From consideration of the clarity inducing power of Metal and the Financial system, I continue my exploration of the five acupuncture business systems with Water and the Marketing system.
The marketing system is one topic that dominates searches and educational products for small business owners. There’s a simple reason for this – more money requires more people finding and choosing your clinic! Without a flow of new and returning patients, no acupuncture clinic is going to survive for very long. But, as I’ve argued elsewhere, hyper focus on marketing tactics is often a red herring, distracting you from deeper problems in other business systems.
Still, the marketing system is a critical component in creating a resonant acupuncture practice with repeatable financial success.
Marketing can be overwhelming for small business owners due to its diversity and pace of development. This is particularly true regarding the tools and tactics of marketing, since they often follow the arc of technological development. Now, digital tools dominate and include websites, social media, online directories, search engine optimization, blogs, podcasts, Youtube and even branded mobile apps.
But, particularly in our professions, “analog” marketing is still important including business cards, signage, brochures, branded merchandise, networking groups and small scale speaking engagements and even sports team or other sponsorships.
Undoubtedly you’ve considered one or more of the tools above in the process of planning your acupuncture clinic. But, the marketing system is more than just throwing up a social media post or writing a blog article – it needs to be rooted in the overall flow of your business and guided by some kind of strategy. The marketing system includes brand / identity development, marketing strategy and planning, overall esthetic approach and the work you do to encourage referrals.
I associate the marketing system of acupuncture businesses with the Water phase element.
Water is cold, depth, the ocean, the unknown. Water is also the deepest source of nourishment, feeding up into the roots. In the Kidney organ system, Water finds an expression as the source of 志 Zhi, translated variously as as Will, Skill, Ambition and Intention.
As the yangqi has descended from Fire through Earth, Metal and now to Water, there has been a process of condensing and refinement – and this refined substance becomes the source of our expression of intention and execution in the world.
We should follow this model as acupuncturists marketing our practices. Our marketing should not be haphazard or guided by trends, it should be rooted in the condensed and refined energy that you have generated in all of the other business systems.
I believe the connection of Water and Fire is our best guide in powerful acupuncture practice marketing.
The executive business system contains the process and results of your business planning process. In a whole life business plan, you center your purpose for doing what you do – and your vision of how that will unfold. This vision is the fire that burns to keep inspiration, energy and focus on line as you proceed. The overall energy of these aspects of your business plan can and should influence the esthetics of your company identity, and may well direct your efforts in terms of your niche and even specific marketing tools.
Values, also an integral part of business identity, can help you avoid all kinds of problems in your marketing. Some marketing is just plain unethical – extreme pressure tactics, bait-and-switch techniques and using fear and scarcity based marketing should be off limits to healthcare providers. But your more specific value statements may take you further. For instance, some people don’t want to give money to Facebook/Instagram via ad revenue due to some of their business practices and political actions.
Ultimately, though, the most important thing to remember is that your business plan must align with your marketing plan.
The simplest water-fire connection I see is that the business plan and the marketing plan must be connected. After all, there’s not much use in doing a bunch of marketing that doesn’t get you where you want to go.
Every marketing tool and tactic has a different use – it brings in different types and quantities of folks – and you want to make sure those align with your goals as a business and your purpose as a practitioner. Obviously there’s a lot to talk about here, but hopefully I’ve shown you how water can be a powerful guide for acupuncture marketing.
As with the previous business systems, I’d like you to work with this systems map diagram just to get some brainstorming going about your marketing system. Who is involved in your marketing, and are they the right people? What tools and techniques are you using, and what sort of marketing plan do you have in place. As always, if you don’t yet have an acupuncture practice, this work can still be a useful exercise as you think into the future.
In the next article, we’ll finish up the five systems descriptions with Operations, which I associate with the Wood phase element.