Being an acupuncturist in private practice requires more than needles, herbs and treating patients. You have to wear the hat of both a healer and a business person. Yes, it’s true.
You are not only in the business of helping people get well and stay healthy, but you also have to run a business. Many practitioners shy away from the business and marketing aspects of their practice; the truth is they go hand in hand. You won’t be able to fulfill your role as a healer without new patients and you need to market your practice to gain patients.
Below you will find a few questions to help you think and see yourself more as a business-owner in addition to being the healer you already are.
Writing down answers to some of the questions below will help you define, and refine your goals as a business owner. These questions will aid you in becoming clear about who your target market is and what you offer patients. Once you define and understand who you’re marketing to, you will find it easier to focus more on being a practitioner and wear your healer hat.
The following questions are designed to help you gain clarity:
1) What unique benefits do you offer your patients that no one else does?
If it is hard to come up with more than a few, check out your competitors’ websites to find similarities and differences. Define and develop your Unique Selling Proposition based on your research.
2) Who exactly are you marketing to?
Remember, the more labels you apply to your ideal patient, the better. You can then market to a smaller, targeted audience. Who is your ideal patient? Just anyone who has insomnia? Or are you more interested in working with single moms who live in the city and suffer from migraines? When you can answer this, you can target your marketing efforts accordingly.
3) What is the purpose of your marketing?
In other words, what specific actions do you want people to take when they see your marketing message? Does your marketing message ask people to call for an appointment, come to a health class, visit your clinic or call for more information?
Just saying “I treat neck and back pain” is not enough. Your message needs to say:
“I treat neck and back pain. Come in for a free consultation. I may be able to help reduce your pain”.
Tell prospective patients the actions to take when they’re exposed to marketing reach. You can market your clinic with postcards, flyers or through your website and emails. Engaging people frequently marketing using this approach will eventually attract new patients to your clinic.
4) How exactly will you market to your clients?
Will you use brochures, mailings, radio and TV, articles, newsletters, teach health classes or other methods? Use strategies that fit with who you are, not what you think you should be doing. Remember there are dozens of ways to market for free.
5) What exact niche are you aiming to fill?
Yes, you are an acupuncturist, but your personal interests and passions combined with your Unique Selling Proposition will steer you to one or more specific niches of practice. Specializing in a small niche means you will have fewer competitors and more patients.
6) How much time will you commit to marketing your practice?
Aim to spend 2 to 3+ hours per week to focus on your clinic’s marketing message. If you pre-plan your marketing efforts with budget in mind you can better calculate how much money you’re willing to invest. Pre-planning your marketing efforts will create a clear vision of your future practice. Having a clear vision reinforces your purpose as a healer
Consistency is Key
Marketing is planting a seed that requires lots of water, fertilizer and love before growing into a tree that can produce fruit. Sporadic or inconsistent marketing is akin to cutting the seedling down before it has a chance to bear fruit.
Typically in marketing a prospective patient will see your message an average of nine times before they decide to schedule with you.
Prospective patients will pay attention to your marketing message once for every three times it is presented to them. You must have a consistent message when marketing your practice before you can realistically bear the fruits of your labor, the new patient.
Often, prospects who are exposed to your name and clinic frequently are more likely to come to you when the seek acupuncture care.
For long-term practice growth, focus on low-cost, innovative ways of spreading your message and getting your name out to communities and neighborhoods.
Low-cost Marketing Solutions for Long-term Growth
Use email to welcome new patients and keep yourself in front-of-mind awareness on a regular basis. A good rule of thumb is to send a minimum of two emails monthly. There are many topics you could write about:
- Seasonal changes and how to prepare
- New additions to your clinic
- A new line of herbs
- Change in clinic hours
- Upcoming events
- Latest research information
One of the best ways to stay in front-of-mind awareness and position yourself as the acupuncture expert is to send out monthly newsletters. These can be digitally sent via email, or mailed through snail mail.
The best place to spend your marketing energy is working to get your inactive patients back in your care. You have already spent time and energy building trust and converting them to paying patients. In a well established patient relationship, it is easier to turn inactive patients into active patients. Look through your inactive patient files and begin a reactivation process. Call, send emails or newsletters to reactivate patients who have fallen out of care.
Do not shy away from Facebook, it’s all too prevalent in our world today. Facebook is a great way to stay in touch with patients. Ask your patients to like your clinic’s Facebook page. Keep your clinic’s Facebook page rich with interesting content by posting often. Post articles about seasonal changes, field research, recipes, or even other blog posts you think your patients will find interesting. Be creative with your posts. Set aside one hour a week to find and create Facebook posts. You can pre-schedule two to three posts per week to stay in contact during off hours or while you are caring for patients.
If these low-cost marketing solutions seem daunting to you and you struggle with finding and writing marketing content, a good place to start is our done-for-you marketing system called AcuDownloads.
AcuDownloads.com is updated every month with content rich newsletters, blog posts, social media memes and more. Packaged together each month to support your marketing efforts and engage your patients.
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Acupuncture Media Works.
“Use strategies that fit with who you are, not what you think you should be doing.“