If you’re an acupuncturist, you’ve come a long way. You’ve completed all your schooling, taken your boards, and received your license. You’re ready for your own practice!
You may not want to hear this, but there’s still more to accomplish. Ever heard the phrase “if you build it, they will come”? Sadly, it isn’t that simple. How can they come to your practice if they haven’t heard of you yet?
It’s wonderful to get word-of-mouth recommendations, and this may be one of your main lead sources as a new practitioner. However, the reality is that you need something to back-up those verbal recommendations. Many of your patients are going to find out about you from other avenues, or want to research what they hear about you. The first and most important thing to create for yourself is your website. If you can’t do this yourself (and most of us can’t), hire someone! This is not something to compromise on quality or personal preference on how it looks.
Your website is often going to be patients’ first impression of you and your business. You want it to be clear, inviting, and appealing. In addition to all your key information like location and contact info, make it interesting.
Content is king: make sure yours is varied.
- Know what your demographic is. Do you specialize in fertility issues? Post current studies and articles on the topic, throw in some fun facts for new moms or discuss other holistic short tips that pertain. Do you work with a lot of athletes for sports injury? Consider including some sports facts or quick stretching tips in your posts.
- Set yourself apart from other practitioners by getting a little bit personal. Let people know who you are. Create a section on your website where you describe something unique about yourself: What got you into holistic medicine? What’s your personal experience as a healer? Why did you choose this career?
- Put people at ease. For many people, you may be their first exposure to acupuncture. You can include some quick tips on your website or social media sites about what people can expect in a first-time acupuncture appointment (what should they wear, bring, etc.).
- If you can get some client testimonials to post, that would be great.
- Photos can also make your website more inviting—whether they are of you, your practice room (s), or of something indicative of the medicine or experience you’re striving to give patients.
Once you have your website in place, move forward to social media. Don’t underestimate the power of a tweet or Facebook! The web has changed the rules of advertising. A decade ago, you had limited (and expensive) advertising choices. Today, consumers are educating themselves. Your patients are reading blogs, Googling practitioners, and checking out who to follow on Twitter or friend on Facebook. Make sure you’re there when they search.
Social media is also a great way to get first time clients by offering deals or promotions. Kill two birds with one stone by offering a discount or deal for first time patients when you hit a certain number of followers. For example, if you offer to choose one of your followers at random for a discount, or free, treatment when you hit 100 followers, you’ll be gaining exposure and getting someone to come in your door.
Here are some practical tips for setting up your professional Twitter or Facebook account:
- Know what times of day people are most likely to be on social media. Make sure to get your best exposure. Studies show that the best times to post are mid morning (between 10 and noon) and in the evening (between 5 and 8pm).
- Engage with your audience. Social media isn’t just about getting out a message or a point across. It’s about interaction. Write back to people, retweet others, start discussions about your industry. Check out these tips on how to do this authentically: http://mashable.com/2012/03/27/tips-for-authentic-online-engagement/
- Make sure you’re social media sites are always up-to-date. Facebook recently launched the new Timeline appearance for business pages. Here’s an easy, step-by-step guide to ensure yours is one of the latest and greatest profiles: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/31633/The-Complete-Guide-to-Setting-Up-the-New-Facebook-Page-Design.aspx
- The idea is not just to promote yourself, but to offer something to the people following you. Whether it be something informative or fun, make yourself memorable.
Twitter and Facebook are platforms where you can establish yourself as an expert in the field, build your reputation, and engage with potential and current clients. You have the experience, now spread the word to share your healing talents.