jobs or retired.
Congratulate a new grandmother or grandfather on the birth of their grandchild. Or write a personal note about their cute new pet. The only people more excited than those with grandkids are the ones who are crazy about their pets.
Pen and paper are not dead, and neither is a direct phone call. Maybe the landline is becoming a thing of the past, but everyone has a cellphone these days. For your patients, personal phone calls are things of importance, and therefore remembered and appreciated. There’s a good chance you have heard a friend or family member go on and on about how their doctor or nurse called to check on them after a procedure or visit.
When you see a new patient, it may seem like a routine thing. But for patients, there is often apprehension, concern, fear, and uncertainty. And after a significant work-up, X-rays, reports of findings, and treatment recommendations, there is a lot to remember and convey.
And perhaps, following some post- treatment soreness or pain, some patients may begin to wonder if they made the right decision. Family and friends may begin to question the need for a treatment plan because they are so accustomed to the medical model of care, with a “one-and-done” visit and prescription.
Simple phone calls after the first treatment are not only an opportunity to reassure patients but they are a great way to make sure they are compliant with your care.
Some doctors may not want to make a call to a new patient out of fear that they are one of those “miracle” first visits and are pain-free and don’t want to come back. Or perhaps they are feeling the same or—worse—are having a significant flare-up and want to rail on you for a few minutes. In any event, the perfect response is “I expected that. That is the very reason I’m calling.”
In reality, patients will be either the same, better, or worse. But what’s important is that you personally took the time to check on them. If they are the same or worse, you can let them know that they’ve taken the first step and treatment is a process.
If they are one of those “miracle cures” who think they are one-and- done, let them know you’re glad they are feeling better, but experience tells you the pain will return and not to be discouraged if it does. Then, reiterate the importance of resolving the underlying problem if that is the case
While email blasts, tweets, and posts will reach patients and the public, when someone has placed their faith and confidence in you directly by showing up in your office, aren’t they special to you? If so, isn’t it worth the effort to make them feel special, too?
If you don’t think so, check your desk drawers.
Ray Foxworth, DC, president of ChiroHealthUSA and a certified medical compliance specialist. He maintains his practice on NewSouth Professional Campus, home to a large multidisciplinary spine center, offering services ranging from chiropractic to neurosurgery. He can be reached at or through chirohealthusa.com, where you can learn more and register for webinars.