If you have followed my work at all over the past few years, you know that I harp on the importance of developing your business-building and money-making skills. I say this because there are many highly qualified, very smart acupuncturists out there who are struggling to generate the patient volume that will lead to true fulfillment and financial stability.
This is because most of the gifted, smart acupuncturists out there are banking on the hope that their innate healing gifts will naturally lead to a busy practice. Do what you love and the money will come, right? Wrong.
I have personally never observed that this slogan is true. After all, I know plenty of people who are trying to do what they love and the money is definitely not coming. I would say that most people who try to do what they love, whether it's healing work, writing, teaching, coaching or running their own business, experience a fair degree of disappointment before they ever taste any success. When they do get the success they desire, it is only because they have woken up to the truth that they need to understand marketing and business development.
So, the real slogan should be: Do what you love, acquire the marketing and business development skills you will need to succeed, take action on those skills, and the money will come. Not quite as romantic or idealistic, but a heck of a lot more empowering when you get right down to it.
Many practitioners focus almost exclusively on the yin aspects of practice building. This is actually a major reason why acupuncturists don't want to market their practices. They hold on for dear life to the hope that they can just meditate or visualize their way to success, or that their passion for Chinese medicine will magnetize others to their practice. Now, don't get me wrong; I am all for meditation and visualization and passion. It is important to realize, however, that there is always a need to balance yin and yang in order to achieve our desired results.
As much as you are working on your mind, letting go of limiting beliefs, and generating passion for your healing craft, you also need to take effective action through networking, online marketing, public speaking, implementing patient retention systems, staying organized and on top of your finances, and constantly sharing with the world how amazing your work is.
The next big block for acupuncturists is that many of them struggle with low self-worth. One of my main goals in 2010 is to help practitioners really step into their own greatness and let go of old patterns that no longer serve them. It is always ironic to me that the most gifted, aware, sensitive and kind people on the planet struggle the most with their self-worth. I think this is largely due to the fact that our society does not validate the strengths that most healers possess. Because of this, qualities like heightened intuition and awareness can feel like a curse instead of a blessing. This was certainly my experience for about my first 29 years on this planet.
A big part of becoming an empowered practitioner is being willing to own what you are innately gifted at without guilt, pretense or arrogance. Only when you can acknowledge your innate gifts will marketing becoming an effortless process. If marketing feels forced or unnatural, it is either because you are blocked from your unique gifts or you are trying the wrong marketing strategies. Marketing will actually be fun (yes, I did say "fun") when you can let go of self-worth issues and you find a way to promote your services that is a natural extension of who you are and why you are here. Does that make sense?
In fact, the more empowered you become in your gifts, the higher your motivation will be to get out there and share your services with anyone and everyone who will listen. It will light a fire under you to spread the word to the masses of people around you who are suffering and who need your help.
From a spiritual perspective, marketing is actually a pretty advanced form of self-liberation because you realize that it's not about you anymore. It's about using Chinese medicine as a vehicle for global transformation. Self-consciousness just dies away and you feel a burning mission to help as many people as possible.
If you can approach marketing with this intention in mind, you will never struggle to generate enough patients. There are literally thousands of people around you right now who truly need your help. Why are they not coming to see you right now? Get out there and let them know that you are there to help. It's not about you, and that is a very good thing. When the small self dies away, our confidence goes way up, we don't take things as personally, and our heightened intuition as practitioners actually becomes a source of freedom and prosperity rather than insecurity and marginalization.
I wholeheartedly believe that our profession will only be able to actualize its fullest potential when the majority of individual practitioners step up and commit to becoming empowered entrepreneurs. We are currently where the chiropractic profession was about 20 years ago in terms of widespread acceptance, lobbying power, and economic viability. The main difference I see is that chiropractors get much better practice management and marketing training in their education and they take marketing more seriously than acupuncturists.
We all know how profound and powerful Chinese medicine can be for our patients, but the truth of the matter is that 98 percent of our modern society still has no real clue how our medicine works, what it can do, or that they can seek out the services of a licensed acupuncturist very close to their home. I encourage you to think of yourself as a pioneer of sorts in your local community. Your main objective is to educate people about how you can help them and also shift their mindset and behaviors so that they perceive health and well-being in a radically new way that is based on being proactive and empowered rather than reactive and victimized.
I have always found this to be a highly enjoyable (albeit challenging) mission to undertake in my own practice. As much as our modern population needs acupuncture to relieve pain and discomfort or balance internal disharmonies, we need to fundamentally wake up and embrace a more conscious and purposeful perspective on life. As acupuncturists, we are in a unique position to help people do exactly this. Good marketing gets people to open their eyes to something new; it gives them a sense of inspiration and hope that they did not have before.
I hope these words help you to shift your understanding of marketing so that you can drop any tendency to be self-conscious about or resistant to promoting your services. What you do is amazing and people need it. Good luck and keep me updated on your success.
Click here for previous articles by Kevin Doherty, LAc, MS.
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