The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) says that “as a general rule, small businesses with revenues less than $5 million should allocate 7-8 percent of their revenues to marketing.” Of this 7-8 percent, the SBA further recommends that half of it should go towards business promotion, of which internal marketing is one important option to consider. So what is internal marketing?
In the simplest terms, Internal marketing involves marketing to your current patients. While this may seem like a waste of time, it’s extremely beneficial because existing patients are easier and cheaper to reach and, if done the right way, they’ll help market for you.
There are many different internal marketing methods. Some offer higher rates of success than others. But the ones most effective can be broken down into five basic categories: digital-based marketing, direct mail marketing, referral marketing, events marketing, and brand marketing.
Digital-Based Internal Marketing
Digital-based internal marketing refers to the various ways you can connect with your patients online. These typically include your website, your social media pages, and distribution of content electronically, such as with email newsletters.
These options help keep you in the face of your patients with minimal costs, especially since there are almost 3.5 billion people on the Internet today. This is important because you want to be at the front of their mind the moment they have a health problem.
The real value in digital-based marketing is that your chiropractic practice can easily be shared between your current and prospective patients. For example, your patients can share your website, re-post your social media updates, or even forward your newsletter. This form of marketing enables you to exponentially reach a higher number of people that you couldn’t with any other media source.
Direct Mail Marketing
A second internal marketing method that can be extremely successful is direct mail marketing. Specifically, this refers to mailing reactivation cards, birthday cards, holiday cards, or newsletters. Although direct mail may seem out-dated, especially in this digital age, statistics suggest otherwise.
For instance, three out of every four Americans report they like receiving “snail mail.” To them, it feels more personal. Additionally, roughly half prefer this type of mail over email. Using this kind of marketing essentially enables you to connect with your patients in a way they respond to most favorably, which in turn increases their loyalty and makes them feel special.
Referral marketing is another proven internal marketing method. This form of marketing focuses on increasing patient referrals. One study conducted by Ogilvy, Google and TNS of over 2,400 consumers found that 74 percent of them based their buying decision on what they’ve heard by word of mouth. In fact, this ranked higher than any other point of influence, highlighting just how powerful it can be.
Some ways to encourage patient referrals include sending patients who refer a thank you letter and a small gift. However offering gifts to patients as a Medicare provider is prohibited as this would be considered an inducement for services. Also, keep in mind that the best time to ask for a referral is when your patient is the happiest with your care. At this time, you may want to offer some incentive to refer.
Events marketing is another method of internal marketing that often shows great results, and it’s relatively easy to do. Simply set up a “Patient Appreciation Day” and serve small snacks or have raffles to show your patients that you value them. Another option is to host a “Bring a Friend Open House,” encouraging them to bring family members and friends to win a prize or be submitted in some drawing.
You can also hold health-related talks to get more people in your office doors. Pick topics that are relevant to your community and offer information they want or need to know. For starters, consider the following: natural ways to improve health and wellness, complementary treatments to reduce pain and symptoms, supplements to boost immunity and energy, and nutrition for diet and exercise. Ask your patients what type of talks would interest them.
Finally, never underestimate the marketing you do every day via your forms, decor, stationery, and educational materials. Even something as simple as fonts, colors, and paper type reflects on your business image. So keep a consistently professional brand by looking at your business through the eyes of your patients.
Think also of the subtle marketing you do with the posters and signs as well as any educational materials you provide. The more places you can get your business name, logo, and tagline, the more the power of brand recognition will work in your favor.
Internal marketing offers a lot of value to chiropractic professionals. It’s a powerful, professional and affordable way to maintain and attract new patients. Using these five methods guarantees a stronger, more profitable practice. All my marketing to the people who already know (and love) you.