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Home > Newsletters > July 2009 > Top 5 Tips to Keep Your Acupuncture Practice Thriving During the Recession

Top 5 tips to keep your acupuncture practice thriving during the recession 

Top 5 Acupuncture Practice TipsBy Michael Arnold, L.Ac.

With all the financial doom and gloom out there it’s easy to get worried about the impact of the recession on your practice. This article covers some of the best strategies to beat the recession and ensure a constant stream of clients coming into your clinic. I have personally used these techniques to ensure my own acupuncture clinic has stayed thriving. I have also taught many others how to do the same. The strategies work whether you are just starting out in practice or if you are well established. Not only are they easy to implement but once set up many of them run themselves, drawing in a constant stream of new clients, leaving you free to get on with doing what you love - helping people feel well. 

So in reverse order here are the top 5 tips for keeping your practice thriving during the recession: 

5 - Offer a free consultation 

Offering a free consultation (either in person or over the phone) is one of the best marketing strategies you can use. It effectively takes all the risk away from prospective clients and means they have nothing to loose by paying you a visit. It also shows willingness on your part and builds trust and rapport. 

I offered a free consultation on my website and the number of enquiries tripled overnight. At another acupuncture clinic, we brought in free telephone consultations and again the number of inquiries skyrocketed. I have found that 90% of people who come for a free half hour consultation in my clinic sign up for a course of at least 5 treatments. Now you may think that offering something for nothing is a waste of time and money but I guarantee you that people will be much more willing to make a financial commitment, once they have met you and sampled what you have to offer. In the therapy world, more than anywhere else the rapport and trust between the practitioner and the client is vital, and people know this. You can even be very upfront about this in your website and say that this is a chance “to find out if I am the right practitioner for you”. 

The key is to offer something of real value that you would normally charge for. When I give a free consultation I simply give a shortened version of my diagnosis session. I ask the person about how they would like the acupuncture to help them and give a realistic evaluation of the benefits they can expect. I also offer any advice that they can implement straight away. By asking questions and really hearing the person, I am almost always able to gain rapport and trust. At this point, the person will be more than happy to book a full session. Do not attempt to push your services, instead focus on giving and listening. You will immediately set yourself apart from the crowd. 

4 - Reward your clients for referring their friends 

Every acupuncturist knows that referrals are one of the best sources of new clients for your practice. But how can you encourage your existing clients to recommend you to their friends? The best way is to set up a referral system. You can set up a referral system so that every time one of your clients refers someone to you, they get a discount on their next treatment.  

You can easily do this by sending out a letter or email to all your clients thanking them referring their friends to you. Explain to them that from now on every time they refer someone to you they will receive 40% (or whatever percentage you choose) off their next treatment. Set it up so that they receive the discount once their friend has attended the first session.  

You can also make discount vouchers for your clients to give to their friends. This way both the person referring and the person being referred can receive a discount when a referral is made. Using both of these incentives together will massively increase your referrals. We implemented this strategy at an acupuncture clinic in London and the number of referrals tripled from one month to the next. 

3 - Keep in touch with your clients via Email 

Keeping your practice thriving isn’t just about attracting new clients. One of your best sources of new work is your existing client base. If someone has used your services before they are much more likely to do so again than someone who has never met you. That’s why emailing your clients with your latest tips, advice and offers is a great way to encourage people who haven’t come to see you for a while to get back in touch. 

The best way to do this is to start a monthly email newsletter. Fill it with useful information that will enhance your clients lives. Do not overtly sell to them or they will soon ask to be removed from your mailing list. Instead use it to build credibility and trust with your clients by giving them useful information. Newsletters also act as a gentle reminder that you are still there. Often people simply forget to book back in with you and an email from you is all they need to get them to pick up the phone and book another appointment. 

2 - Communicate the benefits of your treatment in your promotional material 

It doesn’t matter whether its a leaflet, a website or an advert in the local paper. The text you use to promote your acupuncture practice can either make or break your promotional efforts. I see so many acupuncturists who try one form of advertising or another, only to be disappointed by the lack of response to their advert, leaflet or website. Nine times out of ten this is because their approach to writing the text is fundamentally flawed. 

The golden rule of writing any promotional material is that you must communicate to the person reading exactly how they can benefit from using your services. 

Most acupuncturists make the mistake of focusing on the features of their service such as  how acupuncture works, how old it is, or how long they have been practicing for. This is great but it does not explicitly explain how the person reading can benefit from your treatment. For example are they likely to feel more relaxed, invigorated or suffer less pain? These are the issues that are uppermost on people’s mind when they are looking for an acupuncturist and you must address them. Think about it, if you're buying a stereo, you don't want to know about the gold plated wires, you want to know how great the music is going to sound! Believe it or not, the same goes for acupuncture. The first thing people want to know is how it can enhance their life. If you can provide proof in the form of testimonials or scientific evidence, even better. 

The most important place to communicate the benefits of your treatment is in the headline of your website or leaflet. Your headline will either grab the person’s attention and make them want to read on or .... not. If you spell out how they can benefit, right from the outset your prospective clients will be much more likely to read on to find out more. If they then see that you offer a free consultation, they can see that they have a lot to gain, and nothing to loose by giving you a call. 

1 - Get good at using the internet to attract new clients.  

This is the single most valuable investment of time and energy you can make to ensure the long term success of your practice. Most people now use the internet as their first port of call for researching products and services of all kinds and this includes acupuncture. In May 2009 alone there were 2 million searches on Google using the word “acupuncture”. 

Four years ago I learned about really effective internet marketing for my acupuncture practice. Today I still get a constant stream of people contacting me for treatment via the internet, even thought I hardly touch my website anymore. This is one of the major benefits of internet marketing - once you set it up it runs itself. It is also the most effective, and cost-effective form of marketing you can do, if you know how to do it properly. 

So what do you need to know to be effective at online marketing? Well the first thing you need to know is who your target market is online. Who is looking for your services online? What are they typing into the search engines? Where do they live? What problems do they have that you can solve? Finding this out is pretty easy if you know how.  

Probably the best tool for finding your target market is Google’s keyword tool. This is an online tool that tells you exactly what search terms people are using in Google to search for your services. For example you can find out how many people are typing in the phrase “acupuncture Boston” into Google each month. The keyword tool will also give you all the relevant ways people are searching for your services that you wouldn’t have thought of. Pretty useful! You can access the Google keyword tool by clicking on the link below 

https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal  

Once you know how people are searching for your services online, you can start to build a website based around what people are actually searching for, not what you think they are searching for.  

You can get more information on exactly how to do this by downloading my free guide “How to use the internet to create an endless stream of new clients”. This is exactly the same information I used to double my acupuncture practice in 2 months. To access the free guide simply click on the link below: 

http://www.therapymarketingtips.com/

So I hope you can see there is no need to worry about the recession. There are still plenty of people who want to have acupuncture treatment. It just means you have to put a little effort into smart marketing that sets you apart from the crowd. Most acupuncturists don’t like marketing but if you know how to do it properly you can set things up once and leave it on autopilot to keep your practice thriving for literally years to come. You can then get on with the real work of helping people get well. 


About the author: Michael Arnold is a licensed acupuncturist and a member of the British Acupuncture Council. He runs www.therapymarketingtips.com a free resource providing therapists of all types with proven marketing strategies to beat the recession and attain a consistently thriving practice.

This Month's Articles

July 2009
Volume 7, Number 7

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