The purpose of this article is to explain to acupuncturist in plain English what a lead generation system is. So I think the best way to start off the explanation is by defining what a lead is in sales and marketing terms.
When you place an ad in your local newspaper, put up fliers at Whole Foods, or run a Google Adwords campaign, what you are doing is called advertising. Yes, I know you know that, but stick with me here for a minute.
When someone sees your ad in one of these mediums and picks up the phone and contacts you, that is called a lead. If you got 10 calls that week, you got 10 leads. A lead is someone who - through some form of advertising - contacts you to learn more about you or your practice.
Now lets say that of the 10 leads who called you, 5 of them decided to book an appointment. At that moment, those leads who booked an appointment "converted" from a lead to a prospect. I normally use the term "prospective patient" when I'm talking to acupuncturists, but for now lets call it what it really is in sales and marketing terms.
So you got 10 leads that called, but only 5 converted to prospects (booked appointments.) The 5 prospects that came in, all but 1 stayed for their first treatment. We can then say that the 4 prospects who stayed for treatment, converted from prospects to clients (new patients.) If you did your job right, those 4 new patients (clients) are not going anywhere else. And you can put a dollar amount on each new patient to determine their life time value.
Lead generation is a marketing function that works via advertising to get people who are interested in your product or service - in your case acupuncture - to pick up the phone and call you. In other words, to take action. That is why it's important your ads have a clear call to action. Once you develop a strategy to generate leads cost effectively, you just rinse and repeat. Most practitioners don't understand that all you have to do to get your practice humming is have a steady flow of leads. Not patients... LEADS!
You cannot acquire new patients until you generate a steady flow of leads on an ongoing basis. Get the leads flowing and the new patients will follow... Guaranteed!
Once you develop a lead generation strategy that works for you, you have in fact created a lead generation system. The problem with most acupuncturists is they hate sales and marketing to begin with, so all this marketing lingo is a big turn-off for most. I wrote this article to help practitioners understand why lead generation is so important.