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How long does it take to dramatically change your practice?
A lot faster than you think…
In fact, I find that most successful doctors I work with have a point in their practice where things really took off for them.
And from that day on, everything changes.
I know it was like this for me. Early on in my practice, I struggled for years trying to bring in enough new patients to grow and make a profit.
I tried all the normal stuff. Seminars, marketing gurus, chiropractic management groups, yellow pages, Val-paks, money mailers, ad displays, health fair and convention center booths, newspaper ads, spinal screenings – I even went knocking on doors after being in practice for almost two years.
After throwing countless hours and dollars at the “new patient problem”, I got a few new ones trickling in. But many of them were not very interested in care, and their conversion rate was terrible.
The problem is that almost none of these approaches worked. Most of the marketing techniques were overpriced, outdated or too sleazy.
The problem is chiropractic marketing can be a “brutal – and very time consuming – challenge” to building and sustaining a growing practice.
For my first two years in practice, my frustration with getting quality new patients was agonizing, often making me depressed and bringing me close to tears on more than one occasion.
It’s not our fault really.
None of us learned about marketing in Chiropractic College. After spending four years and over $100,000 on my chiropractic education, I didn’t have one class on how to use effective advertising to grow my practice.
All of this led up to a fight for survival for me. Two years into practice, I was only averaging 3 new patients a month and collecting about $3000 – with an overhead of $15,000!
Describing how bad things were would not even do it justice. I was doing 2-4 spinal screenings per week and holding talks for audiences of one – both with awful results.
I got fed up with marketing, “pushing” patients to refer, hard-sell tactics – honestly I was ready to quit the profession entirely.
It wasn’t that I hated chiropractic. It was that no one could show me an effective way to market and grow my practice. I had spent thousands on marketing systems and coaches, but to what point?
My pregnant wife was struggling up three flights of stairs each day in our new “apartment home” – sometimes having to lug over 50lbs of groceries with two toddlers in tow.
This lack of effective marketing tools forced me to look outside the profession for answers. My practice depended on it. I had no time to “hope” something worked. I needed a solution fast!
At the “eleventh hour” of my practice (and just barely in time to save it) I discovered effective marketing strategies and put them into place for my practice. And I began to see results almost immediately.
Finally, real marketing that works for chiropractic. (Unlike all that other crap out there being pushed on us from advertising sales people and over-hyped chiropractic marketing gurus.)
Within 6 months from this point, my practice volume and income had increased by a multiple of 10! I was making $30,000 and could finally afford to take one day off a week to spend with my family. Later my practice continued to increase as I tweaked my marketing and conversion procedures.
Now $30k may or may not sound like a lot to you per month, depending on where you’re at now. But that’s not the point. The point is the change from $3,000 to $30,000 in such a short time span.
What this meant for me was that my kids could have a less stressful father, who spent more quality time with them. My wife could worry less about buying groceries or clothes. And we could go on that family vacation we always talked about.
What would your life be like if your income increased by a multiple of 10? What would change if it just doubled? And what would that really mean to you?
If you’re not using effective marketing, don’t wait. It can make a huge difference to more than just your practice.
You already know that the chiropractic industry is very competitive and that chiropractic advertising funds have to be utilized in an effective way. This means receiving value on the dollar for every ad you run. A very effective advertising form for chiropractors is Short Message Service (SMS) or text marketing.
SMS Advertisement Are Made for Local Businesses
SMS advertisements have shown to be powerful tools for small to medium-sized local chiropractic businesses. There will include numerous reasons for this.
- The ads have an instant impact.
- They can be specifically targeted.
- High conversion rates and high click through rates.
Local businesses like chiropractic practices can really benefit from knowing that SMS marketing pulls instant results. Providing discounts, announcing new chiropractic services or reminding customers of a free talk in your short chiropractic ads, you will develop a connection with potential and existing patients on which they might act.
Additionally, you can target a text. Maybe you are providing a free talk about lower back pain and one of your Short Message Service marketing lists is concentrating on those who’ve acknowledged this as a complaint. Reminding people of this presentation might influence them to attend and decide to become a patient.
