Did This Doctor Get Good Marketing Advice?

Recently a chiropractic office was highlighted on the A&E channel’s “We Mean Business” with Bill Rancic. (You may remember Bill from the first season of The Apprentice with Donald Trump).

The video might lag a bit and takes awhile to load, but it’s well worth the watch, especially the first segment. I think the first segment really portrays the typical chiropractor’s problems…great doctor but poor marketer, not sure where the moneys going and if it’s making a good return on investment, and feeling ripped because they’ve paid for consultants that don’t help them one bit. I mean this guys paying $24k per year for consulting and about to go bankrupt. Bill sums it up when he says “Dr. Lou’s a great doctor, but he needs to become a businessman.”

Here’s the link….

Click Here To Watch

While the team did a great job at giving his office a makeover, they really sucked at giving him a good marketing plan. In the 2nd or 3rd segment Bill has Dr. Lou go into a gym (wearing his white coat, hehe) and talk to people working out. He asks them things like “Do you see a chiropractor?”, “Do you know what a chiropractor does?” and similar questions. Most of the people appear to blow him off. The problem with this line of questioning is that Dr. Lou isn’t “joining the conversation going on in the prospects mind”. Those people aren’t lifting weights, saying “Hmmm, I wonder what a chiropractor does?” or “wow, I wonder how I can get better spinal hygiene?”.

It’s more likely those gym members are thinking “Dude, I wonder if this shooting leg pain is going to get so bad I have to stop working out!” or “Is there not some kind of doctor out there that can help me get rid of these headaches so I can play with my kids when I get home?”. In other words, they are asking…”who in the heck is gonna help me with this life altering, excruciating health problem I have?”

Lest you think I’m anti-wellness or some type of ‘medipractor’, I think there is a time and place for wellness. But it’s not when your out of the office and first contacting a potential patient. Nor am I saying chiropractic is only for headaches or back pain, substitute any health problem you want in the questions above. The point is that people are wanting to get well first, then stay that way.

When you are out talking to prospective patients, what kind of conversations are you having with them? Are you talking on their level or using language that they will just tune out?

Is Your Marketing Classy AND Effective?

In a comment to my last post, Jay said…

What I’d like to know is how to build value in what I offer, such that the potential patient sees that value and is therefore willing to pay FULL FEE for my exam. (Is there really a need to give away our exams for $17 or $27?).

And, do the above in a non-cheesy format. I’m not really interested in sending out free reports/sales pitches to my prospective patients. I think today’s consumer is privy to these “reports” and they know it’s just a sales pitch.

And, while you are seeking my questions; I’d like to know how to market my practice such that I’m not offending any of my potential patients. (Let’s face it, some of the chiro marketing gurus’ marketing methods are downright offending and low class). And that last statement is true, no matter how many patients were attracted with a particular ad.

So…bottom line, is there a method of marketing that is classy and effective??? (That’s the million dollar question).

Jay brings up a valid question that many chiropractors have, so I decided to dedicate today’s post to the subject.

The first issue Jay brings up is he wants his new patients to pay full price for an exam. That’s fair. You can certainly collect $200-300 per exam, I’ve done it as well as many other doctors. However, at this price level there are many prospective patients who simply will not “try” chiropractic if this is what they perceive each visit to cost. So yes, you can certainly charge full price for each exam, but how much are you loosing out on. What we have to ask ourselves is wouldn’t you rather have the patient come in at a lower cost then realize you aren’t a weird doctor, so they stay with you for life and refer their circle of friends? There’s no “need” to charge $17 or $27 for an exam (especially if you are doing well), but there’s no doubt this offer is going to lower the risk for someone to overcome the rumors they’ve heard of chiropractic.

How to build enough value in your practice to actually collect $200-300 for an exam would make this post too long. I’ll address it in a post of it’s own at a later point.

