Since then I’ve realized I never told you about her previous article.
It’s really worth reading!
In this article, Kimberly gives some marketing ideas that are both innovative and simple.
They’ll make a huge difference for your practice, so I recommend you take a look.
Have a great day!
By Kimberly Thompson, LAc
Becoming a successful practitioner has less to do with what you learned in school, and more to do with your ability to find new patients and keep them!
Two skills every practitioner needs to master along the way are these:
1. Finding new patients.
2. Converting new patients into long-term wellness care patients.
There are a ton of ways to get new patients, all of which depend on your personality, the community you live in and specific clinic goals.
I’ve tried several approaches through the years including flyers, mailers, business networking groups, radio advertising, radio talk shows, networking groups, group presentations — and YES, even good old-fashioned local phone book advertising.
I’m going to share a couple of secrets I’ve recently discovered. One day a light bulb went on in my head. A new approach to advertising emerged, that I hadn’t used before, and it’s really working well.
Before I tell you what it is, let me give you a little background. I’m very social and great when it comes to personal networking. When I was a kid, they called me a chatter box, which eventually turned out to be an advantage. The first thing I did when I opened my clinic was join a networking group. I was new to the community and didn’t have any resources for building clientele. I figured this would be a great place to “talk to people” about what I do.
From among the many types of networking groups available, the group I chose was BNI (Business Networking International). I liked this one because it taught me how to focus on building relationships in the community rather than just finding “leads.” I am no longer a part of this same networking group, but I gained a valuable education as a member. I met amazing business owners who have become really important resources in my practice in the way of accounting, marketing, signs, business cards, credit card processing, etc.
The personal relationships I formed over a five-year period turned out to be invaluable.
A key player in my new idea came from a local PostNet owner. PostNet is a lot more than shipping and postage. They are actually a full-on printshop, focused on helping small business owners. In the past, I had used them for business cards, forms, mailings, signs, and name tags. Who knew they could help me find and keep patients? Here’s how it happened…
Step #1 “Finding Patients” — A “New” Idea
Recently, I was in my MD’s office. As I left, they gave me several prescriptions — for medications and also referrals to see other specialists. The light bulb went on in my head!
Why the heck had I not created a prescription pad for my clinic?
I can’t tell you how many people I have networked with over the years: chiropractors, medical doctors, physical therapists, OBGYN’s, midwives and massage therapists just to name a few. Of course we chatted, and I left business cards. But I had NEVER left a prescription pad. These folks are already accustomed to prescription pads when referring patients.
I was missing out on a golden opportunity.
The wheels in my head started turning. The possibilities of what I could create were unlimited. So, I called my friend from PostNet. (You see, we are friends now, because we spent five years getting to know each other really well through relationship networking at BNI.) I told her my idea and she had a pile of acupuncture prescription pads ready for me the very next day.
Here’s how it works:
1. Make pads that are specific to certain conditions.
I made a pad for:
- OBGYN and Midwives that include symptoms such as: Lower Back Pain, Morning Sickness, Varicose Veins, Breech Baby Presentation, Vulvar Varicosities, Preparation for Labor and Delivery, Hemorrhoids, Lactation Difficulties, Mastitis, Edema, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- For the MD’s, I included symptoms such as: Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Sciatic Pain, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Migraine Headaches, Tension Headaches, Neck and Shoulder Tension, and Stress.
I suggest you don’t make a HUGE list of everything you can treat. Make the prescription pad simple and specific to the conditions that are addressed in their office. This makes the pad more valuable. Your list will also help the practitioner realize you treat a lot more than the common “pain-related symptoms” most attributed to acupuncturists.
2. Choose syndromes that are difficult for the prescribing practitioner to treat.
Doctors are happy to refer patients with chronic pain. They know there is not much they can do for the patient besides offer a prescription. Many patients are asking for other options besides traditional pain medications.
Breech babies and not going into labor are perfect examples. Most OBGYN’s give the patient a waiting period. If the baby doesn’t turn within a certain amount of time, the alternative is a C-Section. If the baby doesn’t come by a certain date, then mom has to be induced. Moms who are under these circumstances are pushing their doctors for alternatives.
In the past, I’ve received phone calls from these desperate moms. Many of them find me on the internet. The better option would be for the doctor to have a prescription pad.
A referral from the doctor they trust goes a lot further than a search on the internet.
3. Each office gets a minimum of two pads.
One can go in the mail to the doctor. A nice short introduction letter is helpful. If you are already seeing patients from his/her office, you can add that information as well. It’s kind of hard to get a direct appointment or meeting time with the doc, but if your mail is clever and creative, your chances of the doctor receiving the package are pretty good.
Here’s the important part.
Two or more pads should be delivered to the staff at the front desk. Don’t just drop them off. Introduce yourself. Tell them who you are and what you do. Leave flowers, a loaf of bread or a treat of some kind. I promise you, your efforts will pay off. It’s the front office staff who answers all the phone calls. They are the ones who get the call from the patient asking: “Can you refer me to an acupuncturist?” or “I heard that acupuncture helps with sciatic pain. Do you know of anyone?”
Make sure you send a nice thank-you card when you receive referrals. Gratitude is a nice quality to have, plus your card is a nice reminder that you are taking good care of their patients.
4. Make it easy.
Your pad should have all of your contact information. Business name, email, phone number, and even a map. You can have your pad created two-sided if you need more space.
Typical pads are one-fourth of an 8.5 x 11-inch piece of paper. I like to have them made in color so they are easy to find.
Step #2 “Keeping these New Patients!
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