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The 3 Pillars of Successful Practice Marketing


3 Pillars

As more functional medicine practitioners exit the insurance payer system in an effort to find greater satisfaction in their work, they find themselves in the unfamiliar (and sometimes uncomfortable) position of having to market their practice in order to attract new patients.

Here are three pillars of successful practice marketing to ensure your practice gains traction and becomes profitable quickly:

1. Build a Strong Marketing Foundation

A strong marketing foundation means two things: 1) differentiating yourself in the marketplace by selecting a well-defined niche, and 2) developing a deep understanding of your ideal client.

Practitioners often believe they will attract more patients by being everything to everyone. Yet this “generalist” approach often misses the mark because most people willing to pay cash for services have a specific health condition that is not being adequately addressed by the conventional system and are looking for a specialist.

Sometimes practitioners worry that by having a niche they’ll limit themselves or become bored. Never fear: You don’t have to choose an overly narrow niche, and you don’t have to turn away people who come to you for other issues.

Niching is a marketing strategy by which you seek to attract a certain kind of client; it’s not a hard and fast rule that says you can’t help others, if you wish to.

The second step in building a strong marketing foundation is to develop a deep understanding of your ideal client. How old are they? What gender? What do they struggle with? What are their hopes and dreams? Most importantly, what results do they want?
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Understanding Your Ideal Client


The foundation of great marketing is having a clear understanding of your ideal client, or your target audience. Who are you trying to reach?

Too often when I ask a new client this question, the answer is vague. They’re not sure. Sometimes the answer is “Everyone?”

This is a problem because if you don’t have a specific picture of who you’re trying to attract, your message will fail to engage. Your marketing will be weak and ineffective.

So it’s imperative that you spend time identifying precisely who your ideal client is, as this will inform all of your marketing efforts — your website, talks, 1-on-1 conversations, emails, articles, videos, social media and more.

By definition, an ideal client is someone who:

1. Knows they have a problem
2. Is seeking a solution NOW (there is urgency)
3. Has money to pay for a solution (this should be obvious)
4. Has a positive, can-do attitude (someone you would enjoy working with)

This means an ideal client is not someone who can’t admit they have a problem (“I’m not that overweight”) or isn’t motivated to take action yet (“I can live with this”).

No, we’re seeking the person who is ready and motivated for change, and willing to prioritize an investment in their health. We’re looking for someone who is seeking our help and doesn’t need to be convinced.

In order to attract this person, we need to speak in compelling language they can relate to. We need to make them feel understood. To do this, we “step into their shoes” by answering the following questions:
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How Long Should Your Free Consults Be?



Many practitioners give free consults as a tool to introduce potential clients and patients to their services and enroll them into packages or programs.

It can be an effective sales tool, if you know how to do them right.

The question becomes, how long should your free consults be?

It depends.

A number of factors come into play here, including your pricing, your credentials, and whether you use a 1-step or 2-step sales process. Let me explain.

Your Pricing

This is not a hard and fast rule, but generally, the less expensive your services, the less time you should spend on the free consult. Here’s a rule of thumb:

  • If your programs are less than $1,000, you likely only need to spend 15-20 minutes.
  • If your programs are $1,000 to $3,000, plan on spending at least 30 minutes and possibly up to an hour.
  • If your programs are more then $4,000, figure 45 minutes to an hour.

Your Credentials

Your credentials are another factor that affects the length of your consults. If you’re an MD, DO or ND, people don’t expect to get much (or any) of your time for free and you can often spend less time than a DC or LAc.

If you’re a nutritionist or health coach, you’ll often need to spend more time, as your services are perceived as less valuable (not fair, but we’re talking perception here), and you’ll need more time to build rapport and demonstrate the value of your services.

1-Step versus 2-Step Sales Process

How long you spend also depends on your sales process. In general, you’ll need to spend more time on the free consult if you’re using a 1-step sales process. A 1-step process looks like this:

Free Consult —> High Value Package/Program

In this scenario you’re selling the prospect directly into a high value package or program from the free consult. There’s no intermediary step.

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