Why would a marketing expert write a book just for acupuncturists? God knows we can use the help. But what would motivate someone (who quite honestly could be making bundles of money with lawyers, dentists, and other professionals) invest so much time, energy, and effort into educating acupuncturists about effective marketing?
Fortunately I had the honor of sitting down with Burton Kent to ask him these and other questions. Here's what he had to say about why he wrote "Never Market Again" and why he cares so much about the acupuncture profession. (By the way, I am happy to report that this guy is "the real deal"! I encourage you to Visit Burton Kent's Website and learn more about his work with acupuncturists.)
1. Lisa: Why did you choose to write "Never Market Again" just for acupuncturists when you could be working with bigger industries and professions?
Burton: I believe in acupuncture, and discovered things about the Western model of prescribing drugs that scare the hell out of me. I don't mean to be melodramatic, but it really is a life or death issue.
Also, TCM is a great secret, a treasure for everyone hidden in plain sight. It's amazing. It's also a real honor to work with healers. They're great people – I've yet to meet an acupuncturist I didn't like. To me, there's nothing better than this – doing meaningful work and working with great people.
2. Lisa: What would you say is the biggest “blind spot” acupuncturists have when it comes to marketing?
Burton: In the book "Never Market Again", I list three mental blocks which stop many acupuncturists cold. The funny thing is, these mental blocks usually occur because the practitioner is a good person! They just need things put into perspective – be given a different way of looking at things.
The mental blocks I list are perfectionism, fear of charging a fair rate, and fear of self promotion. If you believe in the Law of Attraction, these are exactly what commonly stops acupuncturists from succeeding.
I will be giving out a sneak preview chapter from "Never Market Again"explaining this. Just go to www.AcupunctureClinicMarketing.com/book and click on "Get the First TWO Chapter for FREE.
3. Lisa: Have you tested the system you present in “Never Market Again” with real acupuncturists? What kind of results have they experienced?
Burton: I personally found at least two practitioners who are following the system accidentally on purpose, and have talked to them enough to verify what they're doing. They have full clinics, and both are looking to hire more practitioners. One of them reviewed the book and said it explains a lot about why things are working for him. I can't claim credit for their results, however.
The nice part about discovering this is that it gave me a system to instantly diagnose what's going on. Practitioners could tell me problems and I'd know where their system was blocked or their message was lost. Now I know what practitioners feel when they diagnose someone and know what to do. It's a pretty cool feeling, isn't it?
[Note from Lisa:: YES!]
After I saw how the parts of the system work together, I tried explaining it to acupuncturists who hired me. It did NOT go over well. They paid me to tell them what to do, they didn't care why. The core of the system comes from within the practitioner and how they interact with patients. That's why understanding why and how it works is absolutely essential. The why is important.
So, working with clients no longer felt right to me. It was like having a secret that couldn't be shared! That's what made me stop working with clients entirely to write "Never Market Again", and turn clients away. (I hope they now understand why.) I also created an online quiz to help people out in the meantime. You can take the quiz by going to my website and clicking on the Acupuncture Clinic Marketing Quiz.
[Note from Lisa:: This is a great tool to help you see what your blind spots are for marketing your acupuncture practice. Burton gives you detailed feedback based on your answers. Take it! It's FREE!]
Every part of the system comes from my work with acupuncturists.Probably the most fun is when they find out how to ask for referrals and get a great reaction. I think it makes them feel loved! If you learn nothing else in the book, learn that!
I think the book is pretty simple, straightforward and clear. However, it was anything but simple, straightforward and clear to write. The various parts of "Never Market Again" are so interrelated that it was hard to explain them as separate pieces well. I tossed out over 50 pages worth of notes and writing to keep it simple. I'm sure that some of the parts of the book still overlap.
From the reactions I've been getting, it's all worth it. I'm really glad it's done.
4. Lisa: I believe the world needs more acupuncturists and the only reason that acupuncturists fail is because they lack a genuine understanding of business, planning, management, and marketing. Do you agree?
Burton: Yes and no.
Acupuncture is a service business and it's just about the most simple form of business there is. You don't have to produce or deliver products, arrange transportation, or coordinate the efforts of multiple people. There are no projects to manage or deals to be made. People come to you, you treat them, they pay you, they leave. You pay your bills each month from what patients pay you, and whatever left over is profit.
Clinics fail only when there's not enough left over to even pay the bills. Marketing makes sure that there are enough patients so there will be something left over.
If you look at any book on business plans, you'll see all kinds of different sections to include. There's really only four parts that matter, in my opinion:
If you have your marketing in order, the other three sections of the business plan don't really matter. The income from treating your patients will solve any problems you have with the other three. If you're on the border with profitability, you will need to watch your cash flow.
Otherwise, if an acupuncturist understands marketing, they don't need as much of an understanding of all the other aspects of business. You should hire other people to take care of that for you, so you can focus on what you do best.
5. Lisa: Do you recommend that acupuncturists hire a “Marketing Consultant”? (If so, why?)
Burton: Definitely not, for the same reason why I stopped taking clients to focus on writing "Never Market Again". I won't even do consultations anymore. I mention in the book that many acupuncturists, when they get someone with a health problem in the same room, will usually turn them into a patient. A simple conversation is often what it takes to turn a prospect into a patient.
You can't hire a consultant to have those conversations for you.
