It’s not a competition after all; online and in-person acupuncture marketing need to work together to have the greatest effect.
In my last post, Free Acupuncture Marketing Ideas – Part 2, I devoted most of my time to in-person marketing, which is essentially networking. But I know that many people feel that internet marketing, in all its powerful, people-reaching glory, should take precedence over in-person marketing. Perhaps the most common argument for this is that online marketing reaches vast numbers of people with the click of a button, whereas in-person marketing takes quite a bit more effort. (You have to get dressed, for one.)
But I feel that both in-person and online marketing are necessary, as opposed to relying solely on the power of search engine optimization to bring you patients, and here’s why.
Basically, all marketing comes down to creating trust. A few posts ago I talked about how this is especially important in acupuncture, because when you’re putting needles in people, they need to trust you a bit more than if you’re just trying to sell them a pizza. And meeting people in real life and making a good impression is a powerful thing; it creates trust much more rapidly than, say, just reading your ad somewhere.
One of the goals of online marketing is also to generate trust. The first place I ever read about creating trust with your online presence was this sweet-awesome powerhouse of a blog right here. Online, you generate trust by consistently delivering high-quality content. People eventually trust that your blog, website or Facebook page will have something interesting and/or useful to share on a regular basis. Another way that your online presence as a health care provider builds trust is having positive testimonials or online reviews.
Testimonials are where your in-person marketing and your online marketing intersect. The patient has to have a good experience with you in person in order to leave a positive testimonial (I’m getting Captain Obvious, here, right?). The whole experience that you provide patients with, from the moment they walk in your door until the moment they leave, is part of your marketing. The feeling a patient gets from spending time with you (positive or negative) determines if they will tell their friends or leave a positive testimonial online.
Once they’ve left a positive testimonial online, then the awesome cycle begins: potential patients see (and trust) the positive feedback on your site >> they come see you without ever having met you >> you meet and impress them with your wit and needling technique >> they go home happy with the in-person experience and write you a positive review >> cycles perpetuates.
So generating trust online and in real-life efforts absolutely support each other. You can’t have one without the other in the nature of business we’re in. You may get to the point where you can’t go out and network all the time because your awesome web presence and testimonials are bringing in so many patients – great! But that doesn’t mean you stop providing an outstanding service in person.
And for those of us who still have free time on our hands between patients, getting out there to network with humanity is probably a better option than sitting at our desks trying to optimize our SEO. (Because who knows what the heck SEO is, anyway?) Even when your website brings you tons of patients, I still thinks nothing beats going out in public and talking to people. That visceral connection is something that can’t be replaced, even by the best online branding.