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How To Solve Your Biggest Social Media Marketing Problem.

 

Back in July of 2009 I wrote a blog post about how social media marketing for acupuncturists was a waste of time. I still believe it was back then, but 3 ½ years have passed, and today social media has matured into a viable branding and referral opportunity for acupuncturists – IF you know how to do it right!

But even if you know how to do it right, there’s still a major problem with social media…

It’s VERY time consuming!

It’s very time consuming because you have to find the right content to post, you have to make sure the source of the content is reputable and you have to make sure the content is on websites that provide a good user experience.

Today I want to tell you to a social media marketing service for acupuncturists I developed in 2012 and have been testing for the last 3 months with positive feedback.

Here’s what it is…

We post on your behalf 2 posts per day – 5 days a week on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ (and we can also post on LinkedIn if you like.)

We post relevant content having to do with alternative medicine, acupuncture, medical news, fitness, yoga, nutrition, exercise, and an occasional light post that appeals to the population in general. The first post of the day is scheduled at around 1:00 PM EST and the second post at around 8:00PM EST.

Here are some screen shots of what it looks like on my daughter’s Facebook page, Christina Prieto who is an acupuncturist in Orlando, FL.

Most of the postings  – about 90% of them – are from my social media marketing service for acupuncturists and the others are hers.

Facebook Social Media Marketing for Acupuncturists

We don’t just post a link by itself… Every posting gets an intro comment because this helps engage users…

Every posting gets an intro comment because this helps engage users.

Every posting is accompanied by an image which is even more important than the intro comment…

Every posting is accompanied by an image which is even more important than the intro comment.

The content is also posted on Google+…

The content is also posted on Google+...

…and posted on Twitter too… By the way, speaking of Twitter, we also increase your Twitter followers at not extra cost. This is an unadvertised bonus that’s really nice.

The content is also posted on Twitter too... By the way, speaking of Twitter, we also increase your Twitter followers at not extra cost. This is an unadvertised bonus that's really nice.

When someone leaves a comment on a post, you receive a Facebook e-mail notification so you can reply or add to the comment.

We don’t comment or reply on your behalf. Our job is to find, schedule and post relevant content with a brief intro on your social media profiles 5 days a week (Monday through Friday).

That gives you 10 fresh postings on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn every week – plus 10 other different articles posted on Twitter every week for a total of 40 fresh postings every week.

Social Media Networks

How much time would it take you to find 4 pieces of relevant content on the internet every day, and post one at noon and the second one in the evening on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn – and post the 3rd one on Twitter at noon and the 4th on Twitter again in the evening?

This would be a painstaking and time consuming task if you tried to do it yourself every single day, Monday through Friday – week in and week out.

Here are some interesting results from a survey performed by Vertical Response, an online marketing firm in October of 2012 of 500 small businesses.

Small businesses:

•   Are spending more time doing social media and investing more money into it at a faster rate.

•   But the extra work is leading to time management issues, especially for the small business owner who’s handling social media on top of all the other responsibilities of running their business.

•   43% spend 6 or more hours per week while 25% spend from 6 to 10 hours a week on social media.

•   My favorite and the reason I created this service for acupuncturists… Respondents reported that finding and posting content to their social networks is the most time-consuming, while answering questions posted on social media is the least time-consuming.

 

Social Media Time Consuming

I showed you how you can put your social media marketing on auto-pilot and free yourself from the time-sucking task of posting good, relevant content on a daily basis. Now let me give you the details of a special offer I have for you – and please pay close attention because I’m doing something I’ve never done before…

If you hired one of the many companies that manage social media marketing for small businesses you can expect to pay from as little as $300 per month to as much as $600 or even $1,200 per month or more…

Here are actual prices social media marketing companies charge so you can see for yourself…

There is Social Media Babe who’s prices start a $400 a month and that’s for posting on just 2 networks. They do respond to interaction, but they only make 5 posts per week. They’re next plan is $600 per month.

Social Media Companies

Community Elf’s entry package starts at $200 and that’s for a maximum of 2 posts per week. Their 2nd tier package starts at $500 per month for daily postings.

Social Media Manager

Fan Pilot has prices starting at $299 per month, and that’s posting 3 times per week to Facebook alone…

Social Media Marketing Firm

And finally here’s My Social Partner that gives you 2 updates per day (on 2 networks) but here’s the kicker… they charge $399 per month and you have to provide the content.

Ironically, the survey respondents said that finding and posting the content is the most time consuming.

Social Media Firm

So here’s the deal…

The regular price for my social media marketing service for acupuncturists is $297 per month, but you won’t have to pay $297 or even $197…

Your price to put social media marketing on auto-pilot is only $128 per month.

So if you want to dramatically increase your exposure on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn –  click the sign button below to lock-in this special price before this offer expires.

There are no contracts or gimmicks – and you can cancel at any time.

Get 57% OFF my social media marketing service for acupuncturists today.

Click here to sign up
 

faq

Q – How can I trust the content you are posting on my behalf will represent me and my practice in a professional manner?

A – We have been doing acupuncture marketing for over 8 years and understand the demographics of your target audience and how to market to them. We’ve been testing the system since January with some picky acupuncturists and they love it because the content is relevant, engaging, and keeps them active in the social media sites – without having to spend endless hours doing the work.

 

Q – Can I approve the content before it gets posted on the social media sites?

A – Yes, but that option is only available by upgrading to the next level at $297/month. Frankly, we don’t encourage it because the postings get delayed until you have time to approve them because you are busy treating patients.

 

Q – Can I cancel at any time?

A – Yes… Just send us an e-mail before the next billing date and we’ll cancel your subscription and stop billing your credit card immediately.

 

Q – Can I get a refund if I’m not happy with the service?

A – You can cancel ANY time and we will stop billing your credit card immediately, but we don’t issue refunds because all the work is done and scheduled in advance. This ensures we have enough time to curate the right content and have it posted on schedule.

 

Q – Can I select what time of the day I want the content posted?

A –The first posting of the day takes place at mid day and the second in the evening (Eastern Standard Time.) We chose these times because they provide the highest user engagement. If you want special posting hours you’ll need to upgrade to the next level at $297/month, but in reality the mid day and evening times are fine.

 

Q – Do you need the passwords to my social media sites to set this up?

A – Not for Facebook or Google+. You just need to make us an admin of your Facebook and Google + business pages so we can post to them. If you don’t have a Facebook or Google + page we’ll show you how to create one. It’s very easy. We do need however your passwords to set up Twitter and LinkedIn. Once we’re done setting up those two profiles you can reset the passwords.

 

Q – Do you answer questions or reply to my audiences’ questions or comments on the social media sites?

A – No, we post the relevant and engaging content on your behalf so you can interact with your audience by answering questions and replying to comments.

 

Q – Do I really need to do all this social media stuff?

A – In today’s environment you need to do it if you want to grow your practice. Social media is not going to solve all your marketing problems, but there is no question it has become an important factor in the mix. While SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC Advertising (Google Adwords) are still the most effective ways to generate new patients, social media has taken over in building referrals, patient retention and reputation management.

 

Q – Can I pause the service for a week or two while I’m on vacation?

A – Yes, but the billing will continue as usual and there is no credit for that time period due to the nature of the process. Sorry.

 

Q – If I cancel and then sign up again, will I pay the same price as before?

A – When you cancel the special price is lost. If you decide to sign up in the future, the regular going rate applies.

Click here to sign up
 

KONY 2012 – Invisible Children’s Great Cause and a Lesson on Viral Marketing.

As I was watching TV the other night, I was browsing through my Facebook news feed on my iPhone and came across a video posted by one of my Facebook friends that caught my attention. I probably would have never watched the video that night had it not been for the fact the video had gone viral with over 67,000,000 (million) views.

The longer I watched, the more I was convinced this was one cause I could not ignore. By the same token, I’m a bit skeptical as to what is behind most movements, so I did a little bit of research and was amazed (but not surprised) to find that no good deed goes unpunished. I’ll explain what I mean in a minute. First I want to tell you why it is so important you watch this video.

Jason Russell is a film maker in the US who has visited Uganda in Africa a number of times. He is also the founder of the organization Invisible Children. While in Uganda, Jason Russell made friends with a boy named Jacob. Jacob is just one of an estimated 66,000 children who have been kidnapped by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army.) The LRA is led by a viscous killer by the name of Joseph Kony.

