As I was editing the previous entry about clutter, it occurred to me that most chiropractors probably don’t have a formal new patient lead generating system. Instead, most take a passive approach—like a spider, who spins its web and waits. This may produce the occasional meal for the spider, but it’s hardly a strategy for a thriving business. You could probably benefit from a formal lead generation system.
Many chiropractors fail to realize they are first a small business, with the need to attract and keep customers like any other small business. Getting on the “list” was supposed to solve this problem. In exchange for a lower fee, you were supposed to get a steady stream of appreciative new patients. Since that hasn’t worked out liked you had hoped, you need a lead generation system.
A contingent within chiropractic finds lead generating activities, well, beneath them. “I’m a doctor. I shouldn’t have to chase patients down the mall with a plastic spine.” Agreed. But let’s not confuse a particular tactic with the importance of having a multifaceted plan in place to constantly attract new patients. (Spinal screenings can be blessing or an unprofessional blight—just depends how they’re done.) Fortunately, plenty of other lead generating techniques allow you to maintain your dignity.
Lead generation is a collection of strategies designed to expose your business to potential customers. Think of ants, which roam the proximity of their hill, each one exploring and evaluating. Sometimes these efforts are rewarded with instant gratification. Others require long-term cultivation. Some require the investment of time, money or emotion. Others can be done for little or no cost.
If I worked in a chiropractic practice, tasked with the responsibility of attracting qualified prospects, here are some of the techniques I’d use:
Press releases to the media. Develop a list of relevant media outlets in your area and the contacts at each one. Get in the habit of submitting a press release each month that detail the results of a recent research project with positive chiropractic implications. You may or may not get them published, but soon you will be seen as the expert—the go to person for natural health care information.
Cultivate referrals from medical doctors. Simply ask patients if you can send a report about your findings and care recommendations to their primary physician. In time, as medical doctors in your community see that you’re rationale, consistent and respectful, referrals will start coming your way.
Speaking gigs for service clubs. Still the mainstay of growing practices. Develop a series of talk titles. Design your talk so that chiropractic is not the focus, but an obvious solution to the issues you raise. Consider using our Astonishing Dr. You lecture. Don’t worry about “the close.” Just tell the truth in a relevant and meaningful way.
Public seminars. Rent a meeting room at the Marriott hotel for an evening once a month. Team up with a different vitalistic practitioner. Charge admission. Promote it as a way to get information, ask questions and make an informed choice about different types of natural health care disciplines.
Company talks on wellness or ergonomics. Contact the Human Resource departments at some of the bigger employers in your area. Volunteer to do an ergonomic walk through. Instruct on proper lifting. Avoiding carpal tunnel problems. Promote your ability to help them reduce down time and injuries to their workers.
Website. Carve out a piece of cyberspace where you can reveal your chiropractic philosophy, procedures and specialties. Offer an electronic newsletter to cultivate relationships. Point to your website in virtually all your marketing overtures. (Naturally, I recommend Perfect Patients, our sister company’s website service.)
Newspaper column. Arrange to submit a 200-word article once a week about current health topics as seen through the lens of someone with a wellness or natural healing sensibility.
Direct mail. Mail information and an invitation to begin care to residents in a 3- to 5-mile radius of your practice. Feature the health complaints you enjoy seeing. Include an offer with a deadline to act.
These are not new ideas. The key is consistency. Implementing one or more approaches when your new patient numbers are down, and then abandoning them when you get busy, produces a gut-wrenching roller coaster ride. This is the curse of many small businesses as they try to wear the hats of the technician, manager and entrepreneur.
Each approach is proactive. Each one has a cost—either the emotional risk of public speaking or the financial cost of printing and postage. It’s not surprising that the greater the risk, the higher the potential return on your investment. Crossing your fingers, hoping that this important aspect of running your business will take care of itself, is naïve and selfish.
That’s right. By refusing to establish a presence and promote your availability, you sentence potential patients to dangerous, ineffective drugs or risky, irreversible surgery. By keeping chiropractic a secret, you doom many by reducing their choices.