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Acupuncture Today – April, 2010, Vol. 11, Issue 04

Creating a Marketing Blueprint for Your Acupuncture Practice

By Kevin Doherty, LAc, MS

What I see happen to far too many acupuncturists is that they lack an organized, methodical and systematic approach to building their practice. If you want to recession-proof your practice and create long-term stability, what I am about to share with you should prove to be very helpful.

If you are not satisfied with the amount of new patients that are coming through your door, then it likely means that you need to create a marketing blueprint for your practice on which you can take consistent action. Most acupuncturists were never taught the fundamentals that go into building a thriving practice, which means they are trying to grow without a strong foundation.

Regardless of how long you have been practicing or what level of success you have achieved, it is always helpful to take a step back and assess how effective your practice-building systems are. I recommend that you use the first of each month to really work on your practice in this way by closely scrutinizing your marketing efforts so you can gain clarity on what is and is not working. When it comes to marketing, there are two eternal truths that I have come to realize: You can always do more of it; and you can always get better at it.

Much like acupuncture, marketing is a practice that you cultivate over time. If your practice is lacking quality patients, or your weekly patient volume is really up and down, it just means that you need to improve your marketing skills and knowledge. The first step is getting a solid blueprint in place. Here is a blueprint I have seen work time and again if you stick with it consistently month after month.

I want to preface this by saying it is really important to create a schedule that will naturally generate momentum and rhythm for your practice. Carve out a sacred time in your weekly schedule to work on practice development. This should be a minimum of three to four hours each week to implement the following suggestions:

Get a highly professional Web site. As part of your marketing blueprint, add one new health article per week to your Web site. Having a content-rich Web site is one way to really stand out on the internet. This is how you can use search-engine optimization. Google will rank your Web site higher based on the usefulness of the information you have on it.

Join a networking group. Attend weekly networking meetings for organizations such as Business Network International (BNI). This is like having a sales team of other business owners out in the community trying to get you new business each week. Some weeks you'll get a few great referrals, and some weeks you won't get any. Either way, just be consistent and commit to a year in the same networking group.

Schedule one to two public speaking events every month. There are many potential speaking venues, including health stores, schools, churches, chambers of commerce or in your own office. Public speaking is a proven way to get new patients in the door.

Build a strong referral team of other practitioners around you. Commit to networking with two to three new complementary medicine practitioners every month. This is not only important for generating more referrals for your practice, but it also builds a strong sense of community and support around you, which is absolutely invaluable to your long-term fulfillment and success.

There are many other marketing strategies that can work wonders to build a thriving and lucrative practice. These just happen to be a few of my favorite strategies because they are free or very low cost, and highly effective. Every one of these action steps will require that you get some solid mentoring and ongoing experience if you want to really master them.

It is normal if you try a few of these suggestions and they don't work as well as you would hope in the initial stages. This is because it takes practice to get really good at networking, public speaking and building a highly effective Web site. This is also where many acupuncturists come up short. They try to implement a marketing blueprint, but they give up when they don't see immediate results. A mindset of perseverance and tenacity should be intertwined into your marketing plan. Don't give up until you are getting the results that you want. In marketing, it is commonly said that about 90 percent of what you do simply will not work. This is why 80 percent of small businesses will fold within five years. The business owners get frustrated when their marketing efforts appear to be ineffective.

When you implement a marketing blueprint, don't worry about short-term results. Just keep doing it. Remain calm in your efforts, and let go of the need for quick results. A healthy mindset is one of relaxed urgency. Seize the moment and take massive action, but also be calm and balanced at the same time.

This is the blueprint I have personally used to build a practice seeing as many patients as I could handle in an area that is said to be saturated with acupuncturists. This is the blueprint that I coach acupuncturists to use by really diving deeply into mastering each of these marketing strategies. I hope this helps you take your practice to a much higher level of prosperity and enjoyment.

Click here for previous articles by Kevin Doherty, LAc, MS.

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