Myths and beliefs are an interesting subject. They come about mainly because people don’t really know all the details, or their “uncle Joe” told them. These then get permeated around and somehow manage to become fairly common knowledge. Now, some myths are based on a small element of fact that is taken out of proportion, but many are not,
Every industry has myths that surround the profession. Some of my favorites are: “Cracking your back is the same as visiting a Chiropractor”, “Your car’s chassis needs lubing (because most cars built in the last couple of decades don’t actually have lube spots)”, and “Strength training will make you bulk up”.
Alas, this is neither an automotive blog nor a workout website, so let’s stick to some myths that need debunking for your business and marketing.
Myth #1: I’ll just copy what a successful competitor did to make lots of money.
Let me guess, you tried this and it didn’t work. There are a few reasons for this. Your ideal patient may be different than their ideal patient for one. And sometimes even the wording or ‘feel’ of the marketing isn’t right for you and what you do.
Marketing shouldn’t be random. If you’re just trying what someone else has done and have no real way to evaluate what the results would – and should be – then you are performing random acts of marketing…and that’s a sure-fire way to spend money without seeing any return on your investment.
So, what’s a businesses owner to do?
Start with a plan. What are you trying to accomplish with your marketing? Who are you marketing to? What results are you looking for? How much can you reasonably afford to acquire a patient?
Answering these questions starts you down the path of creating marketing that works for you and your company. Yes, you can see what others have done for ideas and inspiration. But straight copying is one of the fastest ways to waste your time, and probably your money.
Myth #2: Sales and Marketing is sleazy, pushy and no one wants it.
It’s true, most people don’t want sleazy, pushy, flashing marketing from their doctors or anyone else. So why do Marketing companies and gurus sell it?
I have no idea. It doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t actually work to produce sales. And it’s why many doctors don’t like Marketing and therefore don’t do it.
But it’s not you, it’s the marketing.
Most marketing out there is all about the leads, grabbing attention and getting out to the masses. And this method works but it doesn’t generate quality leads that will spend money on your products and services. And it may damage your reputation as that sleazy salesman who only wants to push products.
The good news is that there is a better way. And it’s called content marketing – it’s providing value.
It’s all about the valuable information that’s provided by you, the doctor and expert in your field. Which then gives your ideal patient the information they need to come to their own conclusion that you, your products, and your services are exactly what they need to solve their problems.
Myth #3: A health care professional can’t use social media because of HIPAA
There are a great many concerns when it comes to HIPAA and patient privacy. However, with a little thought, you can have a great social media presence while staying within the laws and requirements of HIPAA.
You can talk about generalities. A chiropractor can talk about the benefits of chiropractic at a broad level. A homeopath can talk about the benefits of ‘like heals like’.
You can not talk about specific patients or treatments specific for patients. “We treated a 50-year-old, overweight woman today…” Even though you didn’t use their name, if even one person can identify who you might be talking about you have violated HIPAA. Instead try “We treated a perimenopausal, overweight woman today…”
Let’s talk about photos and testimonials. They are the lifeblood of many health organizations. If you post a picture of your office, and you have the image of a patient in that photo, unless you have written permission from the patient to use their image for marketing purposes, you are violating HIPAA. And it’s the same with testimonials.
The big thing to remember is written authorization is required from the patient before any protected health information is used.
This does not mean that your patient leaving a review for you on your page (or other review sites) is written authorization for you to respond to the review – thereby acknowledging that they are a patient of yours.
Social media is a big tool for any industry. With some good practices and policies in place, your health care company can have an effective social media presence without violating HIPAA and local state privacy laws. Check out our post on HIPAA compliance for more in-depth information on digital marketing and HIPAA.
Myth #4: Marketing doesn’t work. I’ve tried it or another company before with no results.
I hear this a lot. But, it’s not that Marketing doesn’t work, it’s the type of marketing that doesn’t work.
Let me ask you a question. If you wanted to drink a coca-cola do you know where to buy one? I know, why am I talking about a coke in a functional medicine post? Stay with me for a moment… Can you think of where you can buy one?
Now, without even really trying you came up with several places you could buy one. So why then does coca-cola spend billions yes with a ‘B’ each year in marketing?
Because they have figured out the marketing machine. Put in $100, get out $200. And they have it dialed in so that their message resonates with their target audience.
Lastly, their message isn’t pushy. It is informative and subtle so that you as the consumer decides that you want one. It tells you when, where and how to enjoy a coke. And leaves the sale up to you.
Following this formula is a recipe for mass success using content marketing.
Myth #5: People will buy my product because it’s cheaper
Price isn’t the only thing clients look at. If you can solve their problems and fix what’s bothering them they will pay your prices.
Simply because you solve their problem. Many people in the functional medicine industry say they can fix a problem but they focus so much on the sale that they don’t focus on actually helping the customer. Or their prices are so low that while they provide great service they can’t stay in business for long.
And, if you are providing the ‘lowest price in town’ this is bound to bring a competitor who finds out a way to provide a lower price. And this race to the bottom has detrimental effects on you, your service and ultimately the industry as a whole.
However, if you provide quality content that your patients want to read/see and your service helps them improve their lives, your patients will gladly pay for your services.
Myth #6: We can do marketing at random times and randomly without a holistic strategy.
This is the same mentality that a lot of your patients have. I can go see the doctor when I have a symptom. I don’t really need to look into a whole body solution.
