As practitioners in private practice, we must embrace marketing to reach potential patients and to let them know where to find us. Marketing really is all about making a connection and building a bridge.
‘Let’s build bridges not walls.’ Martin Luther King
A lot of practitioners shy away from ‘selling’ their services but also miss out on opportunities. I do understand how difficult it can be to talk others into using your services. But, it’s not so difficult if you look at it as to educate your ideal client on the benefits of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicines and other modalities in conjunction with it.
Look at it as:
Connecting -> Explaining -> Attracting -> Delivering -> Inspiring
First you make a connection and there are several ways to do that which I will explain a little later. Once you have their attention, explaining what we do, how we do it, how much and why. In this way, you will attract an individual. Once they are on your table, you deliver an outstanding service and all that’s left after that is to inspire them to keep the treatment regime up, make positive changes to their lifestyle. Ideally, they will feel so inspired that you have helped them to turn around their health that most likely they will be a patient forever and consult you for any other problems that might show up down the track. They will also very likely refer, friends, colleagues and family to you.
So, it’s not hard selling. Your well-developed communication skills will assist you. If you feel that’s a weak area, get some talents under your belt. Join your local Toastmasters club, they are a fantastic institution to iron out any deficiencies in either your group or one-on-one exchanges. It’s the best thing I ever did!
The Bare Minimum
Its supportive to your cause to have some collateral prepared. By this, I mean any media (paper or electronic) to support your message, to build those bridges – to help people understand what you are doing, why and how. I feel the most important mediums are:
- A professional website
- Business cards
- Consistent branding with intake forms, treatment plans, info or fact sheets for patients
That’s the bare minimum. We also did several years of continuous advertorials with the local newspapers. An advertorial is an advertisement with some text to inform prospects about certain conditions, philosophy or free assessments. It worked well in our regional location. As I took up Toastmasters, I needed some practice so simply looked up the list of clubs in our region and then pitched ideas of possible presentations to them. I once had over 100 participants from the VIEW (Voice, Interests and Education of Women) club to attend an information session on acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
About You – Genuine & Personal
I believe, it’s worthwhile to spend some time in developing the part ‘About You’. According to my experience, it should provide your ideal client or prospective patient with information about you that is genuine and personal. Why don’t you spend some time in developing the content by going back along your timeline? What did you do and why did you do these things? What did you learn from it, what was inspiring and what made you decide the next step in your life? I am pretty sure, there is a very interesting and inspiring story right there.
The long version can be part of your website, shorter versions of it will serve the purpose of both a social and a professional pitch. A few concise and attractive words that describe you and what you do that you will use in both a social or a professional situation. Don’t underestimate the opportunities that gatherings or networking situations will provide you with. Again, it’s not hard selling but simply stating in a succinct way who you are and what you do. If you give it some thought before, your message will come across confident and precious. And that is attractive!
A Professional Website – Of Course!
A professional website is important, so even if you don’t do anything else, this is a must. It also must be professional, if you are not a designer, get some help with it. These days, it’s not expensive anymore as the technology has advanced so much and has become very user friendly. Make it a point to add new content to the site on a regular base. And don’t forget to add a call for action (to book or call or write to you) in important locations. You can easily have your practice management system connected to the site, so the booking is done straight from the website. It’s what you want, have people come through your door so you get the chance to enlighten them about what Chinese medicine has to offer.
As for printed materials, the business card is also must. You will carry them on you everywhere you go. There is always someone somewhere that could do with a card. So never forget to have them in your wallet, bags or pockets.
Signage pays for itself because you can be found easily by your patients, newcomers and anyone else walking past your premises. Make sure that the signage clearly states what you do. The name of your business might not be as clear to prospects as it is to you or someone in our industry.
The Branding Reflects Who You Are
The branding for all your materials, must be consistent. Use the same colors, imagery, graphics, shapes and fonts for all your materials. If you are not a graphic designer, it doesn’t matter, find someone who can do it for you. I use Fiverr.com a lot for many jobs that I either don’t have time for or don’t know how to do. It’s inexpensive and easy. Best to have a briefing for someone who is going to do your graphic designing. Give them ideas about what you like or dislike, shapes and forms that you would love to see and make sure, they know that you are using both digital and conventional media, so it looks great if printed or when it appears online.
SEO – Get Professional Help
Search Engine Optimization is a complex matter due to ongoing changes with the Google ranking algorithm. Anything that goes beyond using keywords for my blog entries, I am reaching out for professional help.
Electronic newsletters used to be more popular then they are now. But, if you know that ‘the total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day will exceed 293 billion in 2019 and is forecast to grow to over 347 billion by the end of 2023 (Reference), then its easily understood why. It’s an extraordinary number of emails going around the ether every day. No wonder, they are no longer popular.
Having pointed this out to you, I still use eNews in both the clinic and the dispensary. It’s just such a great way to bring information to your patients as a regular occurrence even though our opening rates have slightly dropped in the past 12 months.
Social media platform and social media advertising are attractive to many of us. No doubt, we all spend some valuable on our preferred channel. I am not an expert, in fact, far from it but what has worked for us in the past is Facebook and Instagram. Facebook has by far the most users. If it’s the right business platform, is to be decided by you as an individual. It has more functionality than Instagram but Insta is far cooler. I follow many younger practitioners on Instagram and absolutely love what they do. Creative, visual, informative, engaging, outstanding. Chinese medicine philosophy has many great concepts to talk about, so take advantage and get it out there (in your own words) onto these platforms. Personally, I would not spend money on advertising but rather spend the time on keeping your website up to scratch with new, educational content. In my opinion, it’s far more important.
Remember what we are trying to do:
Connecting -> Explaining -> Attracting -> Delivering -> Inspiring
This way, we are building a network in our community and sharing the love.