The Smart Chiropractor:
A Guide to Marketing Your Chiropractic Practice
Table of Contents
- A Smart Chiropractor and a Lazy Chiropractor
- Building Your Audience on Facebook
- Yelp and Google Reviews and How They Impact Your Practice
- Acupuncture, Massage, and Referrals
- How to NOT Waste Time at Your Chamber of Commerce
- Joining Your Local Chiropractic Society
- Sponsoring Local Events Without Wasting Money
- The Importance of a Clean Office
- The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Your Chiropractic Posters
- Staffing is a Key to Chiropractic Success
- Intake Forms that Will Help Your Marketing
- Reaching Out and Getting Referrals from MD's
- Research and Positioning Your Practice for Success
- Crushing an MD Meetings
- Chiropractic Ads: Good and Bad
1. A Smart Chiropractor and a Lazy Chiropractor
There are lazy chiropractors, then there are SMART chiropractors.
The lazy one's are actually working 60 hours a week and never getting ahead.
Always looking for the next fad to add to their office. They spend a lot of money and waste a lot of time.
Oddly enough, lazy chiropractors work more and earn less!
The smart chiropractors are working 40 hours a week, and have systems in place.
Smart chiropractors focus on their core business and end up keeping customers for long periods of time.
In short, smart chiropractors are focused, diligent, and keep their patients happy. The great news is that its not very difficult if you have a plan.
A smart chiropractor will build an audience for their chiropractic practice and have an easy system to keep it updated:
Building an audience is one of the most important aspects of owning a business. Your audience is not just your current patients, but also everyone who you can influence in your community and beyond. Your audience should be far bigger than your current patient base, because in reality, your patients should flow FROM and TO your audience.
2. Build an audience on Facebook.
Building an audience on Facebook is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to establish influence in your local community. The key is TARGETING. You should target your message, your content, and your advertising to your local market. Having even a few hundred people is OK.
As a matter of fact, if you are a local chiropractic office, an audience of 50,000 people may be too big (and you might be wasting money due to Facebook's crazy targeting algorithm). So lets dive into what this means so you can can get started today.
First you will want to set up your page and make sure all the detailed information is complete. You cant believe how many lazy chiropractors put together a half-baked Facebook page that is actually repelling patients!!
Make sure you fill in the hours of operation, your address, phone number, web address, and set up your graphics to fit appropriately (profile photo over 160x160 and cover images at 851x315 at 300 DPI). If those number and dimensions sound like Greek- then hire a graphic artist on Fiverr or Elance.
Lets talk content. The biggest mistake I see Chiropractors making on Facebook is posting stories that THEY care about. Smart Chiropractors focus on posting content their audience cares about! Now hopefully, if your audience is correctly chosen, the content which resonates with you will also resonate with them, but remember to put them first! Even your most loyal patients care about things outside of chiropractic- so make sure to keep them informed on local events, your community involvement, health news and updates, etc.
You don't need to beat them over the head with chiropractic focused content in every post. Keeping them engaged with a variety of content will help keep the engagement (likes, comments, shares) up and will help reduce the cost of your ads and save you money; which we will talk more about later.
Also, remember, you can post pictures, links, and even video on your Facebook page. Don't get stale by over-doing it with the meme’s.
Have you heard horror stories of chiropractors spending hundreds of dollars per month on Facebook only to see ZERO return on investment? Well, smart chiropractors focus their advertising and use strategies to maximize their investment. It doesn't take hundreds of dollars or a fancy digital creative agency to build your audience on Facebook. First, when you launch an ad you should target it to the appropriate audience! Choosing the age bracket, location, and interests of the group you are targeting will create laser like focus, increasing engagement, and decreasing the overall cost. Second, you should make sure the ad has a clear call to action.
If you want people to click the link- tell them.
If you want interaction and a conversation- tell them. Be direct with your call to action. Smart Chiropractors also keep a close eye on the design of their ads. They never have ads with incorrectly sized graphics or copy that's flowing out of frame. Again, this doesn't need to be expensive. Use services like fiverr or elance to get cheap, high-quality design work.
