Marketing, Marketing, Marketing! (Why Should We Care?)

I know that we’re all community loving people,who are all about using acupuncture to change the world. And we’d all rather worry less about marketing. 

That’s one of those “business” concepts for those big dark corporations that are out destroying the world. Oh no, not us. Not our pure little community oriented community clinics. Those ugly words have nothing to do with us. 

I mean we’re practically giving it away. Offering acupuncture (usually so unaffordable to everyone) at a sliding scale. I mean people should just be pouring through our doors for this all natural, non invasive, can only help, can’t hurt, beautiful thing we’ve got here. Once one person comes to us, they’ll just tell EVERYONE and we’ll be a thriving community acupuncture clinic in no time.

Sadly, that’s not reality. Any entity (social business, nonprofit, or not needs to market, market, and market constantly, consistently, especially through the first 1-3 years of opening)

  • But Why? Shouldn’t people just be pouring through our doors?

 Let’s try a little analogy here. 

Let’s said one day a little organic restaurant opened up. It was serving up all natural, all organic food, all locally grown, incredible flavors, at a quarter to a fifth of normal restaurant prices. It was so community minded that it had a sliding scale for its food from $2-5 a plate. I mean at those rates, who would even have to cook at home anymore?

And because it was a little organic restaurant that was all about the food and what good that could do, it didn’t go with a fancy schmacy location, or a big sign.  It opened up in a previously empty storefront somewhere. Had a little unlit sign that said “Community Restaurant”. Because they were all into reusing stuff, they picked up their tables and chairs from here and there and not everything matched.  But no matter, as soon as people experienced the food at those price they would fall in love with it and tell everyone.  To keep the food costs low, they didn’t do any marketing and advertising and knew that word of mouth would definitely carry them.

  •  So what happened to this beautiful little community restaurant?


Organic food at $2-5 a plate is something incredible. I am sure EVERYONE would fall in love with the place if they only knew about it. “Community Restaurant” made perfect sense to the owners. But no one on the street knew that it meant that it was $2-5 a plate.  How would they unless they went in?

  • But how do you get people to go in?  

I mean a restaurant is much more inviting for people to explore than something like a medical clinic, where people only go when they have problems (wink, wink).

  • But how were people supposed to know a new restaurant opened up?

Well, there is a sign. So anyone walking around or driving by that exact street could be curious and go in. Well, did a lot of people walk in this neighborhood, especially new and different routes everyday instead the same circles around the lake or their neighborhood? And did all those people driving around drive slow enough to see the little unlit sign, or were they driving too fast and too busy on their cell phones to see this little restaurant?

And next year it would show up in the yellow pages for free with “Community Restaurant” and the phone number attached to it. I am sure with just that, lots of people are always browsing their phone book for a new place to go try.

  • Think about it

What if this little restaurant opened up a one block from you? How long would it take before you tried it out?

  • I am such a couch potato. People ask me if wintering in Minnesota is very hard on me compared to FL. And since I don’t really go outside that much. I haven’t really noticed a significant difference. And I am such a bore, I was raised in the suburbs and drive the same fastest route everyday from home to work and work to home, and to the grocery store. And I am such a boring person, I know what I like. I know exactly what I am ordering before I even get to a restaurant. When people tell me to try somewhere new, unless I am in a super (ohhh I haven’t had work been cooped up inside for days, need to go outside now) crazy mood, I don’t. I mean unless they personally invite me and really MAKE me go. All that dampness in me just makes me super stagnate. I might as well be a pile of pudding.   
  • I am sure with the incredible deal this little community restaurant was, it did just fine. 

(please take into account that this post was written with humor, please don’t take it too seriously!) 

Jade Fang
Author: Jade Fang

Opened Jade Community Acupuncture in July of 2009. Loving the CA experience. Love being a part of the community. It's my first time being in business by myself, so writing about the roller coaster ride it is being a first time businesswoman. Have some marketing experience, love to help people with their marketing. Really appreciate the community of support with CAN! Everyone's helped me so much!

