Growing a practice without any marketing.

Because I’m all for learning from your peers, I often ask holistic healthcare providers what marketing avenues have been the most effective in growing their patient community to whatever form and shape it has at that time – and more often than not I hear a version of “I haven’t really done any marketing.”

Let’s dig into that a bit today. Because if you have heard that same thing, perhaps you’re wondering how to apply that insight in building your own practice.

Here’s what I’ve found: it’s true that a lot of awesome people in this field have built successful practices without marketing campaigns, ads, and promotions. They may not be on Twitter, or have never put up a flyer in a coffee shop. But those kinds of activities really are just a tiny part of what marketing can look like.

You can absolutely grow a practice without them.

When you take a more holistic view on marketing though and look at everything these providers have done to cultivate relationships with patients and allies, you’ll begin to see a different picture.

So far every practitioner I’ve met who has built a successful practice of any size has invested time and energy into that kind of marketing.

Here are three specific themes I’ve seen again and again:

They position their practice in a meaningful way.

Positioning simply means these practitioners find ways to communicate what they stand for, how they fit into their patients’ ecosystem, and whether they might be the right provider for a particular patient. It’s the opposite of bland and indifferent.

They might do that through a phenomenal website that actually conveys what it’s like to work with them, or by choosing a clear niche that truly suits them, or by writing about their values and vision rather than taking the easy route with a generic description of their modality.

They inspire word of mouth.

Often the sentence that follows “I haven’t done any marketing” is “It’s all been word of mouth.”

Also true! But these recommendations and referrals usually didn’t just manifest out of thin air. They germinated from a variety of seeds these practitioners had been planting along the way.

They had been sharing their excitement about their medicine before even opening their practice. Many of them have thrown an opening party. Some asked family and friends to let the right people know about their work. They offered education about their work and its benefits. And they built relationships with other practitioners, business owners, and community hubs over time.

This goes together great with the positioning: it really helps when others in your community understand when, how, and whom you support with your work, and how they can be part of your vision.

They create structures for continuing relationships.

This essentially means that they find ways to stay connected with patients, and to prevent them from dropping off after a few visits.

Of course, they would never sell someone a treatment they don’t need – but they do what they can to support patients in getting all the care that makes sense for them. Which is usually what we patients want; and if you can remove some of the obstacles here (common example: life gets busy and we forget to make our own health care a priority), that’s an act of service.

This doesn’t have to be an elaborate system – it can be as simple as always suggesting a treatment plan rather than going appointment to appointment, or having a routine or checking in when they haven’t seen a patient in a while, or making it a habit to recap each session and give a preview of the next one before patients head out the door, so they understand why they want to continue the collaboration.

If you like this holistic view on marketing, which ones of these avenues is most compelling to you? Which ones are you already pursuing? And which ones are not currently on your agenda but might work for you, too?

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