Here is the real secret that smart chiropractors use on Facebook ( and other social media). They set it up so it’s automated. A free tool to use is Buffer. Automation tools allow you or your staff to stockpile a week, month, or quarter full of posts in a queue. The tools will then automatically send out the post at a predetermined time.
You can literally be sitting on a beach, enjoying a drink while content actively drips out to your audience. Not only does automation allow you to stay consistent, but it also saves TIME! You can spend less than a hour every couple weeks and to set up your content. Just like the infomercial- you can set it and forget it. Remember, staying consistent is essential when using social platforms. Dripping engaging content out consistently over a long period of time is your road map to success.
- Use Facebook Effectively
- Size Your Images Appropriately
- Bring VALUE
- Speak to Your Audience
3. Yelp reviews and Google reviews.
Lets face it. Everyone who comes into your office has looked up your practice online. They have likely used google to either learn more about you and your practice, of they will use google to map the directions to your office. When they search for your office the yelp reviews and google review of your practice will be one of the first things they see.
Before we get too far, lets take a step back. Someone moves to town and is interested in chiropractic care. They search chiropractic in your town. A list of chiropractic offices comes up in their search engine. At the top is your chiropractic office with 25 5-Star reviews. Next, is your friend down the street with 4 3-Star reviews. Who do you think this prospective patient is going to choose?
Yelp and Google reviews not only help promote your practice but they also can boost the SEO or visibility of your practice when people search for chiropractic in your town. Smart Chiropractors use this to their advantage. Here is the awesome part- you don't need hundreds of reviews for this to be effective. Even a dozen high quality reviews will set your office apart.
Soliciting these reviews is a delicate topic. Some people never ask for reviews, while others ask every patient for a review. Smart Chiropractors strategically ask for feedback. A great time to do this is when a patient comes in for their re-evaluation after their initial course of care. By this time they have been in your office 10-12 times and hopefully have seen significant improvement in their condition.
These are home runs!
Make it a policy to mention that your office loves taking care of patients just like them. Reinforce the improvement they have made in our office. And then simply ask if they would provide feedback on Google or Yelp to help other people just like them make the decision to explore chiropractic care. As you can see- I didn't say ask for a review. The smartest strategy is to ask for feedback. This subtle difference significantly increases the likelihood they will follow through and also doesn't come across as sale-sy.
- Google and Yelp Reviews can help with SEO
- Reviews give you a competitive edge online
- They provide social proof of your care
4. Know a good massage therapist. know a good acupuncturist. Don’t rely just on MD’s.
At The Evidence Based Chiropractor we are all about relationships with other providers. These referral sources are absolutely essential to running a successful chiropractic practice. Smart Chiropractors don't neglect other ancillary providers. Building good referral relationships with massage therapists and acupuncturists also can help grow your practice.
I recommend finding the top 3 massage therapists and acupuncturists in your area. Spend the time to get to know their practice a bit by having a phone call or even stopping by their office. They will definitely appreciate your interest. Once you have a short list of the best ancillary providers in your area this can benefit your practice in a few ways.
First, you will be able to better serve your current patients. When they ask, or need, a referral you can provide a fantastic recommendation. Referring to other A-players makes your office look great and well-connected; a great recipe for increasing trust and rapport with your patients.
Second, if you are blindly referring to other providers then you are not taking the opportunity for reciprocity. When you have a relationship with another provider you may (within the rules of your local healthcare law) let them know directly every time you refer a patient. Most of the time I do this through text or email. I keep it brief, something to the effect of “Hi John, I just referred over a 18 year old with severe lumbar muscle spasms. I told them you are the best!”.
This communication not only have their practice be ready for the new patient in their office, but it also is a great reminder that you are sending patients. Remember, this technique can extend to really any professional.
Don't be limited in your thought process. I like to keep a short list of 3 practitioners in multiple fields around town; from dentists to massage therapists and neurologists to gastroenterologists. A funny thing happens when you begin sending patients to another provider (and they know about it!)- you will notice that they also begin sending back to you. Smart chiropractors appreciate the beauty of reciprocity.
