This is the closest catagory I could find for my question but i was wondering what is the most important form of marketing (besides refferals) that people have found in gaining new patients for their practice?
Word of mouth is always the best form of referral. Particularly within acupuncture it is not only crucial but it is the only way due to the lack of information regarding acupuncture as a medical option and the general misinformation and fears associated with it. Explanations of experiences and results from patients to fellow future patients is crucial. This part simply takes time to build up. A possible idea is to not think of word of mouth coming from only your own patients, but rather from others you educate as well. This involves networking with other health professionals and public speaking particularly to support groups for conditions that you can help with which isn't everyones cup of tea.
The other main idea is to keep in touch with your previous patients and others whom you have networked with previously. This is where a website and/or e-newsletters come in handy. We use the mailchimp system for most of our contacts which is great and even free up to a certain amount of contacts.
Other than that advertising in any format (print, tv, radio, etc.) is generally cost prohibitive to do much of any good unless you are going towards a high volume practice in an area with lots of competition. With a website, however, google ads can be useful so long as you limit them to your local area.
Thanks for the quick response. I agree that word of mouth is always the best form of marketing. I've used a number of other types of marketing as well such as pay-per-click, print, and holding disease specific informational groups. The largest number of patients by far came from other providers referrals when I was located in an integrated western eastern group practice. The downside was that they weren't necessarily the type of patients I was after, most of them required insurance billing, which I've since moved away from for a number of reasons. Patient refferals are the second most common type of refferal followed by internet ads being a distant third.
I did hold an informational on diabetes that was targeted at anybody in the group practice that had the corresponding ICD-9 which I believed to be a good way of providing pertinent information and possibly gaining a few clients. Unfortunately of the 10-15 or so who registered for the free class, only one or two actually showed up which, after speaking with some other providers, i believe to be a product of the disease I choose and the corresponding lifestyle choices which often come with it. I think if I put more time into it with a different disease focus it would prove useful. Print advertising like usual seems to be a total waste.