Joseph Kony is the leader of the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) who is at the top of the International Criminal Court’s top 10 list of wanted fugitives.Kony is a cold blooded murderer who kidnaps children and gives them guns and forces them to fight and commit atrocities against other children. It is estimated that a total of over 2 million children have been displaced since 1986 by Kony and the LRA. Jason Russell promised Jacob he would do something about this and started a campaign using social media to get Joseph Kony arrested and brought to justice.

What Russell has accomplished so far is mind boggling to say the least. Joseph Kony is on the run, but has not been arrested yet. By the way, if you think Egypt’s Facebook revolution was astonishing you’re in for a surprise when you see what Russell’s organization – Invisible Children – is up to.

As I mentioned in the beginning, I’m a bit skeptical when a movement like this pops up. I’m not one to jump on a bandwagon without first trying to learn a bit more about it – especially if I’m going to share it with my friends and colleagues.

So I did a bit of research online and I was amazed how critics of Jason Russell – who are involved in organizations similar to Invisible Children, are out there complaining. They are barking about why this is wrong – or the approach should be different, or this or that.

These critics obviously know a lot more about Uganda than most of us do. But I find it appalling that instead of joining Jason Russell in this worthy and monumental undertaking, they’ve chosen to sit back and criticize this initiative instead. Like I said, no good deed goes unpunished. My personal opinion is that his critics are sorry they didn’t think of this first. I might even call it professional jealousy. When you watch the video you will see for yourself how this social media movement has got the attention of celebrities, law makers and the President himself.

This will be a historic social media event. Whether you decide to be a part of it or not is completely up to you. All I ask if you are inclined to do so, is that you share the video with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers. At most you will have done your part to change the world – and at the very least you’ll get a first hand lesson on viral marketing.

You Gotta See Elie Goldschmidt’s Acupuncture Video

AOM DayElie Goldschmidt over at TCM Directory released an acupuncture video yesterday for AOM Day that had me in stitches. The video is hilarious. Let me put it this way… Imagine Adam Sandler singing a song about acupuncture and you’ll see what I mean.

After I watched it I picked up the phone and called Elie and said; “Dude, this video ROCKS!” I went on to tell him that I thought it was ballsy to put himself out there singing a song when he can’t sing. Elie said; “Dude, that’s not me singing.” I said, “you gotta be kidding – it sounds just like you.” He said he wrote the song but had someone else sing and play the guitar.

Go ahead and play the video, I think you’ll love it. If you enjoy it as much as I did, please share it with your friends by clicking the Share button below. You never know, we might make Elie an overnight sensation.

:-)

Marketing Secrets From Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs - An inspirational leader, business legend and marketing genius.I’ve been a rabid fan of Steve Jobs since I bought my first Mac back in 1987. Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple which has been the biggest – and saddest news in the tech world this week.

Today I came a across an article by Carmine Gallo in Forbes Magazine. Gallo is a communications coach for many of the big brands you recognize today. He’s also a charismatic and popular speaker who’s written several books – one of those being the bestseller; “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs.”

In this video presentation Carmine shares with you golden nuggets of marketing insight you don’t want to miss. So stop being such an acupuncturist for a few minutes and put on your acupuncture marketing hat and watch this presentation. It will be well worth your dime – or should I say your time because there’s nothing to buy and I’ve seen presentations like this go for a lot of money. Enjoy!

Understanding the “WHY?”

A few days ago I heard about TED – “Ideas Worth Spreading.” It’s a not-for-profit organization that meets twice a year to bring together the top minds in the area of business, social issues, economic and environmental concerns.

The invited speakers are among the top thinkers of today who come to talk to the audience for about 15 to 20 minutes. What they share is not only insightful but priceless. And if that wasn’t enough, TED brings these talented thinkers to the masses for free. They get their revenue from corporate sponsors.

When you watch the video below you’ll see what I mean. Relax and sit back because you’re in for the best 18 minutes you’ll invest in yourself this entire year. I promise!

Don’t Be Penny Wise and Pound Foolish.

Acupuncture Websites

I was talking recently with a client who said the offer for the free consultation on her website was more trouble than it was worth. You see, I always recommend you have an offer on your website for a free initial consultation for new patients. I’m not talking about a free treatment – I’m talking about not charging for the additional cost many practitioners charge new patients for the initial visit.

One of the best strategies you can use to get new patients in the door is to make them this offer. But many acupuncturists are afraid they’re going to get a lot of tire-kickers in the door who’ll waste their time. Not true. My stats show that 95% to 98% of “prospective” patients who take the time to drive to your office to meet with you stay for treatment.

As I kept inquiring to find out why the free consultation was causing confusion, I asked the acupuncturist if there is a difference in the cost between the initial visit WITH the free consultation coupon – and the initial visit WITHOUT the free consultation coupon. When I learned there is no difference I had my answer. You see, in marketing this cost difference is called the “risk-free” factor of an offer.

I explained to her the reason the coupon was creating a problem is because the offer is misleading. The website clearly states that the coupon has an $85 value. I advised her to either honor the free consultation offer or remove it completely from the website. It just doesn’t make sense to offer a free initial consultation if the patient is going to pay for the consultation any way.

Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish… Give’m the damn pickle!

The Money Tree Movie – How Many Opportunities Have You Passed By Because You Couldn’t See Them?

As I watched this video, the story “Acres of Diamonds”  came to mind. “Acres of Diamonds” is a true story told by the late Earl Nightingale, with an ageless moral. The story was about a farmer who lived in Africa and through a visitor became tremendously excited about looking for diamonds.

Diamonds were already discovered in abundance on the African continent and this farmer got so excited about the idea of millions of dollars worth of diamonds that he sold his farm to head out to the diamond line.

He wandered all over the continent, as the years slipped by, constantly searching for diamonds, wealth, which he never found. Eventually he went completely broke and threw himself into a river and drowned.

Meanwhile, the new owner of his farm picked up an unusual looking rock about the size of a country egg and put it on his mantle as a sort of curiosity. A visitor stopped by and in viewing the rock practically went into terminal convulsions. He told the new owner of the farm that the funny looking rock on his mantle was about the biggest diamond that had ever been found. The new owner of the farm said, “Heck, the whole farm is covered with them” – and sure enough it was.

The farm turned out to be the Kimberly Diamond Mine…the richest the world has ever known. The original farmer was literally standing on “Acres of Diamonds” until he sold his farm.

Acupuncturists Without Borders Helping Haiti

I got an e-mail from one of my clients who was just in Haiti with Acupuncturists Without Borders. Her name is Kimberly Marin, an acupuncturist in Davie, FL and she’s asking everyone she knows to donate whatever you can to Acupuncturists Without Borders.

The organization needs the funds badly to keep helping the Haitian earthquake victims. Check out the this video to see what they are doing in Haiti.


Acupuncture Marketing In Newspapers – Advertise At Your Own Risk.

When you advertise online especially on Google Adwords, your ads will only be seen by people searching for an acupuncturist in your local area. Your ads will not be seen by people searching for a plumber, a dog groomer or a pizza joint.

Acupuncturist Search

Not only that, but you don’t pay for impressions (how many times your ad is displayed,) you only pay when your ad is clicked. These two factors are what distinguish online marketing from offline marketing. Let me explain why.

Newspapers charge for adAcupuncture Target Marketvertising by the size of the ad. While the size of an ad does impact the response, what you need to pay attention to is how the ad is delivered. Here’s what I mean… The newspaper model is based on circulation. Unlike Google which only displays your ads when the user enters a specific keyword in the search bar, newspapers deliver your ad to everybody and their brother. What’s the problem with this? The problem is that there is a lot of waste because there will be thousands or hundreds of thousands of people who don’t need, want or are interested in acupuncture. You are in fact paying to deliver your acupuncture marketing message to a lot of people who are not your target audience.

To make things worse, newspapers are still stubbornly stuck in their pricing model. When you advertise in a newspaper, the newspaper quotes you prices based on how many times you will run the ad. The more you run the ad, the less you pay. It is cost prohibitive to run a newspaper ad once because the newspaper will charge you a small fortune. Ten years ago when the public was still reading newspapers, the newspapers could demand whatever price they wanted from the advertiser. But today the newspapers are in big trouble. They are going out of business in record numbers because people are getting their news online, Acupuncture Marketing Newsespecially the younger demographics.