Lastly, the click rate of SMS advertisements makes them a very appealing method of marketing. Around 90 percent of SMS ads are opened and the conversion rate will range from 10 – 30%.
Low Risk and Low Cost
All in all, SMS marketing expenses are low. Deciding upon a service which provides different plans based upon usage includes one method of making certain you aren’t wasting money. You do not want to pay for services you will not be utilizing.
An additional method of making certain you effectively utilize your dollars includes using a service which doesn’t require you to sign a long-term agreement. Try out a service provider for a couple of months to gain a sense of how SMS marketing operates and to witness how good they are.
Prior to signing on, it is a great idea to already have a list of individuals and their phone numbers who’ve shown an interest in receiving your SMS announcements. Even though you will want to continuously expand and update the list, if you already have a list of interested users, you will have the ability to hit the ground running.
Text message marketing is efficient
The ads are brief and to the point, meaning they may easily be targeted. Plus, the truth that they’re brief means that individuals understand as they open them they’ll be spending only a couple of seconds on an ad which they may act upon, file away or merely discard.
It’s a good way for chiropractors to quickly connect with prospective patients on the go, who don’t have time to waste and who might not want to be bothered with visiting a website. Utilize this chiropractic marketing tool in order to connect with potential clients, generate return visits, and offer the ones on your list important discounts and helpful information.
There is no shortage of news. We have 24/7 access to all kinds of information. From the moment we wake up until the time we go to bed, our lives are flooded with messages, opinions, ads and videos. Some of it we choose to ignore and some of it we consciously seek out to find answers to our questions and quench our endless curiosity. Some information is absorbed without us even being consciously aware of it. When it comes to marketing a chiropractic business we need to be aware of the fact that everyone follows certain ‘rules’ when deciding what information to read and digest. Anyone interested in effective chiropractic marketing needs to be aware of this and be able to take it into account when framing effective chiropractic ads.
[Before you stop reading this because YOU no longer read a newspaper, believe it or not, there are pockets within the USA that still only read newspapers and chiropractors that still use the newspaper to advertise.]
Take newspaper ads as an example….of course we live in a digital age, but anyone who ignores the continuing power of the print media is missing out on a very important source of new business.
We are taught to read when we are children. Equally, we’re taught (or rather conditioned) to read newspapers and magazines in a certain way over time. After all, nobody has the time or the inclination to read a newspaper cover to cover! Without us even being aware of it, we expect a newspaper article to follow a certain pattern – and that’s equally the case for promotional material as it is for news.
Let’s just say you’ve paid for half a page in your local newspaper. You might be tempted to use that space to shout from the rooftops about just how great your chiropractic business is and what you’re going to be able to do for patients.
There are two main problems with this approach. The first is that it’s going to turn a lot of people off. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a very important place in chiropractic marketing when it comes to testimonials and giving the impression that you’ll be able to provide a great service. The issue though, is that a boastful approach is going to remind a lot of your readers of the doctors they’ve already seen! I’m thinking of those patients with chronic conditions who’ve perhaps tried all sorts of treatments in the past and who’ve been told in extremely confident terms that various techniques (often very invasive) are likely to be successful.
The other main problem is that such an approach is totally at odds with what we have come to expect from a newspaper article – even a promotional one. First off, there needs to be a clear heading, always with a picture – to give a clear indication of what the article’s all about. There also needs to be an initial brief passage giving the essence of what you’re trying to say. The key is to keep your reader interested; to let them know that it’s in their best interests to keep reading. You’ve got to empathize with your readers and to make it clear that you understand what their condition means for them on a day to day basis. Only then will you be able to hold their concentration long enough to convince them that they should come to you for an answer to their problems.
You have the tools – whether you realize it or not, to know whether to keep reading a newspaper article. Your chiropractic ad readers do to. It’s vital to speak with empathy and authority – otherwise readers are simply going to turn the page.
- In my last post we covered the first 4 of seven internal marketing strategies you can put into your practice. In today’s post I cover the next 3, plus an extra bonus strategy. While all 7 of these chiropractic marketing strategies should eventually be implemented for maximum results, you can use any one of them and still have great results.
