Chiropractic 12 Month Marketing Plan

Do you have your marketing plan set up for 2009?

While you don’t need to have every day detailed and mapped out, having at least an outline to work with will make your chiropractic marketing strategies even more effective.

Here are  7 “must-have” plans for the next 12 months of a successful practice.

#1. Use Chiropractic Internet Marketing

It’s new, it’s hot, but even better it’s low cost and very effective (if done right). The internet is only going to get more popular for looking up health information. Not to mention its use as a ‘yellow pages’ for the younger generations. And my not talking about just having a chiropractic website either.

#2. Use Proven Newspaper Advertising

There’s been some talk about dropping newspaper rates in larger cities around the U.S. and many suggest you should advertise there. Others propose the internet will do away with newspapers and yellow pages altogether. I’ve got news for all these fortune tellers…newspapers are here to stay, at least for a while longer. (They predicted the internet would kill direct mail too, and direct mail has only gotten bigger.) Sure, big city newspapers are struggling (maybe as a result of their one-sided stories?) but mid to small town papers are booming. Baby boomers like to read about local arts and crafts, religion, and other community ‘goings-on’ not easily found online. Also, you have sports stories and other interesting sections.  Open any major newspaper’s Sunday edition and see what falls out. Yep, people are still stuffing ads in there. Better get your proven chiropractic ads in the newspaper in 2009. (Big announcement on this subject on this blog Dec. 29)

#3. Get Better At Patient Communication

I’m not talking about what you say when the patient’s in the office, but what you send to them when they’re not. You need to be developing a rock-solid relationship with your current patients during this recession. This form of ‘internal marketing’ is an extremely important part of your practice, second only to new patient marketing (some gurus try to convince you this is the most important aspect, however they usually aren’t great at new patient marketing). Examples of must-have relationship builders are print newsletters, email marketing, and blogging.

#4. Networking

The potential behind networking with other businesses is huge for chiropractors. Look for groups and organizations that make this one easy, so you don’t have to cold call and “sell” yourself to local businesses. For example, local BNI chapters meet weekly and are composed of 15-40 business professionals that are expected to work with and refer to each other.  BNI is much more effective than any Chamber of Commerce meeting, at least in populated areas. Look for a chapters near you at

#5. Use Direct Mail

Direct mail does work. But I find most chiropractors do it wrong. The best way to do direct mail is by testing advertising pieces online and in newspapers first. Then once you have a winner, roll it out on postcards or in letter format. Shiny, pretty, and slick mailers don’t work — because they look like junk mail, they end up where all junk mail does…the trash.

#6. Referral Marketing

Referrals are a popular phrase at any chiropractic consultant convention. When I attended, I was always lead to believe that getting referrals from patients was child’s play, any chiropractor should excel at this. The only problem was the required pushy tactics and outright forceful “you gotta bring your family in” or else type of influence. These techniques didn’t sit well with me, because I would never like it if someone acted that way towards me. But there are ways to get referrals indirectly from your patients, many in fact, that you should be using in your practice. One is called using a “stick letter” where you follow up with new patients right after they start care and offer them a chance to refer others.

#7. Focus on niches

This is a great strategy because it sets you up as an expert in your town. I used to get quite a few spouse referrals simply because the wife would tell the husband about some cool new equipment I had in the office. He would come in as a patient and tell me “I came here because my other chiropractor never did this.” (His previous chiropractor should have followed my advice on #3 above!) We could waste time talking about why we should discuss symptoms and conditions with patients, but I won’t do that here. Suffice to say, becoming a “specialists” of sorts in your community is a smart thing to do, and one you should definitely focus it in 2009. And you shouldn’t just become a specialist on one condition either, but diversify your practice (and your marketing) on multiple ones. The days of “chiropractic helps everyone with everything” isn’t going to work anymore. It may be true, but prospective patients just see it as fluff. Also, even for the few that take your word, they see you as more of a “jack of all trades, master of none” type of chiropractor. Who makes more money in dentistry, medicine, and law, the specialists or generalists?

All 7 of these strategies are guaranteed winners for your chiropractic marketing plan. You must implement each one of them every month in 2009.

Chiropractic Marketing During A Recession

There’s no more contemplating whether or not a recession is coming. It’s here.

You can’t turn on the TV without hearing about the recession.  What does it all mean for you, the chiropractor?  Will it affect your new patients?  Will your current patients keep coming in?  Will your income drop?

