As an alternative medicine provider, you have unique business-growth challenges. Prospective patients cannot find you via insurance plans and network referrals the way they find allopathic providers. That means you need to be part healer, and part savvy marketing professional.
However, your time is precious, and you want to dedicate most
of it to assisting your patients to thrive. So, your marketing strategies must draw your prospective patients to you.
Here are three key ways new patents find you, and how to effectively reel them to your office doorstep.
1. Inspire Referrals
To use marketing vernacular, you need to “sell” your health solutions to prospective patients. And the most passionate advocates of your healing methods are your current patients. They have experienced firsthand that you help to cure root causes of illness.
The late Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker and sales guru, famously noted that there are five obstacles to selling a product or service. “Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.”
Let’s begin with trust. Your current patients already know, like, and trust you. When they laud your alternative healing approach to their families and friends, and those people hear about your diagnostic methods and see the results, they are willing to start trusting you too. That kicks aside the obstacle of trust.
No need, no desire. When people suffer from plaguing health issues, need and desire become fairly synonymous. These people already need and desire the services and results you provide. They just may not know that alternative options are available, until your current patients tell them about their own positive results. Then the obstacles to need and desire are eliminated.
No hurry. Similar to the previous point, by the time many prospective patients hear about holistic options via your current patients, they want to be healed, now. Though it may take a while for new patients to alter damaging diets and lifestyles, the urge to begin is in place. They are in a hurry to start feeling better. So, the obstacle to hurry is removed.
No money. Due to the current economy, and given that many naturopaths are limited in the number of insurance companies they work with, this can be an issue. Other nature-based healers prefer that their offices run solely on pay-out-of-pocket. They choose this option so that patients are fully invested in their own recoveries. The money obstacle to “selling” prospective patients on your treatments diminishes the more your current patients personify successful results and continue to share their physical, and often mental, progress.
All of the above shows just how important your current patients are to helping you get the word out to their loved ones.
How do you inspire patients to refer their families and friends to you? That is exactly the question to ask yourself. No two practices have the same business structure, specialties, or patient base, so you need to determine which referral methods align with your values, messaging, and similar considerations. The takeaway here is that you should brainstorm a minimum of five to ten potential means of encouraging referrals, and then put at least two to three into practice. Make them part of daily office policy.
To encourage referrals, let your current patients know you appreciate referrals since you are dedicated to healing. Here are a few ideas to get you brainstorming.
- Display visually engaging plaques where your current patients will see them, plaques (or other artwork) that communicate your practice’s branding, message, and goal for your patients. For example, “We love helping our patients to heal so they can live the lives they’ve always wanted. If you have a friend or family member who would benefit from our holistic care, please pick up an extra business card and share it with them.”
- Have your referral message printed on patient paperwork. “Help restore your friends and family to vibrant health with a referral to [your name and the name of your practice].”
- Do your current patients know all of the conditions you treat? Probably not. Do you specialize? Let your patients know what else you do and how you specialize. With that information, they may recall additional people to send your way. How do you let your patients know what else you do? In addition to displaying posters of human physiology in patient rooms, have a graphic designer create posters that depict some of the symptoms, causes, and/or treatments of ailments that you treat. For example, show how conventional administration of antibiotics can affect a biome’s balance of bacteria and yeasts and result in a candida overgrowth. Or show how an H. pylori infection in the stomach can result in digestive issues along the rest of the digestive tract. Clearly list common symptoms of each disorder. Print your name, office name, address, telephone number, website URL, and QR code (square barcode) as part of each poster.
- If a patient mentions a friend or family member’s symptoms, encourage a referral. Ask if they’d like to take an extra business card, and provide it at the patient’s request.
Patient referrals is a highly effective marketing strategy that draws new patients to you. Consistently inspire referrals in order to grow—and to keep growing—your practice. Their loved ones will thank you.
2. Be a Patient Magnet Online
Online searches are another key way that new patients find you. While writing this blog post, I did an online search for chiropractors in my town. Then I clicked through a few pages of Google results to see the first impression each chiropractor gives to a prospective patient. Here are some of the leading keywords and phrases I encountered as I skimmed the pages:
We offer. We are concerned about chiropractic care. Chiropractic care. Expert chiropractic care. Welcome! Exceptional chiropractic services. Proudly serving patients in [name of county]. Premier chiropractic. Wellness chiropractic. [For] natural and drug-free health solutions, call __. (< This one stood out to me, since at least it said more than [adjective meaning good] chiropractic, and because it spoke to people interested in alternative medicine.) Quality chiropractic. (I would hope so.) For professional chiropractic, call __. Chiropractic health care services. (This at least creates a bit of interest for prospective patients who are already educated on the health care benefits of chiropractic.) With over __ years of expertise in chiropractic . . . __ Clinic . . . is here to help; call __ today! Dr. _ providing Acupuncture, Massage Therapy, Sinus Pain, Headaches, Ear Candling, Sciatica, Low Back Pain in [town]. (Although the unintended grammatical errors suggest this doctor causes sinus pain, headaches, and low back pain, he or she is the first chiropractor to list ailments that prospective patients can be relieved of.) [We are] pleased to welcome you to our practice. Family chiropractic. (This reveals a specialty that some searchers will be looking for. Note: If you want to attract patients specifically to your specialty, don’t hide it! Announce that specialty right out front.) Chiropractic specialist [who] graduated with honors. (This appeals primarily to an affluent collegiate audience.) With our flexible hours, we can help. (Appeals to prospective patients for whom regular office hours might not work.) Emergencies welcome. (Targets people with an immediate need, which cuts through three of Zig Ziglar’s five noted obstacles to a sale.) Call [our office] today. Back pain, neck pain, and more—call!
