Why is strategy so important? -- Well, because without strategy your marketing is incomplete and won’t deliver the results you want.
Think of marketing as a three-legged stool. We’ll call the first leg of the marketing stool “MEDIA.” We know that media is the medium or vehicle, or TACTIC we use to get our marketing message to our target audience. This is the tactical side of marketing.
The second leg of the marketing stool is the “MARKET” leg. The market is your “target market.” In this case your target market is made up of people who suffer from pain, anxiety, stress, infertility, fibromyalgia, addictions, depression, etc. Those are the people (the MARKET) you want to reach. That’s a broad market because you have to be more specific with demographics, more on that in a minute, but for now we'll say this is your target audience or “MARKET.”
The third leg of the marketing stool is the “MESSAGE” leg. The message is what the STRATEGY is all about and what most practitioners struggle with. Your marketing strategy has to do with what you say, how you say it, and who you say it to. Therefore, your marketing strategy is in fact your marketing MESSAGE.
Now that we’ve established what the three foundations of effective marketing are, let’s see what else has to be in place for this to really work for you. If you don’t get this right, you will be paying a high price for advertising with little or no results.
So how do you put the pieces together to get marketing that works?
Well, the three components must be in sync in order for effective marketing to occur. Let me explain... We know a stool cannot stand on just one or two legs. It must have all three legs to support it or it will fall. Just like the stool, your marketing must have all three components in place to be effective, but there’s still another factor you must get right for effective marketing to occur.
You must have the right MESSAGE, delivered to the right MARKET, using the right MEDIA. If just one is off, your marketing is flawed and any money spent on advertising will be fruitless.
You’ve probably heard the saying; “You can’t sell steaks to vegetarians.” This is a classic example to illustrate why you must have the right MESSAGE to the right MARKET, using the right MEDIA.
If your target MARKET is vegetarians, and your marketing MESSAGE is communicating how delicious a thick and juicy steak tastes, then your “message” is wrong, even though you’re delivering it in the right MEDIA, like say Vegetarian Times magazine. It doesn’t matter how juicy that rib-eye steak is because there’s no way you’ll convince a vegetarian to buy it. In this scenario, you would be clearly throwing away your advertising dollars.
This example might sound a bit exaggerated, but I make it to emphasize how important it is you have the right MESSAGE, going to the right MARKET, delivered in the right MEDIA. If you were to fix your MESSAGE but then place the advertisement in Beef Magazine because you got an awesome deal on the advertising rate, your marketing would still be flawed because now you’ve got the MEDIA wrong. The demographics of Beef Magazine readers doesn’t match your MARKET. You’ve got the right message for the right market, but now the wrong MEDIA. Getting these three marketing components right is critical to your advertising's’ success.
OK, by now you’re probably asking, what does all this have to do with me - an acupuncturist? Well, you see, it's important to identify the three legs of the marketing stool because there’s many ways to get it wrong, however, there’s only one way to get it right:
Right MARKET – Right MEDIA – Right MESSAGE. Now let’s take this a step further and apply it to acupuncture marketing.
Let's say you choose the Internet as your media of choice because that’s were most people today go to search for local services. So you've got the MEDIA right. Now you want to make sure you get the other two components correct so your marketing can produce quantifiable results.
Now let’s define your MARKET. Earlier I said that as an acupuncturist your MARKET is composed of people who suffer from many ailments that acupuncture is known to be effective for. I mentioned pain, anxiety, stress and infertility to name a few. We know there are many more but this will suffice for this lesson.
You chose the Internet as your MEDIA, and since your target audience is made up of people who suffer from any of these ailments I mentioned, you now have your MARKET defined - or do you? -- Not really because we know that 70% of the people who get acupuncture are women ages 30 to 50. Yes, I know that age range doesn't include everyone that gets acupuncture, and we also know that men get acupuncture too. But when it comes to spending money on advertising, the 80/20 rule applies, and if you ignore it you will pay a heavy price. Many people get acupuncture, but the majority of your revenue will come from a smaller, but very valuable segment of the population.
So you've chosen the MEDIA and you've identified your MARKET, now we're ready to craft the MESSAGE so your marketing stool can stand on three 'solid' legs. But this is the toughest part because this is where the science comes into play. This is when you have to ask yourself; “What business am I really in?”
In other words, the question is this; “Do you provide acupuncture?” Technically yes, but the “real” answer is no. What you really provide is the benefit of pain relief. Do you provide acupuncture for infertility? The answer again is no. What you really provide is hope for women who want to start a family who are coping with infertility. The hope of course is not based on just wishful thinking. The “hope” is backed up by statistical data that shows that acupuncture and TCM in conjunction with IVF can in fact increase the chances of getting pregnant by as much as 60%... But you’re still providing hope and support, not needles.
Do you provide acupuncture for weight loss? Not really… You provide self esteem and self confidence. Do you see what I mean? -- When you craft your marketing MESSAGE, you focus on the benefits of what you do, not what you do. Acupuncture is a feature, but pain relief is a benefit. When you buy a drill at the hardware store, do you want a drill or do you want a ¼ inch hole? When a golfer buys golf clubs he’s not buying golf clubs per se, he’s buying “straight long shots.” Do you see what I mean? You have to focus your message on benefits instead of features.
Benefits are emotion based while features are logic based. It’s important to point out the features, but only after you’ve connected with your target market on an emotional level pointing out (selling) the “benefits.”
Once you get this right, your marketing stool can stand on it’s own and you will start seeing quantifiable results from the money you invest in advertising.
This is how you build your practice and grow it in record time. I know marketing doesn't come naturally to most acupuncturists, but until you have a clear and defined marketing strategy (MESSAGE,) you shouldn’t spend a single dime on advertising.
Do you know that 20% of the acupuncturists in your area walk away with 80% of the new patients? -- Read more...