Connecting with patients as a marketing concept trumps ‘advertising’ when it comes to truly reaching and helping patients
DCs who are worried about marketing costs for their chiropractic practice along the lines of traditional marketing concepts like to talk about one thing: ads.
These lead to questions for them like:
- “How many new patients does your ad need to bring in for you to break even on it? And to turn a profit?”
- “How are you making your ad measurable, so you can tell what impact it has (and on whom)?”
- “Who are your best patients?”
- “What do ‘best patients’ have to do with anything? And what’s a ‘best’ patient, anyway?
Going beyond advertising as your main marketing concept
When you want to know how to minimize marketing costs, it’s what marketing is and isn’t that you need to focus on.
Let’s start with what it isn’t. Marketing isn’t advertising (ads are, in fact, just one tool of marketing).
Marketing isn’t about reaching as many people as possible (actually, you can do much better by targeting your focus to your “best patients” – those for whom your services are a perfect match, like, say, families, seniors, or athletes).
And, certainly, marketing isn’t about flashy design (though a professional look will always help.)
Measuring your marketing touches
Marketing is about connection. That’s it. That should be the entirety of your marketing concept, wrapped up in one word. If you can connect with people, you can market. More importantly, you can market successfully. So what does that mean for a chiropractor trying to bring in new clients without breaking the bank?
It means you need to review your marketing plan and look at it with new eyes — you need to see where you’ve created opportunities to connect. Typically, a chiropractic marketing plan might include an announcement of an upcoming presentation on wellness. There may be a holiday card sent out and a special offer during the patient’s birthday month.
If the patient hasn’t been seen in a while, a “We missed you” note might go out, along with information about all the services you offer (like chiropractic, massage therapy, or nutritional consulting). And there’s nothing wrong about any of that. It’s a good beginning.
The problem is, it focuses a lot on sporadic interactions, not real connections. Worse, it doesn’t really do much to let your patients know all the things you can help them with. And that’s the important marketing concept right there – help.
Helping find services to fix problems
Because that’s what marketing — when done correctly — is actually all about. You are helping people find out about services that will help them with their problems. And doesn’t that sound like a perfect foundation for a chiropractic marketing plan? In fact, when you think of it that way, suddenly marketing sounds a lot more like customer service. And it is.
How many interactions do you have a month (a week? a day?) that allow you to let new people know about your services? In other words, how often do you connect with people? Those connections could be spontaneous conversations with customers in line at the grocery store, or they could be one-on-one networking lunches with potential referral partners, or anything in between. The point, though, is that you are out there, regularly and frequently, talking to people about what you do.
Talking about services and referrals
When – and how frequently – do you ask your patients for referrals? It’s amazing how often chiropractors answer “never” to that question. Yet, a “never” — or a “sometimes” — to that question is like taking money and tossing it in the trash. That’s because the easiest type of marketing is through your existing patients. Asking them for referrals puts the idea in their minds, and it also opens up a conversation in which you can get feedback, collect a testimonial, or educate your patient on the other ways you can be of help.
I’ve been seeing my own chiropractor for about five years now, and she has yet to ever ask me for a referral.
Do you get out in front of groups and let them know about your services? Connecting with groups is a wonderful marketing concept that leverages your time and gives you more impact. Giving a talk or writing an article gives you a chance to reach a wider audience and really give information on how you can help them.
It’s not all back pain
How often do you let your existing patients know the variety of problems you can help them with (you know chiropractic is about more than just back pain – but how many of your patients know that)? You should be regularly educating your patients in this way (and not only during conversations requesting referrals). If you’ve helped someone with their back pain but they go to someone else for their headaches, that means you’ve missed an opportunity to let them know how you could help them.
A connection-based approach to marketing is about as inexpensive as you can get.
Once you stop thinking of marketing as something you do, and, instead, think of it as a way in which you connect, you will be well on your way to reducing costs and strengthening your marketing concept — or your philosophy of analyzing customer needs and then making decisions to then satisfy them. Most importantly, though, you will create a marketing plan based on the same ideals upon which you founded your practice: helping others.
Jennifer Michelle teaches health and wellness professionals how to build thriving businesses without burning themselves out. Her consulting uses a connection-based approach, which is also at the heart of her workbooks, Get More Clients and Increase Client Retention. To find out more visit linkedin.com/in/jennifercmichelle.