Frustrated about wasting money on advertising that doesn’t work? Want to know how to get patients/clients and grow your practice?
As a professional you already know that most of your business comes from referrals or word of mouth and let’s face it, that’s the best source of advertising and it’s FREE. But you can’t wait for it to simply grow organically, that just takes too long.
Your clients’ want to use a professional they feel that they can trust and that’s why word of mouth is the best. It’s not like buying an appliance or car where the consumer sees an ad and acts on it.
Today effective marketing is about social networking. Well, lets be honest it was always about that, but of course years ago we did not have a name for it. The truth is that years ago when customers found a professional that they liked they would promote that person or company to all of their friends and business contacts. However, more and more people do not actively promote the people that they do business with in this fast paced world. There just is not enough time. So you have to take charge of your marketing campaign and proactively build your network and brand. The good news is that your customers will support your efforts if they like your business.
Build Your Brand Through Organic Marketing
You need to build your image, you are your brand. More and more professionals are beginning to understand that becoming a public expert is a way of growing their business. An easy first step to do this would be to call your local newspaper and/or magazine and submit articles or press releases. Simply write about different problems people face and how you can help them overcome it. If your local paper or magazine does not have a special monthly section in your field, suggest it to them. They are likely looking for more content for their publication and will welcome the opportunity.
The world has moved to the internet of course and most of your clients and potential clients are looking on the web. People like to do a little research before they pick up the phone. Building your image or brand in this area is critical. If you do not have a website you should launch one, it can be a highly effective marketing tool. It is much easier than most people think. If you do have one then this needs to become the main forum for all of the Social Networking and Brand Building that you are going to do. Articles that you write for the local newspaper or publications should be included here as well and Q&A’s and tips etc. You can also include a detailed list of your services, credentials, methods of payments, testimonials or references, hours of operation etc.
Grow Your Network
You also need to be strategic about your network and start using social networking tools that many of your clients use already, www.linkedin.com is a great resource for not only keeping track of your clients. It can also help you source new ones and will help you reinvent your brand.
Join the local Chamber of Commerce, and/or the Board Of Trade and get involved in your community. Get exposure for yourself by attending at least one event per month.
Be seen as someone who engages with the community. If you can coach a sports team, that is ideal. If you do not have the time, then attend charity functions and meet the community. Usually events are looking for door prizes or silent auction items. You could donate a gift certificate or a free session. It’s a great way of a) getting your name out there as someone who is involved b) exposing a large number of people to your name and business c) A great way to have a new customer walk through your doors for the first time to try your service. People will generally remember professionals who take the time to participate in the community even in small ways.
Another way to bring in more clients is to promote any other services you offer, for a chiropractor that may be Registered Massage Therapists, Naturopaths, Special Supplements, etc. Again have these specialists write articles and submit for publication with a picture of themselves. Graphics always work better than none. It grabs your attention, people are curious and more and more like the idea of “one stop shop” so they like businesses working together in a symbiotic relationship.
With these other services you may want to do a Direct Mail marketing piece with an offer to get people to act. This will get a direct response. Developing an email campaign is an effective, low key, low cost way to keep your business in the forefront of your past customers’ minds. You could include tips and facts for your clients/patients. When you promote your practice always talk about and include all your services. People constantly need to be reminded of what services you offer. You may also want to devise a standardized checklist when you get a new patient for any potential add-on sales example a chiropractor would offer: Orthotics, massage therapy, cold laser therapy, etc. The Yellow Pages are also very important. When people are ready to call you they need to find you and that’s where they will look. The person who is referring you to their friends does not have your number memorized. It also gives you more credibility.
Ensure that you pull of these marketing ideas together in one place. Your new or re-engineered website is an ideal place for this. It’s building your brand. Customers will understand that you are actively building your business and will be more inclined to help you. Not one of these ideas alone will change your profile much, but doing a little in each area will likely make a significant impact on your brand awareness and may contribute to your overall business growth.
Additional Resources: For more information on the value of networking and brand building read “Working the Pond” by Darcy Rezac. Darcy is a Canadian author and the managing director and chief engagement officer of the Vancouver Board of Trade.