Your Chiropractic Marketing Plan for the Holidays

The end of the calendar year, what many Americans call the Holiday Season (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years), is quickly approaching. For many chiropractors, this is a bustling time of new patients and high profits to finish out the year strong. For others it represents some of the hardest and leanest months on record.

Why the difference?

It comes down to your view of marketing. There is a myth that’s been perpetuated in our profession for many years. The myth that says you shouldn’t market in certain months because of holidays and vacations. Have you ever heard such nonsense?

I actually had a consultant when I first started out in practice that went through all the ‘bad marketing’ months. January is insurance deductible rollover month. Feb. was probably okay. March was spring break, so not good there. April was tax month, so that was out. The summer was out because everyone went on vacation. December was bad because of all that Christmas spending, no one had money to come in. Plus insurance plans were maxed! And on and on. I think he ended up listing at most 2-3 months out of the whole year that I should use paid marketing!

You may remember the Dynamic Chiropractic poll which was taken awhile back on this issue, finding there was no difference between summer, fall and winter when it comes to marketing. The interesting thing was that 22%, a fourth of doctors polled, said it the season didn’t make any difference in their marketing.

Now that’s the attitude you should have. If anything the Holidays are an excuse to ramp up your marketing because your marketing will stand out even better as your competitors will have believed the myth and pulled back on their spending. Many doctors have realize this little secret and done very well.

Sidenote: In case your not familiar with this blog, when I say “marketing” I mean effective, proven marketing strategies, methods and techniques. I’m not speaking of getting more brochures printed up or drop a few business cards off at the local restaurant.

I’ll never forget the year I put an ad in the newspaper the week before Thanksgiving. It was later in the month I would have liked, considering I believed at the time I shouldn’t be marketing at all near the end of the month. And my ads usually have a 2 week deadline to take action on the offer. But things just didn’t work out for me to get it in earlier. “Oh well”, I figured, “at least they’ll have 1 week to come in.” The results surprised me. A few came in that first week, but we actually got swamped the three days before Thanksgiving Day. I think we had 7 or 8 new patients the day right before, meaning when came back the following week I was going to be doing multiple report of findings. What better thought to have on a 4 day holiday?

Let’s look at the reasons why you should market heavily during the next two months.

  • Bad weather means more accidents, whether slips, falls or auto accidents. People will need your services.
  • Holidays can be a great time of year to hold a special new patient event like a Food Drive, Toys for Tots drive, Angel Tree program, and more.
  • Winter sports are in full swing, causing many athletic injuries that need your care.
  • Competitors marketing is usually lessened, which makes yours stand out.
  • Discounts can be had from many media, especially newspapers and magazines.
  • People are home more often, which means it may be time to try some telemarketing programs.
  • More people are online shopping, which means they may come across your website.
  • Many are looking to use up there Health Savings Accounts by years end (especially considering people are concerned these benefits will disappear under Obamacare.)

Now I’m not saying you should ignore certain aspects of the Holidays when you do your marketing plan. I would not put an ad in the paper on Christmas Day or New Years day for example, or even the day before. Also, you shouldn’t run ads when you’ll be closed unless you have a good answering service.

Here’s where my focus would be on marketing in the next two months.

Newspaper Advertising: Run a chiropractic ad or decompression ad at least once in November and once in December. Twice each month would be even better, but in December run your second ad before the 20th. I would also have an ad coming out the very first week of the new year. (Look for a special New Years ad I’ll be mentioning in a few weeks.)

Internet Marketing: I would keep it running right along smoothly with article marketing, email marketing, SEO backlinks and Google Adwords. Now there is a trend at the end of the year on Google (see chart below) where people do search less for the term “chiropractic”. But we need to consider a couple of things here. First, since you only get charged when your ad gets clicked, if no one is searching for this term your ad won’t show and you won’t get charged. Secondly, even if someone does click your Adwords ad, they are interested and have just as much chance of coming in as someone who clicked your ad in April, or June, or any other month. Thirdly, you definitely should be marketing to other keywords than just chiropractic. In fact all keywords take a dip in mid December on Google (except for toys, gifts, etc.), but they also spike quite a bit right after Christmas.

