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Branding Your Clinic

MARKETING

What is Marketing? Marketing is the act of positioning your product, goods or service to attract the most customers.  For doctors of chiropractic, marketing is the means by which you increase patient utilization of chiropractic services and position yourself in the community as an ethical practitioner. When people do need a doctor of chiropractic, your name will come to mind.

Marketing is composed of several different tools. The most common tools used in a marketing plan are paid advertising, earned media (news releases, letters-to-the-editor, guest editorials), and community involvement. Marketing plans are usually most effective when combinations of these tools are used. Repetition is also an important part of marketing. Try to be consistent when planning your events and advertising. The more you do, the more your target audience hears.

Effective marketing plans are always based on research. Research reveals your target audience, the people who will use your services. Research will also tell you about the demographic profile of your target audience. Demographics like age, gender, education, and income can help you decide where to place advertising most effectively. Even the best marketing tools would be wasted without a target.

Chiropractic utilization in South Dakota is the highest in the nation.  So why do you need to market your practice?  Chiropractors cannot rest on their success, because there is growing competition for health care dollars.  So chiropractors need to deliver a complete and compelling package of services to the healthcare client.

South Dakota Chiropractors’ Association is offering its members this marketing manual so you can spend your days treating patients, and worry less about maintaining and attracting patients.  Try some of these suggestions with your practice.  The South Dakota Chiropractors’ Association is also working to increase utilization of chiropractic.

Branding

Your consumers should have awareness and an understanding of who you are and what you stand for.  That is why you need a great brand to market.  Brands build trust in a one-of-a-kind promise about who you are, what you stand for, and what unique and meaningful benefits you offer.

To build a brand, it takes originality, focus, integrity, commitment, money, and effort.  Although there are costs, the benefits are significant.  Brands build business, trust and emotional attachments to you, and foster relationships that withstand your competitors.

Consumers are willing to pay more for brands because they believe the brands deliver outstanding benefits.  The value of a unique name and brand is priceless.

Research Says…

No marketing plan is effective without identifying your target audience, the primary users of your services. The SDCA has done some research that tells who the main users of chiropractic in South Dakota are.  Why is this important?  If you have a limited marketing budget, you can direct your message to the right people. Here is what we know about chiropractic patients in South Dakota:

  • 85% of people surveyed are familiar with the services provided by a chiropractor.
  • 62.5% of those surveyed had used the services of a chiropractor.

Of that 62.5%:

  • 57.1% are female
  • 42.9% are male

Ages:

  • 23.4% are 30-39 years of age.
  • 22% are 50-64 years of age.

Incomes:

  • 32% are $10,000-$20,000 range
  • 20% are $20,000-$30,000 range
  • 19% are $30,000 and above.

Occupations:

  • Agriculture
  • House Wives
  • Retired

Education:

  • 32% were high school graduates
  • 32% had some college or were college graduates

In a nutshell, the biggest buyers of chiropractic services are: women, age 30-39, with at least a high school degree, earning an average income, which is likely to work in the home.

Non-Media Advertising

Clinic or Office Signage:  Other than the ad that draws in your patients, office signage is the first look patients have of you and your clinic.  So make sure it is large, clear and easy to read.  Drive by your clinic and make sure that you can clearly read the sign while driving.  Try not to make the sign too busy; just clinic name, address and phone number are a good start.  Grubby or tattered signs don’t inspire patient confidence.

Print Advertising Slicks:  When purchasing print ads, work with a representative to determine which days would reach your target market best.  Also, you may be able to negotiate a cheaper rate by committing to several weeks or months of advertising.

Radio Advertising: Radio can be an effective advertising medium. Think about when your target audience is likely to be listening to the radio, either at work or in their car.  Also think about what programs (talk shows, sports, news) are on at that time. Do they complement chiropractic or your specific message?

In Your Community: There are several things you can do to become recognized as an authority on spinal healthcare and holistic wellness and promote the use of chiropractic.

Social Media: Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter are an increasingly popular way to market your practice.

1. Write a column for the local paper.  You may have to pay for the space, but those who make healthcare decisions for their families read these columns. Your name, clinic name and phone number should be prominent.
2. Take part in local health fairs. The SDCA has banners for your use at health fairs. Contact us to reserve them in advance of your health fair.
3. Sponsor a mini-health fair and offer scoliosis, carpal tunnel and other assessments.
4. Sponsor a contest for children (essay, coloring, etc.) where the prize is a backpack and/or school supplies.
5. Does your local paper have an “Ask the experts” page? Volunteer to answer chiropractic and general healthcare questions. (If your paper does not offer this, talk to your local newspaper representative and maybe they will start one with your help.)
6. Sponsor a local sports team. It gets your name in the local paper, on the local radio stations, and on the backs of the athletes.
7. During elections, sponsor candidate forums. They don’t cost much and they attract the attention of local opinion leaders.
8. Talk to your local service groups (Lions, Kiwanis, etc.) and volunteer to speak to them about chiropractic health care. Get the message out to local opinion leaders.
9. Visit with your local schools about “Career Days” and ask that you be included to present information on a career in chiropractic.
10. Be involved in local causes or fund raising.  Even if it doesn’t relate to chiropractic, your involvement is a reflection on chiropractic.
11. Get to know someone from the local paper, radio station, and news station. If they ever need any information on chiropractic, they have a resource to call.
12. Serve on advisory committees and/or provide financial or volunteer support for your local parks and recreation departments, and developing fitness trails or bike paths.

A Few Restrictions…

There are a few things doctors of chiropractic are not allowed to do when marketing their practices. According to the South Dakota Chiropractic Board of Examiners Policies and Opinions:

  • DC’s cannot advertise free examinations, x-rays and services, nor can they distribute printed materials that offer free examinations, x-rays, or services.
  • No discounted services can be offered through coupon advertisement or Yellow Page ads.
  • Discounted services cannot be offered through direct mail pieces or via patient new letters.
  • Birthday cards to patients that offer free and/or discounted services are also against Board policy.
  • Programs affiliated with churches, such as offering free or discounted services to parishioners, are approved as long as the program is advertised and promoted by the church, as long as the work provided is not done in a chiropractic clinic.
  • Events like patient appreciation days, where proceeds and/or donated items being given to charitable organizations, can be advertised.
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