What Is Chiropractic Advertising

(If you haven’t read it yet, you should read my last blog post “Death of a Chiropractic Salesman” before reading this one.)

To get down to the bottom of chiropractic advertising, we begin with a story…

In 1898, at the age of eighteen, Albert Lasker left Galveston, TX and traveled to Chicago by train to learn advertising from the agency of Lord & Thomas. As Mr. Lasker learned the ropes of working in the agency, he quickly began to have a burning question…

“What is Advertising?”

You see, Lasker quickly realized that even though his new employer called themselves an “advertising agency”, no one could tell him what advertising really meant. Not his manager, not even the owners of the company. Mr. Lasker did finally come across an ad man, from a rival company at the time, who offered to help him on his quest. The conversation went like this…

“Well”, said Lasker, “what is right in advertising? Can’t you define it for me?”

“Why”, said the friend, “advertising is keeping your name in front of the people.”

To that, Lasker replied, “Well supposing I can’t live that long. Supposing I go broke; that I can’t keep my name before the people. There must be something else to this thing called advertising.”

I need to stop the story at this point and ask…how many chiropractors do this very same thing? How often have you heard, or even said it yourself, “I just need to get my name out there.” While getting your name in front of people certainly won’t hurt (as long as your name is being mentioned in a good way!), you aren’t likely to live long enough to rely solely on it as a way of growing your practice.

Another way chiropractors use this wrong line of thinking is by running ads in the newspaper or putting up websites that only have their name, phone number, etc. They believe this is getting their name out there in front of the reader and therefore, will be enough to get a new patient. This indeed will work if your are the only chiropractor in town, and it’s circa 1951, but for most of us this form of advertising is a complete waste of money.

Back to the story…

Within a few years, Mr. Lasker had become a partner in the agency, yet he still did not have a good definition of advertising. He had come to the conclusion that advertising was simply “news”, since most ads of that day were simply a small space ad announcing a new product. While Lasker was sitting upstairs talking with another partner is their office, a note got delivered to the room by a bellboy.  It read…

I am in the saloon downstairs and I can tell you what advertising is.
I know that you don’t know.It will mean much to me to have you know
what it is and it will mean much to you. If you wish to know what
advertising is, send the word ‘yes’ down by messenger.
– John E. Kennedy

Lasker sent a note down immediately saying yes, he’d like to know. Mr. Kennedy was shown upstairs, and the two met. Kennedy asked Lasker, “Do you know what advertising is?”

Lasker said “I think I do. It is news.”

Kennedy replied, “No, news is a technique of presentation, but advertising is a very simple thing. I can give it to you in three words.”

“Well,” said Lasker, “I am hungry. What are those three words.”

At this, Mr. Kennedy revealed the three words that would change advertising forever. He said…

“Salesmanship in print.”

Advertising had always been”salesmanship in print”, and would always be, but Kennedy was the first to put it in those exact words.

This is what your chiropractic advertising must be…in your newspaper ads, on your webpages, pay-per-click ads, email messages, etc. Today, you could slightly change it to be “salesmanship on video” or “on audio” since we have new technologies that can be used to persuade and influence. (If you question whether chiropractors “sell”, you should read my last blog post.)

News, in the form of press releases, can be good for your practice. “Getting your name out” can get an occasional patient or two. But persuading prospects that chiropractic has the answers…and that your office is the office to choose…now that is advertising that will set you apart from your competition and give you a means to obtain success in life.

The Death Of A Chiropractic Salesman?

Is selling unethical?Occasionally I get the following type of question….

“Are chiropractors salesmen?” or “Should we even have to market our practice, after all other respectable doctors don’t have to?”

Before we get into the discussion, it’s important that we understand what selling means. From Websters dictionary…

to sell: to persuade or influence to a course of action or to the acceptance of something

That means if you’ve ever influenced a patient to accept your care plan, get adjusted, or even come in for an appointment, you’re guilty of selling. (And in some circles or seminars, you would be quickly ushered out the door for admitting you actually “sold” anything.) Everyone sells, including dentists, MD’s, attorneys, wives, children, teachers and preachers.

