I never expected to get into marketing.
In fact, at one point in my life, it was the last thing I would have considered. What was the point of trying to sell people something? Don’t they know what they want? Marketing seemed sleazy and unnecessary.
Now I know differently. Here’s the story.
After college, I went to work for a printing company that made wedding invitations and stationery. The company did pretty well, in spite of the fact that the owner had little clue about business. Now that I think of it, they had accidentally stumbled on a marketing formula that worked.
On the hottest day of one year, a girl named Rachel stopped by my desk to drop off an invitation to a party. I noticed that the invitation seemed to be for “office” workers only. The people in the shop were not invited. I asked Rachel about it, and when she told me that the shop folks were specifically uninvited, I started cussing.
Not at Rachel (sorry, Rachel). More along the lines of “I can’t believe this!”
You see, the shop was a very hot place. They produced raised print on invitations by printing it, and immediately covering the ink with powder. Most of the powder was blown away, and the invitation was conveyed through a heated area about 6 feet long called a thermotunnel. This melted the powder and created a raised ink effect similar to engraving.
The thermotunnels were already making the shop sweltering hot. The fact that it was 103 in the shade outside made it even hotter. And since management was too cheap to break the seals on some skylights to release some of the heat, the trapped heat was even worse. You’ve heard the term “sweatshops”. Those are spas compared to this.
I’m surprised no one ended up in the hospital.
And the people suffering through this were the people excluded from the party?
That day I made up my mind to be in a position to treat people better.
That’s why I got an MBA (Master’s in Business Administration) along with a Master’s in Organizational Behavior. The MBA focuses on money, the Organizational Behavior degree focuses on people. Both are from Benedictine University, but I’ve also taken classes at the University of Chicago’s school of business, and through the Stevens Institute in Maryland. During my studies I realized three things:
- The companies that treat people the worst are the companies nearing or in bankruptcy. The financial struggle almost guarantees that the company will treat people like numbers instead of people. At the same time, companies in this situation are dirt cheap to purchase.
- There are a series of laws – probably the best laws on the books – that help companies sell themselves to the workers. They are called the Employee Stock Ownership Plan.
- The best way for a company to stay afloat is to fix its marketing. As long as they’re making a profit on every unit sold, marketing can dig them out of whatever hole they’re in.
I think you can see where I’m going with this. It would be fun to buy companies, fix them up, and sell them to people that work there. (They’re more knowledgeable about what’s really going on than most CEOs.) Then repeat. However, right now we may be at the edge of the greatest financial disaster in US history. The national debt, the federal deficit, the trade deficit and the decline of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency could trigger a collapse greater than the Great Depression. It’s not yet a good time to be buying companies.
So in the meantime I’ve been doing other work. I wrote improved yellow page ads and sales letters – they can really make a difference. I came to realize that the TCM profession could really do much better, and I could make a difference there too.
There are 5,000 graduates from acupuncture programs in the US every year, but only about 23,000 clinics. The number of clinics has not been growing much, if at all. This tells me that fewer than 1 in 3, or even 1 in 5 TCM graduates actually end up treating people as their profession.
That’s bad enough. But what’s even worse is that TCM can heal people. Drugs can not. The Physician’s Desk Reference is over 3000 pages of references to drugs – and the only drugs that actually help heal a health condition are chemotherapy drugs and antibiotics. Everything else just maintains the condition.
When I researched this, I discovered a study that showed deaths in hospitals from legal drugs were the 4th largest killer in the United States – in 1998. There are new rules that let even more deadly drugs on the market, and all the advertising by pharmaceutical companies is ensuring that the most untested drugs are the ones that are the most prescribed. I go into the details elsewhere, but the bottom line is legal drugs may be the #1 killer in the United States.
I don’t see helping to market acupuncture properly as just helping good people (though it is). I see marketing acupuncture as a way to save people’s lives. It’s funny – I thought I was looking for other work before I started my meaningful work of rescuing companies. Marketing acupuncture has ended up being even more meaningful to me. It’s one thing to save people’s jobs – it’s another to save their lives.
That’s why my personal goal is to more than double the number of successful clinics in the United States (and elsewhere), and more than quadruple the number of patients. This will happen by the end of 2014. Right now I’m one of the few people that sees what’s really going on. I feel like that little kid in The Sixth Sense – “I see dead people.” But instead, I see people dying for no good reason.
This has to stop.
My experience working with acupuncturists and people in the profession has been really encouraging. My clients have been great, and they’re really good people. I suppose I have “competitors” but it doesn’t feel that way. We’re all committed to promoting the profession.
I’m really excited about the future. Working with clients has made me discover the difference between successful acupuncturists and unsuccessful acupuncturists. Successful acupuncturists use patient education and relationships to get referrals. It’s all very natural. Unsuccessful acupuncturists are afraid to use patient education and relationships to get referrals. Of course it’s a little more complicated than that, but you get the idea. I’m writing a book Never Market Again to explain that difference.
It’s entirely possible for an acupuncturist to make a doctor’s income with fewer hassles and better patient care. I’ve seen it happen, and I’m going to prove it’s possible for you.