Already you’re likely discerning keywords that grab attention and why. So let’s discuss strategies.
If “chiropractic,” “acupuncture,” “holistic,” or similar is part of your practice’s name, don’t waste precious keywords restating the obvious in your descriptive sentence. That sentence and a few seconds are all you have to capture your would-be patients’ attention before they scroll down to the next search result.
From the above keywords and phrases paragraph, you also may have noticed the difference between an office-services focus versus a patient-benefits approach. We offer, we are, our doctor graduated, our office, our practice—these suggest to a prospect, “we are focused on ensuring our success.” On the other hand, natural and drug-free health solutions, massage therapy, sinus pain, headaches, low back pain—these suggest to a potential patient, “we are focused on ensuring your success.” A potential patient doesn’t care about your office or its doctor at this point. He or she cares about his or her own debilitating illness, or their sick child’s persistent symptoms.
So use your descriptive sentence to reveal a) specific health issues that you treat, b) how a patient benefits, and/or c) to seize the attention of individuals seeking your top specialty.
That goes a long way toward making you a patient magnet online and compelling clicks to your website.
3. Author a Short Book That Your Prospective Patients Want
Referrals are critical to ongoing business growth. So is an effective website, starting with the keywords that appear during an online search.
Now envision that instead of a current patient picking up your 3.5” x 2” business card to give to a loved one, he or she buys a copy of your new 6” x 9” book to give to that love one. Business cards can get lost. They are commonplace. They are disposable. Books, however, have perceived value. They are rarely thrown away, particularly if a book will help solve a problem that a person has been battling long term. Right on the back cover, in the author bio space, the individual sees your name and that of your practice. Inside they discover the solutions you provide.
Imagine a prospective patient online seeing the keywords “Dr. __ is author of the book The Alternative Medicine Cure for Diabetes.” Yes, this focuses on the doctor—it reveals that he helps cures his patients of diabetes! Plus, it reveals the doctor’s specialty. Furthermore, it underscores an important benefit to future patients—that there is a cure, and this doctor’s patients actually experience that outcome.
Even a short book celebritizes you in the eyes of those who need alternative health care. No matter the length of the book, it is a key way holistic practitioners use to attract new patients, to educate them about alternative medicine, and to help them begin to heal.
What does it take to create a top-of-the-line book manuscript? As little as two days. To learn more about authoring a business book to grow your practice, simply visit http://www.businessbookproductions.com/.
Wishing you and your patients ongoing success!
When you hear the following names, what comes to mind?
- Dr. Mark Hyman
- Dr. Sara Gottfried
- Dr. Tom O’Bryan
- Dr. Kelly Brogan
- Dr. Datis Kharrazian
- Dr. Amy Myers
- Dr. Elizabeth Lipski
- Dr. Jillian Sarno Teta
- Dr. Alan Christianson
Do you know what they have in common, aside from being successful alternative or integrative medicine providers? Consider this.
- Dr. Mark Hyman is the author of The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet—a #1 New York Times best seller, as well as nine other #1 New York Times best sellers.
- Dr. Sara Gottfried is the author of The Hormone Cure—a New York Times best seller.
- Dr. Tom O’Bryan is the author of The Autoimmune Fix—the #1 best seller in at Amazon.com.
- Dr. Kelly Brogan is an author of A Mind of Your Own—the #1 best seller in at Amazon.com.
- Dr. Datis Kharrazian is the author of Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? when My Lab Tests Are Normal—the #1 best seller in at Amazon.com.
- Dr. Amy Myers is the author of The Thyroid Connection—the #1 best seller in at Amazon.com.
- Dr. Elizabeth Lipski is the author of Digestive Wellness.
- Dr. Jillian Sarno Teta is an author of Natural Solutions for Digestive Health.
- Dr. Alan Christianson is the author of The Adrenal Reset Diet.
Why is their authorship important? Because the books they authored are the means by which many of their prospective patients found them. Authorship is a key marketing method that helped them spotlight their proven wellness solutions and expand their practices.
Note: Not all naturopaths listed above needed best-seller status in order to draw new patients to their practices. They only needed to author a book that their prospective patients were looking for.
Glenn Sabin, founder of FON Consulting, detailed in the Natural Medicine Journal a six-step plan to build a successful integrative medicine practice, steps which hold true for other areas of alternative medicine.
For those six steps, he shrewdly recommends that a provider 1) distinguish their brand, 2) get their message to prospective patients, 3) gain referrals from conventional physicians (this may or may not smoothly translate to your practice), 4) develop relationships with allopaths via a disarming, evidence-based approach, 5) engage live with their prospect niche (such as speaking and community events), and 6) craft “influential digital content.”
