Using Promotions to Grow Your Business with Nina Hershberger
The typical marketing strategy for many small business owners is to “hope and pray” they get clients, customers and patients. Not so with Dr. James Fedich – a chiropractor who decided to become as good at marketing as he is at treating patients.
Becoming a chiropractor requires long years of study and a passion for helping patients feel and function at their best. But it doesn’t require any business knowledge. And that’s why so many chiropractors—and medical professionals of all kinds—struggle with low-volume practices and costly financial mistakes.
Dr. James Fedich knows that all too well. After graduating from chiropractic school in 2003, he stumbled through the business side of things and at one point, received a letter from the IRS saying he owed back taxes topping $30,000.
The hard-knock lessons didn’t impact his professional care, but his lack of business know-how meant he wasn’t able to reach the number of patients he knew could benefit from chiropractic. So Fedich decided to become an expert business owner as well as an expert chiropractor.
The result: a boom so big he had to move into a 4,000-square-foot space.
Focusing on marketing and promotions has made all the difference he says. For established practices like his, he’s found the magic ratio to be:
- one big promotion,
- one external event (a lecture or spinal screening), and
- two smaller in-house promotions each month.
“On National Donut Day for example, we’ll hand out donuts to patients. In June, we do a ‘Best Pizza in Town’ contest where patients vote on their favorite pizza.”
It’s a way to keep staff engaged and having fun too he reports—a critical factor to success.
Low-cost Google ads and a physical, mailed newsletter are two more reasons Fedich is thriving.
The monthly newsletter keeps patients up to date about special events, new services and providers at the practice, and chiropractic-related information.
A mailed piece costs more than an emailed newsletter he admits, but the extra cost is worth it. “You’re not going to get 10 new patients a month from it, but you’ll definitely notice if you don’t mail it” he insists. “Patient numbers drift off a little bit.”
Between monthly newsletters, postcards and seasonal contacts like Thanksgiving cards, Fedich estimates that patients hear from his practice 20 times a year. The goal: keeping Fedich’s name top of mind for patients. And while it’s tempting to back off of promotions and patient contacts during busy times, that ultimately leads to a rollercoaster of “up” and “down” times. “If you’re continually promoting—even when it’s getting busier—business will consistently go up and up and up” he promises.
He’s learned the hard way what it takes to create and maintain a successful practice, and Fedich is eager to pass that knowledge onto fellow medical professionals. In addition to private coaching services, he’s released Secrets of a Million-Dollar Practice, a book filled with invaluable solutions everyone can use. The most important thing he says is simply to start. “Your numbers will go up every year,” he vows, adding that steady growth—rather than instant inundation—is the goal. “Slow and steady is the way to win this race. Keep promoting, keep learning and keep studying.”
Dr. Fedich’s Year-Long Promotional Calendar
If you plan the promotions for the whole year, it’s much easier to make them happen than waiting until the last minute. Here are some ideas from Dr. Fedich’s book Secrets of a Million Dollar Practice.
Super Bowl Box – Patients have to refer, fill out a testimonial and/or check in on Facebook to be entered to win the box. Prize for the winner: cash, hour massage, free chiropractic visit. Notice… he rewards for the behavior he wants.
Office with a heart month. – Plans things like donations to the Red Cross in exchange for a free treatment, blood drives, blood pressure checks.
Valentine’s Day – Adjustments for $14
Survey – Twice a year he asks for feedback on how they’re doing. February is one of those months. One question he always asks is: “Would you be likely to give a referral?
February 15th – Gummy Bear Day
Balloon Pop – He puts 30-40 blown up balloons on a board and mounts it on the wall. Each balloon has a paper inside with a prize. They get a chance to pop a balloon for the prize if they refer, give a testimonial or check in on Facebook when they arrive.
March 12 – Girl Scout Day. Give out boxes of Girl Scout cookies to everyone that comes in that day or for patients who donate to the military.
March 30 – Doctor’s Day. The entire staff dresses up in white coats and has a lot of fun that day. Oriental Trading is a great website to buy inexpensive things to use with all the promotions.
Customer Appreciation Day – Since he lives in a cold weather area of the country, he plans this event at the end of the month hoping for better weather. It’s all about celebrating the customer. Free adjustments. Free food. Live radio broadcast. Bounce house. Clowns. Banner for outside of the building.
Ladies Month – Partner with a local salon, restaurant, florist – anyone who would also like to have access to your customers. Make it a fun night for ladies only.
Teacher’s Appreciation Month
Nurse’s Appreciation Month
Pizza contest – Who doesn’t love pizza? Contact the local pizza shops and on one of his slower days he brings in pizzas from all the area restaurants and blindfolds patients as they taste test and vote for the best pizza. While he didn’t mention this, this is perfect to do a live Facebook video and send out several press releases before and after the event. NOTE: press releases about EVERY month’s promotional event is perfect to send.
June 3 – Donut Day – Every patient gets a donut. Could take this a step further and take a small box of donuts to area businesses with coupons for their staff to come in for a free adjustment.
TV giveaway. Could be a Christmas in July themed party or a summer picnic. This is a whole month long event where every patient gets to have tickets put into a fish bowl with the drawing for a 32” TV at the end of the month. Every visit gets 1 ticket. Every referral gets 5; reviews on Google and Facebook get 10. Do a live Facebook for the drawing and have the patient come in to get his/her picture taken with the doc.
August 2nd – Ice Cream Sandwich Day – On those hot humid days, what’s better than some ice cream. Even better if you can partner with a local ice cream shop. August is a great month for food drives.
