:dropcap_open:W:dropcap_close:hen it comes to marketing your practice, it may feel overwhelming when you try to plan where to start or how to change your office’s current strategy because there are so many options to choose from in the practice management arena. There are many marketing “experts” in our profession with the goal of helping you make your practice successful. They range from classic practice management companies that delve into the details of your practice to companies that cold-call our offices and want to charge us per patient once they call. We still have print media and, of course, the Internet offers instant access to many options to boost your practice.
Even though many marketing techniques can work for chiropractors, often they depend on your personality, the type of practice you want to have, and how much money you want to spend. Now, I know you wisely have money allocated to market your practice, and that amount is up to you. So let’s talk about some low-cost and no-cost marketing tools we can use to get the word out in the community about what we do.
I have always opted for looking at my patient population and educating them before, during, and after they are patients in my office. As chiropractors, we typically are pigeonholed as back and neck doctors. Many of our patients are unaware that we treat much more. Since I’ve built my practice on extremity work, I make sure my patients and the general public understand that.
I love trying to see how much free advertising I can milk from the mediums available to us. Let me give you a few ideas and see what you think about using them for your practice.
1. Your website has to rock.
People assume that every business has a website these days, but just having a website is not good enough. You need to make sure you take time to write some of the content yourself. People are looking at your website, making judgments, and getting first impressions of you. If you are a sports practitioner, do you use ART or have a laser? If a potential patient can’t easily learn this from your website, make it more visible. My practice is rooted in the feet and extremities, so that information is all over my website.
Take the time to make sure your website exudes quality and professionalism, and understand that cheaper is not always better. Ask five of your friends to critique your website. Better yet, ask your next five new patients if they bothered to look up your website and ask for their opinions. This is the only real area where I invest money because it keeps me “out there” for patients to learn about my practice and has helped me grow my business tremendously.
2. Embrace social media and use it.
The general public often uses social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Google Places, and Yelp. People are now more tech savvy these days about the Internet. Although some sources like to say that Facebook’s popularity has declined, over half of its users check in every day, and some still look at it first thing in the morning and the last thing before bed.
Establish a Facebook professional page that is separate from your personal page. It’s generally not a good idea to “friend” patients on your personal page. Often, you can post short little tidbits about office hours, specials, and events on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+, as well as tweet about them on Twitter. Unless you choose to pay specifically for advertising, these social media outlets are free to use.
3. Write articles, newsletters, and blog entries
Do you have something to share? Did you have an interesting case that you want all of your patients to know you treated well? Then write about it. Don’t groan about this because the key is making it short and sweet by writing only a few paragraphs. You can post links to your articles, blogs, and newsletters on your social media pages. Also, when you write new content for your website, you site is well indexed—search engines such as Google love fresh content.
Be careful about blogging and writing pieces that are too long. Write short pieces unless you are so passionate about your topic that you just can’t hold back. People do not have the time or the inclination to read articles or posts if they are too long or too frequent. If you love blogging and writing newsletters, make sure you put them out only once or twice a month. If you publish much more than that, patients may start deleting or unsubscribing. Patients will react the same way you would if someone was e-mailing you too often.
4. Use silent marketing in your practice.
I hate being a salesman, but I am very good at it. Like you, I do not appreciate people being in my face about things they think I need. I focus much of my practice on evaluating and adjusting the feet. Few patients have been exposed to any of this and many of them have no clue as to why this could be important.
So I use displays, brochures, posters, product samples, and my office staff’s knowledge to give subliminal cues to prompt people to ask questions. Often, patients play with my shoe and orthotic displays while they wait for me to take them back to the treatment room.
This will work well for those of you who work with a lot of nutritional supplements, exercise and rehabilitation, and other things. Let silent marketing sell for you. Education usually equals acceptance.
5. Stay up to date on technology and tell everyone about it.
Patients notice if you keep current with the times. When you look at new technology, don’t just dismiss it without thinking it through using your heart and your business sense. Many available technologies can do amazing things for our patients. If you can help your patients, stay current with new technology, and have it be financially advantageous for your chiropractic business, then why not? “Oh, I just don’t want to spend the money.” I get it because I’ve been there.
However, when you look at technologies like the 3-D foot scanners, lasers, vibration plate therapy, fancy chiropractic tables, or whatever item you are thinking about bringing into your practice, use your head and don’t let fear be the reason you decline. Talk to your CPA or financial adviser for guidance. If you can get a write-off or depreciate the equipment while you offer a new service to your patients, then everyone wins.
If your patients do not know all the conditions or problems you can help people with in your office, it’s not their fault—it’s yours! Patient education happens gradually, but hopefully it advances each time you encounter your patients. I know you probably have read these types of articles already, but I hope you gleaned something new from my five tips. You’ll know that you are doing a good job with patient education when referrals start to flow into the practice. It’s especially nice to receive referrals for cases not typically considered classic chiropractic.
Dr. Kevin Wong is an expert on foot analysis, walking and standing postures and orthotics. Teaching patients and chiropractors is a passion for him, and he travels the country speaking about spinal and extremity adjusting. Dr. Wong practices full-time in Orinda, California. Contact Dr. Wong at 925-254-4040 or [email protected]