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Technology & Acupuncture

By Kimberly Thompson, LAc

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Little Sticker, Big Impact

It's the end of an election year. Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump were the subject of conversation for everyone, everywhere for the entire 2016 calendar year. I don't think any of us can deny that this election affected us all very deeply on a personal level.

Well, let me ask you this: Did the election have a financial effect on your clinic at all? Believe it or not, it actually had a big impact on mine. This shift had nothing to do with the nominees or their political views, but the impact was huge.

I'm not different than a lot of you. I am an acupuncturist. I am a business owner and the bread winner in my family. I have to be successful. In order to stay successful, I have to continue to bring in new patients. So, how did the election make an impact on my practice? Keep reading; I think you'll be surprised.

We All Need New Patients

Bringing new patients into the clinic is a cycle that never ends. When I was a new practitioner, I had to figure out how to build a practice. Over the years my clinic has had ebbs and flows. Sometimes I'm really busy; other times business is slower.

It would be nice to think that as your patient database increases, you naturally have a continual flow of patients coming in. The truth is, I've treated hundreds and hundreds of patients since I began my practice. That doesn't mean I am treating all of those patients now. Some patients come and stay forever, but many others are only with you for a season and then move on.

i love acupuncture sticker - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Patients leave for many reasons: they get better, they move, their financial situation changes, they explore other healing modalities, etc. The bottom line is this: For any practitioner to be successful, they need to have a continual flow of new patients coming through the door, even if they have been in business for a while.

I've used multiple strategies for bringing in new patients over the years. Back when I didn't have any clients, I built my business by establishing myself in the community through presentations, internet presence and general patient communication. Now, as a seasoned practitioner, my situation is a little different. Instead of building a practice, I have to focus on making sure I always have a constant flow of new patients trickling in. Here's how.

Little Sticker — Big Impact

We just finished an election year. Did you notice how many people proudly wore their "I Voted" sticker? The "I Voted" sticker is a symbol, a statement, a catalyst for conversation, and pride in standing up for someone you believe in (or at least standing up for the fact that you have a voice and you want your voice to be heard).

People took pictures of themselves with their "I Voted" sticker and posted it all over social media. "Look at me, everyone! I voted. Did you?" Strangers in the grocery store would smile and nod in agreement with one another as if they were a part of the same club. Many strangers began conversations—simply because of that tiny little sticker. You wore that sticker because you wanted the world to know you did something that was important to you.

That tiny little sticker made a big statement. This got me thinking: What would happen if my patients left my clinic with a sticker that said "I Love Acupuncture!"

Maybe strangers would smile at them in the grocery store. Maybe a conversation would begin. Maybe someone who needed acupuncture, but didn't know an acupuncturist, would get excited because the perfect opportunity had just crossed their path. Maybe patients would be so proud of their acupuncture sticker that they would post pictures on social media, telling all their friends about their amazing acupuncture experience. Maybe they would tag my "Meridian Family Acupuncture" page and I'd get more followers.

Maybe this tiny little sticker would create a big enough impact in my community to create a continual flow of new patients to my clinic, and my patients would be doing all the work! Ingenious, right?

The Experiment

I had to try it. What did I have to lose? I designed a simple sticker and decided to give it a try. The first thing I did was try out the stickers on myself. I wore a sticker wherever I went. Do you know what happened? That tiny little sticker really did become a conversation piece.

Whether I was in an elevator, in the grocery store, at the mall, at the bank, at my husband's company picnic, or at one of my kids' sporting events…wherever I went, people asked me about acupuncture and made positive comments.

  • "Hey, I love acupuncture, too!"
  • "Who is your acupuncturist?"
  • "I've always wanted to try acupuncture. I heard it's good for _______."
  • "My sister gets acupuncture. She said I should try it, too. Who is your acupuncturist?"

The first thing I realized is that if you are wearing a sticker, you'd better have a lot of business cards with you. Of course, I am the acupuncturist, so once people knew they were talking to a professional,the questions just kept coming.

The next logical step was to introduce the stickers to my patients. They were excited on multiple levels. Patients loved the fact that they could get a sticker at the end of a treatment. I didn't expect this to be the case. But, who doesn't love to get an award, right? Patients saw their sticker as a badge of honor after treatment. It was funny to see grown men and women asking if they could have their sticker at the end of treatment. I might as well have been giving them candy. They loved the stickers that much!

The final step was to train my clients to become my marketing team. Since they were wearing their official "I love Acupuncture" badge, I made sure they also had a minimum of three business cards to hand out when family, friends and strangers asked questions. The results have been phenomenal!

Happy patients are great at promoting your clinic. They already love you and the results they are getting from treatment, which makes them the perfect candidates to become your marketing team. The sticker is simply an introduction to the conversation. Patients have no problem taking it from there.

The Reward

That tiny "I love Acupuncture" sticker is making a huge impact on the continual flow of new patients in my clinic. The best part about it is this: I am not doing the work. My patients are, and the funny thing is this: They literally do a better job than I do. You can toot your own horn by yourself, but the message comes across louder and stronger when someone else does it for you!

It's nice to be a little further along in my practice, at a place where I know the income will continue to flow and I don't have to work quite so hard to find new patients. The cost of a sticker is about 10 cents. I sure wish I would have figured out this little trick a lot earlier. I like working smarter instead of harder.

I've tried a lot of stuff over the years. It's amazing how one little thing from this election year, like an "I Voted" sticker, can spark a creative idea. Of all the things I've tried, this is by far one of the most effective, lowest-cost, easiest solutions I have found that just flat works!

Maybe "I Love Acupuncture" stickers will make a huge impact on the word-of-mouth referral rate in your clinic as well. Why not get your own stickers? Do it yourself; give it a try. It's not going to cost you much money. If you can't find a source for acupuncture-related stickers online, shoot me an email and I'll share mine.

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