- Use blogs and email to stay in touch with patients. With today’s internet technology, you can stay in touch with your patient base very easily. E-newsletters and event promotions can be sent within minutes if you have a good email system. Blogs are also a great way to stay in contact and educate your patients about why they should stay under care. While print newsletters go out once a month, blog articles and emails can be sent 3-6 times per month. You can tie blogs to an email service and update all of your patient list whenever you post a new article on your blog. Chiropractic internet marketing is only getting easier and less expensive, so get started with this one as soon as you can.
- Make Recalls. Every 6-8 weeks, go through your patient database and make a list of those you haven’t seen in awhile. Give your front desk person an easy recall script to follow. When she’s calling someone who’s been inactive for some time, have her say that “Dr. _____ want me to give you a call and see how you were doing?” If they say they aren’t doing well, then your staff schedules them for an appointment. Many times they will say “You know, I was just about to call you and schedule an appointment.” If they have slipped off of their current care plan, your staff just needs to get them scheduled without any questions asked. Expect about a 5-10% schedule rate from these calls. I always got better results when I gave my front desk $1 Starbucks credit for each person that shows.
- Have a VIP list. 80% of your referrals come from 20% of your patients. What are you doing for them to make them feel special and give them more opportunities to refer? Go through your patient list and pick those patients that have referred the most patients into your office. Make sure you are sending them a gift each month “for being a great patient.” Let them know you are thankful for their referrals and give them 1-2 gift certificates to refer friends and family. I always sent small gifts with a letter each month, and a big basket of goodies in the $80-$100 range for Christmas. Don’t be cheap and think it’s not worth it to send out gifts (or that you can’t afford it). When you do the list, you’ll see how valuable those 20% really are.
- Market other events, products and services. (I know, I said 7 but I couldn’t resist giving this 8th one.) Do you sell supplements, pillows, orthotics, etc in your practice? You should be sending letters out for special events regarding these products. For example, we did a weight loss seminar to promote our supplements once. A letter went out to all the female patients in my practice. About 10% called in to reserve a seat (seating was limited to 20). I had two speakers come in (one lady had lost 140 lbs) and talk about the products. Of the 20, 15 showed and 4 ended up spending around $800 each on supplements over the next 2 months.
Do you have internal marketing systems in your practice? There are two reasons to do internal marketing: to get more new patients and to keep the ones you have. I’m not a fan of the “force” your patients to refer kind of marketing. You know, the consultants want you to say “every member of your family must be checked in my office if you’re going to be a patient.” Unless you think your practice should be run like the military, you should implement these 7 internal marketing strategies I list below.
1. Mail a stick letter campaign. Every patient that starts care in your office should get a letter and a small token gift from you, like a $5 gift card for local doughnut or coffee shop. It’s called a “stick” letter because it helps them stick around longer. But there is another purpose to this letter – getting referrals. There’s no better time for them to refer than when they first make the decision to get care in your office. I did this for years and got tons of referrals (and never verbally asked for one!)
2. Use health certificates. You should keep some nicely printed health passes or health certificates near your adjusting area and at the front desk. Every time a patient mentions they have a friend who has _______ or asks “does chiropractic help ____?”, you or your front desk person who give them one of these referral passes. I would recommend a type of discounted exam to be printed on these with a deadline.
3. Mail a newsletter. This is the most important internal marketing you can do. It’s easy, it’s inexpensive and it works. Not only do you stay in contact with your patient base on a regular basis, but it also can be used as an opportunity for your patients to refer their friends and family. Simply have a section of the newsletter that makes an offer to for an exam (+x-rays) to family and friends.
4. Have a patient appreciation day. Pick 1 day or 1 week a year to appreciate your patients. Make the event about your current patients, but give an opportunity for friends and family to get a checkup or exam as well. These PAD’s take some work to set up, but if you get 5, 10 or 20 new patients it’s worth it. And don’t feel bad if you don’t get 87 new patients (like the guru’s claim you should). It really is about appreciating your patients you already have. If they really feel appreciated, they will refer over the coming months. It’s the law of reciprocity.
In my next post we’ll cover the next 3 internal marketing strategies. If you’re not already actively using some or all of above strategies, I challenge you to pick 3 above and start implementing them into your practice ASAP. However, if you are already using them, how can you make it better?
