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 Adveritising: 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?