As acupuncturists seeking to pay attention to acupuncture clinic marketing, things can quickly get overwhelming. After all, many of us will not have employment in the traditional sense, but instead be renters, independent contractors or active clinic owners on some level. We’ll be doing some amount of our financials, planning, evaluation, operations. We’ll be asked to know relevant legal and, in some cases, employment related information – some of which has little to do with the profession we signed up for.
And, oh yeah, there is the medical aspect, too. We should be excellent practitioners : diagnosing, researching cases, coordinating with other care providers, providing excellent hands-on treatment as well as suggesting dietary and other lifestyle alterations and – maybe – prescribing an herbal formula. No big deal. To say that many of us – particularly early in our careers – feel overwhelmed is an understatement. Finding work-life balance is key, and many of us can see we need more rest, more time with family, less time at work.
But we all perceive that the marketing piece is important…
After all, without patients, you don’t have a practice, you have an idea or an expensive hobby. The vast majority of acupuncturists don’t have much background in marketing – even though we know it’s important. Overwhelm on this point leads some of us to frantically try this and that marketing tactic at random – sometimes finding results – sometimes not. Others respond to the overwhelm by ignoring the problem entirely, and we all know how well the head-in-the-sand approach works long-term. Neither option is a great way to approach such an important part of our acupuncture practice life.
So, as a person who teaches and coaches acupuncture students and practitioners about professional life, I’ve wanted to do my part to give a little gift that will help reduce that overwhelm.
Over the next several articles, I’ll lay out a simple five element approach to putting a stable foundation under your acupuncture clinic marketing efforts. It’s an easy to understand model that won’t solve all your woes – but should help to get your feet under you so you can move forward with less anxiety and more confidence. While I don’t always love extending the metaphors of Chinese medicine to every little thing – in business I feel it supplies some depth & structure to what can be a challenging topic.
I want to wrap up this introductory article with a brief visit to each of the five elements and a hint of the lessons they have to teach us as we seek to craft inspiring & effective marketing for our acupuncture practices.
These will obviously be unpacked quite a bit more over the coming weeks – and note – these are my interpretations. The point is not whether some Song dynasty scholar would disagree with my assignment of a phase element to a particular business system – the point is to learn the information I’m structuring in that way. Look at what the finger is pointing towards, not at the finger – right?
Water reminds us of our deepest roots – our psychology, our values, our goals for our business, our unique ways of flourishing – and asks us to honor those at all points along the path of marketing our acupuncture practices. Water is also a call to attend to the holistic nature of acupuncture business (and all business – in my opinion) – all systems in a business impact all the rest. We cannot market in a vacuum – we must be completely aware of how our marketing practices impact our executive, operational, medical, financial, legal and personnel related business systems. This is complex, it’s true, but from that complexity comes marketing you can stand behind 100%.
Wood is strategy, planning – in connecting our marketing efforts to goals – concrete outcomes, and what we want for our world. This reduces the frantic, rushed sense some people get when they begin to work on marketing. All the tools, strategies, foreign concepts & words – it’s easy to see where overwhelm would come in. That energy needs focus, purpose. We need to have a plan. Wood gives direction to our frantic seeking – and allows us to truly see the best place for our efforts.
Moving on into full flourishing of fire – connection, our people, us, the Heart of things. Fire in marketing helps us to see that we reduce our field of choices considerably simply by attending to whom we want to reach – who do we serve? What sorts of information reaches them most easily? Would my clients respond to birthday cards? Would they come to in-house events? Where do they hangout online – or do they? These questions come from fire – and solving them is getting to the Heart of the marketing matter – people. Community.
Then to Earth – taking a pause, centering, reflecting and taking advantage of the information that we’ve already discussed to make wise decisions about which tools we’ll use, and how. How do we balance this activity against everything else we need to do in a way that helps us to continue to feel nourished? Earth is where we get to have fun picking things and setting them up, designing, experimenting, processing. And we get to do so guided by a plan, rooted in the fullness of our practices and ourselves – instead of feeling harried, pressed and disconnected from what nourishes us.
Finally, we complete this cycle of exploring the essentials of acupuncture clinic marketing by learning the lessons of metal. In metal we are reminded of the critical importance of analysis. It’s not enough to just do random techniques and hope for the best. We have to learn how to assess whether what we did made a difference to our bottom line. And as is reflected in all the phase elements in some way – we are doubly reminded of the importance of integrity in our marketing. This keeps the balance that the Lung, the Prime Minister, demands.
I’ll expand on each of these in turn – building out the model until it’s a complete schematic.
I’ll be interested to hear your feedback – feel free to provide in the comments, or you can join the CMC community with a Bulletin, Free Library & Forum subscription, and provide your feedback in a private, interactive setting.