- Partner with other local health care providers
- Don't forget about acupuncturists and massage therapists
- Build your referral network
A Smart chiropractor will get involved in the community:
5. Chamber of commerce
Fact: Smart Chiropractors are involved in their community. Local trade organizations and the chamber of commerce is a great place to start. Being associated with other business owners and “movers and shakers” in your town is essential to building the relationships necessary to sustain a chiropractic practice. But beware: these groups can also be a HUGE time drain where unsuccessful people congregate and pitch bad business.
Personally, I have found the larger, more urban groups tend to have higher quality events focused on business development and relationships. Some of the more local, rural groups can be a festival of complaints. The other challenge is the constant pitching of multilevel marketing at these events. I clearly remember the first day my office opened after graduation. Literally, the first person that walked in the door was trying to pitch me on multilevel marketing and I was unprepared.
I have learned that being firm and straightforward in these situations tends to be the best approach. So, in short, don't be surprised if a) as a chiropractor and b) as a new member, you are targeted as a mark for multi-level marketing.
In my opinion it is the strategic use of these groups that will pay the biggest dividends. Being strategic does not mean being disingenuous. It actually means the opposite. You will never see a smart chiropractor blindly blanketing events with cards. Being strategic means listening and learning about other businesses and people with a genuine interest. Learn where you can help. It may be pitching in a hour of two on a weekend, or simply lending a word about your experiences. Be interested rather than interesting.
6. Local Chiropractic Organization
Smart (and successful) chiropractors participate in their local chiropractic organization. The lack of participation in local chiropractic groups is appalling. And a funny thing happens; the chiropractors that show up to these meetings tend to be the most successful in town. The chiropractors who don't show up tend to be struggling, lack confidence, or have a hundred excuses on why the group doesn't represent their interests.
I will admit, when I first began in practice I did not support my local chiropractic organization and had all the common excuses: lack of time, didn't feel connected to the other members, and didn't agree with their stance on certain issues. I had all the classic signs of a lazy chiropractor. However, I learned that participation is a untold and underrated secret of the most successful chiropractors.
By showing up and participating your voice will be heard, you will feel more connected, you will get out of the island of your practice and share some experiences. Also, you can put your flag in the ground regarding issues and legislature. The apathy of chiropractors for the last 10 years must be replaced by action with intent.
Be a leader, be a participant, and be a smart chiropractor in your local chiropractic organization.
Also, you will learn a lot about your community and other healthcare providers from the more seasoned chiropractors in town. That is not to say that you shouldn’t form you own opinions. However, you can use their expertise and experience to help you in your chiropractic journey. I have found most chiropractors at these local organizations tend to be more than willing to share advice, extend a helping hand, or give a bit of encouragement to the new practitioners in town.
7. Sponsoring a race (without wasting money)
Sponsoring a local road race or event is a great way to either be a smart or pathetically lazy chiropractor. It depends wholly on your execution. Almost every town or city in the United States has a road race every year. These events are always looking hard for sponsors.
These sponsorship opportunities can vary from $50-$5,000 depending upon level of commitment and number of race participants. As a new (and smart) chiropractor I would caution against maxing out your budget on a single race. Your logo on a t-shirt, with 25 other businesses, is not the best use of resources.
Have you ever seen your friend experience the following (because it wouldn't be you of course!): sponsor a local road race with 2,000 participants, set up a nice chiropractic tent with awesome logo, sit back with hundreds or thousands of dollars invested and……..tumbleweeds!
Your must maximize your investment on these events. Carefully selected giveaways, free chair massage, and email collection are the basic essentials to having a successful race experience. If you sit back and expect people to engage with your nice looking tent then you are sorely mistaken. Also, get creative. If you don't have a massage therapist in your practice then simply partner with a local referral contact to split the cost of the tent. They will be happy to reduce their overhead, and you will be happy to get all of the foot traffic based on their service.
These events should be all about building your audience.
This is an active pursuit.
Visibility is fleeting and has a terrible ROI. But gaining tangible audience builders such as emails is a key pro tip. Getting these emails will allow you to constantly update them through your automated email channels and will significantly increase their likelihood of coming in to your office or referring. These are activities which will get you great ROI. To me its a mindset- smart chiropractors use events as a way to build their audience, lazy chiropractors use these events for visibility.