For example, take a look at the chart above which is a Google Trends graph for the search term “sciatica”. See that spike right at the end of the year. You want to be running your ads then for sure. And lastly, it’s been confirmed from Google Adwords experts that one of the worse things you can do is to turn off your ads. This messes up your past history of success with Google, jacking with your bid rates, quality scores and more.

Referral Marketing: Continue with an effective internal marketing plan, but adding to it at least one special event near Thanksgiving food drive, Christmas toy drive, or New Years “get back to health.” As Dan Kennedy says, these are great times to create a special marketing event. Don’t waste it. Also, these events allow your patients to give to those in need helping others to enjoy the holidays.

We’ll look at more ideas in the coming weeks. Have you laid all this out on the calendar yet and put things into action? If not, what are you waiting for, Christmas or something?

The Practitioner’s Journey

Dan Clements was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding his new book, The Practitioners Journey.

1. Dan, can you give us a bird’s eye view of what your book is all about? (Or maybe this questions is better phrased “Why did you write the book?”)

After a number of years of working with practitioners, and growing our own business, it was becoming more and more evident to me that the biggest challenge facing practitioners wasn’t information, it was complexity.

Time after time we discovered that practitioners had plenty of information, and no shortage of things on their to-do lists. What they had trouble with was how to look at their practices in a way that made it easier to make decisions and continue to move forward.

2. In the first section of the book, you use the metaphor of traveler getting lost in a cave. I see a lot of chiropractors lost in dark caves like you explain in the book. Do you think we’re seeing more chiropractors lately wandering into the darkest parts of their career?

Between economic shifts, health care changes and the sheer amount of competition in some places, I think the idea of being lost in a dark place is something that resonates with many chiropractors.

What’s important to remember is that being lost is temporary. The cave—how we describe that dark stretch—is really a tunnel. There’s an end, and finding it is something that’s within your control.

CE credits aren’t usually what you need to get out of the cave—the dark parts of your career are almost always related to a lack of NON-clinical development. A new technique or tool might be part of it, but it’s usually about embracing the idea that you’re in business, and continuing to develop that side of yourself.

Invest in your non-clinical education. Learn to manage, to lead. To take risk. To market what you offer. Each lights the way a little more.

3. I’m always telling chiropractors that they need to niche their practices, focusing on certain conditions or types of patients they like to work with. How does this compare to your metaphor of “the crystal” and the story of Maya the chiropractor?

Maya is like many other chiropractors today. She’s in a busy market, with competition right down the street. The appointment book is never as full as she’d like. She’s struggling, and stressed.

The real reason that her competition is a problem, though, is that what she offers isn’t any different from other DC’s.

That sameness means she has to compete. And when she competes, there will always be someone who will be cheaper than Maya. Or closer. Or open later. Or with better parking.

The result? Her existing patients don’t have a compelling reason to stay, and new ones don’t have a compelling reason to choose her. Focusing on one type of problem, or one type of patient is one way to avoid that no-win competition.

4. One line I really found helpful in your book is on page 31: “And there’s the great irony of the CAM industry: no one starts out to be in business, yet everyone has to be in order to succeed.”

I think cash practices are on the rise in chiropractic. It’s going to become the new normal. And that means that you don’t just get to be a chiropractor. It means you run a health care business in which you also happen to be the person providing chiropractic services, too.

It’s not a choice. You have two hats to wear (at least), and you have to find a way to get comfortable in them. Your DC hat only gives you the license to provide services. It’s the business owner hat that lets you find the people to deliver them to.

5. There a great section in the book where you give 6 tips to help alternative health professionals bridge the gap between them and MDs. How important is this?

For me, it’s critical. MD’s are still the gatekeepers to the sick in our culture. If you want to reach and help more people, you need to go where they are. In our society, a huge number of them are still in hospitals and MD offices. And that system is being overwhelmed.

Continuing to fight over the same people who already use chiropractic is a race with no winner. The real opportunity lies in the huge chronic health challenges in our culture, and most of those people who need that help are still inside conventional care.

6. Your second strategy for finding more time in our busy lives is to follow Parkinson’s law. What is Parkinson’s law and how can it help chiropractors?

