A Huge Error in the Chiropractic Marketing Mindset

Recently on the LinkedIn Chiropractic Professional group Jonathan asked, “Anyone have any good ideas for marketing to attract new patients? What has the best return on investment?”

The answers from different people that came in truly show the confusion in the profession. The 62 comments so far have ranged from “get out in your community” to “Become an MD.”

A doc named Brian has left multiple comments where he gives suggestions for getting more new patients. I’d like to respond to some of them in this blog post. I don’t know Brian, so this is no slight to him personally, but I found his comments summarize the typical DC leaving chiropractic school.

One of the most interesting comments Brian posted was “keep going to school advancing your credentials and until enough of us learn better.” I would have to totally disagree with this recommendation for getting more new patients. Let me explain…

After your initial degree to practice and State/National boards, further schooling is not likely to help you bring in more new patients.

Now you may learn additional skills and become more specialized in the type of patient you see. And this can be a good thing since people have different problems for which they need help with. But really all you’ve done here is slightly shift the type of patient you see. You haven’t really added any additional new patients.

How many patients have ever come to see you because of some specific credential you have? Very few, if any.

Don’t get me wrong. You can use the specialized postgraduate training you received to market to specific conditions, which I highly recommend. But the key here is that you have to market your unique qualifications.

And Brian, along with many doctors, clearly does not want to have any thing to do with marketing or advertising. He goes on to say:

“Trust me, the world would still turn and doctors would still doctor obtaining what’s needed from producers if all marketing disappeared today. Let US hope marketing and other bottom dwelling middle people disappears soon. It’s time for healthy change!”

I’m not certain as to how Dr. Brian is defining marketing here, but he has certainly cast the baby out with the bathwater. Are there bad marketing strategies and outright scammers trying to get your money? Certainly. But is all marketing bad? No. Ambulance chasing is not the same as running an ad on your website.

If you really wanted to help people get better, and make a good living doing it, wouldn’t you use whatever ethical and moral tools you can get your hands on to accomplish that task?

So what is Brian’s solution to getting more new patients? Serving and word of mouth:

“May I humbly suggest; learn to create and maintain healthy relationships with your community. Word Of Mouth is by far much more effective and has far greater benefit than any other scam marketing contrivance that once engaged, One Must Serve.”

[…]

“Go out and open yourself creating loving relationships with “everyone and anyone”, Ignore the sales scam claiming “niche” and or “specific target client” language whether based on geography, issue, etc. (demographic or psychographic)”

It’s interesting that when doctors are so against marketing, and they suggest word of mouth or community relationships…which are both forms of marketing. You see, marketing is the action or business of promoting and selling products or services. So every time you pull out a business card, mention your office name, or speak in the community you are marketing your practice.

Marketing is not always evil. Merchants have marketed their services to customers from the beginning. The only other option today is to simply “put out your shingle” and wait for patients to show up. As many bankrupt doctors have found, this strategy doesn’t work. And gone are the days when there was only one clinic per town and no competition. This type of monopoly is not likely to return to your area either.

Word of mouth referrals are the best. And building relationships in your community is necessary. They may take years and years to properly develop, but they do work. But these two strategies alone will not get you a large number of new patients.

You’ve got to directly speak to those who need your services and tell them why they should come see you. You and I both know most people aren’t going to come see you because of ignorance of what our profession really does — unless you teach them.

Therefore marketing and advertising are not only effective ways to bring in more new patients, but can be used to educate the community on what you actually do. This is the answer to getting more new patients. If you use ads and marketing that speak to the patient where they are at, and focus on offering solutions to their problems, you will have more new patients than you can handle.

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2 Comments

  1. Well said Dr. Beck! …Chiropractors that ONLY rely on ONE form of marketing (i.e. word of mouth) are dead in the water. I only use word of mouth as the example…it doesn’t matter what it is, it could be ONLY teacher appreciation programs…point is, ONLY ONE FORM of marketing isn’t enough in this current era of chiropractic.

  2. Great post, Mike… Without marketing, you don’t have a practice! You know, I’ve observed that same reply on numerous occasions about direct response marketing on the internet.

    If more chiros knew how to use direct response marketing to get positive attention, more of the population would see us rather than MD’s.

    I did check-out that group on LinkedIn. Holy spam!

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