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  1. I might as well be a pile of

    I might as well be a pile of pudding.


    Oh, how I laughed at this!  You are ADORABLE!  I hope you don’t take that the wrong way, bc obviously, you are super smart and resourceful and amazing and all kinds of things that are not be diminutized (new word!), but I have to say that I adore you.


    Thanks once again for boosting us up, Jade!



    Julia in Berkeley

  2. YOU are so right!

    I know you are right because when I get lazy or too busy to market…it shows.  I honestly believe having done this marketing thing for awhile, it almost doesn’t matter what you do. 

    Even if you market to the wrong people, the wrong places, and the wrong timing, just marketing puts you in a place to receive your efforts.  Important to not get lazy or busy doing other things.  It will show.

    Thanks for the reminder to stay out there…an acu-friend and I were talking about this the other day and she agreed with keeping on it but, “It’s just so exhausting.”  It’s true sometimes.  But I’ve decided to have an attitude adjustment about that feeling.  From yesterday forward, I’m going to thoroughly enjoy my marketing experiences.  I love what I do and it works, it helps and everyone should at least hear about it. tess

  3. You seem anything but damp

    You seem anything but damp and stagnant!

    Great blog.  Very cute and funny.

    I have to say, there really is something energetic about everything we do – marketing included.  Over the course of time in practice I’ve gone through waves of marketing like crazy, then when things picked up, slacking on the marketing and just treating everyone who came in for treatment.  Then when things slowed down, I would have a mini-freak-out and realize I had to get back out and market again.  The funny thing is, even when the marketing hasn’t necessarily manifested itself publically yet, when I start working on it and planning, things seem to pick up in the clinic.  Consistency is key but it takes a lot of effort, for sure.  I am realizing more and more that there are lots of fun and creative ways to market that don’t necessarily take too much time and effort.  Also, marketing really does serve the people of our community – it’s not about me and my business, it’s about them and letting them know that I’m here to help them.  I’m also enjoying collaborating w/ regional CAN’ers to market as a whole – I think that’s great for all of us.

  4. Yep, I agree.

    I did the free day thingy on Jan 16.  It was the first event ever that I’ve done that NO ONE  (not a soul) showed up to.  For some odd reason I wasn’t even that bummed.  I just went home and put it out of my mind.

    The following Monday I had six new patients.  

    This morning I started working on the monthly newsletter and felt like it was going so…. slow.  Poof I went to work and I got three new patients. 

    I really do chalk it up to the above principle.  Move qi and people show up.

    A pile of pudding, hmmm, made me think of my obsession with green tea frappucinos in the summer time!

  5. It’s hard to stay motivated

    Tess: Whew it’s sure hard to stay motivated. I try to have as much support as possible so I don’t feel like I am doing it all by myself or else the dampness will just make me procrastinate forever 😉


    I have volunteer receptions, unpaid student interns, small business advisor, that all really help keep me going! I am super lucky!

    Jade Community Acupuncture, Winona, MN

  6. Marketing as Serving People in the community

    I think that’s a great comment. A lot of times we think of things in black and white. And business stuff is the black stuff and acupuncture is the white.  But really marketing is about serving people. 


    Jade Community Acupuncture, Winona, MN

  7. serving people

    great comment Jade! Acupuncture really is all about serving people first and so marketing in creative ways, or however, is just a part of that service. A good reminder.


  8. Ditto

    I love your perspective on marketing as service.  I just opened, I’m trying to do a lot of marketing, and the response has been great.  You know what so many people have said?  “Thank you for opening an affordable clinic in our community,” “Thank you for caring about our community,” “Thank you!”  Marketing is just spreading the love!

    Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  9. what are some of your creative ways of marketing- what works best for you or what are some things you have yet to try. I am terrible at marketing and i jut opened my clinic and it is slow and the overhead is getting overwhelming….