- Use your Chamber of Commerce in the smart way
- Get involved in your local chiropractic organization
- Smart chiropractors build their audience at local events using a specific strategy
A smart chiropractor will maker sure their house is in order….(aka don’t be a slob)
8. Make sure your windows are clean. This is a professional practice, act like it.
Pro-actively keeping your office crystal clean is something I constantly see chiropractors overlook. Your office does not need to have the scale of the Mayo Clinic or Ritz-Carlton to warrant this attention.
When a patient first walks up to your office:
- Is the driveway clean?
- Are the side-walks in disrepair?
- Are the windows crystal clean?
- Is the carpet stained?
- Are the chairs dated and uncomfortable?
- Is your receptionist sitting behind a tall bureaucratic monolith?
These are items which is consistently overlooked that have a HUGE affect on your patients desire to stay in your office and subsequently refer.
Take yourself out of the equation. When you visit a restaurant; are you excited when you find that the windows are dirty, the plates are stained, and the appearance looks dated? Would you be expecting a 5-star meal in such an establishment? I don't think so! So take your office decor and cleanliness seriously. Set yourself up for success. When a patient finds your mirrors dirty, holes in the chiropractic table vinyl, and a trash can overflowing with yesterdays lunch; do you think they will be expecting a great adjustment? And further- do you think they will refer their friends? Your patients deserve the best. You don't need to spend $1,000,000 on a custom office build out to be attentive to the details. When you keep your office clean, tidy, and professional, your practice members will be primed for a great care experience.
9. The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Your Chiropractic Posters
Also, while we are on the topic of office decor, I would love to touch on office art. Your office art can absolutely attract or repel patients. Lets take it from the top. A patient encounters your business through your email (you have already built a great audience) and they decide to come in for care after an additional nudge from their friend (who is already a patient of yours). They arrive to a great exterior and warm greeting at the front desk. They they calmly sit to fill out some initial intake paperwork only to look up and see a poster that was created with an aesthetic so dated that it makes their Uncle Rico look stylish. Again, this is a psychological yellow flag for the patient.
- Everyone wants to be at the best chiropractic office in town.
- Everyone wants to be in the place where they are proud to refer friends.
- Everyone wants to be in a place that has a modern aesthetic with a classic touch.
Personally, I was so appalled at the office art available to chiropractors that I worked with a graphic designer to create my own. They marry timeless messages with a touch of elegance. These posters will have a positive impact on all the patients who arrive into your reception area. As a matter of fact, many smart chiropractors have been using my posters not only in their reception area, but also throughout the adjustment rooms of their clinic to have a unified team and further reinforce their message. While I understand and agree with the message, haven't we had enough “iceberg” posters?
10. Have great staffing. Know the name of clients.
The magic bullet of smart chiropractors- great staffing. Lets role play again. When I walk into your office for my first visit- will I be greeted by name by your front desk staff with a smiling face, standing, extending a hand, and introducing their role in your office? If not, you are missing out on another huge opportunity. Set the stage for practice successful by getting your front of house in order.
When a new patient enters your office the first person they are likely to encounter is your front of house staff. We have all been in offices where the front desk staff was prickly, rude, or just simply disengaged. This sets the tone for your entire experience in the office. Never mind the negative equity is places with referrals. Lets make it simple- your front desk staff member should be a people person! But, being a people person alone is not enough. Proper training is also needed.
Don't over complicate it.
Make sure that every patient is greeted by name with a warm smile. Further, for new patients, make sure your staff is ready to stand and greet the patient with a warm handshake. This really sets the tone for a great experience. But don't stop there. What makes the smart chiropractors stand out is that their front desk staff also sets the agenda. Setting the agenda is a critical step that too many offices neglect. Just like in the classic presentation style you should tell them what you are going to do, do it, and tell them again.