You would think they’d be scrambling to figure out how to survive by changing their ways, but maybe they don’t stand a chance anyway. It’s the evolution of technology that brings about these changes. But what irks me about newspapers is that they still price their advertising based on the old model which no longer works. They love to get your money up front by charging less per ad, but they really don’t care if your ad works or not because they already have your money. They penalize the advertiser who wants to run an ad once or twice. They know there’s a good chance they’re not going to see that advertiser again because the ad response will probably be poor. You see, in order to maximize the effectiveness of your advertising you must test it first. You have to test the headline, message, appeal and offer. Once you have an ad that works, then you roll it out big, but not until then.

They will say you must run your ad continuously so people get used to seeing it and call you, but that’s a load of crap! Yes, repetition in advertising is important, but more important is to have a winning ad that pays for Acupuncture Advertisingitself and makes you money. And the only way to achieve that is by testing and improving it. Then you can roll it out when you have a winner. You can do that online but you can’t do it with newspapers.

To make matters worse, newspaper circulation has dropped so much that I think they are going the way of the dinosaur. Their readership has moved online, so as an advertiser, not only do you get penalized for buying advertising in small chunks to test, but circulation is down so much that it doesn’t make sense to advertise in print. Not for acupuncturists anyway. Look at the numbers below. They are from 2009. The column on the right shows the percentage loss in circulation.

1. New York Post -20.55
2. Atlanta Journal Constitution -19.91
3. Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.) -16.82
4. San Francisco Chronicle -15.72
5. Daily News (N.Y.) -14.26
6. Houston Chronicle -13.96
7. Philadelphia Inquirer -13.72
8. Boston Globe -13.68
9. Portland Oregonian -11.76
10. Cleveland Plain-Dealer -11.70
11. St. Petersburg Times (Fla.) -10.42

I guess you can tell I’m bias towards online marketing, but I speak the truth. And it’s only going to get worse. I’m not saying acupuncture advertising in newspaper doesn’t work. What I am saying is that you have to be very careful because two things are going to happen;

1. Your ad is going to be seen by hundreds if not hundreds of thousands of people who are not looking for an acupuncturist. Those are wasted advertising dollars.
2. If you don’t use direct marketing principles in your ad, it doesn’t stand a chance in getting those who are interested to take action.

How To Get The Most Out Of Newspaper Advertising.

My first recommendation is you stay away from the big daily in your city. That’s the big city newspaper. Try to look for a community newspaper that is published weekly or monthly. Your rates will be considerably lower which will allow you to test your ads as you go. Tell the sales rep that you want to be a long term advertiser but they’ll need to work with you. Here’s what I mean…

You’ll want your ad to be within the first 9 pages of the publication. This goes for magazines too. You’ll want your ad to appear in odd number pages. Those would be the right hand pages. If for some reason the pages are numbered with the odd numbers on the left you still want to be on the right hand pages. You’ll want your ad to be as close as possible to the right side edge on the right sided pages. I’m not saying this may be easy to accomplish. I’m telling you what you should shoot for. Testing has shown that ads placed as I mention here dramatically out pull other ads in the publication.

Why Do People Read Newspapers?

You’ll probably never try the following approach because I’m certain you have it ingrained in your mind how a newspaper ad should look, but you can’t say Frank Prieto never told you.

Why do people read newspapers? They read newspapers for the news. People don’t buy newspaper to read the advertisements. Well, I do but I’m a strange bird. Seriously… If you want your ad to get read, don’t make it look like an ad. Make it look like a news story or another article in the paper.

What is an Advertorial?

An advertorial is an advertisement that looks like another news story in the newspaper (see figure 1.) They are very effective if done right and you incorporate direct marketing principles. By the way, if you’re wondering why I’m showing the Boston Medical advertorial as an example is because I haven’t found another company testing their ads in my local newspaper. I can tell by the way they test their ads, this company hired a marketing firm instead of an ad agency. As I dissect the ad in a minute, you’ll see how they use direct marketing principles. If they would have hired an ad agency it is very unlikely you’d see this kind of testing, or even see an advertorial.

Great Advertorial Example

Advertorial stands for advertising/editorial. The job of an advertorial is to disguise an advertisement as a news story. In the example above is an advertorial that happens to be for a clinic helping men with sexual dysfunction. I chose this example because it has been the only advertiser I have actually seen test one ad type against another in the newspaper. Please don’t make the mistake many business owners make when presented with advertising examples of a different product or industry. They assume that because their business is different, the
advertising will not work for them. If you take this approach, you are likely to miss out on finding advertising gems you could apply in your own acupuncture practice that can make a dramatic impact on your bottom line. In just about every case, a marketing idea from one industry can be applied to another and boost the return on your advertising investment.

The Typical Advertorial.

In the last few years newspapers have gotten stricter about advertorials and some don’t allow them at all. The newspapers that allow advertorials require you put the word “Advertisement” at the top in small print (about 10pt size.) Testing has shown that putting the word advertisement at the top of the advertorial, surprisingly does not affect the response rate. What all newspapers do not allow is that you use the same font (type face) in your advertorial they use to print the paper. But there are many similar fonts you can use that still make it look like another news story. I can understand why some newspapers don’t allow advertorials. They need to uphold their journalistic integrity and have a responsibility to protect the public from certain unscrupulous advertisers who will scam the public and won’t think about it twice. But since we are legitimate business people we shouldn’t have a problem using advertorials.

Disected Advertorial Example

Advertorials are very effective and will increase your response rate dramatically. I highly recommend them and don’t have a problem creating them for my clients, as long as the client is running a legitimate business. Advertorials are one more marketing tool at your disposal that can turn out to be very effective.

Because an advertorial is supposed to look like a news story, you have to deliver your acupuncture marketing message in a way that is not self serving and is free of hype . You still get an opportunity to put a call to action, but it’s done in the resource box at the end of the article.

Lead Generation – What They Didn’t Teach You In Acupuncture School.

The purpose of this article is to explain to acupuncturist in plain English what a lead generation system is. So I think the best way to start off the explanation is by defining what a lead is in sales and marketing terms.

When you place an ad in your local newspaper, put up fliers at Whole Foods, or run a Google Adwords campaign, what you are doing is called advertising. Yes, I know you know that, but stick with me here for a minute.

When someone sees your ad in one of these mediums and picks up the phone and contacts you, that is called a lead. If you got 10 calls that week, you got 10 leads. A lead is someone who – through some form of advertising – contacts you to learn more about you or your practice.

Now lets say that of the 10 leads who called you, 5 of them decided to book an appointment. At that moment, those leads who booked an appointment “converted” from a lead to a prospect. I normally use the term “prospective patient” when I’m talking to acupuncturists, but for now lets call it what it really is in sales and marketing terms.

So you got 10 leads that called, but only 5 converted to prospects (booked appointments.) The 5 prospects that came in, all but 1 stayed for their first treatment. We can then say that the 4 prospects who stayed for treatment, converted from prospects to clients (new patients.) If you did your job right, those 4 new patients (clients) are not going anywhere else. And you can put a dollar amount on each new patient to determine their life time value.

Lead generation is a marketing function that works via advertising to get people who are interested in your product or service – in your case acupuncture – to pick up the phone and call you. In other words, to take action. That is why it’s important your ads have a clear call to action. Once you develop a strategy to generate leads cost effectively, you just rinse and repeat. Most practitioners don’t understand that all you have to do to get your practice humming is have a steady flow of leads. Not patients… LEADS!

You cannot acquire new patients until you generate a steady flow of leads on an ongoing basis. Get the leads flowing and the new patients will follow… Guaranteed!

Once you develop a lead generation strategy that works for you, you have in fact created a lead generation system. The problem with most acupuncturists is they hate sales and marketing to begin with, so all this marketing lingo is a big turn-off for most. I wrote this article to help practitioners understand why lead generation is so important.

Acupuncture Referral Marketing & Google Social Search

In my previous post I gave you the blueprint for getting all the referrals you could handle without ever having to ask. If you remember, I told you people make buying decisions 3 different ways:

* From existing relationships = 50%.
* Ask a trusted source for a referral = 35%.
* From advertising = 15%.

What does Google and YOU have to do with all this?

A lot!

Let me explain…

Google did not become the #1 search engine by accident. They built a better mouse trap and kicked Yahoo’s butt big time.

Google is constantly finding ways to make their search engine better, and what they are testing right now is going to (should) blow your mind.

You see, Google understands that when searching for products or services, 85% of people will first turn to existing relationships or a trusted source.

So what did they do?

They have introduced what they call “Social Search.”

Why should an acupuncturist like you care about Google’s Social Search?

