PROMOTING is the functional word here. Madison Avenue has trained the American masses to respond to pre-conditioned “sound bites” and “catchy phrases”, cute logos and a mirad of marketing ploys and advertising tactics. North Americans accept marketing and advertising efforts by professionals within their context of cultural evolution. The land of opportunity gives professionals permission to engage in sales-like tactics, to corner their share of the market place. In most countries outside of North America, a doctor would offend the culture and folklore of the professional persona by advertising. The mistake is easily made to want to do “what worked back home.”
So how does a chiropractor build a practice in a non-American culture? The old fashion way: getting results with your patients, and building a network of referral sources, i.e.: patients, friends, other doctors, business associates and of course, a good, visible location. Earlier, the word promotion was used as a “practice building tool.” Let’s look at the definition of the word Promotion.
The encouragement of the progress, growth or acceptance of something – increasing publicity.
Information disseminated through various media to ATTRACT public notice. Public interest or notice is achieved by the spreading of such information.
One who publicizes, i.e.: a press agent or publicity agent.
Contact a local publicist or hire a local public relations person and together design a promotion strategy. Then invest both time and money to the same extent that you would budget for yellow page ads or some marketing project. Management consultants recommend between 5% and 15% of your gross collections budgeted for “Acquiring New Public.” In the meantime you could read books on Public Relations and make inquiries into what the local professions are currently doing there to attract patients or clients to their offices.
Please keep in mind that disseminating information for the purposes of promoting is not the same as “educating people.” The object of publicity is the interest generated. More specifically, the goal of promotion is to get people who are “outside” the office to come “inside” your office. It is up to you to educate your patients after they are inside the office. Educating the public is a very expensive effort that falls onto large National Associations. As a solo practitioner your money needs to get people in the doors. Do a good service and let your well educated patients spread the word of chiropractic.
Since 93% of all the new DCs come from America its a good idea to better prepare them to comply with the ways and methods learned about foreign practices. The ollowing is a modified version of what the ICA has published on this topic.
Building your practice abroad takes a little effort with high rewards. Mix basic ideas and creative ideas together to build a steady stream of New Patients. Try out these 12 ACTION STEPS:
- Volunteer. Find a need and fill it. Set an example of service.
- WOC (Whip Out Cards): ALWAYS have your business card with you, and include it in EVERY communication.
- Visit civic clubs as a guest with the idea of eventually joining one.
- Join the Chamber of Commerce.
– Attend committee meetings and choose one in which to become active.
– Attend luncheons (use a memorable introduction).
– Attend “Business after Hours” and learn the skill of networking
- Establish alliances with others in healthcare. Interact, refer, seek information and build friendships based on your outspoken desire to do the very best job for every patient.
- Join Toastmasters or find some other way to sharpen your public speaking skills.
- Hire a Public Relations person to set up speaking engagements with local businesses, hospitals, civic clubs, churches, etc. You can even train her to make the presentations yourself if you have the right visual tools.
- Give public talks yourself. Talk about health and wellness issues from a chiropractic perspective. But, prepare with great seriousness and care. Always WOC or offer the audience a free consultation or tour of your facilities.
- Use press releases to announce the opening of your office, any seminars you attend abroad, advanced credentialing you attain or any event you sponsor that benefits the community.
- Create a website and promote your Internet address. Make it a good one, and do not hesitate to invest in professional help. After you have established a good web presence, consider a regular e-mail newsletter to your patients and anyone in the greater community who might express an interest.
- If you can get an invitation – write articles for your local paper(s). Research and get help from those around you who might have other helpful perspectives or new information. Don’t rush and make sure you did the best that could be done. Pick topics on which you can responsibly and credibly speak with authority. Have several people proofread everything you submit for publication.
- Interview for a cable television show. Let all local media know that you are available to comment on health issues.