Leave a comment and tell us your favorite internal marketing systems.
ps…the doughnut photo has absolutely nothing to do with referral marketing other than stirring up your desire to eat a doughnut with sprinkles then share your experience with your friends on facebook, instagram or twitter.
As a chiropractor it will be necessary for you to regularly advertise your private practice to other professionals within your community. This is commonly referred to as “Referral Networking”. You should not limit the types of professionals you advertise your services to. The formation of relationships that ultimately lead to a well defined network of professionals that are willing to refer you patients on a regular basis will make it easier for you to build a successful practice with a high patient volume in the shortest period of time possible.
I would suggest that chiropractors market their services to dentist, neurologist, an MD, massage therapist, orthopedist, accountant, banker, stock broker, real estate agent, insurance agent, lawyer and possibly some other local professionals. A group such as this will help practitioners to create a well diversified marketing/referral network.
The lunch setting is a wonderful atmosphere to form a relationship with other people. This is a necessary step that must be taken in order for you, a chiropractor, to be able to share important business related information with other professionals. I recommend you bring some business cards to the lunch date along with pertinent office related literature. Be prepared to explain to a lunch guest the value of their services and why it is important for the two professionals to regularly refer prospects to one another. In order for this type of a relationship to work it will be important to establish the understanding that there will be mutual benefit achieved for both parties involved. A business referral relationship can only work over a sustained period of time if both professionals are willing to refer customers/patients on a regular basis. Also, you should pick up the check for the lunch bill.
Introduce Yourself with a Letter
A letter of introduction opens a door of opportunity for both the sender and the recipient. Create a template and use this to send your letter of introduction to the various professionals you wish to network with.
When you send your letter you should make sure that you mark on a calendar the date the document was mailed. Wait a few days and then follow up your efforts with a phone call to the professional’s place of business. It is important to speak politely and always maintain a very professional demeanor when discussing a possible lunch date. Make sure you are able to clearly describe how your professional services can benefit that professional’s patients, clients or customers.
Power Networking Through Lunch
When attending your lunch meeting dress professionally for the occasion. You want to look the part of a professional and you want to convey to others that you are knowledgeable, experienced and proficient at what you do. Perception is everything and how you dress will help others to perceive you in a certain way.
It is extremely important to become a good listener when you are interacting with other professionals. People in almost every situation you can imagine love to talk about themselves and you must try to resist the strong urge to constantly talk about yourself. If you do your homework and are well prepared to present your business services you will no doubt make a great impression each time you schedule a business lunch. This will allow you to regularly establish a number of long term relationships with many professionals in your community.
Once you have established a healthy referral network comprised of local professionals you will be well on your way to building a very successful chiropractic practice that constantly receives an influx of new patients that are being referred from the local professionals within your community.
Referral Networking Groups
Another successful way to establish long lasting professional relationships with other business professionals is to join a referral networking group. There are several national organizations that have chapters in different cities. These local groups will typically meet for luncheons once each month. Information on these types of groups can be found online.
The first time through, see which ones you are already doing in your office. Then start implementing one or two new ones at a time until you have them all in place.
A conversion simply means that a new patient has agreed to your plan of care, whatever that plan is for your office. (If you don’t put together any type of care plan for your office, go and do that right now!)
Ok, so let’s get started…
1. Use Marketing That Brings In Quality New Patients
For this one, we’re going back to the source — where you get the new patient. If you’re giving away free exams to anyone you meet at the mall, you’re going to have a pretty crappy conversion rate. Examples of quality marketing involves condition specific chiropractic ads, internet marketing, referrals, doctor referrals, etc. These people are often times very pre-qualified and will be eager to begin care so they can feel better.
2. Have a Nice Reception Area
The first thing a patient sees when they walk in is the waiting room/reception area. How clean and nice does yours look? Cheap poster frames, toys laying everywhere, stains on the carpet, unpleasant music, and bad smells can all contribute to the new patient second guessing their decision to come in for an appointment. Make it nice. Spend a little money to ‘spruce it up’ a bit.
