If I had to single out the biggest marketing mistake many acupuncturists make, it would have to be failing to view their website as a lead generation tool. It’s not uncommon to read in a forum about a newly graduated practitioner who writes something like this; “I printed 1,000 business cards, distributed them all out and only got one new patient.” They’ll voice their frustration about how difficult it is to build a practice from scratch. Yes, starting an acupuncture practice does require energy, commitment, persistence, and some money or at least good credit. This alone is stressful enough. When you add the apprehension most acupuncturists have about marketing, you have a recipe for uncertainty and confusion about what marketing strategy to implement.
If I were writing this 15 years ago I’d probably be showing you how to put together a Yellow Page ad that beats the competition. I would also be telling you to put 80% of your advertising dollars into the Yellow Pages and spread out the other 20% among other media. But times have changed in a big way.
Today I would tell you to invest 90% of your ad dollars on the internet and just 10% elsewhere. If you do it right, you will never have to worry about marketing again. Having a good online presence (search engine optimization) and incorporating strategic marketing into your acupuncture website is how you build a lead generation system that runs on auto-pilot.
Yes it takes some effort. You either have to learn how to do it, or hire an expert. And when I say hire an expert I’m not talking about hiring a graphic designer. Graphic and web designers are trained to make websites pretty, but pretty website don’t sell. Medical doctors are trained to prescribe drugs instead of addressing the underlying cause of the problem. It’s not their fault. That’s how they are trained. If you want to get off prescription drugs you don’t go to a different medical doctor because he/she has the same training. It’s no different with graphic designers.
Please don’t misunderstand what I’m trying to get across. I don’t have anything against graphic designers. I use graphic designers for logos and for brochure layouts and so forth. But I don’t let them get all creative on me using artsy-fartsy graphics and fonts that deviate from communicating a compelling message.
Have you seen the amount of websites today that use light grey text for the content? Let me ask you something… Have you ever read a book or a newspaper printed in light grey text? So why on God’s earth do graphic designers create web pages with light grey text? Because it’s pretty and “cool.” It’s not their fault. Creating “prettiness” is what they were trained to do. Forget that you might lose half your visitors because they have a hard time reading your message. What’s important to the graphic designer is that it looks pretty.
My dear practitioner, an ugly website with compelling content to strategically position you as the obvious choice, will outperform a pretty website with fluff and puffery any day of the week. Your website is not supposed to be an extension of you. It is a marketing tool to generate qualified leads and convert those leads into new patients. There’s a right way and wrong way to accomplish this. I’m not suggesting you design an ugly website. What I am saying is that your acupuncture website should be used as a strategic marketing tool to separate yourself from the pack and position you as the trusted expert in your town. This is how you take your practice to the next level in less time you ever thought possible.
Frank Prieto is a marketing strategist helping acupuncturists generate highly qualified leads from the internet and converting more of them into new patients.