Should Acupuncturists Use Groupon, Living Social & Other Online Coupons?

March 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Acupuncture Marketing

There seem to be two ‘camps’ when it comes to acupuncturists using Groupon, Living Social and other online coupon programs to promote their services. One camp says, it’s a great opportunity to gain exposure, get new patients and make some money. And another camp says that the deep discounts and high fees make it a financial bust, and worse, devalues the profession.

There’s no doubt that you can lose money using these online coupon programs (as has been well documented in the dining industry), but if you read the coupon program’s fine print, understand your goals, calculate your ‘ break even price point’ and plan accordingly, I believe you can make these programs work for your acupuncture practice.

Here are my recommendations to any practitioner who is thinking about using Groupon, Living Social, or any online coupon company.  Understand and plan on ways to optimize:

(1) Front end income
(2) Back end income ** VERY IMPORTANT!
(3) Costs (including time)

(1) Front end income
Front end income is what you get from your coupon sales. When you see service based businesses using Groupon to sell over 1000 coupons at $50 a pop (like a local glass blowing teacher did), it’s pretty easy to get caught up in the “$50,000 payday” and think you’ve found the answer to all your prayers.  But if that’s all you see, you could be one of the many business owners who lose money on these deals. So please, pay attention! If we examine an acupuncturist who courageously tried out the Groupon program to sell a $30 coupon for a 45 minute session we can see that $30 x 109 purchases (last I checked) = $3,270. Half goes to Groupon so that leaves $1,635 in front end income. That’s only about $15 per person for 45 minutes of treatment, which stinks! BUT WAIT…  here’s what you also have to factor in:

  • 15-30% of people who buy the coupon never redeem it before it expires. That free money. Don’t count on it, but just know that it’s there.
  • For an acupuncturist who does not have a full schedule and ALL s/he has is TIME, this is a great way to get exposure, create buzz, and generate profit (see back end income below) without laying out any cash.

(2) Back end income
This is the key to generating profits! You need a plan in place to upsell these coupon-purchasing customers. What I like about Mary Ann’s Groupon is she included in her sale an “Individual Wellness Plan”. This is clearly aimed at getting these initial buyers back through her doors for a series of treatments.  Even if just 10% of her initial 109 people scheduled 6 treatments as part of her “Individual Wellness Plan” (at her normal rate of $80) that’s 10 (people) x 6 (visits) x $80 = $4,800. Now we’re talkin! Acupuncturists MUST learn how to turn these qualified customers into repeat patients (who refer new patients) in order to make significant long term income. If you add in sales of herbs, oils, books etc., that backend revenue per coupon-paying customer increases. For those of us who understand (and teach) online marketing, the backend income can also significantly increase by offering products like digital products or online wellness coaching and creating automated email campaigns to keep customers interested and coming back. In other words, this is a great way to build a list of qualified customers for future service or product sales.

(3) Costs
The big thing acupuncturists need to watch here is time. (Costs for needles and other office supplies is usually minimal.)  The cash infusion from the front end income can help take care of working expenses and pay for upsell items (sold when they receive their session).  But time is something that is limited and scheduling must be planned so that full paying patient slots are not taken up by $15 slots. I would recommend dedicating 2-3 days a week just to the Groupon people and get them all scheduled and treated within 3 – 6 months. Personally I think a year is too long to ‘wrap up’ the coupon customers. This may mean working days that you don’t usually work until everyone gets their coupon redeemed.

So before we dismiss Groupons and other social online coupon programs for acupuncture practitioners, I think it’s important do some research (read other business’ deals), think things through, test it out on a small scale then take the lessons learned to larger and larger scales so you can minimize your risk and maximize your potential for generating profits. That’s why I congratulate Mary Ann for having the courage to TRY something new, generate buzz and build her business.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this (or any other acupuncture marketing) topic.  Chime in below!

Peace,

Lisa Hanfileti, LAc
Insights-For-Acupuncturists.com

 

 

Acupuncture Website Design Elements to Boost Your Online Marketing

May 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Acupuncture Websites

Acupuncture Website Design Elements Can Make or BREAK Your Online Marketing

Acupuncture Website Design Elements Can Make or BREAK Your Online Marketing

The first live web class on Acupuncture Design Elements to Boost Your Online Marketing is now available for viewing by anyone who purchased (or purchases) the Complementary and Alternative Marketing Ebook.

I also created a 30+ page document of type written notes along with the slides (and a few additional ones not in the webinar) to go along with the recording. This should make your learning curve much easier than mine ever was! My goal is to get you and your business online as soon as possible.

If you are a student and think it is too early to start a website, think again! (If a 14 year old can build an online business just by writing about what she loves, then you certainly can too!)

The reason I recommend Site Build It so highly is because it provides you with an education in business and marketing at the same time that it teaches you how to build your website. Also, it solves all your techie and design questions, like “where should I host my website?”, “how do I choose and buy a domain name?”, and “how do I have access to free acupuncture website templates?”. Site Build It is an all-in-one software package that fits the needs of service-based, self-employed business owners who are trying to figure out the online marketing puzzle.

Those of you who know me, know that I am VERY biased about Site Build It (because it works!), but I DO realize that it is not for everyone. So I have researched other software companies and people who offer value-based website services, especially to acupuncturists. Below is a list of my top picks. Be sure to do your own research and evaluate a website package based on your needs, time commitment, budget, and goals.

Regardless of which website software package to decide to utilize, be sure to include the acupuncture website design elements I share in this web class. The common mistakes that I see in most acupuncturists make with their website can be easily remedied.  And if the mistakes are NOT fixed, it can cause your business website to be a useless money pit (especially if you hire a pricey web designer.)

In the web class, I highlight three actual acupuncture websites plus one that I added to the ebook that is not in the video (provided by courageous volunteers), and I give tips and steps for them to improve their website’s function as a marketing tool.  These improvements will lay the groundwork for the next two web classes on “The Secret to Online Income”.

If you would like to have access to this webinar recording and the type-written notes, as well as all future webinars, all you have to do is purchase my ebook, which lays the foundation for how to maximize the marketing potential of your acupuncture website.  To learn more and purchase “Complementary and Alternative Marketing”, CLICK HERE and read my letter where I detail everything about the ebook.

** UPDATE: Be sure to read my article, How to Attract More Patients With Your Acupuncture Website where I provide you with specific design elements to boost your site’s traffic and improve the usability for your web visitors.