How to reach your target patient demographic

You’ve heard it said that if every person knew what chiropractic really was and how it worked, chiropractic offices would be swamped with patients.

You’ve heard it said that if every person knew what chiropractic really was and how it worked, chiropractic offices would be swamped with patients.

You’ve heard it said that if every person knew what chiropractic really was and how it worked, chiropractic offices would be swamped with patients.

That concept is timelier than ever, considering the perfect storm developing in conventional health care—a looming shortage of doctors, an aging population, epidemic obesity, skyrocketing health insurance premiums and deductibles, limitations on coverage, and an increasing awareness of the relatively high risks of medications and surgeries.

As the sky darkens over conventional medicine, notice the public’s rising awareness of holistic healthcare and vitalism, and their importance for optimum wellness. As evidence, notice the health-related TV shows like Dr. Oz, The Doctors, and the spotlight on chiropractic recently on

Dr. Phil. They all make frequent references to our major premise that real health comes from within.

So why aren’t patients lining up to see you? There are, no doubt, many complicated reasons ranging from chiropractic’s internal identity struggle, remnants of the AMA’s destructive campaign, long-ingrained stigmas, and the profession’s own self-esteem issues.

Because those conditions will not be resolved anytime soon, aim to reach as many—if not everybody—in your community and make them aware of who you are and what you offer. Even BJ Palmer commented over 70 years ago, “If your business is not worth being advertised; then you should advertise it for sale.”

Help them find you

People are looking for a doctor like you and your practice and they are not finding it. They are likely going elsewhere for services you can better provide.

Does the idea of striving to reach more people have you feeling a bit of renewed vigor, enthusiasm, and optimism? It should, because many DCs are setting new records in their clinics with marketing as the foundation. Of course, providing excellent service is paramount to obtaining a return-on-investment for marketing and sustaining practice growth.

What marketing should you do? Everything your budget allows. And keep rotating your strategies to reach different people. Here are a few inexpensive and productive marketing efforts often overlooked.

Your community parade. How would you like to have inexpensive exposure to hundreds if not thousands of families who live within your office’s drawing area? You can do that by participating in your town’s parade. It’s a festive and upbeat atmosphere and you can have fun putting your creative skills to work on designing and building your float or routine.

Some DCs even make the front page of their local paper with some- thing as unique as a giant spine costume. The added bonus of building camaraderie comes from involving your staff. Remember to have visible signage highlighting your office location (name a nearby landmark), hand out something they can take home with your name and telephone number (e.g., bent pens, coupons, and fridge magnets), and practice your smile and wave.

Community service. Considering the many scandals in the media lately about professionals like bankers, clergy, politicians, and doctors, the public is wondering who can be trusted. Step up and let your integrity shine by participating in community service.

Options range from joining a service organization, participating in your community’s chamber of commerce and in church functions, teaching health at grade schools, and assisting charitable organizations like a food pantry. Participate with sincerity and gratefulness.

The public takes notice of and remembers selflessness acts like these. Let them sense your altruism and don’t be surprised if you someday get nominated for citizen or business of the year.

Paraprofessionals. Gone are the days of medical professionals being banned by the AMA from referring to chiropractors. Many of those who were once considered enemies are now seeking a relationship with you and your practice. Don’t limit yourself to medical facilities; seek out dentists, PTs, massage therapists, acupuncturists, and the growing number of naturopathic and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners. Always approach them with a reach of “I want to refer to you.” The referrals in kind will follow.

And practice relationship marketing, where you first invite a potential source of referrals out for a game of golf, to lunch, a sporting event, or better yet something that’s a common interest. You’ll need to nurture these relationships with regular contact, showing gratitude for referrals, and selective education regarding what you can do for their patients. Talk on their terms and keep your ego in check.

There will always be challenges operating a practice. Unfortunately, many DCs are still hoping the glory days will return when one could just hang up a shingle and most patients had ample insurance. It’s doubtful we’ll see that again, but opportunities exist now that didn’t exist before. Work hard at marketing and your biggest challenge will be handling all the patients who want to see you.


Tom Potisk, DC has been called “America’s most successful DC.” He operated a large multi-DC family practice for 25 years and now assists other DCs to grow professionally and personally through his books, products, and speaking. He can be contacted through