Here’s an example-
Patient Ari Katz enters your office for the first time (while noticing the clean windows :) )
Front desk staff member Jennifer stands and says, “Hello Mr. Katz, welcome to Langmaid Chiropractic. My name is Jennifer and I will be helping you with your first visit here in our practice. First, we will finish up your new member intake information together. Then you will see Dr. Langmaid. Afterwards, I will help you schedule any follow up appointments after you see the doctor. And of course, I am here to answer any questions along the way.”
You will notice that Jennifer introduced herself and her role at Langmaid Chiropractic. Then, she sets the agenda as a simple 3 step process. This will make every patient feel at home and comfortable in your office.
I recommend that every interaction ( and yours are no exception doc) should follow a specific agenda. This will help you provide the best patient communication while also establishing the best office efficiency possible. Once everyone on your team knows their role and can clearly identify how they participate in the patients journey in your office; they will be in the best position to serve.
11. Get the right information during intake
Having accurate patient information is essential. I am sure we are all diligent with our history and physical exam. What else is there? The patient intake paperwork. The information you collect on your patient intake forms can greatly help or severely hinder your practice. Where did you get your intake forms from? Do you know why they are constructed the way they are? Did they come as a free bonus with your EMR? Smart chiropractors maximize the information on their patient intake forms for marketing, case management, and billing/coding without any excessive bloat.
Here are a few items you can collect which will make a huge difference in your office-
Primary Care Physician: Collecting the primary care physician information for your patients is critical. First, it will allow you to send case notes for the initial visit, and re-evaluation, and discharge from active care. This is not only a smart move for the completion of the patients medical history; but it also provides these doctors with social proof of your good work! If you are like me, probably 8/10 patients that came into my office received relief.
Case notes are the perfect way to tactfully "show off” the results of your care. This is a huge underrated referral accelerator. Also, there is another secret ninja marketing technique when you collect the primary care physician information of your patients. You can use this information to build a database of the most popular care providers for your patients. This can be the foundation of your MD outreach! What better targeted list of MD’s than the ones which your patients are already using and will first hand see the results of your care.
- Don't underestimate your office decor
- Get the right information during intake to improve your office referrals
- Hire and train your staff to be GREAT
A smart chiropractic gets referrals from MD’s not by asking…..but by research and education:
12. Reaching out to other doctors.
Interdisciplinary communication and research is the foundational marketing tool of every smart chiropractor I know. Building these relationships is perhaps the highest ROI marketing activity out there. Its a long play for a sustainable practice growth. Smart chiropractors don't add the latest gizmo to their practice- they highlight the power of the chiropractic adjustment.
If you are not currently reaching out to other doctors in your community with a systematic approach you are blowing it. I have met way too many chiropractors that tell me they went to lunch with a medical doctor or two and “it didn't work”. Then when I ask their approach, their execution, and their follow up; I get the deer-in-headlights look.
Imagine you have never played baseball before. Then someone gives you a bat and puts you at the plate staring down a fast ball from Roger Clemens. There is a very high probability that you will not make contact. Even if you have played baseball before there is a slim chance you will make contact. Would you walk away from the plate saying the bat “didn't work”? Of course not! You were unprepared and did not execute properly. You didn't have the tools necessary to succeed.
The same can be said when you are in the professional health care world building relationships. You just need the proper preparation and a systematic game plan. The great news is that you don't need 20 years of experience to knock your relationships out of the park.
Through a step-by-step process you can start building relationships TODAY. I go through the details of this exact topic in my book, Marketing Chiropractic to Medical Doctors, so pick that up if you need all the details. But, without further delay, here are the basics to get started immediately.
The first thing you need to do is build your target list of doctors. I recommend a list that contains 50 physicians. Fifty targeted physicians casts a net that is wide enough for you togain traction, but is not too unwieldy to get started. Simply open a spreadsheet to get started. Here is where your intake paperwork can pay HUGE dividends. To get started you can simply export the primary care physician field from your EHR (taken during intake) and have an awesome starting point for your list. Then, you can build out the remaining spots using Web MD Physicians Search, Zoc Doc, or Google. Also, don't forget to ask your office staff who they use for primary care. All of these sources will help you curate your list.
Here is another marketing ninja pro tip- ask your local imaging reps.
