It has almost become a bit of a joke in modern society, such is the ubiquity of days, weeks and months claimed by national organizations to promote awareness of a health condition. National “5-A-Day Week” flows smoothly into Autism Awareness Month and Bowel Cancer Week, and the merry-go-round continues ad nauseam.
Most of us in the holistic field have seen through this fanfare, just another way to keep funneling money into the standard Western protocols and pharmaceutical research for dealing with disease. One only has to look at a pink “Susan Komen KFC Bucket” or Mike’s Hard Pink Lemonade ”For the Cure” to realize something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
However, savvy practitioners in the holistic world are using the power of these national organizations and mass consciousness to be able to grow and develop their own practices, and it has been very effective when done right. So in this column we thought we would share a few tips on how to leverage the power of these national organizations to your benefit.
1. Have a Plan
The most important part is working out exactly what you want to achieve. For a number of our clients, their goal has been to get new patients into the practice. So the first step in the plan would be to ascertain not only what kind of patients you are looking for, but also what types of conditions you work best with and how this is consistent with your overall brand positioning.
Once you have established this, you can start to look for national organizations that are relevant to your practice. A fairly comprehensive list of these organizations can be found at http://www.pohly.com/dates_alpha.shtml.
We recommend to our clients to put on an event for their community at least once a quarter. If you can do more, that is great, but at least one event a quarter maintains your relevance and value in the community.
2. Get in Touch
The next step is to inform the national organization that you would like to partner with them to put on a local education event. This will be music to their ears and they will likely furnish you with a lot of support material that will be useful in the very near future.
In fact, you do not even have to partner with a health related organization, some of our clients have successfully partnered with organizations such as One Warm Coat (onewarmcoat.org) or their local food bank at Thanksgiving.
3. Use Their Credibility
Using the credibility of a third party can help you get into places it is hard for a holistic practitioners to get into. For instance, if you were to write to the editor of your local paper telling him you were putting on an event looking at holistic ways of working with digestive disorders, you may not get very far. However, if your practice is putting on an event to raise awareness of National Digestive Disease Awareness Month (May FYI), you may find you get a lot warmer response.
Once you have got agreement from them, you have a lot of leeway to use that credibility to open doors, please see the examples below regarding letter writing. If there is one thing to take from this, it is that third party credibility, in all it’s shapes and forms, is good for opening doors that have been seemingly closed to naturopaths.
4. Make a Compelling Offer
Now that you have your event lined up and you are partnered with a source of credibility, how will you get people through the door? What makes people want to change their regular schedule to come to your event? People typically respond to a few potential triggers
• Helping those in need (Food, Warm Coats, etc)
• Free services (Free testing or service)
• Valuable, relevant information for themselves or family
Ideally bringing these three offerings together can make this a roaring success. Both of these could be organized in your practice in the next three months.
Here are examples of a few strategies that bring this all together.
Example A: Celiac Awareness Month
1. Schedule an event for one evening or Saturday in October
2. Get in touch with National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (celiaccentral.org)
3. Write letters to local business and media with your logo and the logo of NFCA announcing your intention to bring awareness of this growing disease with the event set out above (Celiac is perfect because there is no cure apart from dietary intervention)
4. Use NFCA posters as well as in house marketing pieces to raise awareness.
5. Take out ad copy in the local paper about the event (These are the only circumstances where we have found broadcast advertising to offer tangible positive ROI)
6. Train your staff to engage all your patients about the event and who they know who needs to come along (with them!)
7. Follow up with media the week of the event to try and secure local media coverage. Update them with local businesses who you are working with.
8. At the event, find ways to collect data on those that show up for effective follow up.
Example B: Giving Thanks
1. Schedule an event around Thanksgiving
2. Offer a free service / test to anyone who brings in three cans of food for the food bank. Keep track of the free services so you can quantify the free value you have offered
3. Get in touch with the local food bank to coordinate and cross promote
4. Write letters and make phone calls to local media and businesses to raise awareness of the event(as above)
5. Train your staff to engage all your patients about the offer and who they know who needs to come along (with them!)
6. Once the event is over, make sure to get a photo with your big stack of food and that will be a shoe in for the local paper.
These are just a couple of examples of how you might be able to use the credibility of third parties to create a buzz about your practice in your local community. If every ND in the country did their part to engage their community regularly, the health paradigm would start to shift as a result, so in the words of Peter Drucker ‘The best way to predict the future is to create it.’
James Maskell is CEO of Revive NYC, a Brooklyn based digital media, practice development and branding company that helps holistic practitioners bring their message to life. To connect with Revive, please visit our website at www.revivenyc.com