Q I am a licensed acupuncturist looking to grow my practice. What are some effective strategies and/or ideas for building clientele through "word-of-mouth"?
A Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool for growing a business. As an acupuncturist, you know who your customers are and interact with them. However, before you start asking customers to spread the word, you need a strong online social presence.
Your website is there to provide information, not generate conversation. For that, refer visitors to your Facebook page. And don't neglect your LinkedIn page -- it should be up to date and provide a link to your website.
Post new content to your Facebook page on a regular basis to stay on customers' radar and give them a reason to come back. Think about what customers want from you, such as tips about using herbs to fight the flu. Offer followers discounts during periods when you'd otherwise be slow. And when visitors post comments, reply in a timely manner.
Monitor sites like Citysearch, Angie's List, and online medical communities. Listen to what people are saying and join the conversation. Tell people who you are and what you think, and include a link to your website.
Once these resources are in place, reference them in all your marketing communications. Tell customers the benefit of interacting with you on Facebook. Ask them to post comments about their experience.
Lastly, offer customers an incentive for each new customer they refer who books a treatment. While the incentive can be a discount on a future acupuncture treatment, consider offering something that extends your relationship with them, such as an introduction to herbs.
LISA J. ABENDROTH
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MARKETING,
UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS
OPUS COLLEGE OF BUSINESS