Below, you’ll find the top 9 integrative healthcare marketing strategies currently trending in the holistic healing world.
Because, I get it. It can be hard to know where to start sometimes when it comes to marketing your integrative healthcare practice. In some ways, it’s just like marketing any other business.
But in other ways, it’s sort of its own animal.
For example, you’re already up against the mainstream medical machine’s campaign to discredit any and all holistic approaches to health. They understand, of course, that once America wakes up to the idea that the “there’s a pill for that” healthcare strategy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, their bottom line is going to be the thing that suffers—and not their patients. So, your marketing already has a credibility hurdle built right in from the beginning.
And that’s the just one example of how marketing your integrative healthcare organization differs from, say, that of a pet store.
So, here are the 9 best strategies for marketing your practice, each of which tackles the credibility hurdle from a different angle while also building your brand and drawing new clients right back to you.
1. Create Educational Content
The way people buy now is much different than how they bought even just a few years ago.
Your current and future clients no longer go for the hard sell.
They don’t rely on you to tell them what’s best for them. They take your expertise for what it is, but rarely do they take it without an accompanying handful of Himalayan pink salt.
In short, they self-educate.
Which means that along with being an integrative wellness center, you’re now also an educational company. And, for that matter, a media company.
Your future clients are hungry for information and your first and best marketing tactic is to give them that information in a way that resonates with them.
This educational content needs to come in as many forms as you can possibly create. Blogs, recipes, eBooks, and—perhaps most importantly—videos.
Because here’s the thing…
You are the expert. You hold the knowledge that they’re looking for. And by giving it to them—teaching them what you know, over and over again—you’re building a bridge of trust with them. A couple blogs, an eBook, and a few YouTube videos won’t make much of a difference, of course. But as you create more and better content and put it in front of your future clients, they’re going to begin to trust you.
And because they trust you, when they need your services, you’re going to be at the top of their list.
2. Make Asking for Referrals Part of Your Intake Process
Along with being self-educators, your future clients are also brand skeptics.
They’ve been marketed at for their entire lives. They’ve been given empty promise after empty promise by brands that were only interested in what was inside their wallets. And at some point enough was enough: They no longer believe what a particular brand tells them.
Who they DO believe, though, is other people. Their fellow brand-skeptic self-educators.
So, one of your most powerful marketing tools to draw in your future clients is your current client base.
Here at Vinyl Marketing, in our work with integrative healthcare practitioners, part of our marketing strategy is incorporating a referral system into the programs themselves. During the on-boarding/intake process, for example, we want the practitioner to begin planting the seeds for when she’s going to ask the client to refer others a little later in the program.
Obviously, you don’t want to straight up ask the client right away… you haven’t solved their issues yet, so you haven’t earned the right to ask them to bring their friends and family in.
But, once you’ve solved their problems, and that seed has already been planted up front, that’s when you can ask your clients to refer others to you.
And why wouldn’t they want to? Our nation is sick and broken. Which means that your clients’ friends and families, statistically speaking, are probably in the misery club. So, if you helped them, they’re going to WANT to evangelize for you.
However you approach referrals, make sure that the process is integrated (pun intended) into the program itself.
Don’t let it be an afterthought. Include it into the foundation of whatever processes you have in place currently.
3. Get Your People on Board
There’s one integrative client we have that consists of a cardiologist, a wellness director, and two admin/receptionist types. Their programs are killer. The results they get for their clients are, in a lot of cases, nothing short of miraculous.
The cardiologist and wellness director are two of my favorite people on earth. They’re smart, knowledgable, and deeply care for their patients and clients.
And one of the admins is also wonderful. She’s bright, sweet, and very personable.
But the other guy… man oh man. To put it as nicely as I can, he’s a grump. He’s curt. He’s terse. And every time I interact with him it’s very clear that my mere presence in the room is causing him some acute personal discomfort.
I’m picking on him here because he’s a great example of how your personnel can have a huge impact on your marketing efforts. Because marketing isn’t just running an ad on Facebook, or running a webinar, or sponsoring a local event. No, your marketing is everything that your customer experiences when they interact with you in any way.
So, finding the right people and training them to present your brand as a positive force every day, every time is huge.
Otherwise, it’s not going to matter what marketing materials you’re putting out into the world. If they finally pull the trigger and choose your practice to solve their health problems, if it’s not a good experience, they’re going regret their choice… and probably seek help elsewhere.
So, get your employees on board.
4. Get Social
This seems like a no-brainer, right?
Get a Facebook page. Open a Twitter account. Take some sweet pics and toss them up on Instagram.
You should do all of those things.
But, here’s what you need to know before you do it.
