Do you have your marketing plan set up for 2009?
While you don’t need to have every day detailed and mapped out, having at least an outline to work with will make your chiropractic marketing strategies even more effective.
Here are 7 “must-have” plans for the next 12 months of a successful practice.
#1. Use Chiropractic Internet Marketing
It’s new, it’s hot, but even better it’s low cost and very effective (if done right). The internet is only going to get more popular for looking up health information. Not to mention its use as a ‘yellow pages’ for the younger generations. And my not talking about just having a chiropractic website either.
#2. Use Proven Newspaper Advertising
There’s been some talk about dropping newspaper rates in larger cities around the U.S. and many suggest you should advertise there. Others propose the internet will do away with newspapers and yellow pages altogether. I’ve got news for all these fortune tellers…newspapers are here to stay, at least for a while longer. (They predicted the internet would kill direct mail too, and direct mail has only gotten bigger.) Sure, big city newspapers are struggling (maybe as a result of their one-sided stories?) but mid to small town papers are booming. Baby boomers like to read about local arts and crafts, religion, and other community ‘goings-on’ not easily found online. Also, you have sports stories and other interesting sections. Open any major newspaper’s Sunday edition and see what falls out. Yep, people are still stuffing ads in there. Better get your proven chiropractic ads in the newspaper in 2009. (Big announcement on this subject on this blog Dec. 29)
#3. Get Better At Patient Communication
I’m not talking about what you say when the patient’s in the office, but what you send to them when they’re not. You need to be developing a rock-solid relationship with your current patients during this recession. This form of ‘internal marketing’ is an extremely important part of your practice, second only to new patient marketing (some gurus try to convince you this is the most important aspect, however they usually aren’t great at new patient marketing). Examples of must-have relationship builders are print newsletters, email marketing, and blogging.
The potential behind networking with other businesses is huge for chiropractors. Look for groups and organizations that make this one easy, so you don’t have to cold call and “sell” yourself to local businesses. For example, local BNI chapters meet weekly and are composed of 15-40 business professionals that are expected to work with and refer to each other. BNI is much more effective than any Chamber of Commerce meeting, at least in populated areas. Look for a chapters near you at www.bni.com
#5. Use Direct Mail
Direct mail does work. But I find most chiropractors do it wrong. The best way to do direct mail is by testing advertising pieces online and in newspapers first. Then once you have a winner, roll it out on postcards or in letter format. Shiny, pretty, and slick mailers don’t work — because they look like junk mail, they end up where all junk mail does…the trash.
#6. Referral Marketing
Referrals are a popular phrase at any chiropractic consultant convention. When I attended, I was always lead to believe that getting referrals from patients was child’s play, any chiropractor should excel at this. The only problem was the required pushy tactics and outright forceful “you gotta bring your family in” or else type of influence. These techniques didn’t sit well with me, because I would never like it if someone acted that way towards me. But there are ways to get referrals indirectly from your patients, many in fact, that you should be using in your practice. One is called using a “stick letter” where you follow up with new patients right after they start care and offer them a chance to refer others.
#7. Focus on niches
This is a great strategy because it sets you up as an expert in your town. I used to get quite a few spouse referrals simply because the wife would tell the husband about some cool new equipment I had in the office. He would come in as a patient and tell me “I came here because my other chiropractor never did this.” (His previous chiropractor should have followed my advice on #3 above!) We could waste time talking about why we should discuss symptoms and conditions with patients, but I won’t do that here. Suffice to say, becoming a “specialists” of sorts in your community is a smart thing to do, and one you should definitely focus it in 2009. And you shouldn’t just become a specialist on one condition either, but diversify your practice (and your marketing) on multiple ones. The days of “chiropractic helps everyone with everything” isn’t going to work anymore. It may be true, but prospective patients just see it as fluff. Also, even for the few that take your word, they see you as more of a “jack of all trades, master of none” type of chiropractor. Who makes more money in dentistry, medicine, and law, the specialists or generalists?
All 7 of these strategies are guaranteed winners for your chiropractic marketing plan. You must implement each one of them every month in 2009.