Daniel: Welcome to “The Future Adjustment” Chiropractic Economics podcast series on what’s new and notable in the world of chiropractic. I’m Daniel Sosnoski, the Editor-in-Chief of “Chiropractic Economics.” And our guest today is Kelley Mulhern, DC, a graduate of Logan College of Chiropractic, and the author of ‘Community Connections!’, Relationship Marketing for Healthcare Professionals. She holds Master’s Degrees in Public Health and Alternative Dispute Resolution. You probably know her as Dr. Kelley Pendleton, under which name she’s contributed numerous articles to Chiropractic Economics. And she’s here today to talk to us about what you need to know about marketing your practice today. Well, Dr. Mulhern, you’ve been studying and teaching marketing techniques for the past 10 years, can you tell me a little bit about what has changed in the world of marketing over that period?
Dr. Mulhern: Absolutely. And first, let me say thank you so much for inviting me onto the podcast. It’s an honor to be here and kind of chatting with you today and sharing a little bit about what I know.
Daniel: You’re very welcome.
Dr. Mulhern: Thank you. So that is such a great question because so much has changed in marketing over the past 10 years and really even just in the last couple of years. But I know, it’ll probably come as no surprise to your listeners, but I think that online marketing is creating, not just new opportunities, but new frustrations as well for Chiropractic. You can’t really just be a good doctor anymore, you really need to be good at managing your business, marketing your practice, and having a digital marketing plan in place, or, at least, hiring somebody who knows what to do. That’s…I mean social media, SEO, online reviews, reputation management, Beacon technology, we could go on and on and on about how technology has changed the way that we interface and relate to our target market. And there are a ton of resources out there that are available to help people ease in. So it’s kind of a good news for people who aren’t really comfortable with the new technology and the changes. Tones of references and resources out there, all you have to do is look. But the second piece of good news is that, in my opinion, the best way to market to your practice, it still revolves around you as the physician. So if you get results, you’re active in your community, you have word of mouth, it happen kind of automatically.
Daniel: Yeah. You know, in the old days, Search Engine Optimization was basically a matter of naming your practice “AAA Chiropractic” and you’ll be in front of the phone book, right?
Dr. Mulhern: That’s right. That’s right. Yeah. Those days are gone.
Daniel: Right. People are gonna get online, they’re gonna use Google, they’re gonna search with their phone, and you wanna be somehow available to them when they’re searching for a Chiropractor. So, yeah, digital is definitely a big part of the game. And like you said, “The way that the digital game was played two years ago is different than it is today.” So it’s a moving target and you’re one of the people who help us stay on the cutting edge there. You know, one thing that you’re notable for is your book, “Community Connections!” And in the subtitle, it talks about relationship marketing. Can you describe Relationship Marketing and how that factors here?
Dr. Mulhern: Yeah, absolutely. So relationship marketing really refers to the ability to create and develop genuine and authentic relationships with people. So it’s being that resource, it’s being available, being known in your community, and then leveraging those relationships for the benefit of everyone involved when the time is right. In online marketing, you’ve probably heard about push marketing versus pull marketing.
Dr. Mulhern: So, push marketing, that’s the old fashion thing where you just push yourself and your brand and your promotions and whatever, you just push, push, push that onto people whether they want to hear it or not. Today, it’s all about pull marketing. So Pull marketing is, you’re gonna make great information available, you’re going to draw people to you. And the same is true for face to face interactions, you can either be the obnoxious pushy person or you can be the person that’s genuine and authentic and a resource, drawing people to you and cultivating those relationships. That’s not a quick sale, it’s about building that long-term relationship.
Daniel: Yeah. I’ve had salespeople sort of bug me repeatedly. A phone call, follow up e-mails, I mean, maybe even something in the snail mail. And at some points, whether I like it or not, I’ve actually wind up having a relationship with this person and I wind up closer to taking that next step. They’re sort of nudging me down the funnel, as they say.
Dr. Mulhern: That’s right, the notorious sales funnel. But, you know, it’s…we know that you have to have a multitude of contacts with a prospective practice member before they become engaged oftentimes. It is about that brand awareness and recognition and that comfort factor. And the more that you can get people to know you as a person and to know that, “Wow, you have skills and experiences and education that can help me,” when they have a questions, then when the time comes that they are looking for a chiropractor, they’ll know exactly who to turn to. But they have to kind of be ready at that point.
