Your bookings are dwindling. Your clinic isn’t referring you enough for a full patient load. And your social media posts aren’t bringing in the clients and patients you need.
You don’t want to waste anymore valuable time or money trying things that don’t work…both are in short supply. But you reallllyyyy need some marketing ideas (like yesterday) to bring in some new bookings.
Because right now…
You’re not as booked as you thought you’d be…
Some days your schedule is actually wiiide open…
The stress of “OMG…what do I do?!” is setting in…
And you want to make more money…not just enough to “get by”.
You can breathe a sigh of relief my friend…I’ve got you.
If you want more new bookings, the process is actually quite simple:
1. Meet new people (ideally ones who need the results you offer)
2. Build a relationship with them
3. Invite them to book an appointment
Most practitioners get stuck on step 1 and this is the crucial step.
Marketing and promotion (ie: meeting new people) is essential to growing your practice and filling your schedule when you’re first starting out.
Within your first few years (especially if you haven’t been doing much promotion) you don’t have the patient base to support a business based solely on repeat clients and referrals.
You NEED the new bookings to fill your schedule which means you MUST put yourself out there, build traffic, generate a buzz, get in front of, meet new people…whatever you want to call it. You need to get eyeballs and ears on YOU and your practice. And I get the hesitation and hang-ups that keep you stuck.
You don’t want anything too techy, too time consuming, that’s filled with cheese and sleaze, or costs much (or any) money…and it needs to work.
That leaves you with…A TON of options for marketing yourself.
I want to give you 20 marketing ideas that let you get out there and “meet people” so you can promote you and your health practice.
These ideas DON’T involve social media because the truth is, it’s not the best way to actually get clients and patients. It’s great for building traffic, generating leads or creating a community but NOT necessarily filling your schedule.
They are instead directly focused on bringing in the bookings (and the money) you need to grow your practice and finally feel like you’re on the right track.
So grab a notebook and tuck in. Then choose 1-3 only that resonate with you or you feel like you could do consistently. It’s better to kick ass at a couple of these then spread yourself too thin trying to do #allthethings.
1. REFER A FRIEND PROGRAM: As people, we inherently want to help others. 83% of people are comfortable giving referrals but only 29% do. And your patients/clients are the exact same. They WANT to not only refer you people but they want to connect their friends and family with awesome practitioners. They just need a reminder and an easy way of doing that. It is not their responsibility to remember to refer you.
A referral program or refer-a-friend week is an awesome way to remind your current patients to bring you referrals. And I like this kind of program because it adds a bit of urgency so you can start seeing referrals right away.
To host a program like this is very easy. Set a time period where the referral program is going on (usually 1-4 weeks depending on the size of your patient base) and decide on a promotion. It could be a discount off a first visit but I like either a free first visit or a free initial consult/functional assessment (that’s shorter). You can also decide to offer the refer-er something as a thank you as well, but not necessary.
Then you can either 1) create simple printed cards with the terms on them: what they offer the new referral, how long their valid, plus a way to book in and your contact info. And then give a couple out to each patient during the program or 2) put all those same terms in an email and send it to your whole list of current patients. This is easier and free and also can work to re-engage past patients.
2. OPEN HOUSE/WELLNESS DAY: This is a great idea if you really enjoy connecting with people in real life and especially if you’re in a vibrant neighbourhood. I also like this idea when you’re first starting out or just opening a new practice.
You can host an open house or wellness day (either one time or regularly) where people can come in, meet the practitioners, maybe get free 10-15 minute consults and learn more about health and wellness. The more you focus on this last part (learning) and less on the promotion, the more successful your open house will be.
Make it something fun and exciting for the community that just happens to be hosted by a practitioner. Bring in other practitioners or health brands such as yoga teachers to host a free yoga class or meditation session, then do a talk or mini-workshop along with a mingling/party portion. It doesn’t need to cost you a lot or anything but is a really great way to meet people in your community in a super friendly, low pressure (and low tech) way.
3. MORNING COFFEE: This is something I used to do for years as a way to meet new people and gain clients. It’s again a very easy, low cost, low tech option that works if you have a lot of walking traffic outside or near your clinic.
What you want to do is once per week for a couple hours (ideally when foot traffic is highest), set-up a little table outside your clinic or at a corner very close by and hand out free coffee. That’s it. Chat with people, let them know who you are and what you do and that you want to get to know the community more.