Social media is called that because it’s social. That sounds vaguely tautological, I know, but there’s an important lesson in the very obvious statement.
Because social media is all about engagement. And once you engage, your current and future clients are going to expect you to continue to be engaged.
Social isn’t a platform where you can just toss up some content, sit back, and hope that what you’re putting out there is resonating. You have to be social.
You have to reply to questions, heart comments, and, in general, spend time inside that space. You have to be present.
For some people, this is easy. They’re on social all the time anyway. But I’ve noticed that integrative practitioners and directors tend to, by nature, spend more time in the real world where real mindfulness can occur and less time stalking old girlfriends in their feed.
Which is a great way to be a human being. But a little less than ideal when it comes to social marketing.
The moral of the story is this: You should be on social, mainly because that’s where all but a very small minority of your potential clients are. But know that with a great social presence comes great responsibility. Once you’re in, you need to be in. The key to have a plan in place to handle questions, comments, and general engagement from your future clients when they come in.
Do that well, and your credibility is going to shoot through the roof.
5. Market the Benefits
Let’s say you run a yoga studio.
What are you selling? I mean, what are you really selling?
Yoga classes? Breathing advice? Education about how to get into the Crow pose and hold it for more than 6 seconds?
Nope, nope, and nope.
You aren’t providing any of those things. Instead, you’re offering peace, mindfulness, a break from the client’s chaotic life, a sense of oneness with the earth, or anything else that the client might be searching for.
Your marketing should reflect that. Which means: Your marketing has to focus on the BENEFITS of your products and services.
A lot of businesses start with the solution and then attempt to convert prospects by showing them what this feature does, or give a run down of the product or service specs. I don’t have much hard data on this, but I have a gut feeling that this approach is why a lot of people no longer respond to the old marketing tactics.
Your marketing approach should always start with your ideal client—and how you can benefit them. Figure out what they need and then tailor your solution to what they need.
It’s both the right thing to do as a human being, and—what’s more—it’s the most effective approach for creating loyal clients.
6. Online Reputation
Your online reputation is a key asset. And although a negative review here or there isn’t going to sink your whole operation, it’s good practice to keep an eye on what people are saying about you.
Again, remember that people listen to other people. So, if people are saying negative things about you online, you’re going to want to know about it.
One good way of doing this is to set up a Google alert, so that whenever someone mentions your practice, you’ll get an email about about it.
It’s also a good idea to set up a social monitoring process (see: Hootsuite) that allows you to pull in mentions of you from across all the major social channels (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.)
And what should you do if someone leaves a negative comment?
First, don’t delete it. That looks even worse.
Second, reach out and fix it. Or, at least, offer to do what you can.
If you made a mistake, own up to it. Apologize.
If it’s just a troll, however, ignore it. You can’t please everyone all the time, but do your best to make it right.
Another best practice is to set up a page on your website to showcase the positive reviews you get from across the web. Keeping these in a visible spot will help build trust and credibility with your current and future clients.
7. Offer Free Seminars
One local marketing outreach technique is to offer free seminars, where you can share a meal with your prospects and then teach them about something within your canopy of expertise.
These tend to be pretty successful, if only because people have a hard time turning down a free meal.
Several of our clients have had a lot of success with these.
These work best if you can run it like a soft sales meeting, with an ask to sign up for a particular program at the end.
What this looks like will depend on what your specialty is within the holistic world, but you’re creative.
You’ll think of something!
8. Market to Your Existing Clients
This is generally an untapped market for most businesses. But that deficit is especially prevalent in the integrative healthcare world.
Which is surprising, because it’s a scientific fact that people are more likely to purchase something from you if they’ve already bought something from you.
(That’s why if you purchase something from, say, Amazon, they don’t let you past the next page without offering you three or four other products that compliment what you just purchased. They’re usually 25% or less of the total cost, and therefore seem like a much smaller decision than the one you’ve already made.)
Again, this is going to depend on your particular products or services, but if you’re running a wellness program, then offering a range of high quality supplements to your program’s members benefits everyone involved.
9. Target Area Businesses Where Your Ideal Clients Are
The final strategy on this list is decidedly the most local. Combined with #7 above, it can be a powerful one.
Let’s say you run an acupuncture clinic. Where are your ideal clients locally?
Construction companies, where old and new injuries gather in their employees’ bodies, might be a good place to start. Or an office park, where people spend their days bending over desks and ruining their necks and backs.
A little marketing hustle and an invitation to attend a free seminar, and your clientele might just experience a rapid increase.
Whichever of these 9 strategies work for you, the important thing is to come up with a plan and start putting them to work for your practice.