Acupuncture clinics must find ways to market their businesses that keep a constant stream of patients coming through the door. A plan that includes both traditional marketing methods as well as online strategies will help you reach the largest potential market for your services. First you need to learn the characteristics of your target market. Then, it’s time to set into motion the strategies that will turn prospects into happy, paying clients.
Ask satisfied clients for referrals, as this is one of the least costly and most effective ways of increasing traffic to your clinic. Thank people who give you referrals with discounts on treatments. Get leads and referrals by attending networking events where either prospective clients or non-competing businesses participate. Consider forming your own network of businesses that sell to the same target market. Plan to meet once or twice a month to share marketing insight and give referrals to each other.
The Internet offers several ways to reach prospects and keep marketing to them until they’re convinced they need to come in for a session. Set up a website that helps explain the services you offer and your expertise. Testimonials from satisfied clients help convince others that your clinic provides solutions to their problems, too. Review sites also give you more credibility, especially when happy clients post positive reviews that help convince prospects to call you. Creating a Facebook business page gives you a way to start building a following by posting messages and photos that help educate and engage prospects.
Build your mailing list by every possible method…both snail and email versions. People who have requested to be on your mailing will always be the most responsive contacts later on. When you do live events, public talks or classes, take a sign up sheet for your mailing list and be sure you pass it around or otherwise have it in a prominent location as people leave the event. Have an email and snail mail opt-in section on your patient information forms. Also, make sure to encourage friends and colleagues to sign up for your e-news within your Facebook and LinkedIn pages, follow you on Twitter, and sign up for your blogs.
Make sure any email newsletters you send out have an “opt-out” message at the bottom…every single time. Follow up on any requests to be removed promptly and accurately, or have your email marketing service do so. If you do postcard or letter mailings, use the US Postal Service “merge and purge” service so that you are not wasting money on duplicates or addresses that no longer exist.
Remember that purchasing lists (either postal or email) is dicey. Always make sure the source is reliable and the age of the addresses (snail or email). You also need to make sure the people on the list have at least a general interest in what you are offering. Lists that are sorted for relevant lifestyle statistics (age, income, education, and interest in alternative health for example) will always improve response rate. If you try a purchased list like this once, only mail a second time to the names of people who respond in one way or another to the initial mailing.
Copy and graphics
Consumers gravitate to copy that is down-to-earth, me-to-you-ish, and not excessive, lengthy, or difficult to understand. If you’re not sure if yours fits that description, have a couple non-medical friends read it and make suggestions.
Images are inexpensive to purchase at websites that sell art and photos (such as istockphoto.com). Remember that pictures can tell your story better than words and increase the positive sales impact of almost any advertisement, blog, offer, you name it. If you are going to bother to do a print or online ad/offer, don’t stint on the $15-30 it might cost to you get the right picture to go with it.
Use natural human curiosity to aid your promotion when you write copy. Headlines such as “Ten Tips for your health you’ll never hear from your doctor!” or “Why is this patient smiling?” or “Acupuncture could help you win your next competition. Find out how!” or “Seasonal Allergies don’t have to keep you on the sidelines this year! Click here to read more.”
Consider trying three or four different photo/copy/offer combinations for your website/email offers and track the results. When you find one that works, continue to use it until it no longer gets results. Then start again with a new series of ads and repeat this process.
Remember, whether it’s on paper, in an email, or on a website, good communication is good communication. Keep honing your website-based or email-blast (or brochure, print ad, postcard) offers and copy until you get the results you want.