It’ll feel weird in the beginning but people love free stuff and they love coffee (especially in the morning). You’ll be surprised how much you engage with people this way.
Bonus points if you put your logo, contact info and/or a promo on the coffee cups (it’s cheap to have printed or can be done with a $10 custom stamp).
4. WORKSHOPS + SEMINARS: This, to me, is the number one way to get new patients and clients if you want something low-no tech (and inexpensive). Host a workshop or seminar on a topic that is of interest to your ideal audience but also relates to what you do.
Maybe it’s on meal planning or going gluten-free or better posture in the workplace. Think of a problem your ideal clients have or an outcome/goal they really want and create a 1-3 hour free workshop on it.
You can host it at your clinic (this is great if you want to leverage other practitioner’s clients within your clinic) or you can host it at another local venue like a gym, yoga studio, shop or grocery store. Local offices are also fantastic if you can tie it into corporate wellness, wellness in the workplace, etc. Think of where your ideal clients hang out and do something there. Most places will happily have you host something in their off hours or slow time if it’s valuable for their community. Bonus if they’ll help you promote it!
Here are a few things to keep in mind when hosting a workshop or seminar of some kind:
– Have a way to capture everyone’s email whether its on initial sign-up or during the event
– Send them a recording of the event, notes or a thank you via email right afterwards
– Invite them to book in with you during the event as well as via email. It doesn’t have to be pushy but it needs to be mentioned so they know to do it (if that’s something they want). But if you don’t ask you won’t receive.
5. VOLUNTEER + OUTREACH: I think of outreach as taking part in events where your services are needed or volunteering your time. I find this especially effective in a few scenarios:
– You do manual therapy of some kind (chiropractor, massage or physio, acupuncturist etc)
– You work with (or want to work with) athletes, kids or some sort of activity.
Sports events at every level are always looking medic volunteers or specific manual therapies that can help out in the medical tents as well as school tournaments and competitions. This is an amazing way to get in front of your ideal client (if they’re athletes) and also adds to your resume. Yes, it may take time away from being in-clinic but if you’re not busy as it is, 1 less day every so often is not a big deal. It will be net-positive for your practice long run.
If sports or activities aren’t where your ideal clients are or you don’t do manual therapy, this idea is still great for you. You just need to get creative. Look at local events where your help might be needed or where your services/knowledge might add to the event. Similarly to my #2 idea (Wellness Days), see if there are wellness days, brands you can collaborate with or help with their events. This takes the pressure off you to do the main promotion and organization but you can still be getting in front of new people.
6. RADIO: Radio is SO awesome if you’re in a smaller community with only a handful of radio stations. Everyone listens to it and advertising is generally pretty inexpensive.
You can straight up advertise on there but you can also connect with the stations to do a little interview or segment (one time or ongoing) on health and wellness for free. You can also reach out to them to have them cover any wellness days or open houses you do. Generally, smaller radio stations are looking for content and would welcome pieces with local experts that will be interesting to their audience.
This kind of idea also really positions you as an expert to boost your credibility and authority (which indirectly boosts bookings)
7. LOCAL PUBLICATION: This is very similar to the above but instead of radio you can connect with local newspapers or smaller community publications to 1) advertise or 2) have some sort of feature or segment. I’ve had other clients turn one time segments into regular features where they become the “go-to health expert” in their community.
Again, smaller, local publications are often dying for new and good content, that also lets them promote the community. Connect with them and see if they would be interested in including a submission from you and then suggest a few topics (that are interesting to regular people and speak to an outcome they can get: 10 ways to double your energy this week (kinda thing)). An interview or Q+A are also great segment options local publications are keen to include.
8. FIND A REFERRAL PARTNER: You are not the only one in your area working with your ideal clients and patients. They are likely seeing doctors, other practitioners, going to other health and wellness related stores, gyms etc. They may be part of clubs or associations. Think of who else your ideal clients and patients are working with and create a cross promotional relationship with them where you can refer them and they can refer you.
Again, consider how you can add value for them and their community and make it more about how you can help them rather than how they can help you. The law of reciprocity is powerful and if you work to help them they will WANT to return the favor. And a good referral relationship, especially among practitioners or doctors, is priceless long term. Here is a script for exactly what to say to build referral partnerships.