3. Great Front Desk CA
The new patient should be greeted right away, made to feel at home and be told what to do next. They are worried about what’s going on and what they might have to pay. Your front desk CA should make them feel very comfortable and reassure them that they’re in the right place. This is HUGE! Whatever you do, do not allow your staff to ignore a new patient who walks in.
4. Don’t Overwhelm with Paperwork
Have you gone through your paperwork lately and condensed it to what is absolutely necessary. You only need paperwork that you are going to use or that is required to protect you and your office legally. Don’t pile up pages and pages of questions that you’re not even going to look at or use during the patient’s care.
5. Do A Good Consultation
Make sure your consultation comes off caring and considerate. Listen, really listen, to the patient’s concerns and ask them questions that guide them along. This should take an average of 7-10 minutes. Keep the consultation focused on the patient and not the weather, their friends, or other time wasters. Also, don’t make a bad impression by telling the patient the “rules” of how your office works, that they’ll have to come back for life, or anything overwhelming like that.
6. Perform An Exam With A Purpose
Everything in your exam should be geared toward giving you good information, teaching the patient, or protecting yourself from legal matters. In 99.9% of cases, there is no need to do the 3 hour exam we learned in school. You should also express to the patient the concern you have with problems you’re finding.
7. Measure A Finding (X-ray, etc)
You need to have some objective findings to cover with the patient and base your care on. (I recommend taking an x-ray or set of films for multiple reasons.) If you don’t have an x-ray make sure you are doing some objective test that the patient can see. This is going to be very important in your report of findings.
8. End Day 1 Correctly
I recommend not doing care the first day, except under certain circumstances. Tell the patient what to expect on their next visit and to see your front desk CA on the way out. There are a lot of opinions on this, pretty strongly on the side of not adjusting on Day 1, but I find they aren’t based on any hard evidence. The argument is that patients won’t come back if they get “fixed” on day one. (You could also argue a patient won’t come back because they didn’t get adjusted on day one.) I measured it in my practice for years, doing care on some patients on Day 1 and not for others on a case by case basis. My findings? It didn’t matter that much. Many patients who got adjusted on day 1 stayed with me for years and paid thousands in care. It’s really depends on the patient’s mindset when they walk in more than anything. Test it yourself and measure it. Too many people say adjusting on day 1 doesn’t work, but I think they base this on emotion and not actual numbers.
9. Collect Information and Schedule
Your front desk CA should now collect the payment for today’s visit, ask for insurance information (if you take insurance) and schedule for the next visit. These 3 things should be done a specific way. You could do everything right up until this point, but if the patient leaves with a bad taste in their mouth from the checkout, they may not come back.
10. Do A Proper Greeting On The Next Visit
Have your staff welcome the patient back as if they are someone who’s been coming in for a long time. Make the patient feel like part of the practice.
11. Give A Short, No-Fluff Report
Again, this one is somewhat controversial in chiropractic. Some chiropractic coaches will tell you to give a long winded speech here to hard sell the patient on care. It’s not necessary if you did what you should have on Day 1. A report should not take longer than 10 minutes. Tell them what you found. Tell them if you can fix it and a BRIEF summary of how you’ll do that. Layout their care plan and explain why it takes time. Go over the cost (this is best if your staff does the financial part). If insurance is involved, have that prepared and covered by your staff at this time.
12. Get Paid For What You Do
Have a simple, easy to follow payment plan for your patients. At least 2 options of payment, 3 at most. Remember, very simple. I have seen so many complex systems that almost force the patient to “go home and think about it.” For me, this means prepay with bookkeeping discount, CareCredit, or weekly payments.
13. Adjust the Patient
This is where you get to adjust and perform your other services with the patient. Whatever you do with them, remember they may be a little timid and unsure of what’s going on. Consider the patient’s level of comfort with what’s going on and be considerate. I’ve seen too many chiropractors scare people off with performing a rough first adjustment. The doctor never knows that was the reason the patient didn’t come back, but I can assure you it has happened in many an office.
14. Schedule Future Visits
It’s best if you can get your patient’s care plan scheduled out for the term it runs. Sometimes this is called a MAP, after the Parker Seminars famous “Multi-Appointment Plan”. It’s best to do this on paper first, hand a copy to the patient. Your staff can put it in the computer system later.