Every day chiropractors have imaging representatives coming into their practice looking to build relationships and gain referrals. Imaging reps to chiropractors are similar to pharm reps for internists. Don't let their knowledge go to waste! These are highly skilled salespeople who have been extensively trained and spend all day on the road learning about practices in your area. Ask them who they like in town. Ask them which primary care providers would you get along with. Ask them where they would send their family. This information is priceless. I have found that some imaging reps are even happy to facilitate the introduction between DC and MD. Take advantage of their skill set!
Smart chiropractors build their list with 75% as primary care physicians and the remaining 25% as sub-specialties. Since 30% of the daily visits to a primary care offices are for spine complaints they are the logical target market. Additionally, as we discussed earlier, these are the docs who will be able to directly see the results you are getting in your office (through case notes). However, I still don't recommended loading up fully on primary care physicians. I believe it's important to take 25% of your target list and dedicate it to the sub-specialties that resonate with you and your practice. For example, you may like treating athletes, maybe you are sport certified. Then I would recommend reaching out to other sports med docs in your community. Perhaps, like me, you enjoy taking care of expecting moms. I filled out the back end of my target list with OB/GYN’s, mid-wifes, doulas, etc. You get the point.
One other note on lists. A lot of chiropractors ask me whether they should list a multi-doctor practice as a single entity or break up each doc to a separate line on their list. I strongly believe you should reach out to each doctor individually. Outside of the hospital systems these docs are still making their own referral decisions. Also, when you begin sending monthly research updates, it is imperative to maximize the personal relationship with each doc. You want to send mail that is personal and thoughtful; not the example below.
From there I highly recommend verifying your list. This may take an hour or two, but will be keep your marketing accurate and on point, saving time and money. Verifying your list is as simple as making a phone call. See the example below:
“Hello, this is Jeff at Dr. Langmaid’s office. I am calling to confirm that Dr. Smith still practices at your location at 1200 Canyon River Road.”
You will get 1 of 3 responses to this inquiry. First, they may simply say yes. This is great! Now you have confirmed your doc and location and can begin reaching out with efficiency (no wasted postage or energy). Second, they might tell you that Dr. Smith has moved to another address. This is also great information because now you can update the address of Dr. Smith on your list (again no wasted postage or energy). Finally, they may stay that not only does Dr. Smith practice there but they have added Dr. Green. Now you can also add Dr. Green to your list, and if he is a new physician in town he may be even easier to establish a referral relationship with.
The bottom line is that all doctors: primary care, internists, orthopedics, neurologist; are all dealing with many of the same challenges as us. They are encountering the changing face of healthcare, continued regulation and oversight, and diminishing reimbursements. Verifying your list is a great way to stay smart and efficient.
13. Monthly research with actionable content
Reaching out with research every month is the single best way to position your office and build referral relationships. Nothing else is even close. I have been in the trenches; and I have been on the “inside” of large multidisciplinary groups. When you combine great service, accurate communication, and marketing positions through research; you have a potent combination for practice growth.
I recommend reaching out monthly with research. Highlighting a single peer-reviewed article and placing it in an action-able context is key. Let me say that again- context is key. Dropping off the paper itself is not good enough. It will be promptly entered into the circular file unless the context is easily understood. But a magical thing occurs when you present a professional, elegant, high-quality, white-labeled synopsis of the research. You are now providing value for that doctor. Not only are your providing value for them, but you are also positioning yourself as the local expert in your field.
Most primary care physicians are so busy they don't have time to read very much research. And when they do read research they aren't looking at the latest paper on musculoskeletal care. So this is the perfect opportunity to give them a easy to read update. As you can see, this process is not about beating them over the head with chiropractic. But rather building a relationship through positioning and value.
I hate to break it to you, but most primary care docs don't care about what technique you use in practice. They want to know that you are going to take good care of their patients and provide them with the best evidence based treatment while accurately communicating.
And isn't that what most of us are doing already anyhow?