Even if you could, would you want to? It would take the heart and genuineness out of it. The key is to make more of those conversations happen, and make them more meaningful. Your patients can even have part of those conversations for you – so new patients show up pre-sold.
Practitioners need inner understanding that lets them take the right actions. Having someone tell you what the right actions are, or the right thing to say is nowhere near as powerful as understanding how to choose for yourself. Understanding leads to better decisions and more motivation. I can't tell you how many practitioners have told me they feel stuck. That's their exact words – "feeling stuck."
Consultants can't give you that. That's a big part of why I wrote "Never Market Again".
However, it's definitely worth it to have someone available for guidance. It will help keep you from wasting your time, focus your efforts where it counts most, and help you reach your goals much, much sooner. It will help remove the stress of uncertainty – it's a lot more fun when you know what you're doing.
So many practitioners feel lost and don't know where to start. A marketing consultant is not the answer. Someone telling you what to do is a band-aid. I'd recommend the reading "Never Market Again" first, then considering a coach to help you get the best results from your efforts.
I will be offering a coaching program after the book release. It will be limited to only 8 people at first. I want to make sure we're able to get the best results quickly, and too many people could get in the way of that.
6. Lisa: I think every acupuncturist should have a (properly built and optimized) website because it can magnify one’s marketing efforts and it can evolve into an income-generating tool. It seems that your system in “Never Market Again” is not dependent on a website, but it does make good use of website marketing. Can you share the pros and cons of having a website from a marketing perspective?
Burton: Websites aren't covered in the book itself, but there is in a bonus book I'm going to include called "The Faucet". A website is almost mandatory, because having one will more than pay for itself.Practitioners pay hundreds of dollars a month in yellow page ads, but starting in 2006, more people searched online for local businesses than used the yellow pages.
A website can do a better job for about what you'd pay for a month or two of a yellow page ad. After you have it set up, you just pay $10 or $20 a month to maintain it. It's a bargain.
"The Faucet" also includes details on how to use your website and email to automatically educate your patients, and maintain your relationship with them.
There are no cons to having a website. I do recommend getting a site you can update yourself. Far too often, people end up working with a website designer, and have to pay around $25 for each web page update.
I personally recommend running WordPress on your website for several reasons:
I paid a lot of money on a different system for myself, but started investigating WordPress for acupuncturists. When I saw how beautiful, easy and configurable it is, I switched my own site over to it. It's an amazing program. (I could go on all day about it).
I'm in the process of having a site set up for a practitioner, and you can also look at http://ithacaacupuncture.com which I created. Also see http://littlerockacupuncture.com and http://www.missionsfca.com which I did not.
7. Lisa: What is a reasonable marketing budget that an acupuncturist should expect to have when starting out in their first year of practice?
Burton: I don't think a marketing budget makes much sense. Marketing should be an investment. For every dollar you invest, you should quickly get more than your money back. A budget implies that you're going to limit the amount of money you invest, which limits the increased amount of money you get back.
The only time it really makes sense is if you already have too many patients, and getting more won't be profitable. Or if you're tight on cash. Or if your marketing is bad, and it costs more than it's worth.
When starting out, you'll have to invest money, time or energy in marketing. If you don't have money, you're not poor. You still have your time, and can get out there to meet patients. You can give talks, free treatments, network, etc.
"Never Market Again" purposely does not go into depth with this. It deals with your current patients only. If you don't have a patient base to begin with, you'll need to do more promotional marketing. I will be including a bonus book called "The Faucet" which deals with using promotional marketing to get more patients. However, even then it works better if you already have patients.
I also recommend Kevin Doherty's book, "Build Your Dream Practice" for more on ways to do outside promotions.
8. Lisa: Can an acupuncturist effectively market and fill their practice if all they do is get business cards and have brochures about their clinic and services?
Burton: Yes. I also recommend a website as a minimum. The key is how you use them. Again, this is why I wrote "Never Market Again". It's one thing for me to tell someone, another for them to understand.
9. Lisa: Most acupuncturists leave school with a lot of debt and this causes them to want to start treating people right away. The thought of learning marketing strategies can be overwhelming, especially in the early start-up phase of practice. What is your best advice to the acupuncturist who does not want to “waste time and money on marketing”?
Burton: Marketing is a process, not a one time event. Too many people treat it like something you do once in awhile. It's not. Marketing should be an expression of who you are and your skill as a practitioner.
If it feels wrong, guess what? It probably is wrong.
If you're feeling stuck, it's probably because you're not sure where to start. Read, "Build Your Dream Practice" and "Never Market Again" as good guides to get you started. Overcome your fears or hang-ups that I outline in Chapter 2 (which I'm giving away free, just click on "Get the First TWO Chapter for FREE on my my web page: http://www.acupunctureclinicmarketing.com/book).
Lisa: Thank you, Burton! This is great information that will certainly help the entire acupuncture profession. Your system in "Never Market Again" is so compatible with the way most acupuncturists approach the healing art of Chinese medicine that it does not "feel" bad. Somehow you have removed all the negative things from what we often associate with marketing.
I'll be honest with you... I run a very successful acupuncture practice and do not feel the need to do much in the way of marketing. But I learned so much from your book that I have already implemented parts of your system, just because it is so easy and it makes so much sense! Again, I just want to say thank you, Burton, because I know you are providing a great tool and system to help acupuncturists be successful for years to come.
[End of Interview with Burton Kent, author of "Never Market Again".]
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located on the right hand side menu )
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