Chiropractic Marketing Is A Changing

As Bob Dylan once sang, ‘times they are are a changing’, and this is especially true in the profession of chiropractic.

Most of you can feel it, knowing that there is a wind of change blowing through our industry. Currently it may feel like a small breeze. But soon I fear it will be a strong, gale force wind.

But while some things are changing, still others remain the same. Which is good if it’s a rock solid marketing method, as I’ll soon show you below with the results of my recent survey.

Why are things changing? Two big reasons.

#1. A recent recession and still weak economy. This has caused some chiropractors to withdraw all marketing ( very dumb move if your marketing was previously working). Others had thought their low return-on-investment marketing would get them through the recession, but it didn’t. And still others sought after the magic pill that would save their practice, expecting a new marketing product would undo years of bad business management.

#2. Health care reform. (Also called Obamacare by some.) This is the biggest reason for change occurring in chiropractic. While there are still a lot of questions over this recent congressional bill, many chiropractors get the sense this bill is bad news for their practice. The ACA and ICA both seem to be convinced this is an “historic pro-chiropractic” bill, mostly because it will not allow insurers to discriminate against us. Of course some chiropractors have said to me they’d gladly take a little discrimination as opposed to an across-the-board-medicare-like system that has low payouts and excludes payment for exams, x-rays, therapies, etc.

Other chiropractors have taken a “wait-and-see” approach to this bill. After all, we have 4 years to figure things out, right? Well, if you are anything like me, being reactive is not something I like. Being proactive in growing my businesses has always been extremely successful, whereas being reactive to problems others throw at me ends in mediocrity at best.

Last week, I ran a quick survey to my list of blog readers. I limited the survey to 100 respondents and offered a package of marketing audios to those who answered every question of the survey. (Links to the audios will go out Wednesday to those who completed the survey. Thank you!)

Let’s look at some results of the survey. The first question I asked was:

Question 1. What area of marketing do you want the most help with right now

Now I expected a wide range of answers, which I certainly got. But I did not expect the answers to be strongly skewed toward what’s referred to today as “offline advertising”. Over 67% of the responders chose an answer in the offline group of marketing which contained newspaper advertising, internal referrals, MD referrals, attorney referrals and public lectures. Very few wanted help with their websites, pay per click, blogs, Facebook & Twitter. Is this because D.C.’s don’t fully understand these online methods yet? Or is it that the offline methods are continuing to outperform newer, online marketing strategies? (What do you think? Please leave a comment below.)

Question 2. What area do you currently spend most of your marketing budget on?

Big surprise here! A whopping 38% of respondents chose newspaper advertising compared to the second most popular answer (websites) being only 17%. This result was very telling of our profession for 2 reasons. First, there are many ‘salesmen’ shouting that newspaper ads are dead. If this was the case, why are so many chiropractors in June, 2010 still spending a large amount on them? And secondly, most businesses don’t continue to spend money where there is no return. Therefore, newspaper ads must be bringing in a decent ROI at least, compared to other advertising.

You may think this answer is not surprising, because after all I developed the Ultimate Chiropractic Ads, so of course the answers would be biased. But the interesting thing is, most of the people filling out the survey have never bought my newspaper ads.

So here is an example of one thing that hasn’t changed much, which is good because its working and continues to work well. Marketing that works well doesn’t need to change.

Question 3. Which form of marketing/advertising is currently most effective for you?

Here I gave the same choices as I had given in the previous 2 questions. No surprise here that the answer “internal referrals” won by a large margin. Everyone knows referrals are the easiest to convert to care and cost almost nothing to bring in. Taking 2nd place was public lectures and 3rd was newspaper advertising (which confirms the assumption I made about ROI above.)

Question 4. Which of these products, if any, would most interest you?

The answers to choose from were  weight loss, associate hiring /training, massage therapy and write in your own. This question brought a pretty broad range of answers. Write-in answers varied with 16 different answers typed in. Weight loss won, (but just barely) and all the other answers pretty much tied for 2nd place.

5. What is the biggest challenge you see facing you as a chiropractor over the next year?

This was a completely open ended question, with the ability to type in what you wanted here. This is where I saw the biggest change in our profession. Huge actually! But you’ll have to wait until Friday because I’m going to do a whole blog post just on this topic. I know, it’s annoying to wait, but sometimes it’s well worth the wait, right?

See ya Friday.

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  1. Joseph Doughty, D.C. at

    Wherever docs are investing their marketing dollars, whether off line or online, is
    where they are focussed. Less focus into online marketing doesn’t mean those strategies don’t work, it may just mean the off line strategies are still more effective (or perceived to be more effective). Hey I just bought this new car and now I see it all over the place. Or in this case, hey I just ran these off line ads and see the patients they brought in.

    Some local markets may still have fairly strong newspapers who are adopting to the changing times, those that aren’t are going out of business. Running ads in the papers that are surviving means people have fewer choices of print media, not that print ads are more effective than online strategies. Newspapers are struggling to find new ways to monetize as fewer people look to them for news. Newspapers are finding an online voice. Check out this graphic on newspaper subscription trends:

    When TV was first invented and introduced they thought is was going to replace radio and newspapers. It didn’t. It affected those other media yes, but an equilibrium was reached. Same thing here. The internet is creating an equilibrium with other media. Newspapers will still exist on a local level in small to medium markets. Large markets may still have large. Hence, print ads for chiropractors though eroded in effectiveness will always work. All of this change further fractures the media, which is good for us because we can target our message better off line and online. But, many docs still don’t fully understand how to effectively leverage the internet for relationship building because they still think it is about shouting a one way sales pitch to get people in the office. The web is about engaging people in conversation.

    One exception, TV. I’ve been following and just did a post about Google TV. Google is partnered with Sony and some other TV manufacturers and their service is coming out this fall. Google TV is primed to revolutionize the way we watch and interact with TV and the internet. Why? Because Google’s free service will be built into the TV’s or available with a box for your current TV. With this, TV advertising is becoming more targeted every year. Although it won’t replace direct copy in newsprint it will be an excellent avenue for chiropractors to reach a targeted audience.

  2. drbeck at

    Dr. Doughty, I would agree many newspapers have a seen a decline in subscriptions. But with that decline there has also been a decrease in ad pricing. So for the most part, ROI for chiropractic ads has stayed the same or gotten better in the past 3 years.

  3. […] the last post (Chiropractic Marketing Is A Changing) I began revealing the answers to a recent blog survey I conducted. I left the answer to the final […]

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