9. JOIN A LOCAL NETWORKING GROUP: There is always good ol’ fashioned networking. Personally, this is not my cup of tea and I find a lot of young practitioners would rather not be making small talk BUT it is a great way to get to know new people who are out there trying to connect.
Most areas will have local BNI (Business Networking International) chapters, women’s networking groups or even specific health/wellness networking groups where they host events every so often. The key here is you actually have to go to them, mingle and meet as many new people as possible.
If formal networking events aren’t your thing, I think it’s great to even join a community group or organized hobby of some kind where you can meet like minded people. Intra-mural sports teams, hobby groups or lessons of some kind let you actually have some fun and “work-life balance” while meeting new people that can turn into future clients and patients.
10. LEVERAGE YOUR PERSONAL NETWORK: This often gets so overlooked but you already know A LOT of people and I’m sure not all of them are coming to you or referring you regularly.
If you haven’t already, make a list of everyone you know (in your local area or not). Literally everyone and anyone who knows your name and who you are AND you have their contact info for including your own doctor, dentist, accountant, friends, family, friends of friends etc.
Then simply connect with them. Reach out and let them know you’ve opened up more times in your schedule you’re looking to fill, or you’re at a new clinic or even that you are working with X type of people on Y type of problems now. You can get exact email script here to use. And trust me…you WILL get patients and clients from this.
11. GOOGLE ADS: This works especially well if you’re in a smaller geographic area where there are few other practitioners doing Google ads.
The awesome thing about doing Google pay-per-click ads is that yes, you’re paying for people but you only pay when someone clicks on your link. And hopefully if they’re clicking it means they’re interested. You can also set any daily budget that works for you.
To use this method most effectively: Use the Keywords tools on Google Adwords to see what related keywords are most often searched AND have the least amount of competition. General search terms like “top Chiropractor Toronto” may have high searches but also high competition. Whereas something like “chiropractor for motor vehicle accident Toronto” might have very little competition (ie: lower cost per click for you). Fewer searches yes, but you know people searching for that phrase really are serious. Aim to get as specific as possible.
12. USE VIDEO: Video is at the top of the online content food chain. 79% of all content online is now video and users spend 88% more time on a website that has video versus one that does not.
Using video as a way to get in front of people is going to be FAR more effective than simple text or image (whether you’re on social media or not) as it lets people see the real you and stimulates both visual and auditory senses.
You can definitely use video to deliver content and value on social media but you can also include it in other ways that could be more effective for boosting bookings:
– On your website: video amazing to introduce yourself and what you do on your homepage or “about page” as well as on a booking page to remind them how you can help and the results you offer
– Instead of a blog, try a vlog on your website or on Youtube, focusing on delivering content and solving short, easy problems people are out there searching
13. HOST WEBINARS OR MEET-UPS: This takes video one step further and let’s you teach or connect with a group of people live. This has all the benefits of video (ie: people get to know, like and trust you faster and more easily) but gives the element of real connection and conversation.
You can use webinar software like Webinarjam, Zoom or Google Meet-ups or even Ten Thousand Coffees to host an online “workshop”. You’ll want to teach something that solves a problem for your ideal clients and also shows them how you can help them on a larger scale. Make sure you also tell them at the end how they can work with you further!!
Just remember if you’re doing something online like this that you still want to target people living in your geographic area. It’s great to connect and help people from all over the world but it won’t increase your bookings if they’re across the country.
14. OPTIMIZE YOUR WEBSITE: If you’re getting traffic to your website but it’s not translating to bookings, you may need to make it a bit more user friendly.
You can find a whole website checklist here but 2 of the best and most effective ways to do this are:
– Make your site mobile friendly. Most (like 90%) local searches are performed on a mobile phone so it is imperative that your website work properly and look good from a phone. Take a look at yours and then make adjustments stat because mobile internet usage is only going up.
– Add online bookings. Just like mobile usage, the desire for online booking is on the rise, especially with younger demographics. People want to be able to book appointments 24/7 whenever they think about it and without being on the phone (46% of people now don’t want to talk on the phone). It also makes your life SO much easier not having to go back and forth with patients to find a time. I like Acuity or JaneApp for practitioners.
15. RE-ENGAGE PAST PATIENTS: This is a great option for practitioners who have seen a decent number of people over time but still aren’t seeing consistent bookings. Most people stop seeing their health practitioner before their problem is actually solved because they lost interest, were short on time, forgot or their practitioner never told them to come back in (that’s a biggie).
