I was recently on a chiropractic conference call in which a colleague was sharing that his new patient numbers were low. He said that he was in the middle of doing a canned good drive to attract new patients. If people brought in a certain number of cans, they could receive a discounted new person visit.
Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. Okay, one more: Blech Yuck.
You may have gotten the impression that I do not like this idea. You would be brilliant! Why? Well many company’s raise money for charities or do charity work. One key benefit is enhancing image. Research shows that consumers, especially under age 30, will purchase brands that are helping improve the world. According to Business Week November 22, 2004, teenagers are more likely to buy products that support charitable causes. The article is titled, “We’re Good Guys, Buy From Us.” This message is one that chiropractors can learn from. How many of you would like the people of your community to think, ‘We are the good guys, get health care from us?”
But we are mixing up marketing strategies when we take a public relations opportunity (charity work) and add in a short term sales promotion gimmick (new patient opportunity). We are sending out a sloppy message and it often sits poorly with the recipients. Even if you are getting people to sign up, you are probably turning off way more folks.
Plan ahead. Actually start thinking about who you want, what they want, where they hang out, what they care about and how do you wow the heck out of them to give them what they dream of and protect them from their biggest fears. This is just a small part of marketing strategy. Once you have that strategy in your head, you will have a compass to guide you. You can ask yourself, would the person I LOVE to have in practice be at BlahBlah screening? Would they like a free visit in exchange for a can of soup or would they be defensive and suspicious? How would they be delighted to find out about me?
We have separated our charity work from our promotional strategies in the office and the proof is in the pudding. We are celebrating our ten year anniversary in our third office, Community Chiropractic. We have been invited on 2 cable shows and have been picked up by two papers. Our first meeting at our Chamber of Commerce involved receiving a prestigious service award in front of 300 chamber members. I am convinced that we get this kind of attention because we do up to 4 charity events per year. When we do them, they are JUST for giving. We have a check listed system that allows us to repeat them with ease and grace each year. And they are bigger and bigger each year. Our practice is proud of us, our employees find it rewarding, the community has fun with us, and the charity benefits. And we get a lot of publicity for it. We have credibility because we have repeatedly done this for years with no apparent benefit.
This was part of my plan for our little Tiny Little Engine. I wanted to be a business that contributes to the lives and wellbeing of all in the community. I knew the vision had to be bigger than just getting new patients. I hope you can sit down and day dream your plan and your ten year goals.
Know that I am sending you great wishes today that you will take the time to create a plan for your business and a message that you want people to receive. And that you will back that plan up with implementation, great office procedures, amazing adjusting skills and keep coming from your heart.
PS. Here is another great example of an advertisement that created intense feelings with no immediate payback. But this ad established a feeling in the minds of customers that builds loyalty and stands out. my understanding is that it was only aired once. It was not self serving and EVERY year, I see it recirculating around emails and Facebook.