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Healthcare Marketing 401: The Secret to Selling Patient Care without Feeling like You’re Selling

Posted by Rick Lau on May 23, 2018 7:00:00 AM
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I talk to a lot of healthcare clinics. The one complaint I hear more than any other isn’t about their recruitment, marketing, or staff (though all of these would make a top 5 list).

The complaint I hear the most is that they hate having to sell patients on their plan of care. You didn’t get into this to be a salesman, right?

Well, the truth is, whether you’re a dentist, a chiropractor, a physical therapist, or some other kind of health clinic owner, your growth and influence in your community ultimately comes down to selling your plan of care to patients.


Think about when you have to convince a patient to follow your treatment plan. How much do they have to protest before you give in.  Or even worse, you don't even give your patients a treatment plan.

What are the consequences of this knee-buckling timidity? Four things happen, all of them terrible:

  • The patient comes in a few times, irregularly
  • They don’t follow the plan you’ve painstakingly developed and that you know is what they need to get healthy
  • After one or two visits, they self-discharge, never to be seen again
  • Finally, they tell all their friends and family that you didn’t help them

What’s the real problem with all this? Why should it really get you angry? Because they aren’t getting healthy!

It’s really no different than a teacher trying to motivate a lazy student. “You’ve got all this potential!”, they say. Then they try to break down the tasks of working, studying, and learning. But it’s all for nothing. The student doesn’t do any of it, and earns another D minus.

All your best efforts to provide world-class care – and all your marketing efforts – evaporate when that new patient stops coming back because they didn’t ‘catch the vision’ for what you were doing for them.

What you’re about to read isn’t basic stuff. This isn’t marketing 101. It’s upper division – healthcare marketing 401. Only this stuff, they don’t teach in chiropractor school (and probably not marketing school either!).

Get it, use it, and profit from it. Here’s where we start:

5 Reasons Patients Don’t Commit to Your Plan of Care

  1. Time
  2. Decision makers not in the room (wife or husband)
  3. Price
  4. Trust – why should I believe you? I’ve done physical therapy before and it made no difference
  5. Self-confidence – I don’t think I can do it

You are the authority in your industry. The goal of chiropractor marketing, physical therapy marketing, dental marketing, and all the other forms of healthcare marketing is to position you as the authority you should be.

When you have industry authority, you will deflate those five objections. Why? Because patients will be coming to you because it’s YOU. Your service will have more value because you’ve created a belief in people’s minds that your clinic is “the place to go,” even if they themselves don’t need your help. When their friend needs help, they’ll tell them to go to you.

In other words, you want to be the “Kleenex” of healthcare clinics. (Kleenex is a brand. But people call every tissue on the shelf a Kleenex – generics, competitors all).

Can you picture being that kind of authority?

Essentially, you want marketing that makes people think of you as having ‘elite level care.’ The patients who balk at your price will already know they can’t afford you, and you won’t have to cower before their price demands.

The best news is, you can create this industry authority without being known as a salesman.

So – what can you realistically do with your marketing to build trust, instill self-confidence, and reduce the barriers of time and money?

What I’m about to share with you will re-define how you think about selling your plan of care. You’ll still be selling, but – yes, this is really true – you will actually have fun doing it!

Your Healthcare Marketing Goal – Sell the Vision First, Then the Service

Do you believe your clinic offers the best solutions in the world for what your patients need?

Think honestly. Because that’s the foundation for effective healthcare marketing. You didn’t go to school to sell. You went because you wanted to heal people. That right there is the chrysalis of your marketing secret – find your vision for your patients and your clinic, and then sell it. Here’s how it can look:

Chiropractor marketing: Healing back and spinal pain without surgery or drugs

Physical therapy marketing: Restoring muscular health by fixing the real causes of pain, not masking it with costly prescriptions

Dental marketing: Ensuring your only set of teeth lasts as long as you do

See the difference? That’s a lot better than ‘101’ level marketing like “Chiropractic Monday Special! 20% New Patient Discount!”

I’m not saying the occasional price special is a bad thing. But you’re not going to win many customers for life by offering discounts and deals.  You want patients who buy into your vision for lifelong health – true physical repair and transformation. This muscle was weak. Now it’s strong. And I have less pain.

Find and Communicate Your Vision of Health and Healing

What do you want? Why do you want it? When do you want it by?

Can you answer these questions for your clinic? Can you answer them for your patients?

Specify how many people you want to help get well each year. Keep track, and market it as you approach your annual goal. Set a goal for 2020, and 2025. Set a lifetime goal.