For this idea, what you want to do is gather a list of all the past patients you’ve had and see who dropped away or you haven’t seen in a while. If you use a clinic management software like Jane, it can generally do this for you.
Connect with those people via email or phone and say something as simple as “Hi, how are you doing? How is your XYZ issue? I was thinking about you the other day and hoping you were feeling well. If you want a little tune-up you can always book in here (link to online booking ideally). I’d love to see you” – or whatever you feel comfortable with.
The point is, it’s not difficult to connect with people and on a human level see how they’re doing and if they need you. Many, if you’ve served them well, will agree they should probably come back in!
16. CREATE A REGULAR EMAIL PROGRAM: Email marketing is the most trusted form of communication with 77% of consumers choosing email over other online channels. It is far more personal than social media so you can increase customer loyalty, build relationships and boost bookings at the same time. It’s also really easy to automate and maintain (and is free).
What I mean by a regular email program is what some people would call a “newsletter” but I hate that term because no one is interested in receiving your weekly/monthly newsletter. No one.
Instead, people love challenges, contests, learning series or interesting hacks and techniques to improve the problem they come to you for. Whether you send something weekly or monthly, you want it to be interesting, engaging and a way you can build a community. You can also use it to on occasion promote your services and invite people to book in (no more than 25% of the time).
You can add new patients and clients to your email list but you can also promote it in other online/offline methods (like social media or in clinic) especially if you’re hosting a monthly challenge or giveaway.
17. GUEST BLOG/PODCAST: I love this idea because it let’s you leverage other people’s communities to get in front of an engaged audience of new people. It also increases your credibility as an authority if people see you out there on other publications.
The key here is that, again, if your goal is to boost bookings then you want to guest blog or podcast for someone who shares your ideal client: that means people in your geographic area and the type of people you want to work with and need your services.
When you connect with these bloggers or podcasts, do a bit of research first and see what topics they tend to talk about and where you can add value to their audience. That’s when they’ll be happy to have you on – when you can provide interesting and useful information in a new way to their community. And when you do this, those people can then become part of YOUR community.
18. GENERATE MEDIA EXPOSURE: Similarly to the above idea, getting yourself media exposure instantly ups your street cred and makes you look like a boss (and people want to work with badass boss practitioners). It’s also a great way to get more new eyes on you and your practice.
This can be online on blogs, professional or online publications. There are a number of online publications that let you add submissions such as: The Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Ehow.com, Medium as well as local sites or blogs.
Again, keep in mind that if the goal is to boost bookings then you want to make sure your ideal clients read these publications. However, you can also indirectly build your business by growing your online presence and media coverage.
19. ENCOURAGE REVIEWS: Testimonials, social proof, reviews. These methods of 3rd party credibility boost trust and let people who you don’t yet have a relationship with, feel confident that you are the practitioner to help them.
My suggestion is to ask for and direct people to giving you reviews on Google. Those not only help with your Google page ranking but also convince those searching in your local area that you’re the best option.
You can then take those reviews and add them to all pages of your website as well as in any marketing materials. If you just ask for a testimonial (which is great) it can’t also be used on Google and I like to do more with less effort!
20. IMPROVE YOUR SEO RANKING: Local Google searches for “near me” locations have doubled in the past year and 80% of people look online when searching for a practitioner. That means you NEED to be in the first page rankings to capture that business.
SEO is a bit of a “passive strategy” where you build it, work at it but still sort of wait to get business so I wouldn’t use it as your main strategy but it is a method you can work on consistently and in time your ranking will improve. And as your ranking improves on Google you will see more business.
You can improve your Google ranking by getting yourself on some local directories that link back to your website (Google My Business is a MUST but also Yellow Pages, Yelp and any practitioner specific sites).
Make sure you’re using back-end SEO like Yoast on your website to set keywords and titles for each of your pages.
These are 20 ways that don’t involve social media that you can be using to get in front of new people and get new clients and bookings. As I said before, choose 1-3 of these that you like, and feel authentic and FUN for you and do them. Actually do them and be consistent with it. Most marketing efforts you need to do for 3-6 months to really start to see the extent of the value. After 3-6 months you can either add on to your current strategy or change it up (if it’s not working for you) but do it. And be consistent.
And if you have any questions about implementing any of these ideas, please feel free to get in touch with me directly: kate@mathesonandco.