Daniel: Right. So that’s where you get into maybe working with your local ball teams, giving talks at the Rotary and Kiwanis organizations, setting up health fairs and things of that nature?
Dr. Mulhern: Absolutely. I mean, there are so many different ways that you can put relationship marketing into your marketing mix. One of the things that I do that the little bit different in terms of an example is I create opportunities to help other professionals connect with each other. So every month, I host, what I call, “Practitioners Circle.” It’s a free networking group for anyone who works with people or pets because, in my practice, pets are people too. And so typically, what happens is we meet once a month and it’s a varied mix. I’ve had chiropractors, massage therapists, acupunctures, energy workers, mental health professionals, MDs, I mean, you name it, they’ve come. And we’ll sit together and talk about issues or challenges that we’re having in practice. So oftentimes what that looks like is, “Hey I have patient Susie and this is how she’s presented. And I’ve plateaued with her or I feel like there’s something else but I don’t know what to do,” and then you can draw on that combined experience and knowledge with all these other people in the room.
So it’s a great way to build those relationships. You’ve seen as an expert automatically and it’s held in your space, so that nice. And you take those opportunities to connect, to learn something new, and that ultimately generate referrals as well as.
Daniel: Well, that sounds like a fantastic idea. And also helps to kind of break down those walls between the MDs and the DCs…
Dr. Mulhern: Absolutely. And putting the patient back at the center which is where they should be. So I have all kinds of tips and information and newsletter available. People can just pop over to my website, it’s dr-kelley.com, if they’re interested in learning more about that and seeing some other examples.
Daniel: Gotcha. So, I’m sure that you’ve seen DCs making marketing mistakes out there when you work with other people or when you’re just out and about, what are some of the classic mistakes you see people making today?
Dr. Mulhern: So, I have to laugh because there’s one that I make myself quite regularly.
Dr. Mulhern: So I’m gonna call myself out and that is that when you are in practice…and I think I shared with you that I was out of practice for a couple years writing my books and now I’m back in practice, it’ll be a year this month actually. So it can be overwhelming with everything there is to do. Managing a staff and learning a new community and the marketing and the technology and the Internet stuff and, I mean, it can be overwhelming and it becomes very easy to do nothing. So you get overwhelmed and you say, “You know what, I’ll just do that tomorrow.” But then tomorrow become next week, it becomes next month, so that is something that I have to constantly stay on top of myself with and I have seen that same pattern with other people.
And at the end of the day, we just have to remember that in new patients, as much as we might want them to, they’re not gonna just fall out of the sky and land in our reception area. We have to get out there and show them literally the way to our office but also the ‘why’ behind, why would they want to be in our office? I mean the opportunities are everywhere. We only serve still maybe 10% of the population, it’s just a matter of getting out there and showing them. But the second mistake I see pretty regularly is when people try to duplicate what works great for others in terms of marketing. So they say, “Well, you know, this doctor made a name for himself with a booming practice, doing dinner with the dogs,” or, “That that chiropractor is busting at the seams and they do lunch and learn.” But we have to realize that you have to look at your own personality type when you’re looking at your marketing. Because not everyone is cut out to be a really compelling public speaker or a fantastic event coordinator that can make these really huge events just amazing or do spinal screenings like nobody’s business. So you have to find those marketing activities that you’re comfortable with, that resonate with who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish, and that also result in a decent return on your investment. And then that’s where you spend your energy.
Daniel: That’s a really good point. And if I can just comment on that, not all chiropractors are going to be comfortable doing the same kinds of marketing activities. And if you are trying to force one that just isn’t in your personality, it’s not in your comfort zone, then you run the risk of appearing inauthentic, which will generally drive people away from you.
Dr. Mulhern: Right, right.
Daniel: Yeah. That would be a classic kind of mistake to make. So some of the classic advertising strategies, for example, just running ads, advertising both the print and digital, are you seeing those changing as well and do DCs need to adapt to the new landscape?
