Why I Rebranded Modern Acupuncture Marketing to My Own Name and How What I Learned Applies to Marketing an Acupuncture Practice
(And also… why it was scary as hell!)
It’s been a little while and some things have been happening! In fact, some big, crazy, (mostly) awesome things:
- I rebranded Modern Acupuncture to my name: MichelleGrasek.com
- I crashed my website 🙁
- I taught a session in another Marketing Summit for Acupuncturists
- I was recently asked to be the lead instructor in the Practice Management course at the Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture 🎉🎉
- AND… drum roll, please! I released my first comprehensive online course: Acupuncture Marketing: Easy Strategies for More Patients
This post is primarily about the first topic: changing my website name to my own name.
I want to talk about the importance of branding, learning from mistakes, and why marketing our acupuncture practices ultimately means marketing ourselves. (And why this last concept is okay even though it’s scary sometimes.)
But first, I want to share a little bit about the online course, Acupuncture Marketing: Easy Strategies for More Patients.
I’ll just share a tiny bit, because it’s actually closed for enrollment for the present. On June 1st I opened the course to 10 Beta testers (who got $100 off the course price, woo-hoo!).
What is the course about/Who is it for?
If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by marketing your practice, like you have no idea where to start, this course is for you. The purpose is to to teach you how to market with confidence, in a way the feels genuine and generous (never sleazy).
- Learn everything you need to market your practice from the ground up.
- Put systems to put in place to make marketing seamless and easy.
- Right-now tips to help you get more patients on your schedule this week.
(You can see the full course outline here. It includes how to create beautiful social media images in 5 minutes, how to your boost your website’s Google rank, marketing calendars to keep you accountable, and much more.)
Why did I ask for Beta testers?
My goal is for the Beta testers to go through the online course during the month of June and give me any and all feedback they can think of, to make this course as actionable, thoughtful, fun and practical as possible.
It’s important to me that the course be what you need. So even though the course is already incredibly comprehensive and 95% complete, I wanted to get feedback to make sure it’s precisely on the mark.
I mentioned that I opened the course up asking for 10 Beta testers.
I was thrilled (and a even a little shocked) by the intensity of the response! Within 24 hours, all 10 seats were snapped up. Overwhelmed by emails asking if there was still space for Beta testers, I opened up another 10 Beta seats.
All 20 Beta seats are now occupied and the testers are in! Throughout the month of June I’ll be tweaking the course, and on July 10th it will go live and be available for everyone else to enroll in.
I’ll keep you updated and let you know when it’s ready!
But let’s get back to the big message in this article…
You may have noticed recently that Modern Acupuncture Marketing is no longer, and that everything on my website has been transitioned to MichelleGrasek.com
Did you notice? I kind of hope you didn’t. I tried to make it as seamless as possible, keeping the same imagery, color scheme, etc.
I want to share with you why I did this and use it as an opportunity to talk about branding and why marketing our acupuncture practices frequently means marketing ourselves.
Before we begin, can we please have a moment of silence for Modern Acupuncture Marketing? 🙁
You guys. I loved that name. It felt perfect. I spent the last three years branding it and making that brand KNOWN.
So then, the question on everyone’s mind is this:
What the heck happened to Modern Acupuncture Marketing??
And the answer everyone is expecting is this:
Modern Acupuncture is now a national franchise with its first location out in Arizona.
The franchise is NOT the reason I had to re-brand.
Drum roll please…
It’s my own fault!
Remember how I’m always talking about how my own mistakes are the best teachers (like in this post and this one)? How I’m the kind of person who often has to do something wrong first (like, really wrong) before I finally get it right? I take a plunge and realize, whoops, there was a better way to do this… more efficient, more effective, more precise.
Well, this is no exception.
In a nutshell, I had to re-brand Modern Acupuncture Marketing because I never looked up naming regulations for businesses in New York State before setting up my website in 2014.
Nope. I just picked a name and rolled with it.
And it came around and royally kicked me in the butt this year.
Here’s the story in a nutshell:
Last year I realized that Modern Acupuncture Marketing was really picking up speed and it could be more than it ever had been before. I was hoped to make money through my online NCCAOM 2-PDA course, How to Get More Patients from Health Fairs, and I realized that I should be running this website less like a hobby and more like a business. People would be buying stuff from me, and I needed it to be a business, not just a blog.
I applied for an LLC with the name Modern Acupuncture Marketing in the state of New York (where I live, of course) and was rejected for reasons that felt fuzzy to me. Instead of looking into it further, I put the whole naming business on the back burner and got swallowed up with other concerns.
Actually, not that they were planning to… that they already had. And I was behind the eight ball.
Now there was a national corporation with a name represented 66% of my website’s name… and I knew I had better get my booty in gear and claim the name Modern Acupuncture Marketing before it was too late. (If it wasn’t too late already. I had no idea, to be honest, how these things work.)
So while the Modern Acupuncture franchise was not the reason for my re-naming my website, it was certainly a major catalyst.
A much-needed kick-in-the-butt. Kind of the like the universe saying, “Hey babe! You missed the boat!”
