Originally published on June 21, 2018. Updated on May 5, 2020.
Inbound marketing and functional medicine are a perfect match. Inbound marketing, also known as content marketing, focuses on the brand story and we rarely find more sincere, heartfelt and compelling stories than in the functional and naturopathic medicine fields.
If you’re reading this and you’re a functional medicine provider, we’re 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.
This is great for two reasons. First, you change people’s lives. Second, it’s marketing gold. Don’t believe us? Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek once said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” As a general rule, a company’s “about” page is the second-most popular page on their website after the homepage. Why? It’s because people want to do business with people. They want to know who you are and what you’re about, so don’t be afraid to share your story. What motivates you?
Stay with us and we’ll run you through the basics of inbound marketing, including how it works to generate leads, the basic theory of how to get started, and how to convert sales.
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What is inbound marketing?
You might be wondering what inbound or content marketing actually is, so let’s start with the definition. HubSpot, a software company, is widely credited with pioneering the concept. It defines inbound marketing as 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.”
That’s probably the most concise definition out there. It gives you a great 10,000-foot view, but if you’re anything like use, at this point you’re probably thinking, “Well, that’s nice, but what does it mean for my practice?” That’s a really good question and we’re glad you asked.
To answer your question, we have to start with a bit of history. The internet and social media have forever changed the way consumers make buying decisions. The term “buying decisions” doesn’t just refer to shoes anymore, either, but all decisions to spend money.
Historically, functional health patients would have made a decision based on word-of-mouth, or perhaps a traditional marketing method such as a TV commercial or a print advertorial. Modern functional medicine patients, however, have more resources available than ever before. They read widely, they search for reviews, they’re swayed by opinions and trends on social media. This is important, because it essentially gives you a whole new set of tools.
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 the opportunity to meet your potential patients and build a connection with them before they come in. You can provide the knowledge and education they need.
“Start with the soul and end with the sale. Not the other way around.” -C.C. Chapman, content marketing expert and author.
Read more: The evolution of marketing
Inbound marketing is transparent
Transparency is critical in functional medicine practices. Modern consumers are drawn to services that help provide the answers they need – quickly. They also want to make genuine connections with practitioners. Inbound marketing forces a level of transparency in the advertising world that hasn’t existed before and education is a core component of proving value.
As a provider, you can leverage social media channels like Facebook or Instagram, increase awareness of your practice and your mission while educating and engaging with prospective customers. Your website and the articles you post on it become a powerful tool to disseminate information to searchers, establish your credibility and help develop your influence as a thought-leader.
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 or watch.
Read more: How much should you spend on marketing?
Education is key to inbound marketing
Functional medicine typically operates adjacent to, and in some cases instead of, traditional medicine. Education is essential because prospective customers may not be aware of the different ways functional medicine can alleviate chronic symptoms. It’s critical to show them why your service is valuable. This includes explaining why their bodies and minds are behaving in a certain way, what symptoms can be treated, and how you plan to do so.
Search engine, social media, websites and blogs are all essential tools in a successful inbound marketing strategy, because they provide information to the people seeking it. When it’s done right, it’s not going to go everywhere. It’s going to go to the people who need and want it most. This makes it incredibly valuable, because it essentially qualifies all new leads. It’s the most effective way to use a marketing budget, because you’ll be targeting an interested few instead of the entire public.
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. Again, content or inbound marketing is first about education, community, and establishing a trusting connection.
Once that’s in place, the sale will naturally follow.
Read more: Is marketing the new sales?
Inbound marketing delivers results
Anyone who has worked with people for any length of time knows how unique each person’s challenges are. Functional medicine practices strive to develop solutions as specialized and individual as the people they treat. The sector is renowned 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, because it’s constantly adapting to new technologies. Modern marketers must be willing to learn, explore, and embrace each new phase of advertising technique.
That’s why we can say from experience that inbound marketing delivers results. It’s how we generate our own leads and drive our own sales. This blog is an example, and we know it works.
Once you’ve made a connection with a prospective client and taken them through the education phase, it’s time to close a sale. This means following up with clear and strong calls to action and a personal follow-up, whether that’s over the phone or by email. You’re here to help solve their problems. Remember that, keep it front-and-center in your approach, and you can’t go wrong.
Ready to get started? Schedule a free consultation (see what we did there?).