Because it’s one of the best ways to get the most out of social media marketing. Many small business owners, including acupuncturists get caught up in all the hype about Social Media Marketing. The problem with social media marketing is the return on your time invested is very little, if any at all.

Why?

Because there’s a big difference between getting new patients from networking, whether online or offline, and getting new patients when they are actively searching for an acupuncturist to solve a burning problem. (Notice the keyword here is “actively searching.”)

I  have mixed feelings about Social Media Marketing, but I think Google’s Social Search is on to something.

You really got to see this…

Watch these two short videos on Google’s Blog and see for yourself. Let me know what you think.

Acupuncture Patient Referrals on Auto-Pilot.

"How To Get All The Referrals You Can

Handle Without Ever Having To Ask.”

Acupuncture Referral Marketing ProgramThere’s a good reason why I recommend you implement a referral marketing system, but only after your online acupuncture marketing strategy is in place. There are a lot of practitioners focusing on building their practice from referrals before setting up an effective online lead generation system. I think this is a big mistake and I’ll tell you why.

Last year I talked with an acupuncturist who was very frustrated that her referral efforts were fruitless. She couldn’t understand why her patients weren’t referring others. She would talk to them and let them know she was expanding her practice and told them if they knew anyone who could benefit from acupuncture to please give them her number. Still this approach was not working. I told her there’s nothing wrong with this approach as long as she didn’t depend on it as the main source of generating new patients.

Why?

Because referrals grow organically. They happen naturally when an existing patient mentions your name to a friend, colleague or loved one who is in need of an acupuncturist and tells them how great you are. The problem with Mary is she was expecting her patients to be out there selling her services in a proactive way. We know it doesn’t work that way.

Here’s what I said to her…

How To Get Patient Referrals AcupunctureI said, Mary (fictitious name,) if you plant a seed today, do you expect to have a tree with low hanging fruits in a week? Of course not, right! Well, the same goes for referrals. They grow organically. No matter how much you hope, wish, shout and pout, they’re going to come as a result of other factors.

You might say; “C’mon Frank… I get a decent amount of referrals. What are you talking about?”

I’m talking about the mistake many practitioners make by relying on their existing patients to refer new ones on a regular basis, when they should be focusing their efforts on getting a minimum of 3 new patients every week from the internet.

Have you noticed the more new patients you get, the more referrals you also get. Do you know why? Because as you add more patients to your practice, a percentage of them (approx. 1 out of 5) will refer a friend. It doesn’t work the other way around. In other words, if you get a referral, that referral is not going to refer 5 new patients. It’s one referral for every five “new” patients. You can see how the growth becomes exponential as you add more patients. In other words, if you focus on acquiring new patients the referrals will come naturally. The bigger your patient base, the more referrals it will produce. So, focus first on acquiring new patients via the internet and the referrals will follow.

Acupuncture Referral MarketingReferrals are great because they’ve already been pre-sold on you. Someone they trust (keyword being “trust”) has already done the selling for you. They know they’re going to get treated right and they are likely to get results.

You might be asking…

“OK, Frank… All this makes sense, but are you saying there’s absolutely nothing I can do to increase my rate of referrals?

Actually, there is something you can do that works like a charm.

Let’s go back to the seed example to illustrate the point.

Acupuncture Marketing Referral ProgramYou can’t force a seed to sprout before it’s time. But you can nurture it by fertilizing the soil. Watering it every day, and giving it the amount of sunlight it needs to “organically” sprout and grow into a plant and later a tree.

You can increase the amount of referrals the same way– By “nurturing” the relationship with your existing patients.

At this point I’m going to caution you against thinking this it too simplistic. If you think it is, let me ask you this…

What are you doing on a regular basis to nurture the relationship with your existing patients?

If you send out Christmas cards it doesn’t count. You see everybody and their brother sends out Christmas cards in December. That doesn’t count for standing out in the crowd. Sending out Christmas cards in December has no marketing value whatsoever. As a matter of fact, the ROI (return on investment) from Christmas cards is negative (-) 100%.

In business you have to stand out from the crowd through your marketing. If you don’t stand out you become a commodity, and commodities are judged on price alone.

Don’t waste your money on Christmas cards. By the way, I don’t have anything against Christmas. I’m a christian and I love Santa Claus, but sending out Christmas cards to your patients in December is a waste of time and money. Send them a Thanksgiving card instead. More on that in a minute.

Let’s talk about marketing facts.

Why do businesses lose clients?

That’s a total of 32%. What about the rest?

The other 68% leave because they don’t feel wanted or valued.

Understanding this is the key to nurturing relationships effectively. Making your patients feel “wanted” and “valued” is how you get referrals without ever having to ask. A good example of this is sending them Thanksgiving cards instead of Christmas cards.

In order to accomplish this effectively you need to have a system in place that you set up once and turn it on to run on auto-pilot. The system I’m referring to is called SendOutCards.

How To Get Acupuncture Referrals

I haven’t found a better system that sends out cards on auto-pilot at a very affordable price. As far as I’m concerned, this is the best example of a referral system you can set up to send out cards without lifting a finger. Let me clarify that initially you do have to set it up. But like any system, you set it up once and forget about it.

Before I go on about the benefits of using SendOutCards as a referral system, I need to disclose to you how the company is run so there is no suspicion on your part about my intentions.

SendOutCards is an MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) company and I hate MLM’s. Let me say that again… I freak’n HATE multi-level marketing (network marketing) with purple passion!

Business ReferralsIf you happen to be involved in some kind of MLM or network marketing program and it works for you, fantastic. Keep doing what you’re doing. But when a friend or relative tells me they’re involved with Amway and invite me to a meeting, I run the other way as fast as I can.

I can write a whole article about why most MLM’s are legal scams but I won’t because I’ll start foaming at the mouth.

OK, back to SendOutCards…

I said SendOutCards is a multi-level marketing company, but I need to rephrase that. SendOutCards is “run” like a multi-level marketing company. You might ask what the difference is. The difference is that most MLM companies don’t have a unique tangible product that can stand on its own. SendOutCards does have such a product and that’s where the big difference is. Amway may have tangible products like all the household stuff they push, but those are not unique. In other words, I consider an MLM company unique if it can survive without the MLM component, because the product or service they provide has real value.

When SendOutCards was started, the founders decided to grow the company using the MLM approach. For example, if you sign up a friend to use the service you get a commission. The commission structure is based on the typical MLM structure where the more people you sign up, the more money you make because you also make commissions from the sign ups of the person you signed up. Like I said, it’s your typical MLM compensation structure.

The difference between SendOutCards and other MLM business models is that SendOutCards has a viable, tangible product that doesn’t need MLM to sustain it. Today there a lot of people (or members) who are making a good living with the MLM side of SendOutCards, and there are many others (like me and my clients) who strictly use SendOutCards as a referral marketing system. Because they are structured as an MLM, whenever someone signs up for their entrepreneur package who was referred by you, you make a commission. So there’s my disclosure. It’s just the way SendOutCards is set up. Of course the reason I recommend you sign up for the service is not so I make a commission. As a matter of fact, if you know of a better system to set up your auto-pilot referral marketing system please let me know. I doubt you’ll find one, but if you do I’d love to test drive it.

So there you have it. Now that I’ve disclosed my wicked capitalist money making scheme, let’s move on to the good stuff.

"The 3 Things You Need To Know To Get

A Flood Of Referrals.”

Let’s talk about the factors that need to be in place in order to “cultivate” more referrals.

First, you have to have a large network of people who know you and know what you do.

Acupuncture Referral SystemLet me say that again… For referrals to take place you have to have a large network of people who know you AND know what you do. How many times have you got together with your friends and your friend’s friends and a few days later your spouse asks you if you know what Joe or Mary do for a living? Joe or Mary being someone you met at the gathering. This happens quite often. So the reason I’m pointing this out is because it’s so obvious that most people don’t think about it when it comes to spreading the word about what they do for a living. You need to let people know what you do for a living. I’m not saying you should talk shop in a social setting, but whenever you have the opportunity you should let people know what you do. The more people who know what you do, the more referrals you will get.

Secondly, you have to have a network of people who like you and trust you.

Acupuncture MarketingThis again is worth repeating because like the well known marketer David Frey says; “The amount of referrals you receive is directly proportional to the level of trust and affection people have for you.”

So, you have to have a network of people who like you and trust you. As the saying goes…

“They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Thirdly, you have to have a system in place to stay in touch with your patients.