Dr. Mulhern: Yes and yes definitively. But I will say that when you figure out the answer in terms of exactly how we need to adopt, let me know. Because, as you mentioned before, it’s a changing landscape. And it feels like the advertising strategies that work, change almost on a daily basis. My husband, Michael, handles all the Facebook ads and all of that. He gets so frustrated because an ad that’s approved one day literally might not be approved the next day. And so it’s maddening to try to figure out their formulas and I think oftentimes you just can’t. You just do the best that you can. But that being said, I feel like oftentimes, depending on the demographic, print media is not as effective anymore. So, for me in my practice, I work with a lot of millennial. And for the millennial, if it’s not online, it doesn’t really exist. Which is different than how I grew up but that’s kind of how they are. But if I were a different type of practice that really focused on baby boomers, for example, then I think traditional advertising is still really solid for that market.
So really figuring out who your target market is and designing your marketing to align with that is important. But I will say, 2017 is really a threshold year because this is the first year in history that more money has been spent on online advertising than all other forms of advertising combined. So that’s print, radio, and T.V. And more money will be spent this year for the first time ever on online advertising. So if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy in place to be competitive, you’re going to get left in the dust because your competitors probably have one.
Daniel: Yeah. And just to give our listeners an example, just a few years ago, the standard way of advertising online was to put up a banner ad or a billboard ad, what they call “A splash page” on the Internet, which is mostly the equivalent of a billboard alongside the freeway. But now, what we’re seeing doctors have more success with are more like interactive advertising. “Take this quiz or sign up for my newsletter, I’ll send you something.” People kind of like to get that back and forth going on and start the relationship online right there.
Dr. Mulhern: Yeah. I’m lucky…
Daniel: Okay. And one more thing, I… Go ahead.
Dr. Mulhern: Oops. Sorry, I think I lost you for a second there. What were you saying?
Daniel: I said, I understand that you’re in the process of making some changes in your own practice, could you tell us a little about what are some of the new things that you have going on?
Dr. Mulhern: Okay, great. Yeah, sorry. Technology is wonderful until it doesn’t work, right? So, yeah. As I mentioned, I’m back in practice for about a year and we’re in a new state. So we didn’t grow up here, we don’t have friends and family here, so we’re really kind of starting from scratch. So that’s been pretty challenging but we are developing more of a boutique wellness practice. So we have added…we’ve got the deep oscillation therapy, we’ve got…and we’ve got the traditional things too. But most recently, we’ve added a Class for Deep Tissue Laser and we’re getting unbelievable results. It really can be a game changer. So we added it initially to help us stand out from all the other chiropractors that are in our local area because we’re in a very densely populated community, also to bring in people who might otherwise be hesitant to see a chiropractor because there are still people out there that don’t really understand what we do. But then once they come into the office for something else and then they get to see us and feel the energy, then they’re a lot more open to becoming chiropractic patients, which has been great.
And then my advice to anyone considering this kind of new technologies is to absolutely do the research. Don’t just rely on the marketing materials and the hype. We spent several months reading and researching, we checked references, we requested demos, and for the demos, we invited our most challenging patients, the ones that have chronic and acute issues. And then the laser that had the best result clinically is the one that we selected. So that time was really well spent. So we have a laser we’re super excited about. And then the next two things we’re gonna be adding are cute hygienic weight loss program and yoga classes. So always changing.
Daniel: Pretty good. Yeah, I understand that the laser therapy, what they call biostimulation therapy can really be a game changer for folks who have problems like plantar fasciitis and tennis elbow that tend not to have respond well to allopathic treatments.
Dr. Mulhern: Yes, absolutely. I mean we are just…we’ve only had it five or six weeks and I, on a pretty much daily basis, am astounded at what this thing can do. You know, people who’ve had…we’ve one patient who, he’s had the same pain for 42 years. He is 72 years old, he was injured when he was 30 and nobody’s been able to help him. And, for the first time, he was able to almost touch the floor.
Daniel: Oh, wow.
Dr. Mulhern: First time in 32 years. I mean that’s…he’s driving an hour each way to get a ten-minute treatment because it works.
Daniel: Wow. Well, that’s pretty much all you gotta say about that right there.
Dr. Mulhern: Exactly.
Daniel: Okay. Well, Dr. Mulhern, I wanna thank you so much for spending some time with us today. This is been exceedingly informative and you’ve given us a connected look at “The Future Adjustment.” I’m Daniel Sosnoski, and we’ll see you all next time.