You may already know this, but wellness marketing, and functional medicine marketing in particular, has its unique set of challenges. Most of them stem from perceptions about wellness that have been shaped by Western Medicine. Your prospective patients are likely to have a "quick fix" mentality – any symptom can be solved with a pill, right?

You know that isn’t the case! Wellness and the path to root-cause relief is a journey of lifestyle changes, not a one-step solution. The challenge is to manage your patient expectations along various stages in their journey with intentional, well-timed communication. Like a step-by-step process that functional medicine practitioners use to care for patients, there are steps and rules to follow for impactful, effective functional medicine marketing.

The five rules covered here stem from our Change Stage Framework: a model for communication to spark action, fuel momentum and inspire patients as they transform. We partnered with Integrative Practitioner to share how you can leverage our Change Stage Framework in this free webinar, What Patients Really Want from Practitioners. Read on for the top five rules you can put into action right now!

Use These Rules to Grow in 2022

From findings in our Functional Medicine Patient Perception Report and our experience working with fast-growing practices like Infinity Wellness Center, we’ve identified five rules that lead to functional medicine marketing success. These tie in to each of the five steps in our Change Stage Framework. Let’s dig in!

1. Don’t market to people who aren’t ready to hear what you have to say

Unless you have mountains of money set aside for marketing (wouldn’t that be nice?), it’s not your job to convince people that functional medicine is a better choice than conventional healthcare.

In fact, those who are prematurely convinced are not likely to be your ideal patients. So, don’t waste your money or your time. These efforts are better spent on your real challenge, which is convincing your current patients that they should stay with your practice to work on root-cause relief and their long-term wellness goals too.

2. Define your healing or treatment process

It doesn’t need to be complicated; it just needs to show your patients how you intend to go about this business of root-cause medicine and how you’ll measure progress along the way.

Remember, many of your patients are accustomed to “quick fix” pill-based solutions for their symptoms; they don’t always understand that wellness is a journey. Infinity Wellness Center experiences the benefits of communicating their proven process, The Infinity Way™, early and often.

Functional medicine marketing is made easier with a proven process

Patients feel confident that the entire Infinity team follows one protocol with clear, specific steps. It doesn’t matter if your process is similar to peers in your field – you make it unique when you give it a name. Trademark it; make it visual to make it memorable! Then, make sure you have metrics associated with each stage to ensure trust in the progress.

3. Answer prospect questions to build awareness and trust...and drive new traffic to your website.

As we review in the Integrative Practitioner webinar, this is an important rule because prospective patients are actively researching their functional medicine provider options.

This is where your website should show up to calm their fears! Quite often, people are at the end of their rope – they’ve tried everything without resolution and may be attempting to self-diagnose with online research.

Use your blog or video series to convince them that you have solutions. Accomplish this by first understanding which issues prospective patients search for, then optimize your website with those search terms. We did this research for you! In our Functional Medicine Patient Perception Report, we uncovered the top symptoms patients search for online.

Weave these key terms into your website copy to feed search engine algorithms and push your site higher up on results pages.

4. Remind prospects that their comfort zone can be very uncomfortable

While fearmongering is never the goal, it’s important to shine a light on the realities of a prospective patient’s present-day behavior and its risks. They may be motivated by their desire to find relief, but studies show that most people make big decisions when presented with the fear of the status quo – not hope for the future.

This is a great conversation to have in the prospect’s first exploratory call. The conversation may go something like this, “I understand that you’ve been suffering with heartburn-related symptoms that are becoming worse. It’s affecting your sleep and now it’s affecting your work and your relationships. It sounds like your current treatment options aren’t getting you anywhere and you’ve reached a dead end. Let’s talk about a new path. Our process. It’s not going to be easy, but what’s the alternative?” 

If you have low consult-to-patient close rates, this is an effective step you can take to improve your conversion! Once prospects become patients, their journey with you shouldn’t end when symptoms stop. Far from it! If your services end once they have relief, you’re leaving your patients out in the cold. And leaving money on the table.

If you’ve thought about rounding out your offerings with massage, mindfulness, energy work, and more, our Functional Medicine Patient Perception Report presents a good business case to do so.

5. Make your newsletter – not social media – your biggest marketing asset

We have a rule in the field of content marketing – only invest in “owned land,” like your website and your own database. Your social media feeds are rented. And your landlords can change the rules of engagement any time. Your social fans and followers are not yours to keep.

But when you build your own database, it’s an investment that pays off over time. Do everything you can to move patients into an opt-in database where they have agreed to receive your communication. This could be part of your new patient onboarding process. You can also use pop-ups on your website.

There are many ways to communicate with patients once their treatment plan is complete. Yet very few practices do! This is where patient growth happens. If you don’t invest in relationship cultivation with your patients, you’ll get stuck in the very expensive cycle of new patient acquisition.

With ongoing communication, you can increase Patient Lifetime Value, effectively growing revenue without costly marketing expense. As patients continue to work with you, they’re more likely to send referrals your way. Because referrals are the most common way patients find you, you’ll want to keep that word-of-mouth business coming.

Your Five Rules to Functional Medicine Marketing Success

With the right method of communication at the right times, you can attract new patients, retain the ones you already have and grow your practice. Our Change Stage Framework will help you get there.

In our free webinar, What Patients Really Want from Practitioners, you'll uncover additional details about our framework and the five rules to functional medicine marketing success. Dig in to even more actionable insights and download our Functional Medicine Patient Perception Report. The results might surprise you. The best part? You can begin to use these rules and insights right away!

About the Author

Megan Factor is a Content Manager at Muse and a passionate creator, both professionally and personally. She developed her content marketing skills working in a wide range of industries and pulls inspiration from her diverse experiences. Her keen eye for design, penchant for writing, and love of good storytelling work together to create meaningful content that provides value to clients.

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