The most effective way to stay in touch with your patients and dramatically increase your referrals, is to send them personal, sincere and heartfelt greeting cards on a regular and consistent basis.

Referral Marketing System

I talk a lot about marketing systems because without a systematized process to stay in touch with your patients there is no way you can generate referrals in a predictable, consistent and repeatable fashion. There’s just not enough hours in the day to manually put this into practice. You need an automated system, that once set up requires very little time and effort on your part.

"How To Amaze Your Patients And

Dramatically Increase Your Referrals.”

  1. You must always give them something to talk about!
  2. You need to set yourself apart from any and all other “service” experiences that they have encountered.
  3. Exceed “far beyond” their expectations starting from the first encounter.
  4. It needs to be “systematic.

Getting Referrals
I know you’re going to say this is too difficult. I’m not going to argue with you because I agree it is not easy. However, in business doing the difficult things your competitors can’t do or simply won’t do, puts you in a position to dominate your market. The key to making it work is in tip # 4. It must be systematized. That’s where SendOutCards excels.

The more complex your marketing system is, the less your competitors will want to copy it. The ironic thing is that it’s not really difficult if you systematize it. That’s the BIG secret. Systematize your marketing and there is no limit to how far you can go. Will it take some effort? Of course it will. Is it worth it? You betcha!

"People Make Decisions 3 Different Ways."

In many cases 85% of the purchasing decisions are made without looking at advertising. This does not mean you shouldn’t advertise. On the contrary– I’m a big proponent of SEO and PPC to generate new patients on a weekly basis to grow the network of people (patients) who like you and trust you. As I mentioned earlier, the bigger your network, the more referrals you’ll get. But if you implement the SendOutCards system you will dramatically increase the number of referrals.

Get More Acupuncture Patient Referrals

Having a referral system that runs on auto-pilot is a sure way to take your practice to the next level. That being said, I still recommend you work on your online marketing first and then implement the referral system. Doing it the other way around is putting the horse in front of the carriage. Remember, the bigger the network the more referrals. If you get your online marketing in order and then implement the referral system you will be unstoppable.

"The 7 Ways To Implement Referral

Marketing.”

  1. Ask your clients for referrals on a regular basis. – When I say ask for referrals on a regular basis, I’m not saying  you personally have to do it. I’m talking about setting it up so it’s done for you on auto-pilot. Nobody likes asking for referrals because most of us feel it’s like begging. But the beauty of the Send Out Cards system is you don’t have to ask personally. The cards do it for you in a cute and unique way (see figure 6 below.) Figure 7 on the next page shows the cards going out in sequential order
  2. Thank people for giving you a referral. – As you build your network your referrals will automatically grow. Some people find they get more referrals not by asking for them, but by thanking for the referral when they get it.
  3. Have Lunch With A Prospective Referral Source Every Month. – Make a list of top 100 most influential people with whom you want to establish or deepen your relationship and send them a “Let’s Do Lunch” card once a month. Remember, the purpose of the lunch is not only to get more referrals, but also to find out about their business so you can also refer out to them.
  4. Set up a Birthday Card marketing system. – On average, 20% of the people who get cards will refer at least one person a month. So sending out 1,000 birthday cards a year, should generate 16 new patients per month from referrals.
  5. Send them a referral. – The law of reciprocity.
  6. Use the N.E.E.R. Formula. – The acronym stands for Naturally Existing Economic Relationships. This is where you tap into not only your patients, but your suppliers as well.
  7. Ping Your Network. – Stay in touch on a regular basis.

If 80 percent of success is, as Woody Allen once said, just showing up, then 80 percent of building and maintaining relationships is just staying in touch. I call it ‘pinging.’ It’s a quick, casual greeting, and it can be done in any number of creative ways.”
Keith Ferrazzi – Author, Never Eat Alone

"Sign Up For a FREE Gift Account Today

And Send Out 3 Cards At My Expense.”

As a FREE gift to you, I would like to offer you a FREE Gift Account. This will allow you to send 3 greeting cards at my expense using this incredible referral marketing system.

I encourage you to send out a few cards so you can test drive the system. Make sure to send one to yourself so you can get the full experience your patients will have when they get your cards in the US mail.

Click on the red button now and you will be taken to my FREE Gift Account and you’ll be guided through sending a card with the system.

Increase Acupuncture Patient Referrals

This is a limited time offer because I can only give away so many FREE Gift Accounts.

Remember, I’m letting you test drive the system at my expense, so don’t procrastinate. If you come back to this page tomorrow this offer may be gone. Avoid disappointment and click the red button now to take advantage of this FREE offer.

It’s completely risk free and you have nothing to lose, only a flood of referrals to gain.

What Else Will This System Do?

Increase Acupuncture Patient Referrals

Acupuncture Websites – What Your Graphic Designer Won’t Tell You.

If I had to single out the biggest marketing mistake many acupuncturists make, it would have to be failing to view their website as a lead generation tool. It’s not uncommon to read in a forum about a newly graduated practitioner who writes something like this; “I printed 1,000 business cards, distributed them all out and only got one new patient.” They’ll voice their frustration about how difficult it is to build a practice from scratch. Yes, starting an acupuncture practice does require energy, commitment, persistence, and some money or at least good credit. This alone is stressful enough. When you add the apprehension most acupuncturists have about marketing, you have a recipe for uncertainty and confusion about what marketing strategy to implement.

If I were writing this 15 years ago I’d probably be showing you how to put together a Yellow Page ad that beats the competition. I would also be telling you to put 80% of your advertising dollars into the Yellow Pages and spread out the other 20% among other media. But times have changed in a big way.

Today I would tell you to invest 90% of your ad dollars on the internet and just 10% elsewhere. If you do it right, you will never have to worry about marketing again. Having a good online presence (search engine optimization) and incorporating strategic marketing into your acupuncture website is how you build a lead generation system that runs on auto-pilot.

Yes it takes some effort. You either have to learn how to do it, or hire an expert. And when I say hire an expert I’m not talking about hiring a graphic designer. Graphic and web designers are trained to make websites pretty, but pretty website don’t sell. Medical doctors are trained to prescribe drugs instead of addressing the underlying cause of the problem. It’s not their fault. That’s how they are trained. If you want to get off prescription drugs you don’t go to a different medical doctor because he/she has the same training. It’s no different with graphic designers.

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m trying to get across. I don’t have anything against graphic designers. I use graphic designers for logos and for brochure layouts and so forth. But I don’t let them get all creative on me using artsy-fartsy graphics and fonts that deviate from communicating a compelling message.

Have you seen the amount of websites today that use light grey text for the content? Let me ask you something… Have you ever read a book or a newspaper printed in light grey text? So why on God’s earth do graphic designers create web pages with light grey text? Because it’s pretty and “cool.” It’s not their fault. Creating “prettiness” is what they were trained to do. Forget that you might lose half your visitors because they have a hard time reading your message. What’s important to the graphic designer is that it looks pretty.

My dear practitioner, an ugly website with compelling content to strategically position you as the obvious choice, will outperform a pretty website with fluff and puffery any day of the week. Your website is not supposed to be an extension of you. It is a marketing tool to generate qualified leads and convert those leads into new patients. There’s a right way and wrong way to accomplish this. I’m not suggesting you design an ugly website. What I am saying is that your acupuncture website should be used as a strategic marketing tool to separate yourself from the pack and position you as the trusted expert in your town. This is how you take your practice to the next level in less time you ever thought possible.

Social Media & Acupuncture Marketing– Opportunity or Hype?

Social Media and Acupuncture MarketingI’ve refrained from giving my views about social media because I think it’s too early to say if social media is more hype than anything else. I do think social media is here to stay, BUT I also think social media (at least for now) is a waste of time for the average small business person.

If you’re a celebrity, politician, or event promoter just to name a few, I think social media is an opportunity. But for the average Joe, social media is a waste of time. Maybe in two years from now I’ll feel differently, but for now the people who are making money from social media are those who are teaching others how to Tweet and how to use Facebook. It reminds me of the gold rush in 1849 when 300,000 people sold everything they had and moved west to California to mine for gold. Yes, there were some who got rich, but most of them ended up broke. And guess who made out like bandits? The people who made the most money were the merchants who sold shovels, pans, picks and wheel barrels to the poor souls looking to get rich.