I can’t predict the future.  I can’t tell you what the economy will do in 2009.  I do know that as long as your patients have jobs, nothing will really change with their finances.  Maybe their dropping 401k balances will worry them. But all the doom and gloom they hear constantly is likely to affect their spending more than any real change in their household budgets.

But I can say one thing for certain: if you cut back on your marketing, it’s guaranteed your new patient levels will drop off. If your new patient flow decreases, your income will follow.

A friend of mine bought a practice in August of this year. In just 3 short months he’s doubled the practice and cut back to only one employee. Another successful friend is having the worst winter of growth in the history of his practice.

What’s the difference?

Marketing. The doctor who bought new office really cranked up the marketing. He’s been testing my ads like crazy. He’s got fibromyalgia patients, decompression patients, he’s advertising for headache patients, and many other niches. And he’s not just running ads. I coached him on implementing 4 other major marketing campaigns to be running each and every month. This isn’t including the internal marketing that occurs naturally as a result of all the new patients flowing in.

Who do you think is going to do better during a recession? The chiropractor who markets his practice more, with better tools and strategies, or the one who cuts back and waits to see how long it will last?

While all your competition is cutting back, if you push ahead, you’ll be the one who comes out on top.  While everyone jumps out of yellow page advertising because “money is tight”, you’ll have an opportunity to stand out be staying in. You’ll also have quite a bit more negotiating power to get a good rate. The same goes for chiropractic newspaper ads.

Now before we go any further, we should discuss two detrimental myths that some chiropractors hold…

Myth #1. Chiropractic marketing doesn’t work. To that person, I say you are using the wrong kind of marketing. I fell into this trap during my first 2 years of practice. Too many “Mercedes 80’s” coaches trying to make me do their type of marketing. A variation of this myth is “Marketing doesn’t work in my town”. To this I say…really? Is there a newspaper? Billboards? TV station? Do you ever get any junk mail? It’s more likely you’re using bad advertising and marketing tools. Remember, what worked in the 60, 70’s, and 80’s won’t work in 2009. Your patients have had it with hyped up marketing promises. people in your community have grown more immune to the continuous flood of boring or pushy advertising everyone else is doing. As a result, you must be very specific and clear about what you are offering and how it can benefit the patients.

Advertising and marketing does work. It’s what every successful business is built on. You just need the right tools to make it work. (More on this in future blog posts!)

Myth #2. Marketing is unethical. This is a big roadblock to success a few doctors have. I think it comes from the “medical doctors don’t have to market” mentality. Maybe the GP never markets (unless you consider the millions drug companies spend doing it for them), because he’s so full of people wanting drugs and running in every time they have a paper cut. But the specialists market all the time.

Have you ever seen an ad or billboard for a hospital? What about a pain management or scoliosis center? In the city where I live there are hospitals advertising all sorts of specialties…sleep centers, back pain centers, fibromyalgia centers, cancer centers, heart rehab centers, neonatal units, and more.

Yes, there is some marketing that’s badly done out there. Not so much unethical, but just pushy and sleazy, hurting your practice image. I recommend you stay away from that kind of marketing.

Now back to the recession…

There is a recession going on. But are you going to sit around and mope about it? Or are you going to make sure you don’t have a “personal recession” with your own practice or income. There’s no government bailout coming for chiropractors. Ain’t gonna happen.

I will make one prediction for 2009. And I’ll bet it holds true. Ready?

“The chiropractor who  uses proven marketing tools and strategies  in 2009 will be more successful than his competition.”

A revelation right?

Don’t cut back on your marketing (unless it’s the “Mercedes 80’s” marketing). Use the tools and strategies you learn about on this blog to grow and build your practice…like there’s no recession in site.

See you next week.

5 Secrets To Powerful Chiropractic Ads

The study of marketing and advertising is one of my life’s passions. I’ve read and studied the greatest sales letters and ads of today, as well as successful ads of the past 100 years. (I’ve even handwritten a replica of a Master Copywriter’s 50 page sales letter, a marketing autopsy if you will .)

While the words, strategies, and offers in these ads may have changed over time, the 5 “secrets” to making them successful never change.

I call them secrets, because if they were well known, more practices would be using them in their chiropractic ads. But I’m going to reveal them here, so you’ll forever know them.

1. Have A Compelling headline. Famous ad man John Caples, author of Tested Advertising Methods and writer of what may be the greatest ad in history, accurately stated the headline is responsible for 80% of the ad’s results. Your headline is the “ad for the ad”. If the headline isn’t noticed, you’re ad is surely doomed.

