If you believe that marketing means high out-of-pocket costs and a lot of time spent implementing marketing programs, taking you away from doing what you do best and love to do– using your healing expertise and wisdom to assist others – this article is a must-read.   
It could very well mean the difference between a thriving practice and one that’s simply surviving.
This paper will reveal the science behind marketing – with proven techniques for marketing success – from seasoned marketing executives throughout the country. Techniques, when done properly, will help you to get more patients/clients and make more money.
If you’ve ever said to yourself
…I can’t possibly do any marketing.  There’s no time, no money and besides marketing doesn’t work…I don’t need to market, my clients and friends will send me business…I have an ad in the phone book…If someone wants to find me, all they have to do is do a Google search…
There’s something you should know.
Sadly, internet-based searches, word-of-mouth and phone books will only get a practitioner so far. Without appropriate education – consumers will either continue to accept conventional medicine as the only option for their health related needs or go with the limited information that their family and friends can offer. Worse yet, they’ll take the first name that pops out at them from the phone book or an online search.  This is good news if your practice name starts with “Aa.”  Unfortunately, for the consumer, most alphabetical recommendations don’t fit their specific needs.
So, what can you do to ensure that marketing DOES work for you?
Start with the basics:

1. Strategy first (what exactly are you trying to accomplish?)
2. Know thy customer (what does your best patient/client look like?)
3. Know what keeps them awake at night (What is their pressing issue or need?)
4. Show them you have what they need (your message of benefits offered)
5. Give them a reason to call you NOW (your offer)
6. Make it easy for them to learn more about you (without obligation)
7. Choose appropriate marketing tools (a way to package your story, so that you can deliver it to your prospects)

1. Strategy first…and keep it simple to begin with.  Then stick with that strategy with every marketing effort that you do.

What exactly are you trying to do?  Do you want to get new patients/clients?  Or are you looking for your existing clients to try some of your other services?  Are you looking to expand the area that your practice serves from a 5 mile radius to a 10 mile radius?  There is no right or wrong answer.  However, without a solid marketing roadmap, chances are you’ll never reach your desired destination.  

2. Know thy customer (defining what your best patient/client looks like).

Just because they fog a mirror, doesn’t mean they are good fit for your practice.  

Studies show that most patients/clients that are able to partake in alternative medicine meet a certain set of criteria: e.g., college educated, make over $75K income and thus have discretionary income to spend with you, between the ages of 40 and 60 – baby boomers.  Your individual modality and style of practicing will also dictate what a good client looks like for you.  Once you are comfortable with your criteria of what your best client/patient looks like, a good list company can help you find people that fit the profile of your best customer.  The operative word here, “good”, always make sure that you are working with a list company that has either been referred to you or has good references.

3. Know what keeps your customers awake at night

Let’s face it, if we as the recipient of a marketing message, can’t quickly understand “what’s in it for me?”, then the conversation is over before it begins. With 3-4 seconds to cut through the noise and clutter of every other advertiser out there – and more specifically every other practitioner who is competing for someone’s attention – and drive your message home, your message has got to be hard-hitting and targeted…the first time around.  Bottom line, it has to let the recipient know that you understand what’s important to them.

If you don’t pique their attention with your understanding of whom they are and what they need, chances are very high, they won’t bother to read on and learn about your services.

4. Show them that you have what they need to make their pain go away (no pun intended)

Benefits.  Benefits.  Benefits.  That is the only thing that someone wants to hear from you.  What can you do to help resolve whatever issue is most pressing to me?  

If I’m having a hard time golfing well because I’m in continual pain, if you can make that pain go away, I am all ears.  If you start talking about allergy relief and I don’t have allergies…I’m not going to hear a word you say.  It’s that simple.  You’ve got to match up their needs with your solution if you want to get their attention.

5. Give them a reason to respond to you NOW

If you don’t ask someone to pick up the phone and call you or        visit your website, they won’t.  Even if you do ask, if there’s no compelling reason to do so NOW chances are good you might make it to the to-do list and then more than likely be forgotten.  Put a deadline on your request, e.g., call within 7 days, respond by May 15th, visit our website before the end of the month…
6. Make it easy for them to learn more about you without obligation

If someone has to spend money to call you the chances of getting a call go down dramatically.  The risk is simply too high.  On the other hand, if they are going to get something for free that is of perceived value, your chances of getting a call are pretty good.  Wouldn’t it be worth a free consultation to get a new client that could be worth thousands of dollars over the course of the year?

7. Choose appropriate marketing tools

Getting the attention of potential new clients does not have to be expensive or overwhelming.  

Remember, whether you choose an advertisement in a newspaper, a brochure, a simple letter or a direct mail program, the “tool” is merely a vehicle to carry your message to your potential new    patient/client.  It does not have to be expensive – it just needs to get the “right message” into the hands of the “right” people.  If you have done steps 1-6 properly, you could write your message on a cocktail napkin (not that we would advocate it) and still get a good response.  

A final thought on marketing…
Being a gifted healer is table stakes when it comes to building your patient/client base.  People need to know you are out there.  How you optimize your outreach to potential patients/clients so that you can be found, could very well mean the difference between thriving or simply surviving.
Good marketing starts with the basics – each and every time.  

Download the PDF version of this white paper.

DrinkwaterFor more than 25 years, Randi Drinkwater has successfully spearheaded high-impact marketing solutions for such global companies as IBM, Cisco Systems, and WorldCom/MCI/UUNet. Today, Randi resides as CEO for Alternative Growth Streams, (http://www.easygettingmorepatients.com ) a marketing-membership website designed exclusively to empower Alternative and Integrative practitioners to grow their practices and get more patients/clients.  She is well known and respected throughout the industry and is the recipient of the BPAA Atlanta Peach and Southeast Addy award for marketing excellence.

About Alternative Growth Streams, Inc.
Alternative Growth Streams, Inc., founded by Randi Drinkwater – a seasoned marketing expert with over 25 years in the industry – provides alternative health practitioners an online marketing solution built exclusively for them.
AGS empowers practitioners across modalities to better understand how to: increase their public image; educate potential clients on the healing services that they offer; and help existing clients to understand the many “other” services that their practice offers.

For more information on Alternative Growth Streams (AGS):
Randi Drinkwater, CEO
Alternative Growth Streams, Inc.
404-348-0273 ext. 702

Copyright 2008 Alternative Growth Streams, Inc.  All rights reserved. Used by permission.