The next issue Jay addresses is “cheesy marketing” and the use of free reports. Assuming he means “cheasy” as in the overhyped, hard selling techniques and kits being sold and taught to chiropractors today… I totally agree. There is a lot of hype in some of those free reports I’ve seen.

Yes, there is marketing that is classy and effective…but not much of it out there. There’s a lot of fancy-smancy stuff that doesn’t work (pretty websites,brochures, cards), and there’s certainly lots of non-classy junk that doesn’t work (although some docs will swear up and down it does work).

What’s Your Biggest Question About Marketing?

There are a lot of salesmen out there trying to get our marketing dollars. They come into our offices, call us on the phone, and send mail or email, all with the hopes of getting our hard earned money. Then we go and spend thousands of dollars with them, because they made it sound so good. Maybe it’s on a chiropractic website, a pretty yellow page ad, or a telemarketing deal.

When the dust settles, you look back and realized you got little to no new patients. Oh well, at least you “got your name out there”, right?

Has this ever happened to you?

I know I’ve fell for this more times than I should, especially in the early days of my practice. I remember a couple of guys came by the office selling me a spot on the “ad board at the local golf course”. It was only $600 and “all the golfers would see it in the locker room”. I wasn’t into golf at the time, but I thought this would surely bring in new patients, so it was a great deal. Six months later, I had not seen a single new patient from this ad. I called the ad company up, no working phone number. I asked a patient who played golf there if he had ever seen it in the locker room, and he said…”there are no locker rooms there, only bathrooms and there aren’t any ads in the bathrooms” (it’s a public course). Another $600 down the drain.

Not all marketing is bad. Not every ad rep is bad, but many will gladly take your money and run, not caring one bit if you make a good return on your investment or not.

When investing in marketing, make sure the marketer, coach or “guru” is straight forward with you. Do they talk about return on investment, or conveniently leave that out? Do they have a guarantee? It’s best if they have actually run a practice at some point, because then you know they’ve “lived it”.

We’ve all had our challenges marketing our practice. What I want to know is how can I help you better understand marketing? What would you like to know or learn more about when it comes to chiropractic marketing? There’s already too much hyped up marketing B.S. in chiropractic, let’s cut right to the point and talk about the issues that matter most to the hard working chiropractor.

Please leave a comment below with your most important question about marketing?

Chiropractic Marketing And Your Purpose?

What is the purpose of your practice? Is it to help people or to make money?

Quite a few chiropractors and even chiropractic gurus beat around the bush on this one. It’s often quoted in some “rah-rah” chiropractic seminars that if “you just help the patients the money will follow.”  While this quote has truth to it, it’s not the whole truth.

Think about it. If you are an associate doctor, you are helping patients, but yet making a meager salary. If you have no financial policies in your office and everyone gets care for free, you can help a lot of people, but make no money.

So what is the purpose of practice? I would venture to say that you have two purposes in practice. Your chiropractic purpose is to help people get well. Your business purpose is to make a profit. I know, in today’s politically correct world, making a profit is seen as some kind of evil. Yet that’s why we became business owners. Our main reason to start a practice is not to employ people or pay more in taxes. You didn’t wake up one day and say “I want to start a business so I can be an employer!”

Being a chiropractic doctor is easy. Once you learn to adjust patients, it’s really not that difficult. Yet, being a business owner is quite challenging. It’s your job not only to see patients, but to make sure everything is running smoothly. To keep things running smoothly you need systems in place. In fact, the whole book “E-Myth” by Michael Gerber was all about having systems in your business.

Here’s a short list of the systems you need in place…

-new patient marketing system (including external and internal marketing)
-a system to convert new patients to care
-a case fee system that allows for you to be profitable
-a patient reactivation system
-a system to convert patients to wellness/maintenance/lifetime care
-an education system to keep retention (patient visit average) high

So what should the saying really be? How about “Help your patients, with the right systems in place, and the money will follow.”

