I'm kicking off the New Year by adding another category for blog posts called Chiropractic Marketing. Many of the chiropractors I meet turn their nose up at marketing, confusing it with advertising. And while advertising is a subset of marketing, marketing is so much more. In fact, I think it's probably best if you consider marketing without using advertising.
What is marketing? It's everything from your practice location and front desk telephone skills, to your fee structure and tableside manner. It’s virtually anything that affects patient perceptions, ability and willingness to refer and patient loyalty. This is the business part of chiropractic that many chiropractors disdain in favor of new adjusting techniques or enhanced healing skills. Yet, great results rarely grow practices. It's practically a cliche that those whom you save from surgery or who witness miracle results rarely become the referral source you’d expect.
Here are the seven most common chiropractic marketing mistakes that chiropractors make:
Starting and stopping – Marketing isn’t something you do when your new patient stats go down! That’s like the starting and stopping chiropractic care based on symptomatology that you berate patients for! Instead, marketing is a constant ongoing process. Market when you don’t need to and you avoid the whiplash-producing roller coaster ride that most chiropractors experience.
Not having a website – These days, not having a website would be like trying to practice without a telephone. It used to be kind of cute, even endearing, for chiropractors to brag about their aversion to computers. Today it’s costing you new patients and hamstringing your current patients when attempting to refer others. Resistance is futile.
Not collecting patient emails – If you don’t use email, you’re likely to overlook this important detail. True, not all of your patients have email, but the ability to communicate to your patient base instantly, at virtually no cost, is revolutionary. Yet, abuse this access by spamming patients and you can create ill will that works against you.
Waiting for patients to find you – Somewhere, someone is misleading new graduates into thinking that all they have to do is choose a city with a low density of chiropractors and situate their office on a street with lots of drive-by traffic. And then wait. How does it feel to be a spider?
Not having a marketing calendar – Even if it’s just a couple of events a year plus a patient appreciation day, you need a calendar for proper planning. Effective internal marketing events require attention to detail and a “play book” so you don’t reinvent the wheel each year.
Waiting for patients to take brochures – Your brochure rack isn’t for current patients. It’s for the people your patients know, but aren’t coming in. Having brochures, but constrained from handing them out, suggests that you think encouraging others to begin care instead of taking drugs is somehow self-serving. Get over yourself!
Not having an “elevator speech” – Most chiropractors (and their support team) are woefully unable to explain chiropractic in an understandable, compelling way in one minute or less. Yet, they somehow think that by osmosis patients will be able to language their chiropractic experience persuasively with friends and family.
Make 2008 the year you no longer hide your light under a bushel. If you have the capacity to help more people, but are unwilling to tell the world about your unique services, stop whining. The problem isn’t gas prices, HMOs or the DC down the street “giving care away.” Instead, you’ve somehow made this whole thing about you, and in the process, bought into the notion that “good” chiropractors don’t have to market. It’s a lie. And it keeps chiropractic in the shadows and your practice manageably small.