Low-Cost Marketing Solutions
SOURCE: ACA News
By Rebecca Jones
Boost your marketing efforts through volunteerism, community outreach and social media.
James Lehman, DC, MBA, adjusts spines, but rubbing shoulders is how he really grew his chiropractic practice in Albuquerque, N.M.
“One strategy that really worked for me involved volunteerism,” says Dr. Lehman, who later left his New Mexico practice to become associate professor of clinical sciences at the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic. “I volunteered to work with young politicians running for office. I’d make phone calls, hand out brochures. I developed friendships with a lot of decision-makers, some of whom got elected. Those young politicians, even if they lose, they’ll never forget you.” And being involved in political campaigns allowed Dr. Lehman to introduce himself to thousands of people he would never have met otherwise — each one a potential new client.
Politicking may not get everyone’s vote for preferred strategy for marketing a chiropractic practice, but for those with a taste for electioneering, the cost is nominal and the returns could be staggering.
Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Community outreach — whether through political campaigns, participating in local events such as festivals or runs, or joining civic organizations — is one tried-and-true marketing technique that goes hand in hand with simply being a good citizen.
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But there are other ways, as well — some old-fashioned, involving simple word of mouth; some cutting edge, capitalizing on emerging technology and a generation increasingly tethered to smartphones.
There’s no one surefire best technique guaranteed to boost business. What works for some simply fails to work for others, says Tom Minkalis, interim director of the Center for Business Development at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. Different practices, different communities, different personalities all factor in. Thus, DCs should be open to trying a variety of approaches to find the techniques that work best for them in their unique circumstances.
Here are some ideas:
Try Social Media
It goes without saying that a Web site is critical for any business. But increasingly, social networking through such media as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is also crucial for reaching certain demographic segments.
“I’m not even in the Yellow Pages anymore,” says Jordan Leasure, DC, owner of North Shore Pro-Active Health in the Chicago suburb of Libertyville, whose target market is 30- to 60-year-olds interested in wellness. “Print advertising is becoming archaic. But if your practice is primarily Medicare, then they may not be Facebook users. It depends on who you’re trying to reach.”
Dr. Leasure recruits patients to become fans of her clinic’s Facebook and Twitter pages. She even set up a computer in the office lobby, so they could do so when they check in. Once they’re Facebook fans, she can communicate with them instantly. “If I have a cancellation for a massage, I can post, ‘We have an opening for a massage at 2 p.m.,’ and 200 people can see it,” she says.
Dr. Leasure has also discovered a smartphone app called “Foursquare” that allows her to attract potential patients and wellness store customers by posting specials that Foursquare users who are nearby can see and might take advantage of.
Jay Greenstein, DC, CCSP, owner of Sport and Spine Rehab, which has seven offices in Maryland and Virginia, praises Demandforce, one of the newest online tools for reaching clients. The Demandforce software lets patients schedule appointments online and then sends them reminder e-mails or text messages. Afterward, it gives them the opportunity to review their experience, and their comments are posted online.
“So when people Google you, you’ll have all your patient reviews right there,” Dr. Greenstein says. “Assuming you do a good job, you’ll have literally hundreds of patients saying they had a good experience at Dr. Smith’s office.”
Demandforce is costlier than simple social networking software, but Dr. Greenstein says it saves money in other ways. “It’s a couple of hundred dollars a month, but you’ll save that much alone just in the time you save, not having to pay a staff person to make confirmation calls.”
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