Blog

Preparation: Why Your Practice Needs to Be Prepared Before It Gets Marketed

The state park boundary as I drove into Wachonah Falls State Forest.

2018 was a year of preparation for me. I spent most of the year organizing things. I reorganized my company from the generally uninteresting name of Berkshire SEO, to Mountain Man Digital. I organized my weekly posting schedule into some semblance of order. Most importantly, however, I prepared by finding my audience, and speaking directly to them—to you, about digital marketing.

My audience is, of course, chiropractors. Chiropractic has helped me immensely, taking me from severely injured, to being back in the gym in 3 weeks as opposed to getting back surgery. I am immensely grateful to Dr. Madden, who saved me months of pain and aggravation, and to the chiropractic community, who has helped me to grow my community around Mountain Man Digital over the past few months. For that, I will always be grateful.

Image of me, with the Waconah Resivoir behind me.  A lake this size with zero people on or around it is a real sight to see.
Image of me, with the Waconah Resivoir behind me. A lake this size with zero people on or around it is a real sight to see.

Why is preparation useful? Why would a chiropractor, who is hiring a digital marketer to “handle this stuff” need to be prepared first? What would that preparedness be like? Its very similar to getting ready to go on a hike out into the woods: There are safety pieces you need to have in place. You should have appropriate gear so the journey is as painless as possible. You should be ready for several possibilities that may happen. Most importantly, you should have a highly defined understanding of where the starting and end points are. It still astounds me how few chiropractors will focus on preparing for a marketing campaign, when a few simple pieces of research, and a better understanding of marketing could save them tons of time and money.

Let’s start by looking at how I prepare for a day hike. In Berkshire County, Massachusetts right now it is COLD. Average daily temperatures are right around 32 degrees farenheit. Therefore one of the first concerns is staying warm, but not too warm. This is a common mistake many people make when they’re going out for their first trek into the woods in the winter: they over bundle and don’t bring slightly colder gear in case they start to sweat. Have you ever worked/played outside in the cold, build up a sweat, and taken off your winter hat? your head almost immediately freezes solid form the sweat on your head. Then what do you do? you put your hat back on, only to be greeted by a hat full of what seems to be icicles of sweat that was trapped in the hat itself. This is not a good time, if you didn’t catch onto that already. The simple solution is to actually bring two seperate hats. I have a very small, sweat wicking winter hat form columbia that I keep stuffed in a pants pocket, or in my fanny pack when I’m hiking on days like this. If my head starts to sweat, I will quickly change to that sweat wicking hat and continue on my merry way. I also do this for gloves. I carry a lightweight pair of sweat wicking work gloves that are just enough to keep a slight chill off my hands, and a heavier pair if my hands start to get cold. These two small tips are really the key to being able to stay comfortable outside in the cold all day long. Remember: sweat is your enemy.

The stream that feeds Wachonah Falls. This was a few miles up from the falls themselves. Picture taken to calm my nerves after nearly sliding my truck off the road several times.

The next part I focus on is food and water. If I’ll be out for more than an hour, I bring some type of food. One hour can easily turn into three or four if you take a wrong turn in the woods, and being without food and water that long is dangerous, especially in the winter when it’s harder to feel thirst. I bring a couple granola bars, and an emergency package of Beef Jerkey which I have yet to use, thankfully.

The final piece, but by far the most important, is safety precautions. What will you do if you break your leg, or get stuck in the woods? How will someone know where to look? How will the find you once they start looking? For these possibilities I do two things.

  1. I carry my cell phone with the GPS on, but all other antennas shut off for battery savings.
  2. I carry a safety whistle, which you can buy for $3 for a pack of 2 on amazon.

It’s all well and good if someone can find you via GPS, but it’s wildly inaccurate, especially if you’re not close to a major road or landmark it can triangulate your position from. In a search and rescue situation, you could have searchers right next to your location calling for you, but you’ve lost your voice hours ago from screaming for help. A good whistle is easy to blow in, makes a ton of noise, and will send search dogs and regular rescuers to your location quickly. Get one, and don’t leave home to go out in the woods without it. It’s also useful if you’re hiking/ exploring with a friends, and you’re trying to find each-other. The final benefit is scaring away bears, but don’t test this one if you can avoid it.

Finally, have a good PAPER map of the place you’re hiking, and a small compass. I carry a compass on a carabeaner that also has a thermometer connected to it, which is surprisingly useful in gear selection in the winter as you often don’t feel it heating up or cooling down until you begin to either lose body heat or sweat.

With this simple collection of gear at my disposal, I feel confident that any winter day hike, whether alone, with my daughter, my wife, or anyone else will have at least some margin of safety involved. This is important if you actually want to get to where you want to go on a hike, without getting lost, injured, fatigued, or just generally have a bad time.

Preparedness isn’t just for safety. It’s not just for hiking and outdoorsmanship either. Preparedness is also a pivotal piece for ensuring that your practice’s marketing actually succeeds in 2019. Here are my top pillars of Marketing Preparedness to follow in 2019.

  1. Have an IPA. You NEED to have a highly detailed picture of whom your ideal patient avatar is (IPA). If you don’t know who your ideal patient is, how will you ever attract them? It’s easy to say “well I’ll take anyone right now!” when you’re starting, or if you’re in a slump. Remember, though, that ideal patients will get the ideal experience from you. You will be most effective at helping them, because you’re passionate about helping these kinds of people. Take the time to learn who your ideal patient is. If you’ve been in business for any space of time, you probably have quite a few ideal patients in your practice already. Interview them if you can, and get a feel for their problems, hopes, and and ideal experiences working with a chiropactor. Yes, this can be awkward the first time. However, once you do the first interview you will have such a great picture of what you need to do for your practice that you and your marketing team will be able to really hit the ground running with an excellent picture of who your target market is, and what they want from your practice.
  2. Test offers with your IPA FIRST, before you spend money to test them on the “real world.” You already have a great test bed for marketing your practice: it’s called your current patients. If you want to start offering a holistic health plan to your patients, and incorporate a new supplement, or piece of machinery, how about you ask your current patient base if that’s something they’re looking for, first? This can save you thousands up front, and will give you more information than any marketing guru or “initial test” with Facebook ads will ever yield.
  3. Train your CA to make unsolicited calls to new leads now. Either pay for a training course for your CA, role play with them, or run a small one week test to drive leads for the CA to call before spending big money. Furthermore, if you’re too busy to do this training, or if your CA is, look into lead closing solutions for your practice that will handle lead calls and followup for you. Don’t be fooled that your CA still won’t need training, though. A new patient from a cold lead source still needs “work”, and making sure that your CA is ready to roll out the red carpet for them is a great way to ensure that these new patients you paid dearly for will come back over and over.

If you come to a marketing company prepared in this way, they will have the pieces they need to truly skyrocket your practice toward your goals in 2019. A great digital marketer can do great things for your practice, but they’re not magicians. Without a good understanding of whom they’re marketing to, what solutions you offer to those people, and a solid in-office process to get these patients to come and stay, even the best marketing campaigns will fall flat. Or leave you with a frozen, sweaty head.

Alright well, probably not the last part, but it’s a bad time, I promise you.

Get Out There.

-Charlie