I’m sorry to say this, but this is exactly the same thing I see going on with social media right now. Don’t get me wrong… I have a Facebook profile and a Twitter account. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend my time following people on Twitter and asking them to follow me. Maybe if we were under the threat of a nuclear attack I might follow the proper authorities on Twitter, but other than a nuclear attack, I’m on the side lines with Twitter for now. I did register my name with Twitter before another Frank Prieto snatched it first. If for some reason in the future I want to Tweet, I already have my own name instead of some unusual profile name like frankprieto4587 or something like that. So if you Tweet and it works for you, and you’re getting a return on you tweeting investment then more power to you. For me, I’m passing on Twitter for now.

I am on Facebook, but I don’t use Facebook for business. I probably should but I don’t because my Facebook profile is more of a personal and local nature. My Facebook friends are local people I either personally know or have become friends with (virtual friends mind you) through my regular “real” Facebook friends. I took the time to set up my profile and created a photo album of my Father’s Day fishing trip and so on. But I had to take the time to set it up, which took time away from something else. So I bit the bullet and set up a Facebook profile and occasionally add a new friend and leave a comment if I find I can contribute something worthwhile. What I find ridiculous are the comments from some of my Facebook friends who write about everything going on in their day as it happens. Grrrrr…. Give me a break!

You see things like– “Good morning everybody. I’m getting ready to go to work. Have a great day” Then 30 minutes later they post another comment that goes like this– “Just got to work late. Traffic was a mess on I-95. It’s going to be one of those days.” Do you see what I mean? Seriously now, do you think your Facebook friends really need to know this? Am I becoming an old grouch at a young age? I’m sorry but I don’t think anybody needs to know these minute by minute details of somebody’s daily life.

Some of the local event promoters leave comments that make sense. They’ll post the weekend’s upcoming events and concerts. I think that makes sense. If I see someone coming to town I like, I appreciate getting that kind of heads up. Other than that, I have work to get done.

seth-godinWhen Seth Godin, the well known marketing guru and author was asked why he wasn’t on Twitter, he said he just didn’t have the time for it. He told the interviewer his blog is among the top three marketing blogs on the internet and he wanted to stay focused on what he was doing. A simple answer, but brilliant advice! Seth Godin is a pioneer internet marketer who is involved in some major projects. When Seth Godin said this about Twitter I must say I felt validated and hollered, YES!! Of all the social media sites, I think Twitter is the most ridiculous of all. I don’t follow anybody on Twitter because I don’t think anything anybody is doing is so important that I need to know about every 30 minutes. When you see these endless tweets or comments on Facebook you wonder how any of these people get any work done. Did you know the average time spent by users on social media sites is 45 minutes. I was flabbergasted when I read this.

Are there marketing opportunities in these social media sites? Yes, I believe there are, but the money, time and market research required is not within the reach of the average small business.

A well known company that does very well with social media is Zappos. The company that sells shoes online. All their top executives are on Twitter and Facebook, including it’s CEO. They’ve made it work very well for them and have a faithful following. When they run a sale they blast these social mediums with their announcement and make a killing. But Zappos has a corporate culture built around customer service that many companies don’t even come close to. As far as investing time and money into social media to generate new patients for your acupuncture practice, I don’t think we’re there yet, or if it ever will lend itself for that. When they say it will help you grow your business, they might be partially right. Yes, the more exposure you get, the more people will learn about you and “possibly” call you when they need acupuncture. But I’ll tell you what… You’ll get much more bang for your buck investing in search engine optimization or PPC advertising than chasing after the next social media site that comes along.

Buy My Snake OilSomebody said something to me that made a lot of sense which I remind myself of every single day. And that is this– “Focus is about subtraction not addition.” Some proponents of social media say SEO is dead and that you need to get with the times and get involved in social media. This is totally absurd and preposterous. I’m not saying you shouldn’t get your feet wet in social media, but if you think you’re going to grow your acupuncture practice by replacing SEO with social media I’ve got some snake oil I’d like to sell you. Those selling courses and coaching programs on social media are the same kind of people today who sold mining gear to people looking to get rich mining for gold back in 1849. The truth is when somebody has a serious problem that keeps them up at night and is desperately looking for a solution, they are likely go to Google or their favorite search engine to look for answers. If you’re not listed on the first page you miss out. The 80/20 rule will always apply. SEO and PPC will be responsible for 80% (if not more) of your website traffic, while social media will account for 10% or 15%. Is 10% or 15% worth acquiring? I’d say yes, but not if you have to invest 80% of your resources for a 15% gain.

I look at social media like networking. Does networking work? No it doesn’t. Now wait a minute… Before you jump all over me about this let me ask you a question. Why do people go to networking events? So they can meet people who they can sell something to. That in itself is not a bad thing; the bad thing is that everybody else at the networking event is there for the same reason. In other words, everybody is trying to SELL something at networking events to NON-BUYERS who are there to SELL something too. People don’t go to networking events to buy. They go to the mall or the shops to buy. So you have to think about it this way – Social media is a big networking event filled with people trying to get their name out there in the hopes somebody will “buy” from them or buy “into” them. On the other hand, search engines are like the mall or the shops where the “buyers” go to look for stuff to “buy.” This is why I stopped going to networking events 5 years ago. It was a waste of time.

OK, enough about social media. You’re probably thinking I had to much coffee this morning so I’ll stop my rant, but I think you get the point. I’ve said a lot to get to the last sentence of this paragraph but I think it was important you have a different angle on social media marketing, because some people will have you believe that if you’re not on Twitter or Facebook you must be a dinosaur. Not true. My advice is to put aside or forget about social media for now and put your efforts into a blog. This will produce far better results that will come to you in the form of better search engine rankings. When you’re on the first page of Google you’ll be like a store at the mall where real “buyers” (new patients) go to search for an acupuncturist. Anything else is hype.

Follow me on Twitter– NOT!follow_me_on_twitter2

The Time Is Now To Push Hard For Support of HR 646- The Federal Acupuncture Coverage Act.

Dr. Cheshire graduated Summa Cum Laude from New York College of Health Professions with a degree in Oriental Medicine. Dr. Cheshire is NCCAOM certified in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs and to date has treated over 13,000 people in his specialty. He did residency training with Dr. Rong Da Zhu, a 4th generation Chinese Doctor from Shanghai. He currently practices in Central Florida and is Chair of the National Government Affairs Committee for the AAAOM.

Christopher Cheshire, DOM

I just got off the phone with Dr. Christopher Cheshire who is not only a member of the Board of Directors at AAAOM, but is actually the person in charge at AAAOM for organizing the HR 646 lobbying effort.

Dr. Cheshire came across a post I wrote yesterday at ChineseMedicineTools.com and called me to set the record straight.

As you know, I was under the impression that the letters to Congress being submitted at the AAAOM website were only going to senators and not our representatives.

When you go to the AAAOM website to submit the electronic letter, you only see the pictures of your senators, but Dr. Cheshire is assuring us that they are also being delivered to our representatives. The senators get it first because it’s easier to determine who your senators are based on your zip code. However, because of overlapping zip codes in the different districts, determining the representative takes a few more seconds for the website to process. Anyway, I feel a lot better that both houses are getting the letters.

So what do we do now?

Now we must mobilize and mobilize fast!

Dr. Cheshire says that the passing of this historic bill means that acupuncture insurance would become available to 54 million Americans who currently do not have access to alternative medicine. Do you realize what this means for your practice? This is no time to put off taking action and getting people (I mean EVERYBODY you know) to go to the AAAOM website and submit the letter to Congress.

Dr. Cheshire told me that so far they have submitted 23,000 letters through their website, but need at least 100,000 to make this happen. The AAAOM lobbyists are actively talking to senators and representative and the feedback is this:

The members of Congress seem to have a positive opinion about acupuncture, but they need to hear it from YOU, and EVERYBODY you know. And this has to happen TODAY! Not manana… TODAY!

The future of your profession depends on HR 646 passing. So please, if you haven’t done so already, go to the AAAOM website right now (the link below takes you directly to the page) and submit your letter to your senators and representative. It literally just took me 1 minute and 58 seconds to submit mine. Then send an e-mail to everybody in your address book asking them to support this Bill.

http://www.rallycongress.com/aaaom/1944/please-support-hr-646-federal-acupuncture-coverage-act/

Anything worthwhile takes some kind of effort. Just like healing your patients greatly depends on their commitment and effort to getting better, the future of acupuncture depends on YOU today. The passing of this bill will put acupuncture on a whole new level. This has been in the works since 1995. Let’s get it done now!

PS– You have enough content to put together an e-mail to send to everybody in your address book from what I’ve sent you so far. Make sure you include the direct link so they don’t have to hunt for it and you’re done.