When you can answer these questions and articulate them from your heart, now you have something to say in both your marketing and your in-person presentations. People are looking for inspiration everywhere. Even in your clinic waiting room. With a clearly articulated vision built around what your clinic stands for and wants to accomplish, you can give it to them.

In this way, you’ll be positioning the service you provide as a community benefit. The more money you make and the more people you serve, the more lives you will change.

If you really believe you became a healthcare provider to heal people, then you must accept that you have a moral obligation to heal as many as possible. It’s your own personal mandate, and you must fulfill it. And you fulfill it by selling people on YOUR plan of care which is built around YOUR vision.

Communicate this to your patients, and communicate it to your staff. Hold them accountable, and allow them to do the same for you. Everyone on your team should know and believe in your 2020 goal, and be doing everything they can to work toward it.

This will affect your hiring tooYou’ll ask better interview questions. You’ll be looking for a specific type of person, not just someone with the right degree or experience.

Another way to think of it: You are doing your community a disservice if you fail to serve and impact as many people as possible.  There are alot of crappy clinics out there so you need to protect your community from them.  You are their protector, healer, and trusted authority, and everyone must see you.


You were given a special gift in this world. It is your duty and responsibility to serve and impact as many people as possible. You should never feel guilty in selling what you believe in.

Rick Lau


Here’s a vision statement from one clinic owner I’m mentoring right now:

2022 vision:  Impact 30,000 lives and help them avoid pills and surgery AND to donate $100,000 to charity (Women's Transition House)

The charity tie-in is brilliant. Today’s consumers respond to this – it’s called “cause marketing.” Here’s an extreme but effective example of it from Toms Shoes

Tom's Shoes are improving lives.  With every product you purchase, TOMS will
help a person in need. One for One

Or if you donated your "initial visit" or "no show" fees to the local fire department for future purchases of equipment and to keep the protect the neighbourhood. 

What impact would it have on your marketing if your clinic publicly aligned with a charitable cause? This is part of your vision. And your staff will get excited about it too. They’ll tell everyone about it. And not because they’re paid to.

Vision inspires.

The ability to articulate your vision is one of the most important duties for a clinic owner.  It gives the WHY every staff goes to work on Mondays or picks up that extra shift on Saturday.  Even more importantly, when your clinic falls apart and it doesn't make sense for any employees to continue working there, can you articulate your vision compelling enough to make people stay. 

Your Next Marketing To-Do – How to Map Out Your Vision

Go do this right now. Set aside a couple hours, or a whole day, and involve your staff. Here’s what to accomplish during that time:

  • Decide what your clinic is really about. What’s your purpose? What’s your calling? Why do you exist?
  • Specify a goal associated with that vision (must be measurable), and choose a year to accomplish it by.
  • Choose a local or national charity that aligns with your vision in some way.
  • Send out weekly emails every Monday reinforcing and deepening your clinic’s newly defined reason for being.
  • Plan some development training for how to weave your vision and mission into everything you do, including patient service, marketing, and yes – face to face selling. You are no longer just selling chiropractic care or physical therapy. You’re selling a vision, and your patients get to be part of it. Figure out how to communicate this, and make sure your whole staff is on board.

Every week at Callhero I have a 9-minute Monday, where I ask my team to commit nine minutes every Monday doing something to transform themselves so we can achieve our 2029 vision (Certifying 10,000 CallHeroes to deliver an exceptional patient experience on the phone).

It could be something personal, something motivational, or something professional.

I send them stuff to read and watch related to leadership, marketing, influence, and persuasion.

I empower them with new skills and strategies, and tell them to put one into practice that week. It gives them a focus and a purpose for that week, and it pumps them up!

How strong will your team be – and how effective your marketing and selling – if you could train your people to implement just one new skill or strategy each week?





That’s healthcare marketing and selling.

Change the inside (of your clinic), and the outside (your marketing) will change as well. Your patients will feel it, and they’ll buy in to your clearly expressed vision and purpose – for their own lives, as well as for your clinic’s role and position in the community.

Now, don’t you feel better about selling your plan of care?

If this is all still very overwhelming and you aren’t sure where to start, talk to me and let me help

Want something specific you can use to train your staff next week? Use this front desk training toolkit to quickly and easily train your front desk team to keep the conversation going when a new patient says “I’ll call you back.” over the phones.  You can quickly and easily train your front desk in how to use it (and learn it yourself!). CLICK HERE TO GRAB IT NOW

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