Parkinson’s Law says that work expands to fit the time available for it. In other words, if you give yourself a “day” to do admin work in your practice, it’ll take all day – regardless of how much of it there is to do. The same goes for patient hours. If you offer thirty patient hours a week, it’s common to only bill for half of those or less.

That makes Parkinson’s Law critical for balance. What most DC’s miss out on is the fact that they can almost always earn more in the same time or less. My suggestion is to put your focus on your percentage booked. Start measuring it in your practice, and if you’re not consistently booked at a rate of 75% or more, start cutting back your available hours.

7. How do you think your book can help chiropractors thrive in this tough economy?

I recently interviewed Dan Clements, author of a very helpful book entitled The Practitioner’s Journey.

People find three things helpful in the book. The first is simplicity – the book gives practitioners a way to rise above the overwhelming minutiae of day-to-day life in practice.

The second is a practical way to look at growing your practice. The framework of the book is the same framework we use to do our strategic planning every year—it’s a way to look at your practice from 50,000 feet and make smart decisions about what needs to change so that you can find success on your own terms. When you take a simple framework, and combine it with small, practical and consistent steps forward, you get something very powerful: progress.

Last, I think it’s a book about hope. About believing that there’s no special advantage required to find your way to success – that if you’ve made it far enough to be in practice, you have what it takes to do it successfully.

Thanks for the interview Dan.

Dan Clements, B.Comm., B.A. is the author of The Practitioner’s Journey, and Escape 101: Sabbaticals Made Simple, which has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Success Magazine and on A-list blogs such as Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Workweek.  Dan and his wife Tara Gignac, ND operate StoneTree Clinic in Collingwood, ON. Together they are Contributing Founders of, the premier online community for integrative health care professionals, joining such health care luminaries as Joseph E. Pizzorno, Jr., N.D., Mark Hyman, MD, Alan Gaby, MD and many others.

Their popular practice management blog,, attracts thousands of practitioners in diverse health care professions.

Dan lectures at The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine on practice management, and speaks regularly on health, business and work-life balance.

5 Ways to Get Free Website Traffic

You need traffic to your landing pages, blogs, and website to make your internet marketing system run. Too many doctors spend thousands of dollars on a pretty website, and are very disappointed to find little-to-no traffic or very few new patients.  Remember, more Internet traffic to your sites means more new patients. And more new patients equals more profits for your practice!

There are two major categories of website traffic: paid and free. Paid examples would include Google Adwords, newspaper ads with your website address, mailings, press releases, etc. But today I want to focus just on how to get free web traffic.

#1. Post on other blogs.

One of the best ways to get free traffic and great incoming links is to visit other people’s blogs. What you want to do is look for blogs relevant to your practice. These would be blogs on health topics, chiropractic issues, medical issues, or even legal issues dealing with healthcare. For traffic purposes, it’s best to look for local blogs, but for incoming links you can look for blogs anywhere in the world.

Visit some of the blogs and find post/articles that are relevant to your practice. Comment on the post and make sure to fill out the box for your website. This should be your blog or main website, the place that you want to rank higher in Google. I would not recommend doing this for your landing page.

Remember most blogs are an ongoing conversation; so make sure you are contributing to that conversation. Do not be promotional. Leave a comment that is relevant to the topic, not an ad for your website. Most comments must be approved by the owner, and if your comment is not related or overtly promotional, it will be deleted as if it was spam.

The first time you comment, simply use your first name and website link. With following comments, you can be a bit more aggressive by using your first name and some key anchor text, like “Dr. John – Dallas Chiropractor”. They may decide to edit out your anchor text, but many blog owners will allow it, so it’s worth a try.

(You should even comment on this post below, giving me your thoughts. Remember, enter the conversation, don’t just be promotional.”

#2. Participate on forums.

Another free way to generate traffic and incoming links is to post on message boards. This strategy is more for incoming links than for traffic, however if you are in a larger city there could be many discussion boards to post on.

Go to and search for “yourtown message boards”. You should also try the terms discussion boards and forums combined with yourtown. For example, if I practice in San Diego, I would search for “San Diego message boards” or “San Diego forums”. This is for local traffic.

