There are 5 lies every chiropractor has been tempted to tell himself at one point or another. Some of us have only fallen prey to 1 or 2 of these lies. Others of us have succumbed to all 5 and felt the devastating effects on our practices.
Where do these lies come from?
Many of them come from chiropractic consultants, especially numbers 1 through 4. The 5th lie is one we usually come up with on our own during desperate times.
Which of these chiropractic marketing lies have you believed? Do you agree with these or disagree, post your comments below.
1. I’ll just cut back on my marketing expenses for awhile, since I’ve got so many referrals coming in.
This one gets a lot of chiropractors. Usually the doctor is looking for ways to cut costs or maybe is just tired of having to “market my practice.” It’s not that marketing has been a failure, as much as it takes a bit of work to measure return on investment (ROI) and keep track of what’s working. Plus, there’s the added task of trying something new occasionally. Why not just take a few months off and let the referrals keep coming in?
Of course the problem is that many of these referrals come from the “marketed to” new patients. For example, a new patient comes in from a chiropractic newspaper ad and after starting care refers their husband in to you. The husband refers a coworker. The coworker refers their spouse in. By this time, you may have forgotten where this process started. Don’t cut the referral generator off at the source.
2. Marketing isn’t professional.
Thankfully this lie isn’t believed near as much these days. During the Mercedes 80s, chiropractors could get new patients simply by putting a sign on the door and getting on the best insurance plans. Who needed marketing?
Chiropractic schools sometimes give off the aura that marketing is not professional. How many marketing classes did you get in school?
Times have changed. Insurance doesn’t pay what it used to, nor are you going to get flooded with new patients by joining the local networks. And everyone has to agree that chiropractic school does not prepare you 100% for the business of chiropractic. What profession doesn’t market themselves? Hospitals have billboards, newspaper ads, and more. Dentist advertise in the phone book, newspaper, TV, radio, etc. Attorneys, medical doctors, surgeons, orthodontists — if they are successful and growing, they advertise.
3. I want MD referrals, and MDs won’t refer to me if I advertise because it’s unprofessional.
I first heard this one from a prominent consulting group. They wanted me to pay them $40k to show me how to get more referrals from MDs. And of course I’d need to tone down my other marketing, since it wasn’t professional like MD marketing. Plus this consultant would show me how to get so many MD referrals that I would never need to spend money on marketing. A pipe dream for sure.
Back on planet earth, every business has to market their services. Certainly there are sleazy, hyped up ads, but not all marketing is like this. Marketing and advertising does not have to be unprofessional. Many MD’s and D.O.’s will refer to you because of your marketing. I ran newspaper ads for years, and never met the big medical practice down the street, yet I got referrals from them for years. Why? Only thing I can figure is they read my ads in the paper on the different conditions we help.
4. If a marketing strategy or tool is good, it will bring me 100’s of new patients per month.
We’ve all heard of the proverbial marketing “magic pill.” Problem is that it’s a fairy tale. Everyone knows this. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and doctors expect the next thing they buy will produce 100’s of new patients. What if you only get 10 new patients for $1000 spent?
Two different perspectives can occur here.
#1. One doctor says wow, one marketing tactic got me 10 new patients, that’s awesome!
#2. Another doctor says “man, I needed 20 new ones this month to remain profitable. This only brought in 10. Guess that strategy didn’t work well at all. Time to trash it and try another one.”
Some of you may be thinking #2 is a made-up doctor, no one with this thinking really exists. But trust me, I see it every week. See the blog post “Chiropractic Math and the Struggling Practice” for an in-depth example.
Now we mustn’t over do this and say all marketing is equal because there isn’t a magic pill. There is certainly a dividing line between effective marketing strategies and crappy, waste-of-money marketing strategies. There are tools which will bring you 20 new patients a month, but even then you should not focus 100% of your money and time on that one strategy. One month you may only get 5 new patients instead of the normal 20, so make sure you have multiple streams of quality new patients coming in.
5. If money gets tight this month, I’ll cut the most expensive advertising out.
What’s wrong with this one? After all, when things get tight you’ve got to cut something out, right?
That’s true. But it doesn’t follow that you base what your going to cut out simply on how much things cost. If it did, then you should cut out your rent first. And your payroll. Plus your salary.
You should determine what you’re going to cut out based on what’s effective. If an ad has been working in the newspaper, why would you stop running it because it’s the most expensive marketing cost you have? Better to cut out all the little things that don’t work, like maybe yellow page ads or poorly done static websites.
The cost of advertising tells you nothing about how many patients it brings in. For that you need to figure ROI and compare your returns across multiple marketing strategies.
Make sure not to cut the advertising that is actually keeping you alive. Cutting off the hand that feeds you will only result in a downward spiral that makes it very difficult to come out of.