YouTube videos are fun to watch and listen to no matter what kind of content is being presented. The variety of videos range from amusing antics of family pets to tutorial guides; viewers of all ages and interests use the site to get entertainment and information.
You Tube has a viewership of around 1,300,000,000 per month due to the fact that it does not require any payment to post or view the videos. With this in mind, this platform and other video sharing sites present an interesting opportunity to market your chiropractic business.
Videos do not require any technical training; you just need to shoot a video with an ordinary camera or smart phone if you have know-how about such technology.
Have you considered chiropractic marketing with a video on the home page of your website? Adding videos will help you attract and increase the number of visitors to your webpage, as well as increase the rate of click through. Due to its ownership of YouTube, Google will automatically place your video on its search engine. This of course helps to improve the ranking of your website on the search engine.
You can make and upload a video onto your website directly; however, if you use a YouTube option you will be set up with certain benefits:
- Establishing a link on your website with an actual video being placed on YouTube will save you from having extra bandwidth for streaming.
- You can have your own channel which can be subscribed by your viewers and enable you to have access to their email addresses so that you can mail them in the future.
It isn’t necessary that your videos contain entertainment for all types of viewers, your target audience isn’t in pre-school, but their parents are. Careful though, if your too serious or all business you might not receive the results you anticipated, though it should be original and tell a story. Successful videos are typically classified into three basic categories:
- Educational videos
- Tutorial videos
- Entertainment videos
There are certain ways in which you can use your videos to promote your chiropractic practice:
- You can make a video consisting of a tour of your clinic to let your potential clients know what is in there of their interest.
- By including a FAQ session you can increase your credibility and confidence of your patients.
- Adding tutorial exercises relating to common problems, such as back pain or headache, could be a good option to attract viewers.
- Give tips on how to choose the right pillow and/or mattress for relaxing.
- Provide information about services you offer in your chiropractic office.
Choosing an appropriate keyword for the chiropractic video is as important as it is for a chiropractic website. Keywords or key phrases allow search engines to locate you as easily as possible, driving traffic to your website and video, for this reason you shouldn’t be careless about selecting a keyword. Take your time to research or you can hire a social media expert for this purpose. You can find numerous tools relating to your keyword research, such as “Wordtracker” and “Keyword Discovery;” offering a free trial, which will help you to find top searched keywords with the least competition.
In order to have the best results for your effort, remember that your chiropractic video directs the viewer towards your website; a place where you can interact with them, maximize your credibility by sharing detailed information about the services you are offering and any special features that could attract new patients as well.
The human mind is a powerful thing so never underestimate it. Being a chiropractor, you should be more aware of this than anyone. It has often been assumed that the medical field uses ‘placebos’ in lieu of actual medication. Certainly, medical experiments which gave patients false medication, told them it was real and found that these patients felt better show that the human mind is capable of anything. Successful chiropractic marketing uses psychology to increase a new patients and there are few better ways to do this than by the use of testimonials.
You are probably not aware of a psychological occurrence known as ‘social proof’. This essentially suggests that people rely on others when they are in a social situation where they don’t know how to act. They look to other people whom they believe are more adept for clues as to how to behave. As a consequence, they eventually behave in a manner that they believe the other person would have in the same situation. It’s a classic ‘What would he or she do?’ situation.
As you probably ARE aware, testimonials showcase a chiropractic practice’s ability by offering proof of their skills with evidence from people who have used a business’s services. Check out any profitable website and you’ll see several testimonials. Many sites have a dedicated page. As you can imagine, there are few better chiropractic marketing tools than evidence from a patient who is happy with their chiropractic care.
So how do you go about getting these testimonials? Forget about making them up! You will be caught and it will damage your reputation severely. All you need to do is call or email your patients and ask them if they were/are happy with their care. When you encounter patients who have seen an improvement since they first came in, ask for permission to add their comments to your site. You can even ask them face-to-face during your next session. It is also important to get a signed release which proves that you have the patient’s permission.
When brainstorming about your next chiropractic marketing strategy, remember that people are more likely to use your services if they have seen testimonials from other satisfied patients.