What chiropractors really mean is that they don’t want to have to “hard sell” the patient on care. And I’m in total agreement with that. The term “hard sell” brings up unpleasant thoughts of a sleazy car salesman, and rightly so. To be hard sold means someone is very forcefully persuaded, and this is not what you want in your practice. This involves convincing people against their will to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do.

Many chiropractic coaches have convinced doctors to use hard sell tactics (of course they don’t use this exact term). They reason, according to these coaches, is that “it’s in the best interests of the patient to get the care, regardless if they realize it or not.”  However, this type of thinking is only trying to justify to yourself the unethical behavior.

There are ethical means to “persuade or influence” a patient to accept your care plan. Methods that do not use hype or exaggeration. Examples include making your office look more professional, dressing appropriately as the doctor, running editorial style chiropractic ads that do not use hype, sending “stick” letters to new patients, having a patient newsletter, etc. All of these are examples of marketing and selling your services.

Another unethical type of selling involves recommending care the patient does not need simply for the profit it will bring the doctor. In chiropractic, there is of course a gray area in that different techniques and philosophies recommend different amounts of care. This makes for a wide range of possibilities when recommending care to a patient.

It is of course the doctors clinical decision as to how much care a patient needs– not an arbitrary ruling by a state board or insurance company that want to cap visits to 12 or less. But realize there are doctors who “milk the system” for all it’s worth, and usually end up in prison as a result. More often than not, this type of wrongdoing is only known by the doctor who does it, and is not easily detected by the patient or others.

So when it comes down to it, there are really only two types of selling you want to avoid. The hard sell and what I call “greedy selling”. Both are unethical and both should never be used in a doctor’s office (or anywhere for that matter).

Ethical methods of persuading or influencing (selling) should be studied, modeled, and executed in your practice. You’re doing it currently any way, you might as well practice and get good at it.

Chiropractic Marketing

As to the question of whether we should “market” our services because other doctors don’t have to, let’s again look at the definition of marketing.

marketing: the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service

This is a bit different than advertising, which is “the action of calling something to the attention of the public especially by paid announcements.” (But advertising is a part of marketing, since it is promoting a product or service.) Notice also that marketing includes the above mentioned selling.

Do MD’s and dentists market their practice? Do they promote it by having yellow page ads, newspaper display ads or business cards?

In every town I’ve ever lived in they do. And this just a small part of their marketing in the medical profession. Much of it is done by drug companies with television commercials and magazine ads…or organizations like the AMA, American Heart Assoc, Am. Cancer Assoc, etc. (On another note, why should we even compare the marketing of chiropractic to the marketing of medicine? Are they not separate and distinct disciplines, which require different education and marketing strategies? Is not medicine having a more and more difficult time convincing patients of it’s credibility and authority?)

Gone are the days, if they ever existed, where you could hang a sign out and your practice would be flooded with new patients. This only occurred if you were the first or second chiropractor in town. Today, if all you do is a “hang a shingle” and expect that to work, you’ll have to close the doors in 2 months.

In 2009 and beyond, you must market your services to the public. On the internet, in print media, radio and TV if affordable,  direct mail, in your office, with referrals…whatever ethically works and brings in new patients. Don’t let a “I’m to good for that” attitude keep you from building the practice of your dreams.

Get Google To Send You New Patients

Google can send you very qualified prospects if you pay them a small fee to do it. They call it Google Adwords, but I call it the greatest marketing idea of the decade. Where else do you only pay if someone clicks on your ad and goes to your website? That’s right. You only pay google if someone actually goes to your website.

Chiropractic Marketing on Google: How to Get Started

To setup a campaign, go to www.adwords.google.com. When asked between a starter and standard edition, choose standard. After choosing your language, you will be asked to choose how you will target customers by location. This is very important. Be sure to choose the “customized” selection. This allows you to select a radius around your practice that your ads will show up on. This ensures someone from 500 miles away isn’t clicking your ad and running up your bill with Google. You can decide how far to go from your practice, but I recommend 15-30 mile radius depending on if you practice in the city or a small town.