Random marketing is one of the main reasons that people think marketing doesn’t work.
“Let’s just boost this post and hope we get some traction because of it”. And you’re surprised when it doesn’t get you the results you wanted?
You create a plan for your patients. You step them through what to expect, how long it should take and then you monitor the results. If they are working you may add more and if it’s not you adjust the plan a little to get better results.
The same is exactly how marketing should be run. You start out with a plan, then you start executing. If it works, great – scale as needed. If it doesn’t, adjust.
There are so many variables to marketing. Platform, message, image, look and feel, follow up, offer – the list goes on and on. If you don’t have a plan and perform random acts of marketing you don’t know what works and what doesn’t.
It’s almost like trusting in ibuprofen to fix the issue instead of just masking the pain receptors.
Myth #7: Writing posts on social media is enough to get mass exposure.
Social media is a great tool for engaging with your audience, customers, and patients. But just posting will only get you so far.
Whatever platform you use, the rules and backend algorithms are constantly changing. This means that your posts may or may not reach your full audience every time.
Organic posting, which is posting content without paying to boost or promote it, also takes time to build momentum.
12 – 18 months when you are first starting out.
A solid marketing plan would include organic postings with some paid boosts and promotions so you can increase your reach and find new clients faster.
The paid approach will also help to get your message in front of people who may not naturally see your site in their normal online routine. And that opens up a whole new world of customers.
And lastly on this note – be sure you are posting content that matters to your customers. If the content is good, they will reward you. If it’s bad – or not what they want – then it may be time to go back to the drawing board on your posts.
Myth #8: I don’t have the bandwidth for marketing.
Great news! That’s what marketing companies are for.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your business is to decide what you are good at and what you can outsource. But this doesn’t mean that you walk away from all the marketing and advertising. A good marketing company will work with you to ensure that they have your ‘voice’ and your message in all the marketing they do.
Also, when you work with a company for marketing it frees up your time to do what you do best – provide the highest quality care for your patients.
Be sure to constantly check in with your marketing people. As the business owner, you should always have your finger on the pulse of what is being put out into the world.
Myth #9: Social media marketing doesn’t work.
I hear this a lot. “I’ve tried it before and it doesn’t work”, “My uncle bob said it was useless because he’s not on social media”, “My neighbor who runs a local business couldn’t make it work” etc…etc.
Bumpkiss I say –
- Facebook has 2 billion – with a B – users on it.
- Twitter has 328 million active monthly users.
- YouTube has 1 billion active users a month
- Instagram has 800 million active monthly users.
Tell me again how you can’t find your customers, clients, and patients in that collection of people? Social media marketing takes a different approach than search engine marketing and offline (or print) marketing. If you understand how to attract your ideal client, you can capture their attention. But you have to get your message in front of them first.
Social media is where they are. And it’s where you should be too.
Myth #10: Marketing is expensive/hiring a marketer is expensive.
Marketing is an investment in you and your company. It is one of the only ways to reliably and predictably grow your business.
Yes, you can use word-of-mouth marketing and let your customers speak your praises to all their friends.
Until they don’t.
Yes, you can go out and hit the pavement with your fliers and drum up new business by spending hours at the mall or the health fair with your booth.
Until you stop doing that.
Yes, you can wait for your patients to drive past your office location and find you – walk in – and schedule continuing care with you.
Until they find the next doctor they pass.
Or, you can spend money on marketing and reach your customers when YOU want to reach them. You can make sure what is being said is what YOU WANT them to hear. You can make sure they know where you are.
You can (and should) know down to the dollar how much it costs to acquire a new client. And when you want to grow your business you ratchet up your marketing. And when you want to maintain your business you keep your marketing lean and mean to cover your natural attrition rates.
Yes – Marketing is an investment in your company. But how expensive is losing customers, clients, and patients?
Myth #11: Marketing is all I need to have a profitable business.
Marketing is important – Yes – But it’s not everything. Your internal processes and business practices need to be looked at and checked too.
In fact, a proper, holistic approach to business and marketing is absolutely required for a successful business.
Let me ask you a question, have you ever worked with a marketing company that brought you leads? I’ll bet they were excited to show you all the leads they generated for you! But, were you able to turn them from leads to paying customers? Did the marketing company or person you worked with help create a full process from start to finish to really capture on those leads?
Marketing, sales, delivering your product or service and retention are all different and yet intertwined.
One doesn’t work well without the others. And if one is lacking the others can – and often do – fail.
So, while you can get all the leads you want from any good marketer out there if you can’t turn those leads into paying customers are they worth anything to you?
Myth #12: My website looks great so my work is done.
Awesome! Your website looks good. But does it convert readers and people browsing into paying customers? Can you tell exactly how much money your good-looking website actually makes you? Down to the penny?
If you don’t have a good way to track your users and their behavior your “good-looking” website is only sort of working for you.
Also, do you know what elements on your website actually attract customers? What happens if you change the color of your headline? What happens if you change the words in your headline?
Can you look at your website with an eye like your customers and patients? Can you find everything easily? Is there too much information on each page that your customers get confused?
A good looking website is only part of the equation. So let me congratulate you on being ahead of most of your peers but there are always ways to make your website work harder for you.
Myths are everywhere. Don’t let these 12 marketing myths stop you from having the business you want and the growth you deserve. Leave a comment with the myths you’ve heard about marketing that wasn’t mentioned here and I’ll debunk those in another post.