I applied to New York State for the LLC “Modern Acupuncture Marketing” again and got rejected again. This time, I got in touch with them and asked WHY.
And what I learned was super frustrating, but also fairly typical of New York. If you’re from New York, you know that rules and regulations here for running a business can be both expensive and nit-picky… Difficult and exhausting for reasons unknown. And apparently we like red tape.
The truth was this:
In New York, you cannot have an LLC (Limited Liability Company) that uses the words “acupuncture,” “acupuncturist,” or even the abbreviation “acu,” as it implies acupuncture. Those terms are reserved only for PLLCs (Professional Limited Liability Companies), i.e., people who run acupuncture clinics.
I’m an acupuncturist, licensed in the state of New York, and I can’t use the word acupuncture in the title of my business unless the business treats patients?!
Yes, my friends. That is what I discovered.
Trust me, I was pissed. I argued with the poor souls at the state department of education on the telephone, insisting that if anyone was allowed to use the phrase acupuncture, it should be an acupuncturist!
And what about the fact that I teach marketing! In marketing, one of the most important concepts I teach is making your message clear to your target audience. And what is more clear than including the word “acupuncture” in my business name, because I teach marketing to acupuncturists?!
Well, I did my best and used my most persuasive arguments, and got nowhere.
Eventually I hired a lawyer.
Yes, friends. It got that serious. Or, I got that desperate.
Initially I spoke to an attorney through LegalZoom, but since then I’ve switched to the amazing legal services through LegalShield, which is a bit less expensive and provided me with an attorney’s office in my state. (More on that experience in another post. I’ll just say it’s been surprisingly positive overall.)
Unfortunately, the lawyer told me the bad news: That there was no way I was going to be able to retain the name Modern Acupuncture Marketing as an LLC. And that I’d better pick a new name, fast.
So I chose, “Modern Practice Marketing, LLC,” Doing Business As (DBA) Michelle Grasek.
Well, what a let-down. It’s just not the same!
But in the grand scheme of things, it was the right choice for my business.
So why did I chose to name my business after my own name?
After all, one of the most popular articles I’ve ever written recommends against this kind of thing. In 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing an Acupuncture Practice Name, I recommend that people do not name their practices, for example, Jane Doe, Licensed Acupuncturist.
1. I couldn’t think of a new name that felt really good that included the word “marketing” but did not include the word “acupuncture.” Even after brainstorming with friends. The best we could come up with was Moxa Marketing (which I didn’t hate, but also didn’t love), On Point Marketing (which was taken by someone else) or Modern Practice Marketing (which is my LLC but just didn’t have a ring to it). None of these names “nailed it” for me the way Modern Acupuncture Marketing had.
2. It’s actually very common for online entrepreneurs to brand their websites in their own name. For example, Marie Forleo, Caitlin Bacher, Farideh Ceasar, Michelle McGlade (acupuncturist and business coach, definitely check her out!), Melyssa Griffin, Heidi Brockmyre, and many more.
3. My branding was already my face (see the giant header image under the menu bar on this website… yep, there’s my face). So it wasn’t a huge change after all to take the plunge and embrace branding myself. At least all of my branding photos and imagery were 50% of the way there.
4. I’ve already built trust around my own “name” because of the teaching that I do, including online CEU courses and in-person classes.
5. And last but certainly not least: Naming an acupuncture practice is different than branding a website. An acupuncture practice named, Jill Smith, Licensed Acupuncturist, just does not have an established sound to it.
Yes, whenever you’re marketing your practice, you’re essentially marketing yourself. But. Jill Smith, Licensed Acupuncturist sounds like one person, sitting alone in an office. (Which might be true for many of us as solopreneurs running our own clinics, and there’s nothing wrong with that.)
But you at least want to chose a name that builds as much trust as possible with your potential patients. A name that implies as much professionalism and credibility as possible. The remedy that I often recommend is to simply change it slightly to your last name only: Smith Acupuncture sounds much more professional and established than Jill Smith, Licensed Acupuncturist, in my humble opinion.
But – this is not the case with online business names. As you can see if you clicked any of the online businesses I listed above (Melyssa Griffin, Farideh Ceasar), naming and branding a website after yourself is pretty common.
And so, for all these reasons, plus a little encouragement from Michelle McGlade, I took the plunge and named my website after myself.
And you know what? It’s been okay so far! Once I committed to it, it’s gotten easier and easier to embrace every step of the way.
What lessons did I learn that apply to running an acupuncture practice?
The two big takeaways that I learned from this experience are:
- Even though it’s frustrating to have to re-name or re-brand your business, for whatever reason, it can be done.
- My online business, much like my acupuncture practice, requires me to market myself as an individual. It’s scary, but necessary, and worth it.
Let’s chat about each:
Even though it’s frustrating to have to re-name your business, for whatever reason, it can be done.
Whether you’re rebranding or renaming for legal reasons or because you just feel like your current brand isn’t attracting the right kind of patients to your office (your ideal patients, the ones you really want to treat), I encourage you to stop procrastinating. Procrastination didn’t help my experience at all. (It rarely does, right?)