You’ll then be asked to setup your first ad. You only get 25-35 characters for four lines of text, two of which are your headline and website address. Here’s the proven formula for your ads:

• First line should contain your keyword in a headline type phrase

• Second line should be a benefit you offer, for example “Get Rid Of Migraines”

• Line three should describe a feature offer, like “Without Drugs Or Surgery”

• Line four is your URL, with each word capitalized and using a keyword in your landing page address if possible

The next step is choosing your keywords. These are the words that your ad will show for when people type them into the search engine. For now just choose the keyword “chiropractor yourtown” (replace yourtown with your actually town you practice in, like “chiropractor Dallas, TX). We’ll cover more on keywords later.

Choose your daily budget. Be sure to set a daily budget that you are comfortable with, like $10-20 per day for now. Once your daily budget is reached, your ad stops running. If set to low, your ad might stop running in the most important part of the day.

In the last step, you will be asked to set your maximum cost-per-click. This is the most you will bid on your keywords. This will apply to all the keywords you chose earlier. I can’t tell you exactly what to bid on your keywords, as it will be different depending on where you practice and the keywords you choose. But I will show you how to determine what you should bid and how to get lower bids

Now your campaign is ready to go.

What keywords should you use?

Start with the keywords “chiropractic” and “chiropractor” for now. Keyword selection is so important, we’ll be going into detail about it in next week’s lesson.

Keyword Matching

One thing about keywords that may interest you is the different types of matching you can use with Adwords. The three types of keyword matching are broad, phrase and exact. You should also use negative matching to exclude those search terms that don’t apply to your Adwords campaign. Here is how Google describes their keyword matching…
• Broader matching options tend to give you more impressions but accrue higher costs. Therefore, include other matching options (like phrase- or exact-match) along with broad-matched keywords in an ad group.
• Broad-matched keywords should be at least two-word phrases (gourmet coffee or organic coffee beans).
• Narrower matching options tend to give you fewer clicks and lower your costs. It’s still important to use descriptive words for these matching options.
• Negative keywords work well in most cases when you know a term doesn’t apply to your business. (”free”, “medications”,etc.)
To use broad matching, you simply enter in the term by itself. Let’s use the word chiropractic for example. Here’s how the broad, phrase and exact match would work for the search term chiropractic

Broad match = chiropractic (any search typing which includes chiropractic will show your ad, including searches like chiropractic marketing, chiropractic tables, etc)

Phrase Match = “chiropractic Dallas, TX” (Enter this with quotes around it into your Adwords account. Any search that includes this phrase exactly will show your ad, including for example “chiropractic Dallas, TX clinics”, “advanced chiropractic Dallas, TX”, etc

Exact Match = [chiropractic Dallas, TX] (This match is entered into your Adwords account with brackets around it. This means for your ad to show up, someone will have to type this phrase in exactly like you input it, so your ad will only show for the search chiropractic Dallas, TX.)

Which of the above match types should you use? All of them have their place. If you have a lot of competition for Adwords bid prices in your area, then the phrase and exact matches will allow you to beat out your competition and you will pay less for bids on keywords.

Negative keywords = a word with a negative sign in the front of it, like “–tables”, without the quotes. When combined with the above broad and phrase match this will prevent your ad showing when someone types in “chiropractic tables”.

Here’s a list of important negative keywords to use in your account for the keywords chiropractic.


Do you see what those above have in common? They would be search terms that chiropractors themselves would be searching for, not patients. If you did not have these negative keywords in your account, your ad would pop up when a chiropractor searched for “chiropractic tables” in your area, and he might click your ad to see what you are up to. This wastes your money (since you are charged per click) and reveals your marketing to the guy down the street. Be sure to watch this week’s video to get more clarity on negative keywords.

Google’s Quality Score

When you mouse over the spyglass icon next to your keywords in your Adwords account, you will notice a quality score. Google has three levels of quality score — Ok, Poor and Great. The better your quality score is, the less you will pay per click. The worse your quality score, the more you will pay for keyword bid prices. Have a low quality score for too long, combined with a low CTR and you will be “slapped” by Google with ridiculously high bid prices (like 10X your current bid prices).

