Build your network before building your practice
Running a practice can be quite difficult. You have staff to manage, people to treat, appointments to make, and bills to pay. Yet of all the daunting things that a chiropractor is responsible for, the most important one, is marketing.
Some DCs, however, are leery of marketing activities as this is an area not addressed in college and it can feel like a burden. As a result, many DCs will do anything to avoid it even though it’s both an important and necessary facet of practice.
The truth is that without marketing, you have no patients. And when there are no patients, the bills don’t get paid. Many chiropractors have gone out of business for failing to prioritize their business promotion efforts.
To counter marketing apathy, embrace the power of relationships. For example: During the search for a new car for my daughter, we settled on a model and began speaking with the salesperson. After a brief chat, he spoke to me about my objectives, what I was hoping to accomplish, and what hobbies I enjoyed. We left there not with one new automobile—but four.
Building a business is not about sales, marketing, social media, or other tactical considerations, rather it’s about relationships. People (your patients) want to do business with those they want to build a relationship with. When discussions shift to values, the fees are less important because the purpose is based on your wisdom, expertise, and presence.
And then there is marketing clutter. The average consumer hears and sees over 6,000 marketing messages a day. They are ubiquitous across 600 television stations, 15,000 radio stations, 480 million websites, 150,000 magazines and periodicals, and over 1 billion tweets and Google searches every day. Even if you are marketing aggressively, it can be difficult to stand out.
In addition, chiropractors and other healthcare professionals, due to the nature of their professional education and clinical studies, seem to take pride in telling anyone who will listen that they are not marketers, as if marketing or self-promotion is distasteful. But the fact is that every chiropractor in business today is indeed a marketer (albeit some are better than others). No chiropractor should look down on marketing—it’s a necessity.
Welcome the law of attraction
Marketing today is difficult even for large corporations due to the flood of information that potential customers see. People are increasingly adept at tuning out commercial messaging. Around the world, advertisers will spend nearly $600 billion in 2015, according to new figures from eMarketer, an increase of 6 percent over 2014. Given these numbers, you should consider a different method- ology in order to acquire, convert, and ultimately retain new patients.
What you need is the law of attraction. You’re in the relationship business. But your prospective patients are going to be loath to enter into agreements with total strangers, just as you are wary of entering into a relationship with a new vendor or supplier.
Additionally, chiropractors and other healthcare professionals are generally unable to put in enough of their own time and money to attract people through a single campaign. Therefore, you must establish several pipes or pathways to draw people into your practice.
Focus on the types of activities that interest you most. Engage in opportunities that you’re most passionate about and comfortable with to attract prospective patients. Here a few of the many approaches you might consider:
- Writing There are more newspapers in circulation today than ever before. The multitude of newsletters, websites, and regional and local magazines and newspapers are starving for material. Articles are usually in the range of 500 to 1,000 words. With good content and a solid byline, your message can be in the hands of hundreds or thousands. You don’t have to write often, but you’ll get great exposure.
- Building a website. On average, Americans conduct about 12 billion Web searches per month. It is impera- tive for every doctor to have a good website that explains the value you provide and how prospective patients can find you. Numerous resources can aid you in website development rather inexpensively. But don’t cut corners— your site must look professional.
- Networking. Chambers of commerce and business associations exist for a reason: When others become aware of your services and the value you provide, they want to learn more. And people do business with those they know and trust. Interacting at this level is a good way to build quick relationships. Don’t be a wallflower—actively participate and you might gain huge referrals.
- Fostering referrals The sweetest sounds any doctor can hear are encouraging words from existing patients who know and appreciate your value. When they tell others, your need to advertise is reduced. Doctors who master the art of referrals need never advertise again, as their current base does the work for them. You should ask anyone and everyone you know to spread the word, but when patients believe in your work, they’ll want others to share in it.
These are just a few of the many methods you need at your disposal. You don’t have to do them daily nor are these necessarily the easiest. But they are foundational activities that you should deploy to become known in your community, engage in relationships, attract prospective patients, and gain new revenue.
In some ways, a chiropractor is no different than a large manufacturer, a fast-food restaurant, or a big-box retailer. You have to make it easy for prospective patients to find you. You need to think big and in terms of building new friendships rather than being fearful of marketing. Immerse yourself in the laws of attraction and you’ll experience more happiness in your profession.
Drew Stevens, PhD, is a practice management expert with more than 30 years of experience. His most recent book is Practice Acceleration, published by Greenbranch Publishing. He can be contacted at 877-391-6821 or through drewschiropracticmarketing.com.