7 Ways To Win During The Recession Part 2

In my last post, we discussed how you could start preparing for economic change. Today I’ll continue with the last 3 steps you can take to win during the recession.

5. Get out of debt.

If you’ve ever had a slow month of collections, you realize how tough carrying debt can be. You’re debtors don’t care if you are having a slow month, or the economy is in turmoil, they just want to be paid. Proverbs 22:7 says “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” Lest you think this is some kind of outdated, old-fashioned wisdom, try going a few months not paying your debtors and see what happens.

I know it’s not politically correct to say “get out of debt” these days, in a country gone wild with borrowing up to their eyeballs. But truth is truth, and carrying debt during a slower economic time is a recipe for disaster. So focus today on paying it off.

6. Add other streams of income to your practice.
It’s said that one is the loneliest number. In business and marketing this is certainly true. It’s not wise to rely on one stream of income. Many businesses have been wiped out overnight because they only had one method of making money. What can you add to your practice that builds on what you have, but is different than chiropractic services. Can you add nutrition, weight loss, detox, or decompression programs to your practice? Can you better diversify your marketing, so you aren’t getting new patients from just a few sources?

7. Stay focused on your business.
Who’s going to win the elections? Will the stock market go up? Will real estate go back up? Who cares, none of these things are going to make a difference in your practice in the coming year. You’re a chiropractor. Stop watching the news and get busy on your practice! Did George Bush help build your practice? How about Bill Clinton? No, your practice grew as a result of you, not Congress or the President. It’s what you do over the next year that matters.

Some chiropractors will go out of business in the next 12 months. Some will just do ok. Others will explode past their limitations and build the lifestyle of their dreams. Which will you be?

7 Ways To Win During The Recession Part 1

Whether the economy is really in a recession or not, all the doom and gloom broadcasting 24/7 from the news media makes people panic. While some patients may begin to clinch their wallets a bit tighter, here are some ways you can survive, even thrive during the so called recession.

1. Only use marketing that works

Now is not the time to cut back on marketing. Stopping your marketing during a downturn in the economy is the exact opposite of what you need to do. Yes, you do need to refine your marketing, use direct response marketing (makes sure it pays for itself, bringing in a return on investment). Don’t commit to long turn contracts or stupid “pretty” advertising, then be shocked when you’ve spent $10,000 and not seen a return. Also, you should be able to get better deals as newspaper, direct mail print shops and other forms of media struggle for marketshare. Your competition will go with the flow and think it’s time to cut back, this is exactly why it’s going to be your best time to market and lead the field.

2. Start using internet marketing
Chiropractic internet marketing is very inexpensive, and if done correctly, can provide a huge return on investment. Why spend $5-10k on a yellow pages ad for a whole year, when you can spend a few dollars on the internet and change it if it’s not working? When I mention internet marketing, I’m not talking about just having a traditional website. Thats like putting a flyer up on a bulletin board somewhere in town and hoping for someone to find it and become a new patient. To maximize your online marketing, you’ll need a complete automated system that’s easy to run and manage. See my ChiroMarketing Academy for details on this.

Another great aspect of the internet is that the affluent (wealthy) use the internet to make buying decision more so than any other income level. This makes them a great group to market towards since they are least affected by any economic turbulence.

3. Market to current patients more
It’s much less expensive to market to your current patients then it is to go out and acquire new patients. This doesn’t mean you can only market to current patients and grow, but I bet you could so more with your patient base. Do they know about all the services and products you offer? Are they reminded on regular intervals to get adjusted? Do you send a monthly printed newsletter in edition to 2-4 emails a month? Do you have special events like P.A.D.’s, toy drives, etc?

4. Redefine your marketing message

As I mentioned above, during tougher economic times, you can’t waste money on marketing that doesn’t work. Therefore, you have to make sure you are marketing the right message to the right people. The generalized “I’m a chiropractor and we help everybody with everything” isn’t a marketing message at all. Patients want a doctor with two things: experience (positioning yourself as an expert) and empathy (understanding how they feel). Master these two in your marketing message and direct it at specific conditions people suffer with, and you’ll never have to worry about new patients.

