The Truth About New Patient Marketing

What’s the secret to getting new patients, month after month, year after year? How do you set up and run low-cost, high-profit chiropractic marketing plan?

I spent years trying to learn the answers to these questions. I wrote checks totaling in the tens of thousands to ad reps, consultants, and marketing gurus.

What did I learn from all this time and money I invested? Very little, and then quite a bit. Let me explain…

For the first 2 years of my practice life, I struggled just to survive. If an ad rep showed up at my office, I thought I needed to spend money to make money. After all, my coach at the time didn’t seem to advise me otherwise, so I wrote checks faster than a bailout happy congress. Yellow pages, val paks, money mailers, displays, health fair booths, convention center booths, newspaper ads, gym screenings, direct mail — I even knocked on doors (at the advice of another consultant!) 2 years into my chiropractic career.

With all this busyness of marketing activity, I was bound to have a booming practice, right? Not hardly. Mostly I had an empty bank account. (Was I the only one who did this, surely no one else in chiropractic has ever done this kind of thing, right?:)

I learned very little from these people about how to get new patients. They were teaching and selling old rehashed marketing strategies that worked in the 1980’s. That’s when I figured out I needed to study marketing a bit myself, so I could spot an effective marketing approach before I spent the money on it.

Here is my short list of criteria necessary for making buying decisions. Maybe you will find it helpful as well.

1. How much hype and over-exaggeration do you feel or hear coming from the ad rep or sales person? Can they back it up with proof?
2. If it’s a chiropractic coach or guru, do they make you feel good about buying their product or do they make you feel bad, like you are pushed into the sale? (If they are pushy in their approach, how do you think they will teach you to market and convert patients? This is a big clue!)
3. How is the “quality” of new patients using their product or service compared to others? (To many chiropractors worry about numbers and volume, and not enough about quality and profitability.)
5. Is there a long term contract or is it month-to-month?
6. Does their product or service produce new patients right away, do they want me to run ads into infinity because it “builds awareness”?

This was my list. Maybe you have more to add. If so, don’t be shy, post it in the comments below.

7 Internal Marketing Strategies Part 2

In my last post we covered the first 4 of seven internal marketing strategies you can put into your practice. In today’s post I cover the next 3, plus an extra bonus strategy. :) While all 7 of these chiropractic marketing strategies should eventually be implemented for maximum results, you can use any one of them and still have great results.

5. Use blogs and email to stay in touch with patients. With today’s internet technology, you can stay in touch with your patient base very easily. E-newsletters and event promotions can be sent within minutes if you have a good email system. Blogs are also a great way to stay in contact and educate your patients about why they should stay under care. While print newsletters go out once a month, blog articles and emails can be sent 3-6 times per month. You can tie blogs to an email service and update all of your patient list whenever you post a new article on your blog. Chiropractic internet marketing is only getting easier and less expensive, so get started with this one as soon as you can.

6. Make Recalls. Every 6-8 weeks, go through your patient database and make a list of those you haven’t seen in awhile. Give your front desk person an easy recall script to follow. When she’s calling someone who’s been inactive for some time, have her say that “Dr. _____ want me to give you a call and see how you were doing?” If they say they aren’t doing well, then your staff schedules them for an appointment. Many times they will say “You know, I was just about to call you and schedule an appointment.” If they have slipped off of their current care plan, your staff just needs to get them scheduled without any questions asked. Expect about a 5-10% schedule rate from these calls. I always got better results when I gave my front desk $1 Starbucks credit for each person that shows.

7. Have a VIP list. 80% of your referrals come from 20% of your patients. What are you doing for them to make them feel special and give them more opportunities to refer? Go through your patient list and pick those patients that have referred the most patients into your office. Make sure you are sending them a gift each month “for being a great patient.” Let them know you are thankful for their referrals and give them 1-2 gift certificates to refer friends and family. I always sent small gifts with a letter each month, and a big basket of goodies in the $80-$100 range for Christmas. Don’t be cheap and think it’s not worth it to send out gifts (or that you can’t afford it). When you do the list, you’ll see how valuable those 20% really are.

8. Market other events, products and services. (I know, I said 7 but I couldn’t resist giving this 8th one.) Do you sell supplements, pillows, orthotics, etc in your practice? You should be sending letters out for special events regarding these products. For example, we did a weight loss seminar to promote our supplements once. A letter went out to all the female patients in my practice. About 10% called in to reserve a seat (seating was limited to 20). I had two speakers come in (one lady had lost 140 lbs) and talk about the products. Of the 20, 15 showed and 4 ended up spending around $800 each on supplements over the next 2 months.

7 Internal Marketing Strategies Part 1

Do you have internal marketing systems in your practice? There are two reasons to do internal marketing: to get more new patients and to keep the ones you have.  I’m not a fan of the “force” your patients to refer kind of marketing. You know, the consultants want you to say “every member of your family must be checked in my office if you’re going to be a patient.” Unless you think your practice should be run like the military, you should implement these 7 internal marketing strategies I list below.

1. Mail a stick letter campaign. Every patient that starts care in your office should get a letter and gift from you. It’s called a “stick” letter because it helps them stick around longer. But there is another purpose to this letter – getting referrals. There’s no better time for them to refer than when they first make the decision to get care in your office. I did this for years and got tons of referrals (and never verbally asked for one!) I mentioned how to get a copy of my stick letter a few weeks ago in this chiropractic marketing post.