Make sure that when you register at these message boards that you create a resource box (sometimes called a signature box) with your website or blog link. That way you are subtlety telling the reader to visit your site.

For an incoming links strategy, find a larger, more popular message forum and post messages related to the topic. Also, if the message board is health or chiropractic related, this may provide for a better incoming link. An example site would be as it has a high rank with Google. Incoming links from sites with higher “Google page rank” are more valuable than sites with lower page rank. And remember your resource box on these forums, as that is where you will get the incoming “link juice”.

If you want to know exactly what page ranks a site has, you can download the Google toolbar at

#3. In-Office Blog Promotion.

There are numerous ways you can encourage your patients to learn more and get them to revisit your content on the blog. Why would you want your current patients to read your blog articles? There are many reasons, but here are a few: become better educated, find out about other services and products your practice offers, stay informed about upcoming events like P.A.D.’s, be reminded about referral opportunities, and so much more.

The first thing you can do is print a flyer that reads “To Read The Latest Health Articles And Updates Written By Dr. Beck, Be Sure To Visit” Have this flyer in one of those nice, clear standup displays at the front desk where all of your patients can see it.

Another great place to mention your blog is in the newsletter. (You are sending out a printed newsletter to all your patients right?) Simply place a similar text like I quoted above in a prominent place in your newsletter, like at the bottom or top of each page.

You should also put your blog’s website address on all your business cards. This can be used inside and outside the office to better connect with patients and potential patients. Even if you already have a website listed, add your blog address.

#4. Submit to blog carnivals.

There are blogs out on the internet that are looking for different posts to link to on their site. They will typically get quite a few blog posts and put them together into a “blog carnival”. You can submit your content rich blog posts to blog carnivals, and in return may receive free incoming links to your site as well as a chance for good traffic.

To submit to a blog carnival, go to You’ll need to find a non-promotional blog post on your blog to increase the likelihood of a carnival linking to your blog.

#5. Outside Promotions.

If you do any outside promotions for your practice (you should be), I recommend you have your landing page address on any materials. Most people who pick up some information will not act on it right away. But later, when they start feeling worse, they’ll pick up that card, brochure, etc and go to our landing page to learn more.

When doing a talk, if you’re making an offer for new patients go ahead and do that first. But after that has been made, make sure you have a slide shown or a flyer handed out with your website information on it. This may sound basic, but you would be surprised at how many chiropractors don’t do this.

Chiropractic Marketing and the Cash Practice

Cash practices have been around for a long time in chiropractic. For the first few decades of our profession, all chiropractors ran a cash-only practice as there was little to no health insurance in those days. And even if there was, it sure wasn’t going to pay for chiropractic.

I previously wrote on the pros and cons of a cash practice here. In that article, I mentioned that I’m seeing more chiropractic (and even medical) doctors consider going to a cash practice. Many give the current health care environment as the reason why.

Here are just three pieces of news I’ve come across lately regarding the state of affairs in chiropractic.

#1. In Texas, the Medical Association is fighting (and currently winning)
a battle to keep chiropractors from diagnosing.

#2. On the east coast, insurance giant Kaiser Permanente has declared
they will no longer pay for cervical adjustments.

#3. Obama’s healthcare plan will be fully implemented by 2014. No one
knows for sure what it will do to chiropractors, but chances are it
will not be good.

One of my goals is to provide the information you need and want to
help you thrive in the midst of upcoming challenges.

To do this, I need your help.

I’ve put together a simple 10 question survey that will only take
you a couple of minutes to complete. This is your opportunity to let
me know what you think about this mess.

Whether you’re for a cash practice or against it, let me know by
answering these short questions. And as a thank you for filling out
the survey, I’m going to give you a free bonus: “The Coming Crisis in
Chiropractic and How to Beat It in 2011: A Blueprint for Success”,
which includes the 3 most effective marketing strategies, the 3
advertising strategies you should stop doing now, and the big secret
that cash-practice gurus never, ever tell their clients.

After completing the survey, leave your email, and as soon as I get
the blueprint done I’ll send it to you.

Click this link to take the survey:

Yours for greater success,
Michael Beck, D.C.