Google won’t tell you exactly how to improve your score, but they do reveal a few keys to help you. The score is based on your keyword relevance, your landing page relevance, and your landing page load time. Therefore, here is a checklist you can use to raise your quality score, thereby lowering your bid prices.

– Make sure your keyword is in your ad headline
– Use ad groups in your account (explained below)
– Use your keyword in your headline on your landing page
-Make sure your landing page or main website loads fast
– Use items on your landing page that makes the visitor stay longer (video, audio, etc)
– Make sure your landing page has a privacy policy link on it
– Put a link on your landing page that links to another website with a lot of content (your blog!)

How To Use Ad Groups

Ad groups are different groupings of keywords in your account. Ad groups are primarily setup for two reasons. First they allow you to use different ads to target different keywords. Also, they allow you to get a better quality score for your keywords.

Using the above “Top 10” keywords, you should group the “back pain” keywords together in an ad group. Then put the terms “chiropractic” and “chiropractor” in a separate ad group.

This concept is much easier to explain on the video, where I’ll show you how easy it is to create and manage ad groups in your campaign.

Other PPC Search Engines

Once you have mastered using Google Adwords for your practice marketing, you should branch out into Yahoo and MSN. To setup your accounts there, you should visit the following websites…


These PPC search engines are not as advanced Google, therefore it’s important to note a few differences in the campaign setup. For Yahoo and MSN, I do not recommend using ad groups or keyword matching. Because traffic is so much smaller it’s not worth wasting your time with these settings. Just start with 1-2 ads, and throw all your keywords into one ad group. Since quality score isn’t as important here, and bid prices are lower, this won’t hurt you at all.

(The above article is part of a ChiroMarketing Academy lesson. To see the 25 minute training video, where you can look over my shoulder see exactly how I set it up, and sign up at www.chiromarketingacademy.com.)

How to Market Chiropractic on the Internet

Are you making full use of the internet to bring in new patients?

Years ago, Bill Gates said “Any business not on the internet will not be around in four years.” While Mr. Gate’s quote still stands true today, I would have to add to it by saying “simply being on the internet is not enough”.

Here’s why…

Many chiropractors today have a website. And it’s well known that millions of people surf the web every day for chiropractic and other related terms. But even with all these searches, most chiropractors only see 3-5 new patients from their website each month.

I often tell my coaching clients  they need much more than just a “brochure”, static type website. What I recommend is that they set up a complete internet marketing system. This includes a website, blog, landing pages, videos, email auto-responders, blog broadcasts, and more. Here are just a few reasons you should consider implementing this type of system for your practice…

1. Once you have your system in place, it brings in patients for you on autopilot! Spend just a few minutes a week to maintain it.

2. Your marketing plan rides the waves of the internet boom.  More and more people are using search engines like Google and Yahoo to find information on their health problems. They want to know about their options before spending money or committing to any one doctor.

3. This technology can be used to keep current patients active with you for life. Retention of new patients is a key factor in the growth of your practice. Many of the same strategies you use online to get new patients — like email communication and blog articles — can also be used to keep current patients active. This creates affinity marketing and means patients are less likely to respond to other offers to go somewhere else.

4. Compared to other forms of marketing media (newspapers, TV, Radio), it’s relatively inexpensive to set up and maintain. Would you rather spend $5000 per year on yellow pages or spend a fraction of that to be on the front page of Google?

Are you seeing the potential that using the internet can have for your practice?

Here’s how you can get a Two Part Internet Marketing Lesson for Chiropractors for FREE

I’ve put together a simple six question survey on internet marketing 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 two lessons from ChiroMarketing Academy. These two lessons focus on “How to Set Up Your Internet Marketing Plan” and “Email Marketing that Converts Website Visitors to New Patients”. (Each of these lessons has a written report plus a training “how to” video.)

Click here to take the survey…

P.S. This free gift is limited to the first 100 participants.

The Two Most Important Numbers

Can you guess the two most important numbers to track for a chiropractic practice?