2. Use an advertorial style ad. If you’re a well-known company making billions of dollars, you can run an ad with only your name, picture and some pretty colors. For those of us that have not yet acquired that level of success, it’s been proven that an educational style ad called an “advertorial” works much better. An advertorial looks like an article, or an editorial, so hence the name. They are typically bigger than a display ad and are written by an expert copywriter. And who in the world would actually read all those words in your ad? Your ideal patient who wants to refer all their friends and family  members in, that’s who!

3. Make an offer. While it’s not a requirement in chiropractic to give a discount on the first visit, it will certainly bring in more new patients when offered in your ads. If you’re going to spend the money to run an ad, then you should give an incentive to the reader to pick up the phone and call now. You don’t need to make a special offer because you have to, (as if chiropractic is some second-rate type of healthcare) but because you want to do it so more people will respond to the ad. This allows you to help more people, build a bigger practice, and live a better lifestyle.

4. Use a photo with a caption. A caption on a well placed photo can be the second most read part of your ad, after the headline. You must be careful to use this one right though. We aren’t going to make the focus of the ad the photo. On the other end of the spectrum, even a lot of average copywriters get this one wrong. They think using any kind of of picture is bad marketing. And the photo doesn’t necessarily have to be a picture of you. It depends on what the ad is written for.

5. Give proof. Your ad should have as much proof as can be squeezed in it. Two powerful forms of proof are testimonials and scientific studies. Testimonials work because they back up the fact you really can and do help people. Studies prove you aren’t just making stuff up. For example, if your ad focuses on headaches, it should mention the Duke University Study or the study in the Journal of Neuromusculoskeletal System 2002.

Does your advertising follow these 5 guidelines?

The 6 Best Business And Marketing Books of 2008

Do you read books on business and marketing?

Successful business experts recommend reading at least one non-fiction book a month. And I agree, you should continue learning no matter your age, your success level, or your intelligence.

I read a lot. Usually 2-3 business/marketing/improvement books a month, plus one fiction novel. Here’s the top 6 of the business books I read in 2008. All of them could benefit you as a chiropractor. Buy them. Read them. Profit from them.

1. The One Page Business Plan. I made a business plan when I opened my practice, but I thought it was a one time event. Later, coaches and consultants would talk about “vision” and “mission” statements, but the way they described them sounded “fake”, like something you tell yourself just to feel better.

The One Page Business Plan is different. It’s straight and to the point. This book is really more of a workbook (with the forms on CD)  that takes you step by step through creating a very simple, yet powerful one page business plan. It also acknowledges that your plan can change each year and make it easy to edit as you go.

2. QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability in Work and in Life. This is a great little book you can read in one day. It’s about taking responsibility for everything you do and asking yourself what you can do to make things better.

This is a great training tool for new employees. Have them read it the first week they start working for you. It makes them take a different look at the “blame game” so many people play.

3. The Legend of the Monk and the Merchant: Principles for Successful Living. Another very short book that you can read in a day (my wife read it in 3 hours!). It teaches biblical principles about success and running a business. Each principle is taught with short stories through a young teen learning from his wise grandfather.

A great book, especially for Christian business owners that personally giving to churches or charities.

4. 6 Steps to Free Publicity. At only $14, this is the best lesson you could get on how to get free publicity for your practice. It’s up-to-date nature includes using websites, emails and press releases to get your practice noticed.

While you won’t use everything you learn in this book, there’s more than enough here to market your practice for free and reap the benefits of good publicity.

5. Think and Grow Rich. I’m not sure why I put off reading this classic book on successful living for so long. It’s probably been mentioned or recommended to me by more successful people than any other. But this year I finally got around to reading it. Even though the first edition of this book was written in 1937, I was shocked at how good these principles really are.

While I’m not a fan of a couple of chapters in the book, 80% of this book is golden. There are quotes, stories, and lessons in this book that you can ponder on for a lifetime.

6. Changing the Channel: 12 Easy Ways to Make Millions for Your Business. This book is probably the best overview of modern marketing available. It’s just been released, and I’m not even done with it completely, but I had to get it on this list. It covers 12 different channels any business can use to market their product or services, including direct mail, the internet, radio, direct print, and more.

It gives some good examples, and isn’t all fluff like so many other books about marketing. I also appreciate how it mostly focuses on measurable direct-response marketing, not pie-in-the sky branding that’s usually a waste of money.