Thank you once again to Kim Marin, AP (Florida), Dennis Kinnane, OMD (California) and Christopher Cheshire, DOM (AAAOM.)

A Letter To Acupuncturists – It’s Time To Make History.

Dear Practitioners,

I’m contacting you again today because I just got word from a member of my insider’s club that if the AAAOM does not send our letters to our representatives instead of our senators (as they are doing now) the Federal  acupuncture Coverage Act doesn’t stand a chance.

I first learned of this important legislation yesterday from Kim Marin, AP, a Florida acupuncturist who is doing her part getting the word out. When I got word of this I stopped what I was doing and I forwarded you the e-mail, along with the direct link so you can keep the momentum going.

Today, I got an e-mail from Dennis Kinnane, OMD of California, informing me that AAAOM is sending our letters to senators instead of our representatives. This is what Dennis wrote to me when he received the same e-mail I sent you yesterday:

“Frank,
I have been spreading the word on this for weeks now.  The trouble with the AAAOM’s “blast” is that when one goes to forward the letter to their representative the AAAOM has linked it to SENATORS…..Right now we need REPRESENTATIVES IN THE HOUSE….NOT SENATORS….  This bill has only 18 co sponsors at this time in the House and without several hundred it is GOING NOWHERE!   Please, contact AAAOM as I have just done also and let them know that it is critical to link this email blast to the person’s local Representative NOT Senator at this time….
Thanks”
Dennis Kinnane

I just e-mailed AAAOM via their contact form and sent them the following message:

***IMPORTANT***
Ref: HR 646, The Federal Acupuncture Coverage Act
“I am helping spread the word among acupuncturist of this important legislation. I myself submitted the letter on your website. However, it has been brought to my attention that it is crucial the letters go to our representatives instead of our senators. The problem with AAAOM’s “blast” is that when one goes to forward the letter to their representative, it is linked it to SENATORS…..Right now we need REPRESENTATIVES IN THE HOUSE….NOT SENATORS….

This bill has only 18 co sponsors at this time in the House and without several hundred it is GOING NOWHERE!   It is critical to link your email blast to our local Representative NOT Senator at this time.”

Why am I telling you all this?

I’m telling you all this because if you don’t do your part in helping push this bill through Congress, who is? I myself may not have anything to gain from it, but you do. If the acupuncture community pulls this off, it will make a dramatic impact on your business.

Of all the acupuncturists I e-mailed yesterday, only half of them clicked through to the AAAOM website. Frankly, I think that’s pathetic. When I got Dennis’ e-mail I was motivated once again to urge you to do YOURSELF a favor and push for this bill. You’ll also be helping hundreds of thousands of senior citizens who can’t afford your fees, who will benefit a great deal from alternative medicine.

Here’s what you need to do right now–

1.  Contact the AAAOM via e-mail at info@aaaomonline.org

2.  Copy and paste the following text in the e-mail:

I am helping spread the word among acupuncturist of this important legislation. I myself submitted the letter on your website. However, it has been brought to my attention that it is crucial the letters go to our representatives instead of our senators. The problem with AAAOM’s “blast” is that when one goes to forward the letter to their representative, it is linked it to SENATORS…..Right now we need REPRESENTATIVES IN THE HOUSE….NOT SENATORS….

This bill has only 18 co sponsors at this time in the House and without several hundred it is GOING NOWHERE!   It is critical to link your email blast to our local Representative NOT Senator at this time.

3.  Hit the “SEND” button

For the AAAOM to redirect the letters to our representatives instead of senators should not be a big deal. It looks like they use a service called “Rally Congress” that does this for them.

I want to thank Kim and Dennis for helping me get the word out to you. Now it’s your turn to keep the momentum going. Alert your colleagues and friends and even patients. This will not happen without your support. You can do it!

Sincerely,

Frank Prieto

My Son Takes Me Fishing On Father’s Day

On Father’s Day I got the best gift you could give a fisherman. Deep sea fishing in the Florida Keys. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

This is the view from the dock as we headed out early in the morning. You could see the ocean was flat and it was a gorgeous day.

Full throttle ahead to the fishing spot. Our destination was 35 miles out to a secret spot where the bottom drops from 1,500 feet to 2,500 ft. and beyond. At this drop there’s an abundance of large fish, especially swordfish which was our target catch this day.

On our way out we ran pretty close to a thunderstorm. In the distance we could see a funnel cloud forming into a water spout. Water spouts are like land tornadoes but on the water. When you see one of these you should head the opposite way in a hurry. Luckily for us it was far away enough not to pose a threat. Check out the close up picture next.

I zoomed in with the camera to get a closer look and was fortunate to capture this image. You can see the entire water spout. You might think it’s not touching the water because it looks like it’s only half way down, but if you look real close at the surface of the water just below it, you can see how it’s stirring up the water.

Luckily we had an experienced captain on board who navigated us to safety ;-)

Here’s the captain and crew. From left to right is my son Frank, with his friends Greg and Alex. I thought I was a good fisherman, but these guys put me to shame.

Here Frankie is rigging the bait in the hopes we run into a big swordfish. This is a dolphin belly that makes good bait for large fish. When I refer to dolphin I’m not talking about “Flipper”. I’m referring to Dorado or Mahi Mahi. More about Flipper in a minute.

Securing the hook to the bait.

Here’s the belly strip bait finished and ready to be taken down to about 1,500 feet.

To get the bait down to 1,500 feet is not an easy task. The current in the gulfstream is so strong you need heavy sinkers. Instead of lead sinkers which are more expensive, these guys make their own weights. The 14 inch long pvc pipes you see here are 4 inches in diameter and filled with cement. They insert a wire clothes hanger before the concrete dries to serve as a ring so they can tie it to the line.

This day they brought the rod with the electric reel. I guess they figured I might need a little help if we hook a big one and Dad tires out half way through. Of course this is totally absurd.
;-)

After about 15 minutes the bait is finally down around the 1,500 foot mark. Now we sit back and wait while we fish on the surface for other species.

Here’s a ballyhoo ready to be dragged on the back of the boat (trolling) to catch fish that feed on the surface like dolphin, wahoo, king fish, etc.

Before noon we get a hit on the surface and it’s our first dolphin. Because it was Father’s Day I didn’t have to argue about why I should have first shot at the rod. Being an old fart does have it’s privileges, you know.

Bringing in that dolphin was tough but somebody had to do it. :-)

As if I wasn’t having enough fun already, Greg yells out “Look, those are dolphins.” The day was absolutely gorgeous at 35 miles out. The ocean was calm and I was having a great time, but the icing on the cake was just about to come. Sure as hell they were dolphins. OK, now I’m talking about “Flipper” dolphins. The ones you don’t fish or eat. These porpoises where the most beautiful thing you could ask for on such a special day.

As we were moving slowly through with our baits in the water, they came swimming right next to the boat and gave us quite a treat.

There’s something about these animals that is very special. They are smart, gracious, friendly and playful.

They gathered at the bow of the boat and swam right next to the boat for about 10 minutes. It was exhilarating for me to watch them honor us with their presence.

I couldn’t stop snapping pictures. I was like a little kid at the Miami Seaquarium.

In case you are wondering the answer is no. They do not bite your bait. They are too smart for that.

They were so close you could literally touch them.

On our way back Alex got a hit on his rod and it was the second Mahi Mahi of the day.

Here’s Alex with his fish.

One 18 pack of Miller Lite: $14.39

12 bottles of Zephyr Springs Water: $4.19

Fishing with your son on Father’s Day: PRICELESS

PS– When my son hears me bragging about how I taught him how to fish, he’s quick to say I had nothing to do with it. So I’ve taken this opportunity to set the record straight. You see, I have pictures to prove it. Below you can see me teaching him how to fish when he was 3 years old and I still had dark hair. I will admit his fishing skills have greatly surpassed my own and nowadays I learn from him.

Oh… by the way. If you’re wondering who the girl in the pink bathing suite is, she’s the family acupuncturist. And yes, she can also teach you a thing or two about fishing.
:-)

Acupuncture Websites – CONVERSION is King

Dear Practitioner,

Did you know there’s a simple formula for getting quantifiable results from your online marketing efforts? The formula is TRAFFIC + CONVERSION = PROFIT. You must have traffic (visitors) coming to your web site in order to convert (sell) a percentage of them into booking an appointment with you. This is how you get a return on your advertising investment and build your practice.

