“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” -Simon Sinek
“Great companies start because the founders want to change the world…not make a fast buck.” -Guy Kawasaki
For me, these two quotes encapsulate why inbound marketing and functional medicine are a perfect match. Inbound or content marketing focuses on the story and rarely will we find more sincere and heartfelt stories than in the functional and naturopathic medicine fields. If you’re reading this and you’re a functional medicine provider, I’m willing to bet you started your practice because you had a driving desire to change the world of your patients. You wanted to make a difference and follow a less walked but more transparent path. In a strange way, as an inbound marketer, I can relate.
What is Inbound Marketing?
You might be wondering what inbound or content marketing is and why I’m drawing parallels between that and medicine, bear with me. Let’s start with the definition, Hubspot is viewed as the organization that pioneered inbound marketing and they define it follows:
“Inbound marketing is focused on attracting customers through relevant and helpful content and adding value at every stage in your customer’s buying journey. By creating content designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal customers, you attract qualified prospects and build trust and credibility for your business.” (Hubspot)
That’s probably the most concise definition out there on inbound marketing and it gives you a great 10,000-foot view, but if you’re anything like me, at this point I would be thinking “that’s nice, but what does it mean for my practice?” That’s a really good question and I’m glad you asked.
To begin answering your question, I have to start with a bit of history. The internet and social media have forever changed the way consumers make buying decisions. And buying decisions doesn’t just refer to shoes anymore, with the level of researching power that is at the fingertips of 87% of Americans the patient has more researching power than ever before. Historically, potential patients or clients would probably have turned to the advice of friends, neighbors, co-works, family, etc. to find information on which provider to see. Historically, the patient might have been influenced by advertising methods like yellow pages, mailers or coupons, TV, or radio. Today’s consumers are still looking for information and recommendations, but now they turn to the opinions and educational material on social media, websites, and Google before making decisions. This is important because it opens up a whole new world of marketing to practices like yours.
People are looking to build a connection. If given any kind of a choice at all, we will all choose to do business with those we know like and trust. The internet and social media now provide practitioners and practices digital platforms where you can meet your potential patients and build a connection with them. You can provide the helpful knowledge and education they are craving. As C.C. Chapman said:
“Start with the soul and end with the sale. Not the other way around.”
Inbound Marketing is Transparent
In my experiences working in and with functional and naturopathic medicine providers there is a transparency that is foundational. When I was pregnant with my son, I went to a midwife first. Why? Because I believed I would get the most straightforward answers instead of running the risk of getting the party line from institutionalized medicine. I wasn’t disappointed. I, like so many consumers today, was looking for something genuine. Inbound marketing forces a level of transparency in the advertising world that hasn’t existed before. As a provider, you can leverage social media channels like Facebook or Instagram, to educate, connect, and increase awareness of your practice and your mission. Your website and the articles you post on it become a powerful tool to disseminate information to searchers. Inbound marketing levels the playing field because it gives a voice to anyone willing to invest the time to create and distribute quality information that people want to read, watch, or listen to.
Inbound Marketing Focuses on Education
One of my favorite things about functional medicine is its focus on education. I have plenty of friends in traditional medicine, so I have to be careful here because many of them also focus on education and I love them for that. But I have to come back to functional and natural medicine as the winner in the education department. Generally speaking, my experiences with those providers who focus on functional medicine is that they want to educate me and help me understand why my body is doing what it’s doing. I have found this approach to be entirely refreshing and it is why as a marketer I can see parallels.
Inbound marketing uses various channels like blogs, social media, and search engines to get helpful information in-front of those who are actively seeking for it. This means that when done right, the message isn’t just going out to everyone everywhere, but to those who want and need that information now. This makes the educational content more valuable because it is what a consumer needs when they need it. It also is the most effective use of marketing dollars since the money is going toward targeted those who are most interested in the information instead of blanketing an entire zip code or an entire age group.
What this means for you as a provider is that inbound marketing provides you with a dynamic platform to do what you already naturally do: educate. And believe it or not that education you do without even thinking is a foundational piece of an entire marketing system! Again, content or inbound marketing is first about education, community, and establishing a trusting connection, then about the sale that will naturally follow.
Inbound Marketing is Flexible and Courageous!
Anyone who has worked with people for any length of time knows how unique each ones’ challenges are. I’ve watched functional medicine providers strive to develop solutions as specialized and individual as the people they treat. Functional and natural medicine has a reputation for being willing to explore new and historic solutions to medical challenges and look at problems from different perspectives.
Inbound marketing came about because traditional marketing was not adapting fast enough to a changing market. Marketing today requires more flexibility from its practitioners than ever before in history. Marketing remains closely tied to technology and the way we market is now changing as fast as technology is developing. This requires a flexibility to constantly adapt and the courage to embrace everpresent change. What works one day may or may not work two weeks from now. So modern day marketers must be willing to learn, explore, and embrace each new phase of advertising technique.
This near constant change can be one reason why many functional medical practitioners take one look at doing there own marketing and get sick to their stomach. If you feel that every time you think about marketing your practice, you are not alone. The truth is, you are the functional medicine expert, you are the naturopath expert and you should be able to focus on helping people! Instead of stressing about your marketing, the key is to partner with inbound marketing experts you can trust to represent you and your voice well online. You need a team that invests their time knowing what techniques will be effective for your practice. If you think Beacon might be a good fit for you, I’d love to chat with you! You can reach out via email at [email protected] or give me a call at 907-862-1977.