It is said more millionaires were made during the Great Depression than any other time in our nations history. Most likely this was due to great deals on stocks, real estate and businesses. You can see these economic times as an advantage or disadvantage, it’s your choice. But whatever you do, don’t pull back on all your marketing and think you can wait it out.

We’ll continue with the next 3 in part 2 in my next post…

3 Big Mistakes I Made In Marketing My Practice

Do you ever look back and think about the mistakes you made in your business? Do you have wonder how much money those mistakes cost you?

In this post, I’m going to cover 3 big mistakes I made early on in marketing my practice. If you’re just starting a practice or buying a new practice, you should avoid these mistakes like the plague. Even if you’ve been in practice awhile, it may be time to brush up on a few of these points.

Mistake #1. Not Measuring ROI

My first year in practice, I blew so much money on marketing that didn’t work. If an ad rep stopped by, and convinced me that his paper/mailer/service was good enough, I would give it a try. Then I would see how successful it was based on the number of new patients it brought in. So what was the mistake in this? I gave no thought to the quality of patient, their ability to pay (ever had marketing bring in all unemployed patients?), the referrals they generated, etc.

Here’s the point…if I just measured the marketing based on new patient numbers, I wasn’t getting the real picture. I would not be able to judge whether I should run this type of marketing again or not. What you need to do is measure every dollar that comes from that marketing piece in a simple spreadsheet. For more details on how to do this, check out my previous post “How Did Your Last Marketing Piece Do?

Mistake #2: Not Understanding Lifetime Value

This mistake is closely related to mistake #1. Lifetime value of a patient is a phrase that describes how much money that patient will generate over time in your practice. (For those of you who don’t like to talk about patients as a monetary value, get over it ;), you’re running a business here. There’s a clinical aspect to practice and a business aspect. We’re talking business here.) How do you measure this? Take all the money you have collected in your practice, and divide by the total number of new patients you’ve seen. You could go back 1 year or 10 years, but the further you go back the more accurate the numbers will be. Some doctors also refer to this as the “case average” value.

Why do you need to know this number? Because it tells you how much you can spend to get a new patient.  If your lifetime value is $5000 for every new patient that walks in the door, how much would you spend to get that person as a patient? I’ve heard coaching groups say “Never, ever spend more than $100 to get a new patient!” Where does that number come from? If I spend $300 to get a new patient that brings me $5000 in revenue, isn’t this a good business model? Yes, not everyone spends $5k, some spend less, some spend more. That’s why it’s an average. Figure your lifetime value of a patient and start using that number in your decision making.

Mistake #3: Not Focusing On Condition Specific Marketing

This one will bring the controversies in chiropractic out. No matter, it cost me a ton of money early on in practice and it’s important I tell you about it. If you don’t think chiropractors should market to or even talk about symptoms, you’re in big trouble financially. People have problems. People want solutions to their problems. You can’t sell new patients on wellness. You can teach them about it once they are patients, but you aren’t going to gain most people’s trust trying to sell them something they don’t want.

Now this doesn’t mean you can only adjust that area of complaint, only take x-rays there, etc. That’s not what I’m talking about. But you should market to new patients that have specific problems, then analyze and take care of them the way you see fit. I tried to market and sell my patients wellness, and while I did convert a few patients to care, it almost bankrupted me. Most patients just thought I was speaking a different language and not listening to them. Needless to say, it didn’t take me long to correct this mistake. Educate your patients about wellness once you have them getting better and they are on their way to correction.

While these aren’t the kind of mistakes that get you into trouble with the law or your state board, they are stupid business mistakes that can cost you thousands of dollars and even put you into bankruptcy. Make sure you don’t make them in your practice and you’ll be much more successful because of it.