That’s my list. What books on business and success would you ad? Comment below and let everyone know which books had a big impact on you in 2008.

Do You Use These In Practice Yet?

While everyone has heard that they should implement systems in their practice, actually doing it is another story. I know it was for me. But I also realized the immense power systems had, mostly because it would put things on autopilot for me.

Here’s just a few systems you can have to make your practice more profitable, more successful, and much less stressful.

  • New Patient Marketing
  • Employee Hiring And Training
  • New Patient Conversion
  • Reactivations
  • Referrals
  • Internal Marketing
  • Office Flow
  • Patient Financials

Also realize many of these bigger systems should be broken into small systems. For example, new patient marketing should include different channels like chiropractic internet marketing, newspaper marketing, direct mail, etc.

Who has the time to create all these systems anyway?

Finding and putting in the time to write out (or even make videos) of these systems is quite time consuming. This is why you should buy systems that are already done-for-you, so all you have to do is implement them in your practice with very little hassle. Here are a few systems (all of which I have used or created myself) put into place with very little effort…

*   Insurance Compliance System
*   Chiropractic Internet Marketing System
*   Patient Home Care Rehab System
*   Insurance Appeal Process
*   Email Newsletter And Autoresponder System

Not all the systems you would need are available (yet!) for chiropractors to purchase and quickly implement in their practices.

So you will have to bear down and create a few systems on your own.The easiest way I have found to do this is to write an outline of the main points you want to cover. Then explain each section in as few words as possible, creating an instruction manual you can have employees (yourself) refer back to on a regular basis.

In 2009 I’m going to be bringing you some very good systems you can apply to your practice. Especially done-for-you systems that help with the biggest problem in chiropractic: your marketing!

The Biggest Practice Goal For 2009

Do you have big new goals to set for 2009?

New Years is right around the corner, less than 30 days away now. If you’re not setting and writing out your goals for your life and practice, you should start now for 2009. You can set goals for new patients, gross revenue, net income, weekly volume, etc.

But there is one “bad habit” we must all strive to conquer in the coming year if we are to have any chance of reaching our goals. It’s the killer of dreams and a recipe for mediocrity.

What’s this bad habit that will keep more people from reaching their goals in 2009?

PROCRASTINATION. Websters defines procrastination as “to defer action; delay”. Napoleon Hill in his famed book Think And Grow Rich states the following about procrastination..

“Procrastionation. This is one of the most common cuases of failure. “Old Man Procrastination” stands within the shadow of every human being, waiting his opportunity to spoil one’s chances of success. Most of us go through life as failures, because we are waiting for the “time to be right” to start doing something worthwhile. Do not wait. The time will never be “just right.” Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.”

I suffer from it, you suffer from it, we all suffer from what Hill later calls the “common enemy practically every man must conquer.” I’m better about it nowadays, but in the past I’ve been so bad as to procrastinate the procrastinating process, if you know what I mean.

Procrastination is heavy when it comes to chiropractic marketing. Common statements made by procrastinating chiropractors sound like this “I’ll run that ad when ______ happens.” The blank could be “after Christmas, after January, when the recession gets better, in the Spring” etc, etc. What we really should be asking ourselves is “Why not now? Why shouldn’t I just do it now and reap the benefits or at least find out if it will work?”.

You can also procrastinate getting rid of something, like firing bad employees or getting out of that bad consulting group. For example, in my first two years in practice I was with a group that was very cultish. I won’t go into details here (I’ve done so in other writings) but suffice to say many teachings they held were harmful to my practice — “It’s all in your head…you don’t need more new patients, you just need to plug that leaky bucket…you got to hard sell your patients.” Anyway, I put off getting out for over a year, and it cost me dearly. ($100-200k in lost revenue would be a conservative estimate!)

Moral of the story, don’t put off until tommorrow what you can do today!

Make a plan to conquer this bad boy in the coming year. Measure each week and each month how you are doing with getting things done on schedule. And by all means, don’t let procrastination affect your marketing, don’t let it affect your practice, and banish it from your life. Sure, you can set goals for things you want to attain, but do not forget to set a goal that conquers the #1 enemy of all your goals.

Hill speaks of how “better tools will be found as you go along.” Well in about 30 days, there’s going to be a tool appearing on this blog that’s unlike anything else in chiropractic. It will make reaching your new patients goals easier than ever before. So if you aren’t on the email list, sign up in the top right hand corner of this page, because you aren’t going to want to miss the announcements.