Glenn Sabin points out, “Health consumers are hungry for information. Many want to learn as much as they can about their disease or condition and what they can do to address the root, systemic causes and/or symptoms” (http://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2011-08/six-easy-steps-creating-successful-integrative-medicine-practice).
If you, like Dr. Mark Hyman and company, were to author your own business book, that would enable you, within its pages, to 1) reveal your brand and solutions, 2) get your message to your prospective patients, and have a platform to 3) gain referrals from and 4) build relationships with allopaths. A business book also opens doors to 5) speaking opportunities, local news interviews, and interactive community events. In addition, a book 6) provides ready-made “influential digital content.” (Snippets of book content can easily be copied and pasted as information-rich blog postings that are each complete within minutes.)
Above all that, because consumers will purchase a book that they believe may quickly and affordably start them on the path to healing, prospective patients will search for and find your book—and thereby you—online . . . for as long as your book is in print.
What does it take to create a top-of-the-line book manuscript? As little as two days. Visit http://www.businessbookproductions.com/ for details.
You’re an alternative medicine doctor. You’re not an MBA. In
fact, you’d rather eat non-organic dirt than build a business.
So, marketers in the naturopathic industry might recommend
the following to help you grow your practice:
- Social Media
- Public Speaking
- Write Magazine Articles
- Get Media Attention
Now, I essentially agree with those, but I also know that many
holistic practitioners react this way:
- Website: “Twelve other chiropractors in my town have websites. How can I stand out?”
- Directories: “Same question.”
- Blog: “What should I blog about? And how do I find the time to keep blogging?”
- Social Media: “I’d rather eat dirt. Non-organic dirt.”
- Testimonials: “Okay, I can list those on my website. What else can I do with them?”
- Referrals: “Sometimes these work, sometimes they don’t.”
- Network: “I already network, but so do my competitors. How do I snag the choice connections?”
- Cross-promote: “My competitors do this too. How can I gain the prime cross-promotional partners?”
- Public Speaking: “Can you tell me how to consistently get in front of my unique niche of prospective patients?”
- Write Articles: “The magazines that I contacted required previous writing credentials. I don’t have that experience.”
- Get Media Attention: “I volunteer twice each year at the local free health clinic, but the newspaper doesn’t interview all the volunteers. What can I do to gain newsworthy attention?”
So what is the number-one
way to market your alternative medicine practice?
The answer is simple: Author a business book.
Just how effective is authorship to growing a business today?
Forbes Magazine quotes, “ ‘The vast majority of the authors we surveyed — 96% — said they did realize a significant positive impact on their businesses from writing a book and would recommend the practice.’ ”
Where else but in authorship do you see a 96% marketing success rate that results in a “significant positive impact” on businesses? Authorship is not only effective, it has become a leading marketing and business-growth strategy.Here’s how you can use a business book to streamline the rest of your marketing efforts:
- Website: Add your book cover, description, and purchase link to your landing page/home page—nothing says expert and leader in alternative medicine like authorship. Offer one to three chapters from your book as a free download when visitors sign up for your e-mail list.
- Directories: To your directory advertisement, tack on a graphic of your book cover. Next to your name, state “author of” along with your book’s title. Authorship grabs attention and engenders trust.
- Blog: Tips from your book are ready-made blog posts. Simply copy and paste a selection of text (tweak wording if needed), and add a title for each post. Link your post to your landing page where readers can get a free download of one to three chapters. Also link your post to your book’s purchase page at Amazon.com.
- Social Media: Notify followers of new blog articles and their useful tips. Link to your blog posts.
- Testimonials: Add patients’ testimonials to your book’s back matter (back pages). Title the page “Patients’ Praise for [Name of Your Practice].” Follow this with a special bonus, such as a significant discount, that will motivate readers to contact your practice. You can also use case studies (engaging stories) in your book.
- Referrals: Sell your books at your practice, or give copies away to enthusiastic patients—one for them, and a second one for them to share with a friend or loved one. This inspires word-of-mouth referrals and draws in new patients. Business cards get tossed out. Books get kept or shared due to their perceived value.
- Network: Authorship, when done right, shouts “industry leader.” Potential partners want to connect with those who will draw crowds.
- Cross-promote: Same as the previous point.
- Public Speaking: Authorship declares you an expert in your field. Nothing nets public speaking offers like authorship.
- Write Magazine Articles: Authorship spotlights both your expertise and your writing credentials. Tips from your book can be ready-made magazine articles or can easily be reworked for that purpose.
- Get Media Attention: Authors commonly get local media attention. Pair announcement of your book launch with announcement of a free community event that you, or that you and your cross-promotional partners, sponsor.
So the answer to marketing your alternative medicine
practice is really quite simple: Author a business book. It streamlines every
branch of marketing.
Are you ready for the best news? Now, authoring a business
book is simple too. Visit the BBP home page to see how we’ve made the complicated
Warm wishes for a happy, healthy, successful holistic practice!