13th – Fortune Cookie Day – This is a great one for a direct mail to your customers. Buy some of those small Chinese takeout boxes and fortune cookies (you can have custom ones made with your message inside) and mail out.
Best Video Testimonial – We all walk around with a video camera in our hand. An iPad/TV can be the prize for the best one. Be sure to promote this month in advance to encourage as many as possible to create the videos.
Christmas Pictures – Partner with a local photographer to take family Christmas pictures or if you or someone on your staff is a good photographer, set up a space to take them all week long.
Food Drive – Often a tough month for people going into the holidays. 2 weeks before Thanksgiving is a great time to have a food drive. If someone brings in a sack full of groceries, they can get a free adjustment.
Toy drive, cookie contest, coat drive – Many options this month to give back to the community. The cookie contest can be an unusual way to involve customers, clients and patients. Could also take all the cookie recipes and make a cookie recipe book and donate proceeds to a local charity.
Falsely Accused: How good marketing gets blamed for lousy execution
A friend of mine recently saw a costly ad offering a free “Early Retirement Success Kit”. Since he’s heading toward retirement he decided to go ahead and call to get the kit. After 18 minutes on hold, he gave up… deciding it wasn’t worth the wait. Bet he wasn’t the only caller to arrive at that conclusion. But I also bet the powers-to-be were never told about the hang up / completed call ratio.
The offer was actually very good, but if the execution isn’t perfect, the blame will go to the marketing. Doesn’t work. I told you so.
This is an easy fix if the marketing sends too many calls to a live call center. Change it to a free recorded message with name/address capture. Just say in the message that no sales person will call.
This marketing suicide exists in even the smallest business. Take for example a vintage decorator shop that decided to open up an event venue. They made the announcement and began taking names of those interested in the space, but they weren’t ready with any of the details and wound up with unhappy customers.
In this issue I’ve focused on your year-long marketing calendar.
But your staff must be ready for the increased business. A staff incentive program is in order to make sure they don’t sabotage your marketing success.
How to use a high ticket item to grow a business
One enormous advantage marketers in “high transaction businesses” have is their economic advantage. However, it doesn’t matter if you’re a small baker, every business needs to figure out a high $$ product or service. Big ticket. High margin.
According to an article in the Huffington Post in October 2014 the most expensive hamburger is $1,768! Looking to outdo any other burger joint wanting to boast the most expensive, the London based Honky Tonk throws in lobster, beluga caviar, venison, a duck egg and an edible gold leaf.
Traditional keystone or 1:1 margins don’t cut it for long-term survival. The advantage of a high ticket item is also the ability to do press releases and promotions around “the experience.”
Don’t get caught up in the “my business is different” mentality. Brainstorm and focus on something you can offer – an outrageous offer – that makes you stand out from the competition and market it relentlessly.
How to properly use testimonials
I hate sounding like a broken record, but please get this through your thick skulls: being believed is everything and that cannot happen just based on what you say about yourself. A great marketing message left staggering about like a drunk in the dark without PROOF is a waste. Testimonials that are not from real people, with their real names, businesses and location are not believed. Today’s buyer is a confirmed cynic. You MUST prove your case.
The wallpaper project letter
You can never have too many testimonials. Provide paper, something to write with and a place to put them and watch what can happen. NOTE: Your product/service must be extraordinary for this to work. Think a Disney experience.
Frequent Buyer Reward Program
Getting new customers is important but keeping existing customers is even more important. Some sources estimate it costs up to 30 times the cost to retain existing customers. Repeat customers are cheaper and more profitable.
How to get repeat business? One way is with a repeat royalty reward system. Here are a few things you need to know.
- Integrate a reward program in your business. Some businesses use paper punch cards. Others are fully integrated into their POS – which keeps track of the sales. Don’t let the lack of technology stop you from creating a reward program.
Here is a card from a boutique that saw their sales go up when they implemented this simple paper-based reward program.
- Collect and use data. If you have a POS that manages the reward program for you, use that data to identify your best customers and their shopping habits and identify the kinds of promotions that will draw them into your place of business. Create a VIP program just for them.
- Multiple tiers give members something to strive for. Reward programs with multiple tiers keep customers coming back to earn the prestige of higher reward levels. It’s important that the rewards at each level are unique and meaningful. Train your staff to say “you know, if you spend $10 more you’ll get xxx)”
Ray Kroc discovered the McDonald brothers’ restaurant when he was selling milkshake machines. Howard Schultz was selling coffee makers for an importer when he noticed a small west coast chain of coffee stores buying an exceptional quantity of machines, He went to investigate and then bought the company that’s now Starbucks. I’m always astounded at how little vendors know about their customers’ businesses. As a result, terrific opportunities for investment, acquisition, joint ventures or at least selling more stuff go undetected because vendors and their salespeople sleepwalk.
From My Marketing Book: 101 Best Marketing Ideas
Idea #62: Watch Your Backside
Before you get the wrong idea, I’m talking about the backside of your business card. Most people use only the front side for their contact information and leave the back blank – and that’s a mistake. When we’re talking about something you hand out pretty much on a daily basis, why not use the back side. Marketing tag line, offer of a special report, top 10 reason to use you, etc.
About Nina Hershberger
Nina is a marketing fanatic who loves helping local businesses not only survive, but thrive. She was recognized as one of the top 6 marketers worldwide in 2009 and is the author of “30 Minute Marketing – 101 Ways to wow your customers, clients, and patients”. She hosts a national marketing mastermind group where business owners from varied niches gather to plan, strategize and share marketing ideas.
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