I talk to a lot of chiropractors who are scared that (even when they send our Research Briefs which are the best out there) the research may end up never making it to the doctor. “Will the front desk staff throw out the correspondence if it has my logo on the envelope?” The answer is no. You can ensure this one extra step when you meet the doctor; or even if you talk to their staff on the phone. When I meet with other doctors (which we dive into detail below) I make sure they know I will be following up each month with research. I let them know that I do this for all of my referral partners in town. Then, here is the key, you stop by the front desk staff on your way out and let them know that the doctor will be looking for research delivered from your office at the beginning of each month. The front desk staff will then keep a close eye out for any correspondence coming in from your office.
14. Using the Socratic Method to crush you MD meetings
Have you ever met with an MD?
How did it go?
If it was unsuccessful I can guarantee a few things. First, you didn't have a plan. Second, it was about you and your practice and not how you can serve their patients. This is where smart chiropractors make their mark. You must have a plan, and you must serve their patient needs and desire. It’s not about your ego!
Lets begin with setting the appointment. The great thing about meeting up with other local providers is that it is much easier than you think. Below is an example
“Hello, this is Jeff from Dr. Langmaid’s office. We have co-managed quite a few patients with your office but our doctors have not yet met. What is the best day/time for Dr. Langmaid to stop by and introduce himself?”
It’s that simple. No magic. No sales script. Just straight-forward and to the point. Once you have your meeting set you are half-way there.
When you arrive for the meeting the easiest way to start, even for the introverted chiropractor, is to use the Socratic method. Ask questions, get them engaged. As a side note- you will be shocked at how little the average primary care physician knows about the spine. We have found the most success by using a simple system that anyone can master.
-Find out if they are seeing spine related complaints
-Find out which complaints are they seeing frequently in practice
-Learn about their preferred treatment options
-Position your practice for those based on the responses!
To start you will want to know if they are currently seeing spine related patients. This is all about using your time wisely. Ninety-plus percent of the doctors you meet will say yes. But there will always be a few who say no. Again, this is essential information to know. First, you can take them off your target list and not waste time or energy. Second, they will usually immediately tell you who they directly refer these patients to. This can be the next person you put on your target list.
Especially here in Florida, we deal with a lot of “snowbirds”. For those that don't know, these are typically senior citizens who spend the winter in Florida and travel back up north for the summer. This brings us to the second question- which complaints are they seeing frequently in practice?
Depending upon the season they may be seeing a lot of patients with sciatica; or headaches. For example- the beginning of the winter we will see a lot of patient with low back issues as every snowbird gets on the golf course for the first time. In the north, doctors may see more headaches and cervical issues in the winter months as people spend more time at work, inside, and at the computer. This information is important to know because it will help you frame your conversation later. It will also give you a bit of inside information to better select and target with your monthly research.
Now you can ask them about their current preferred treatment options for these patients. This is the meat of your conversation. I have found that you will get one of 3 responses.
- they treat in-house (aka prescribe medications)
- referral for physical therapy
- referral to an orthopedist/neurologist
Here is the best part. Chiropractors have significant clinical and/or procedural advantages over all 3 of these options. Lets break them down.
I will admit- a smart chiropractor can find dozens of reasons why chiropractic may be better suited than any of the 3 options listed above, but I like to start with the easiest targets.
If the doc tells you that he prefers to treat in-house and start with NSAID’s then the easiest positioning for your office is with the patients who are already on cardiac medications (who cant take NSAID’s). As you can see, I am not blasting the prescription of NSAID’s (regardless of my personal thoughts), but I am instead position my practice directly in a spot where I know they cant perform their preferred treatment. Value and positioning with a focus on their patients needs!
Here is an example-
Me- “What is your preferred treatment option for the low back pain patients we were just talking about?”
PCP- “I prefer to treat in-house with a initial course of NSAID’s.”
Me- “Many of the other primary care docs that I work with start in a similar fashion. However, it must be difficult for your older patients with cardiac issues who cant take NSAID’s. I evaluate a lot of these patients in my office currently, and would be happy to help you with your patients that are unable to take NSAID’s initially.”
Remember, you are not to change their enter clinical decision making process in one conversation, so start small and start smart.
