Put your chiropractic business “hat” on, dust off your business brain or stand near a mirror facing your business “side” (whatever that may be).  In other words, let’s talk about the business of being a chiropractor.

Too many DC’s wash their hands of this duty (yes, I said duty, as in obligation) taking the highbrow route and speaking of business, profits or income as if it is some sort of filthy, germ-infested rag they don’t want to touch.  Face the facts: if you don’t tend to your chiropractic business you will (a) be forced to close your doors; (b) needlessly struggle with making a living for longer than necessary or (c) work a lot harder for your income than many other professionals do who make equal or greater to your salary.

That said, today’s blog post is certainly an opinion piece. I am not professing to be any kind of Social Media guru, marketing maven, web 2.0 magician or any type of marketing expert per se.  And that just might be a good thing, as it allows me to come into this landscape without prejudice, bias or baggage.

I want to see your chiropractic business thrive.  As such, here are a few very popular strategies popping up in chiropractic right now that you should avoid in your attempts to build your practice. Primarily they either lack solid business sense or common sense or both.  I am not saying online marketing is all hype; done right, it can be vibrantly effective.  Key words are “done right.”

These following real-life examples are sad/bad, but true, strategies that are definitely not done right.  If you are engaged in one of them, stop and think.  Even though someone told you “this works” (and you paid them to show you how), let business and common sense prevail and you may want to re-consider that advice.  Here they are, word for word. As you will see, the intentions are to market a chiropractic practice, but fall short, very short, of the mark:

1. Friend me on Facebook: Undoubtedly, this DC heard you can get a lot of traffic via Facebook. So now he wants you to be his friend. He will gain friends: spammers, Viagra salesman, Ugandan bank executives looking to disburse their untold millions, porn stars. Unfortunately, none of these “friends” will turn into viable patients.  And if a prospective patient were looking for a chiropractor, a big question looms:  “why” become your friend?  Because you asked?  Most people are too busy listening to WIIFM for that. Bottom line: earn your friends and followers.  Don’t send out a message to the masses to “friend you” for no good reason.

2. $49 for Free Exam, Xrays, 2 treatments and massage: This DC heard that Social Media is a great way to get people in the door, so she plastered this ad all over Twitter, repeating it about 76x per day.  Hopefully, she will figure out that only paying patients actually keep the doors open before she runs too many of these specials.

3. $29.99 for free exam, xrays, 2 txs and 3 massages: This DC borrowed his friend’s marketing Social Media strategy, only he can’t do math.  He is actually paying patients to see him. He better have a darn good PVA to avoid losing his shirt in the process.
4. “Have great chiropractic service in your location” (followed by naked pic). This DC heard that the key to online marketing is automation so he found some company who will create posts to his Twitter and Facebook pages for him.  Every hour they create massively informative and compelling posts like this one that can only be read by non-English speakers.  Too bad his market is in the US.  If all else fails, perhaps the naked Gravatar the marketing automation company posts with will attract a few sex-addicts into his practice.  New patients +sexual harassment lawsuits from his employees= what a deal!

5.  Zombie-links are another automation nightmare and pointless marketing experience.  The company this DC uses to outsource and automate her posts didn’t even bother to make sure the links were live.  So, the ad can be wonderful but the poor unsuspecting chiropractor will never know, because no one lands on their webpage. The DC also didn’t check to see if they were getting a decent ROI for their marketing efforts. I checked.  All links are dead, just like this marketing effort.

6.  Twitter post accompanied by pic of doctor with beer in hand and massively disheveled hair. This DIY chirorpactor has no need for automation.  He can do it himself because he has the technical know-how.  What he doesn’t know is that prospective patients really don’t want to see a picture of their new doctor with a Pabst Blue Ribbon in their hand and hair like Robert Smith of The Cure (the unofficial inventor of “bad hair” day).  Rock stars can get away with this type of marketing. Face the facts: your rock star dreams should have died the minute you invested $100K+ into your chiropractic education.  Now, act like a chiropractor and maybe you will attract chiropractic patients.  Hard to believe that DC’s are dumb enough to actually do this; but I am sure we’re not alone: there are idiots in every profession.

7.  “Meet Dr. X at Infinity Bar, Thurs!” Yet another entry in the truth is stranger than fiction category. This DC commits a double whammy marketing mistake.  Now, we all know chiropractic school can be a lonely place. And new DC’s tend to work so many hours that they don’t have much of a life. Her kill 2 birds with one stone concept? Market the practice AND troll the internet for a mate at the same time!  One worse: this doc put me on her newsletter list in which she announces these type of promotions every couple weeks.  Kudos for the consistent marketing calendar. But, meet me at the bar for a drink and a free exam? Nancy Reagan said it best:  “Just say no.”

8.  No website:  Not really sure what these docs are thinking…Perhaps the internet is just a passing fad? Or do they love spinal screening at WalMart that much?  Maybe they signed a lifetime deal with the Yellow Pages because $2495 a month was too good to pass up for 1 PI patient per year?  Perhaps they had a really bad website and took it down thinking that a bad one is worse than no website.  Whatever the reason, here’s my advice: pay someone who was born sometime after 1980 to build you a website; they can do it faster and cheaper than you ever will.

9.  Bad email signature:  I cannot lie.  I have resisted the urge to reply to these docs and ask them why in the world they would advertise MLM supplements, their eBay book business, the fact that they sell real estate on the side or (my all time favorite), their power company – all in their signature file that comes right after their name in their emails.  Probably these docs have so many patients there’s really no point to giving a link to their website or even their address.  They don’t want any more patients.  And I bet their wishes will come true.

10:  The Ultimate Bad Online Marketing Strategy for Chiropractors:  “I don’t do computers.  We don’t believe they are necessary and they are bad for you.” This phrase was actually told to me at a seminar by a doc who paid by check (revealing the nonsense of his statement because by the fact that he has a bank account, he is sanctioning the use of computers).  I probably don’t have to worry about the risk of offending this doc since he is not online.  He doesn’t do email. In fact, they don’t even have a computer in their office.  While I enjoy a cabin in the woods miles away from the internet, cell phone turned off and getting time away to write or relax, I would not expect my patients to follow me into my no-technology zone.  Can you imagine a dentist equipped only with a pair of pliers and some straps to hold you to their chair stating: “We don’t believe in nitrous, novacaine, bleaching, cleaning or any of this new fangled non-sense.  You want your teeth pulled, sit down and let’s get ‘er done. You can pay me cash on the way out.  And we don’t make change that requires any fancy math either.”    Even survivalists who will take you to the jungle for 4 wonderful days amidst ferocious animals, teach you how to eat berries, tree bark, kill a water buffalo with a sharpened stick and drink your own urine (only if necessary) have a website (with an online scheduler!).  This is no way to run a business.

Hope you are committing none of these mistakes and enjoyed poking fun at ourselves.  And yes, these are all true.  I’m really not creative enough to come up with this kind of hooey.