2. Use health certificates. You should keep some nicely printed health passes or health certificates near your adjusting area and at the front desk. Every time a patient mentions they have a friend who has _______ or asks “does chiropractic help ____?”, you or your front desk person who give them one of these referral passes. I would recommend a type of discounted exam to be printed on these with a deadline.

3. Mail a newsletter. This is the most important internal marketing you can do. It’s easy, it’s inexspensive and it works. Not only do you stay in contact with your patient base on a regular basis, but it also can be used as an opportunity for your patients to refer their friends and family. Simply have a section of the newsletter that makes an offer to for an exam (+x-rays) to family and friends.

4. Have a patient appreciation day. Pick 1 day or 1 week a year to appreciate your patients. Make the event about your current patients, but give an opportunity for friends and family to get a checkup or exam as well. These PAD’s take some work to set up, but if you get 5, 10 or 20 new patients it’s worth it. And don’t feel bad if you don’t get 87 new patients (like the guru’s claim you should). It really is about appreciating your patients you already have. If they really feel appreciated, they will refer over the coming months. It’s the law of reciprocity.

In my next post we’ll cover the next 3 internal marketing strategies. Your assignment is to pick 3 above and start implementing them into your practice ASAP. If you are already using them, how can you make it better?

Comment below and tell us your favorite internal marketing systems.

Feel like times are tough? Then you must watch this video.

If you’re going through tough times or have come through them in the past, you absolutely must watch this video.

I wished I could have seen something like this years ago when my practice was struggling. Instead I went to “rah-rah” seminars that my practice consultant held every other month (cost me about $1000 every time I went). Sure, I came home pumped up, “philosophically sound” and convinced it was all in my head (it’s true, it was in my head, put there by that consultant!) Yet my bank stayed near $0, new patients didn’t magically appear, and life pretty much sucked.

There are many lessons in this video, but the two I want to point out are…

Lesson #1. No matter how hard you got it, someone else has had it worse and made it through. Many have not only survived, but thrived and accomplished quite a bit after their struggles.

Lesson #2. No one is going to “pick you up”. Not the current president, the next president, the congress, health insurance companies, not even your patients. You got to pick yourself up, no matter how many times you fall down. If Nick can do it, you can too. Stop making excuses, get up and start getting things done.

Here’s How To Get My $100k Referral Letter

One of my goals with this blog, and my business, is to provide the information you need and want to help you grow your practice. In 2009, I’ll be launching a program where we dive deep into effective practice building strategies.

To do this, I need your help. What types of practice problems do you need help with? What do you want more information on? What are the best ways you learn?

How can I make sure my blog is giving you the best information to help you?

I’ve put together a simple six question survey that will only take you a couple of minutes to complete. As a regular reader, you care about the information that’s published here. This is your opportunity to let me know how I can best serve your needs.

As a thank you for filling out the survey, I’m giving away my chiropractic referral stick letter system. (I’ve also thrown in a decompression version for those whom it would benefit.)

This letter is mailed to all the patients who start care in your office. In 2006, I tracked the referrals I got from this simple system and it added up to over $100,000 or revenue for my practice.

Click here to take the survey…


Blogging: Start before your competitors do

Have you heard of blogging?

Blogging is about the most cost effective marketing you can do online. Running a blog is virtually free, it’s the fastest way to get you on the front page of Google and you can keep in contact with your patients on a regular basis.

Blogging is a way to post articles chronologically on a webpage. What you are reading right now is a blog. It’s simply a free software installed on this hosting account. I log in, click on “write” and start typing. If you can write an email and send it, you can run a blog.

What’s it cost? To get a domain name, it cost me $7. $17 a month for hosting. I paid a graphics person $45 to make the header graphic up top. That’s all I spent, a whopping $59.

A blog gets you great ranking on search engines. Google loves blogs because they are new, fresh content. Google prides themselves on keeping current for their search users, so they will give more credit to a blog over a traditional website that never changes. For example, I’ve only been running this blog for less than 6 months and have the #1 and #2 spots on Google for the term “chiropractic newspaper ads”.

Other sites below me have been around for a lot longer than mine…some for almost 10 years.This is for an internationally competitive keyword term. You could do much better for a local search term like “yourtown chiropractor”.

Another great thing about having a blog is that it’s very easy to regularly contact your list of patients (or even prospective patients.) As soon as I hit publish on this article, it will go into an email system that sends out an email notice to everyone on my list. I didn’t have to manually go in and email everyone. All I had to do was publish a blog article and everything was done for me. Essentially, this could be your e-newsletter to your patients.

Don’t worry if you can’t write (at one point you couldn’t adjust either). You can hire someone called a ghostwriter to do it for you. With a little practice you could write 200-400 words once a week. Or have your spouse, staff member or even your teenage do it for you.

We cover blogging, how to set it up, what to write about and how to get it ranked on the top of Google. Find out more by going to my chiropractic internet marketing course.

So why aren’t you blogging? How long before the office down the street starts blogging and jumps to the #1 spot on Google?