The second option that you will often hear is direct referral to physical therapy. I have nothing against physical therapy; my wife is a physical therapist. But as chiropractors we have distinct advantages over this option as well. One advantage is the lack of a verification process. Another is that the research supports active care as a progression from passive care. Here is an example-
Me- “What is your preferred treatment option for the low back pain patients we were just talking about?”
PCP- “I prefer to refer for physical therapy.”
Me- “I agree that active care is an important component of the healing process. As a matter fact, we give all of our patients an active care plan after we have worked passively on the bio-mechanics. Also, I know the PT verification process can by burdensome on your staff and delay the start of care by sometimes up to week. We both know that delays in treatment can impact a patients outcome. If you have any patients whom you would like get started with conservative care immediately, I am happy to evaluate referrals from your office within 24 hours.”
You can see again, we gave confirmation of their current option and provided a situation where it may not be the best choice. Then I was able to position my office as a logical choice while overcoming an obstacle.
The third most likely response you will receive is a referral to an orthopedic doc or neurologist. Fortunately, we have distinct advantages over this protocol as well. First, the wait times for an initial visit with one of these docs could be weeks. Second, very few patients need the more aggressive interventions usually given by these physicians. Lets look at one last example-
Me- “What is your preferred treatment option for the low back pain patients we were just talking about?”
PCP- “I refer those patients to Dr. Jonze (orthopedist).”
Me- “I know that Dr. Jonze has a great reputation in town. As a matter of fact, I know that sometimes it can take weeks to get an initial visit with him. I’ve reached out to him to see if we can work together on some conservative care processes. We both know that only a small percentage of patients need more aggressive treatment such as injections or surgical intervention. I am happy to see any patients you know will benefit from conservative care within within 24 hours.”
It is literally that easy to position your practice and start building relationships. The best part is that unlike a Facebook ad or advertorial which disappear when you stop paying; these referral relationships have the potential to last your entire career. Imagine how practice in 5-10 years after building a variety of direct referral relationships. Smart chiropractors who build these relationships will be diversifying their patient acquisition and protecting themselves from sudden shifts in healthcare. Basically your business will be more stable and provide more revenue; while also touching more lives than ever before.
So to recap- I view the smart chiropractic strategy as having 3 branches. Your Case Notes, MD Meetings, and Monthly research outreach. If you choose to only do two of these activities you should see some gains, but it will be 1+1=2. If you choose to do all three you will see that 1+1+1=5. The results will increase at a rate faster than the energy you put in.
- MD referrals can explode your practice
- Use a system of targeting offices near yours
- Set up meetings to accelerate the process
- Use the Socratic method to crush your MD meeting
Smart Chiropractic Marketing Examples:
As you can tell, reaching out to other doctors through research is one of the best ways to grow your practice and The Evidence Based Chiropractor is the undisputed king of this type of marketing. But, I always emphasize that direct patient marketing is still very important to your practice health.
15. So who is doing a good job of marketing
Smart chiropractors who are doing a great job of marketing always focus on the needs, desires, and values of their patents. You must be providing a solution to their problem! Remember the irony of the great listener? Great listeners are always known as great conversationalists. Why? Because perception is always made from self-centered point of view.
Do you see the problems with the advertisement below?
It focuses on the needs and desires of the business owner, not the consumer. Think about it. Nike- Just Do It. (not We Do It) Southwest Airlines- You are Now Free to Move About the Country (no We Are Free to Move About the Country) Apple- Think Different (every early Apple adopter was already thinking different). A great advertisement, tag line, or slogan all do one think. They support a inherent belief or desire that the consumer already has. It reduces friction and helps the potential client say- YES. Everyone wants to belong. Its the basis of Tribal Leadership, Finding Your Tribe, etc. When you can show them that you already have the answer to their problem it becomes a lot easier for them to join you for the ride.
I sincerely believe I have the best material (also have the numbers to back it up).
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This download contains a lot of great information:
Why the biggest practices market to MD’s (and how you can do it).
How not to waste time or money on your Facebook page.
Direct Mail techniques including templates and examples.
How not to waste time and money sponsoring events...instead walk away with clients lined up.
- A checklist of how to keep your current clients coming back, including a list of what your staff needs to do every week.