Patient education could be your missing marketing tool.
Every chiropractor has experienced marketing techniques that employ varying degrees of intensity, some subtle and others more aggressive. There are many ways to promote a product or service, and in today’s environment consumers are getting hit from all angles—TV, radio, apps, billboards, computer banners, social media ads, and more.
The fundamental goal of any marketing campaign is to create a recognizable brand, one that can instantly trigger the thought of a product or service at a moment’s notice. You might remember: “Just Do It,” “Good to the Last Drop,” and “Like a Rock.”
To create a memorable brand, corporations spend millions of dollars and years of outreach. This type of marketing works great for products, especially when you have a large marketing budget.
But in chiropractic, you are marketing a service, not a product, so how do you get your “brand” recognized? First, understand what the chiropractic brand really is: The model emphasizes the doctor first, chiropractic second. So in the beginning it is critical that the doctor’s expertise be promoted up front.
A doctor’s expertise is demonstrated through clinical experience, academic teaching positions, continuing education programs, advanced training, and peer-reviewed research. The long-term goal is to leverage the doctor’s expertise to create a recognizable clinic that is known for its expertise and success within chiropractic.
But how many people in your city could name you or your practice off the top of their head? What do you do to create enduring business relationships that last the length of your career?
Start by leading with academics, and avoid politics. Teaching is the No. 1 marketing strategy of the modern age, and when done properly it is the most effective way to generate new patients and position yourself as a spine-care expert. Chiropractic has been doing this for 116 years with patients and there is no reason you can’t do it with the medical community in your area, because medical research supports chiropractic and what you do every day. As the healthcare system focuses more on primary care, it will be crucial to your success to work with the medical community as a point of entry for spine care.
With academic marketing, you can reach out in a professional and teaching-based way. People are innately curious and want to learn, and that is where they often build trust. In the case of a doctor, it is easy to generate curiosity with information culled from published research.
There are two pillars of academic marketing: using the first pillar, you teach through reporting. Much of what you can learn about the diagnostic and treatment methods of other providers is from reading their reports.
Consider your reports to be a marketing tool as well as billing, collections, and compliance tools. This can only happen if they are in a standard healthcare format and completed in a timely fashion.
Your evaluations and re-evaluations should be sent to every MD who touches your patient(s). The reports you send out can be better marketing than any Yellow Page ad, blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, or YouTube video. Repeat this to yourself when you are frustrated: “Reports build trust and are important marketing tools. It is worth my while to implement a system for properly completing all patient reports in a timely manner.”
With the second pillar, you share chiropractic research with medical providers, clinics, and hospitals. Allopathic providers are entrenched in using research, which fosters innovation in the medical community.
Medical doctors essentially have an open scope of practice; therefore, they aren’t always limited by what research says or proves, but treat in that direction. Maybe the term should actually be “objective scope of practice.” That is what drives medical decision making, so when you show them research, they will usually listen.
You can start simply by searching Google Scholar at google.com/scholar for chiropractic research by topic. All the research is listed there—you don’t even have to use PubMed. In fact, Google has a better indexing search.
Look at the conclusion in the abstract to determine the scope of the article and the outcome of the study. Then tailor the research you are presenting to your style of practice.
An MD won’t want to see the abstract, which is only a summary, and will likely have more questions. Go to the publisher, purchase the article if necessary, then write a one-page synopsis of the content. You can then correlate those findings to your practice and the topic you want to promote such as headache treatment, pain management and chiropractic, or even disability management.
The first few may be a bit difficult, but you will get better at searching, summarizing, and “talking research” with the MDs you know. Hand these out at the beginning of your relationship with an MD’s office so the staff gets to know you and your practice.
As a chiropractor, teach the MD community what you do. This does not make you a medical doctor; rather it can actually make you more of a chiropractor than you ever thought possible.
William Owens, Jr., DC, DAAMLP, CPC, is in private practice in Buffalo and Rochester, New York, and generates the majority of his new-patient referrals directly from the primary care medical community. He is an associate adjunct professor at the State university of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through mdreferralprogram.com.