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!

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Thanks, Frank, for the clarification. As a point of feedback, you might want to make this clearer in your newsletter/video the first time around. I have followed your advice about the coupon to the letter– I even used your wording– and it always felt awkward to use it as you explained it the first time around. As I understood it, the $60 value was for the 30 minutes of my time to sit down and do the consultation; it did not mean I took $60 off the initial visit. Though that did feel good to me and I did provide an clear explanation to my site viewers, sometimes pts would come in with the coupon in hand (without coming in for the consult) for the first visit and present it to me. This would then require a further explanation– and that felt awkward. But for those that contact me to come in for the consultation, you are right, they do always come in for treatment– regardless though of whether or not I take that $60 of their initial visit. So I will take this new idea into consideration.

Thank you very mcuh.

Hi Jordan, I admit the coupon offer is a little tricky to understand at first. Whenever an acupuncturist signs up for NewACUPatient$ this is one of the areas I have to go over more than once until it’s perfectly clear. It lends itself to interpretation not only from the acupuncturist but from the patient as well. I’m going to take this opportunity to elaborate on this a bit more because when this is done right it works like magic. Let’s do the math first…

You visit my website and see the coupon for a FREE Initial Consultation ($60 value.) You print the coupon and call my office to make an appointment. When you call for the appointment is the perfect time to explain how the coupon works. So when you call my office you’ll ask me or my staff a few questions like; Do you have experience treating this or that, how many treatments will it take, etc., AND how much does it cost. Here’s when I tell you that the cost of the initial visit is $135, but if you bring in the website coupon you’ll save $60 and only pay $75 if you stay for treatment that day. I go on to tell you that I do this because I want you to come in to meet with me and determine if acupuncture is right for you without any obligation. I continue to explain that this is a “risk-free” offer for you to learn how Chinese medicine can treat your condition naturally and effectively without the use of prescription drugs. If I determine I can’t help you I will recommend other options for you. It’s as simple as that. We like to treat patients who take an active role in their healing process so we want you to feel comfortable when you come in without any pressure or obligation.

Ninety five percent of the time they will stay for treatment that same day. If they stay for treatment they only pay $75 (or whatever your treatment rate is.) Here’s where many acupuncturist say; “Yeah, but I just gave up $60. That’s 45% less that I could have made.” Well, that’s not accurate because most patients will come in (on average) for at least 4 treatments – 4 x $75 = $300. The $60 is only 16% of the big picture ($300.) Besides, you are the master of your own domain and the reason you are in business for yourself – so you can charge whatever you want. All you have to do is increase your prices. Charge $85 or $95 for treatments to make up the difference. Do you see what I mean? Many acupuncturists get hung up on the math or the initial $60 they are giving up and they miss the big picture. This is being penny wise and pound foolish because all you have to do is adjust the numbers up or down so it makes sense to you but for Christ’s sake… Give’m the damn pickle!

It doesn’t stop there. If you really want to kick it up a notch do this… Don’t call it a FREE Initial Consultation like everybody and their brother does. Call it a FREE Initial Acupuncture Exam. It’s essentially the same thing, but it has a much higher perceived value. You’re going to do it anyway, right? When they come in you’re probably going to do a brief TCM exam which includes a pulse diagnosis, examination of tongue, ears, eyes, etc. Now while everybody else is offering a FREE Consultation ($60 value) you are offering more because you are offering a FREE Initial Acupuncture Exam ($85 value.) Is it costing you more out-of-pocket? No, it’s just a matter of perception and structuring your offers the right way.

Get this right and you’ll get more new patients coming in the door – who in turn will refer others and your practice will grow exponentially.

Free is Free and there should never be a question about that. Do you think that a free consultation is a better coupon offer than something like a % off or $ off coupon? I’m wondering if people have more success with the free consultation than other offers.

Good question.

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