You want to get a clear understanding of what a marketing strategy is and why it’s so important to your business. Strategy– which is in essence your marketing MESSAGE— plays an important role in your acupuncture website CONVERSION.

You see, you could buy all the traffic you want, but if you cannot convert the traffic from prospective patients (prospects) to paying patients (clients,) you won’t get a return on your advertising investment. In fact, it’ll cost you money. This happens quite often and is the reason why many practitioners and small business owners reach the erroneous conclusion that advertising doesn’t work. However, if you have a strategy in place before investing in advertising, you’ll be way ahead of the pack and on your way to PROFIT. That’s how you beat your competition and eat their lunch. Oops, sorry. It’s my competitive nature that creeps out sometimes. I forget I’m talking to warm and fuzzy, touchy-feely acupuncturists.

OK, we know there are three important factors we must have in place (and in sync) if our acupuncture marketing efforts are to pay off. Those are, the right MEDIUM, the right MARKET and the right MESSAGE. Once you’ve built your marketing stool properly you’re ready to turn on the traffic and start testing your model. If you think about it, Internet traffic is no different than store front traffic at a retail store in the local mall. For example, let’s say 5,000 people pass by a store front on a daily basis. On the Internet this would be called impressions. The number of impressions is the number of times your ad or listing is put in front of a prospective patient searching for an acupuncturist in your area. Going back to the store example, if of the 5,000 passing shoppers 2% walk in the store, this means 100 people showed some interest in what the store had to offer. These 100 people are actual prospects (or leads.) On the Internet this would be a 2% CTR (click through rate) because your ad or listing was presented to 5,000 searchers and 100 of them “clicked through” to your web site hence the 2% CTR. The difference between your web site and the retail store is that the 100 people who clicked through to your web site are not prospects quite yet, they’re just visitors. If they enter their contact information to download your free report or e-book, or if they download your coupon for a free consultation or pick up the phone and call you, then they “convert” to prospects. Any of these three actions by visitors can be classified as a conversion. A conversion is any action you want your web site visitors to take.

You too can learn how to build an acupuncture marketing system that runs on auto-pilot. I teach this to the members of my insider’s club.

Going back to the retail store example, if of the 100 people who walked in the retail store 10 make a purchase, the merchant’s conversion ratio is 10%. Is this good? Well, I don’t know. It depends on many factors. If the store sells high ticket items I would say that’s good. On the other hand if their average sale is small, I would say that’s not good because they’re probably not recovering enough revenue to cover their cost of doing business at the mall. Now stick with me here for a minute because I’m going to show you how a small increase in conversion can dramatically impact your bottom line.

5% is a BIG Deal

Let’s say that in the stores example the owner is breaking even at a conversion ratio of 10%. Remember, she’s only selling 10 out of 100 people who come in the store which translates into a 10% conversion ratio. So the owner wants to increase her conversion ratio and start making a profit. What should she do? Well, if she’s like most small business owners, she’ll want to increase store traffic. But if she’s thinking strategically, she’ll want to improve her conversion ratio first, because if she’s able to sell 15 people out of 100 instead of 10, she will have increased her conversion ratio to 15%. You might think 5% is not that significant, but that 5% increase in conversion represents an increase in profit of 50%. If she can figure a way to sell 20 out of 100 visitors she would be doubling her profits. Do you see why improving your CONVERSION is critical to your profit? If you’re converting 2 out of 5 patients and you make strategic changes in your marketing and you are able to convert 3 out of 5 patients, you just gave yourself a 50% pay raise. If you’re converting 5 out of 5, congratulations! You’re ready to turn up the traffic and make a killing. Of course 5 out 5 is not realistic in the real world. That’s a 100% conversion ratio. Let me put it this way— it is possible to convert 5 out of 5 which is 100% if you happen to do this on a particular day, but it’s impossible to convert
100 out of 100.

So what’s the take away? Don’t spend a single dime on advertising until you have an acupuncture marketing strategy in place.

Marketing Acupuncture – The Power of Testimonials

Did you know that what people say about you is 10 times more believable than anything you can say about yourself?

It’s true… That’s the power of TESTIMONIALS.

Testimonials carry a lot of weight because you’re not the one tooting your own horn. Instead you have a third party telling the world how great an acupuncturist you are. Testimonials prove to others that your patients get results under your care and gives those looking for an acupuncturist in your area a good reason to book an appointment with you. Marketing acupuncture and testimonials go hand in hand.

You gotta see my acupuncturist!

You gotta see my acupuncturist!

If you already “proactively” ask for testimonials from your patients then you’re on the right track. My advice to you is NEVER to stop this habit. This is a good practice to continue for as long as you are in business. The more testimonials you have the higher your credibility in the market.

Testimonials are one of the most powerful marketing strategies you could use to get quantifiable results. If you don’t have testimonials I encourage you to start getting them right away because they will make a dramatic impact on your success.

This is one of the most effective marketing strategies where the return on investment is unmatched. Why? Because testimonials are free. I can’t think of a less expensive or easier marketing strategy where you gain credibility without paying out a single dime for advertising. Do you see my point?

Of course there’s a right way and a wrong way to get testimonials. If you do it right you’ll start to see how fast they pile up.

But if you go about it the wrong way you can put your patients in an awkward situation. Asking for testimonials at the wrong time is inappropriate, I think.

So what’s the right way to get testimonials? Here’s a scenario…

A patient who’s had 3 treatments comes in for a 4th one and shares with you that they feel so much better. They say they can’t believe how acupuncture has relieved their pain, or anxiety, or whatever. This is the perfect opportunity to ask for the testimonial. How do you ask? You say something like this…

“You know Mary, I’m so glad you’re feeling better. Would you mind if I used your experience as a testimonial on my website? I think others will benefit from reading how acupuncture has helped your condition. To protect your privacy I would only post your first name and the city you live in. If you don’t like to write I can write it myself and send it to you for approval. You can review it and edit it as you see fit. There’s no obligation of course. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it I understand, I just feel it would help others see how acupuncture can make a difference.”

It is very likely Mary will give you a testimonial and so will the other 98% of your patients if you ask at the right time. Besides, you have nothing to lose. The worse that could happen is they say no because they’re shy. But that’s the exception to the rule. Most people want to help and will be happy to give you a testimonial if you ask for it when the timing is right.

Another easy opportunity for getting testimonials will come to you via e-mail. This is even easier than in person. Some times a patient will e-mail you saying how much better they feel. This is a perfect opportunity to hit the reply button and say; “Mary, can I use your e-mail as a testimonial on my website?” It is rare a patient will say no.

Don’t lose the opportunity to ask for testimonials. Just make sure to ask for them when the timing is right and you’ll see how fast you gather them. Asking for them out of the blue is not recommended. I’m not saying it won’t work, but patients are more predisposed to give you a testimonial when they’re sharing how happy they are with the results they’re getting.

If you’re starting at ground zero and want to get warmed up practicing getting testimonials, you can approach your close friends or loved ones that have come to you for acupuncture. Just ask them for the testimonial. The more testimonials you gather, the more credibility you’ll gain. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the power of testimonials.

I don’t think I need to say this but I will. Never fake a testimonial. You can spot a phony testimonial a mile away. Another thing to keep in mind is always use the person’s first name. Putting a persons initials at the end of a testimonial makes it look phony even if it’s not. If a patient refuses to use their first name in their testimonial and just wants to put their initials, accept the testimonial, thank them for it, then file it in the circular file. Most people will be happy to give you a bona-fide testimonial with a first name and city or town.

Speaking of testimonials, please feel free to leave a comment if you have a way of getting testimonials that works well for you. Your fellow practitioners will appreciate your input.

Frank Prieto

You Are Awesome!

Validation is one of the most powerful things we have at our disposal to impact a person’s life in a meaningful way. I think at some point or another, we all have experienced the feeling of liberation that comes from truly being validated.

Feeling validated comes in different forms. At times validation for me has been evident when I’ve had a haunch that something just wasn’t right, and later found out that if I had only “validated” my gut feeling I could have saved myself a lot of grief.

But the validation I’m talking about today is the gift we all have of making a difference in someones life that will last far longer than chocolate or roses. The gift of true validation can last a lifetime.

Being that today is Valentines Day, I couldn’t think of a better gift to give you than this short movie on validation. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I’ll bet you a dozen red roses it’ll put a smile on your face.

Oh… and before you leave please feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Frank Prieto

PS– I think you are AWESOME! :)