Just do it. Don’t sit around for months and assume that it’s going to be “fine.” Take action. Get it over with!
It might seem intimidating at first. But if you really feel that new, fresh branding would better represent you and (more importantly) better attract your ideal potential patients into your practice, then it’s totally worth the time and effort.
After all, that’s what branding is about, right? The whole purpose of marketing is to create enough trust in potential patients so that they’re willing to make an appointment. And branding is one avenue through which trust is built.
Although many of us hate the concept, humans make snap judgement based on first impressions. There’s nothing we can do to change that, so we might as well use it to our advantage. That’s where branding comes in.
If your branding implies that your are established, professional, and “kind of a big deal,” then people are more likely to trust you. In comparison, if your branding looks unfinished, is not cohesive, or looks hacked together by your nephew, it just doesn’t build trust in potential patients.
I know this is harsh, but it’s the truth. I talk about this more in-depth in my online course.
My online business, much like my acupuncture practice, requires me to market myself as an individual. It’s scary, but totally necessary and worth it.
Marketing your acupuncture practice means marketing yourself as an individual. Apparently, running an online business is no different.
So why was deciding to rename Modern Acupuncture Marketing after myself as scary as hell??
When I was faced with the concept of naming my online business after myself, I was thrown back very suddenly into the same panic and shyness that I experienced the day I realized that marketing my acupuncture practice would require marketing myself.
Let’s take a step back here.
Why does marketing your acupuncture practice necessarily require you to market yourself?
Because you are your business. It’s your skills, experience, expertise, and compassion that patients want to utilize and experience for their own benefit.
Yes, it’s also acupuncture at large that they want to experience and benefit from. But YOU are the unique delivery of the healing instrument that is acupuncture. You are the reason people come back again and again.
Think of it this way: acupuncture is a rare form of medicine in that it allows us into our patients’ lives in an intimate way; a way that many healthcare providers to not have the privilege to experience. We spend enough time with our patients and ask them so many in-depth questions that we often get to know them on a deeper level.
To illustrate, think of this example: if a patient decides they do not like their acupuncturist (perhaps your personalities conflict, for example) they will not continue to go to that acupuncturist. Even if the acupuncture is working!
So you’re marketing yourself as individual as much as you’re selling the benefits of acupuncture. You make the experience of acupuncture “complete” – a total package.
So when you talk to people about acupuncture and your clinic, you must also be willing to put yourself in the spotlight, at least occasionally. To talk about the great results you’ve had with patients, to discuss your education and specialties, your approach to healing, etc.
You must be willing to be SEEN, at least on some level. To be visible. And so in this way, marketing your acupuncture practice is largely marketing yourself.
Similarly, part of the reason I finally decided to name my website after myself was that I was slowly convinced that much of what people come here for is what I have to say – even if that feels crazy to me, like who am I?
But it’s my voice, my willingness to ask questions, to share my experiences and mistakes, and my willingness to put myself out there for others to see, that draws people in. At least in some capacity. You may have noticed, that as a natural introvert, I like to deflect this attention from myself by interviewing others 😉
Especially as I got ready to publish my online course, which I teach largely from my personal experience, it became clear that my business name and branding would do well to embrace the one consistent element of this website – me.
Phew, it was hard to even type those last two paragraphs. Me, me, me, blah, blah, blah! Why is it so scary to talk about ourselves, even when we do so with humility and an open heart?
The reason I’m telling you is this: I FEEL YOU. If you don’t like marketing your practice because you realize it requires YOU to be visible, I get it!
Not only because I went through the same thing when I opened my practice way back in 2010, but because I’m experiencing this self-doubt and introverted terror all over again with naming my website after myself.
So what are you and I going to do about it?
Well, I’m going to tell you that I got through it once before, and so will you. With practice, with patience, with being willing to make mistakes and put ourselves out there again and again, it will get better.
Over time, you get used to it. It becomes “normal” and doesn’t feel so distressing to share how you (as an individual) can serve your patients, and why you’re unique as an acupuncturist.
Because of my experience with this, I know that you too can and will work through it. You got this. It’s scary at first but it gets better with time and practice. I have confidence and faith in you.
And I know that I, too, will get over this self-doubt and the feelings of “not-good-enough-ness” that makes me cringe when people mention how ballsy it is to name my website after myself.
We can totally do this, you and I. We got this. And it’s going to be so worth the mental struggle for the end result.
Phew! You guys, this was a super long post. Thank you for sticking with me to the end!
Even though the past couple of months have been a wild ride, it’s all been worth the effort and I’m so glad that you’re here with me.
That we’re working together to help you market your practice in ways that feel genuine and generous, to get the word out about acupuncture to more people.
Even though Modern Acupuncture Marketing is a thing of the past, that spirit and drive are still exactly the same here at MichelleGrasek.com.
I can’t wait to see what the future brings (hopefully no more crashing my website or rebranding for a long time!) but I know that together, we got this. We can change the world with acupuncture. We already are!
Much love, my friends. Until next week 🙂
What about you? Do you have a hard time being visible to market your practice?
How have you overcome it? Share you story in the comments so we can learn from each other 🙂