Hello again and welcome! Let’s dive right into the second half of free marketing ideas (check out the first half here) to boost your acupuncture practice and bring in more patients. As a reminder, the importance of most of these marketing ideas is to connect with people in person whenever possible in order to build trust. So without further ado, here we go!
5) Ask other health care practitioners (DCs, MDs, LMTs, etc.) for referrals. Last post we talked about asking patients to send referrals, which is fantastic, but we can’t forget to ask other health care practitioners as well. They have access to huge volumes of patients who are willing to take their advice.
I know an acupuncturist who practices next door to a very popular chiropractor. He has a loyal patient base, and they trust his advice because he’s been in practice 20+ years. When he recommends that one of his patients try acupuncture, they do it. He has developed so much trust with his patients that they take his advice very seriously.
A few acupuncturists have let me know that the idea of approaching MDs makes them a bit nervous, so I’ll devote a whole post to marketing to doctors in the near future – including a sample letter to send, what to say when you get the chance to speak with them, etc.
Briefly, I used to send a letter to MDs, DCs, and LMTs in the area around my practice explaining my credentials, what acupuncture can treat (briefly mentioning research), and offering them a free treatment so they could experience acupuncture, my treatment style and my bedside manner for themselves before recommending me to their patients.
6) Join a few free community groups, like those on Meetup.com, or volunteer. Networking is really the whole point of all of these suggestions, right? Seize every opportunity to meet people and make a good impression on them, and deliberately put yourself in situations where you can interact with new people. The more you’re out in the public, the more chances you’ll get. Increase your opportunities by joining new groups, like book clubs, cooking classes, coaching little league, volunteering regularly, etc.
Of course, networking groups or marketing meetings where the whole purpose is to tell people about your business and pass around business cards are great too. I’m not ignoring them here, but they are often associated with Chambers of Commerce, which cost money. So we’ll talk about those in a different post.
7) Leave your business cards absolutely everywhere. This should probably be marketing tip numero uno for all small business owners, but you’d be amazed at the number of people who don’t carry their cards around all the time. So you must ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS have your business cards on hand. Keep a stack in your car, in your wallet, your purse, etc. There is never a reason to be without them! You know as soon as you leave your cards at home, someone will ask you for one.
Leave your business cards (and brochures, if you can get away with it):
a) On the table after eating out at restaurants.
b) With the person at the checkout line at every store you go to. (They won’t mind.)
c) On every bulletin board you come across in public places. (After asking permission, of course.)
8) Have an online presence. List your business on Google My Business (free), create a Facebook page (free) and get yourself a website (yes, there are free ones out there, like Weebly). There, now there are three items that you can do from the comfort of your own pajamas, and you don’t have to speak to a soul.
Having an online presence is important because it backs up your in-person presence. The internet is the most common way people search for information. A potential patient should be able to take your business card after meeting you at the grocery store, type your name into a search engine, and find you easily.
This gives your business credibility. If you’re not easily locatable (yes, I think I made that word up) on the internet, then it’s like you don’t exist in real life. I am serious.
An example: when I was in practice, as far as I was concerned, I was the only acupuncturist in my town, because no one else came up when you searched on the internet. Patients would say, “Oh, but I think there might be another acupuncturist around here somewhere…” kind of vaguely waving their hands around. “But… I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t work around here anymore. Or maybe it was a woman?”
We would then go our separate ways, both search on Google at home, and find nothing. In later conversations, the patient would assume that the acupuncturist must simply not be in practice “around here” anymore, because an online search turned up nothing at all.
You don’t have to have a fancy website or pay a lot of money for Facebook advertising; I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying that when your name is typed into Google or Bing, something needs to pop up that proves you exist in real life. Your internet presence backs up your real-life presence.
Internet marketing is it’s own ball of wax, so we’ll talk about this a lot more later on in detail. But for now, suffice it to say you must use at least those three free resources listed above (Google My Business, Facebook, and a free website like Weebly or Wix) on the internet. They’re free!
That’s all for this list of free marketing tips, but not to worry, there are many more ideas to come. Sign up for my newsletter, leave a comment, and let me know what you want to read about!