“How many ya seeing doc?” If you you’ve been to some of the hyped up chiropractic seminars, you might think it’s the number of weekly patient visits. After all, you’ve probably been asked this question more times than you’d like to hear.

What does the number of visits per week really tell you about anyone’s practice? It doesn’t tell you how many of those visits are free or discounted. It doesn’t tell you the doctors overhead. For all we know, he could be seeing 300 per week and barely paying the bills. Some gurus even teach that the question “how many you seeing?” actually should be answered with how many patient visits you “see in your head”. Which means make up any answer you want.

“How many new patients you seeing?” New patients are a very important number to track, but the number you see per month doesn’t always tell the whole story. If someone does a spinal screening and gets 30 new patients in for a free exam, is this equal to 30 referred new patients who paid full price? No. Therefore, the importance of new patient totals can vary depending on the quality.

“What are you collecting?” Indeed, the monthly amount collected is a critical number to know for your practice. One that many chiropractors would do good to focus on more. But still, what does this tell you about the “health” of someone’s practice. If someone collects $100,000 a month, you may think he’s a very wealthy doctor. But what you don’t know is that he spent $110,000 to make that $100k. What collections don’t take into account is the overhead a practice has: the rent, payroll, marketing costs, leases, taxes, etc.

“Okay, so what are the two most important numbers? Just tell me already!”

The #1 most important number to know for your practice is the net profit for your practice. Also referred to as the “profit margin”. Simply take the total amount collected and subtract your expenses (doctor’s salary is not counted as expense for this exercise.) Now what % of your gross collections each month is your net profit?

It doesn’t matter if you had 100 new patients last month…or see 1000’s of visits per week…or collected $236,000 last month…if you’re net profit sucks. How many slow months can you make it through with only a 10% or 20% profit margin?

Now granted, you may not want to tell everyone this magic number. But if someone was to ask you, you better know it to the penny for last month…even if you don’t say it out loud. I’ve consulted with too many chiropractors who tell me “we’ll, I think it’s about 50%”. I reply “you think?” Then they give me some excuse about their bookkeeper or account not doing the books yet. Look, we’re not talking about taxes or anything to do with the IRS. We are talking about the actual amount of money that goes into your pocket each month. If you don’t know this number, you’re truly flying blind.

The second most important number is your return on investment for your marketing or ROI for short.Your marketing ROI is just a measure of the profit margin on your marketing dollars. So if you spend $1 on marketing and get back $5, this is good. If you get back $10 or $15 this is excellent.If you aren’t tracking your ROI, you can’t say for certain how well an advertisement performed. Simply measuring the number of new patients that came in from an advertisement is not adequate in comparing ads either.

Let’s look at some actual case studies. Here’s part of an email I received a couple of weeks ago…

Dr.Beck, we put the ‘sciatic don’t live it’ insert on Monday to 2 zipcodes that went to 6,000 readers, we got 3 patients ,all over 80 years old, who all paid. we took in $4,500, which was a 18:1 return. I want to crawl, walk, then run , as I tested the waters, with your ad’s. So far we are pleased, and will put out same ad to more zip codes to a different area next week. Pleased to say each of our 80+ year old NP’s ,noticed improvement with chiropractic and are happier citizens and telling friends. Thanks for the blessings.

Based on the above case study, did this doctor do well or not? You could be  thinking “only 3 new patients, that sucks big time!” Or you could say “gosh Dr. Beck, $4500 isn’t that great. I mean that barely pays for my salary!”

But we are missing an important peice of this case study. How much did he actually spend to get that $4500 in his bank account? Here’s the part I left out…

…for a cost of only $250 for the ad…

Wow! For a cost of only $250, he made back $4500. That’s an 18 to 1 return…for every $1 spent he made back $18. Realize he said “will put out same ad to more zip codes to a different area next week.” He can now roll this out to other zipcodes and bring in quite a bit more than his salary. But if he was only tracking the number of new patients that came in — which was only 3 — he may throw in the towel and decide to never run another ad.

Always measure your marketing ROI. Measure it for each ad you run and the monthly total of all your marketing.