Mastering Traditional Networking and Marketing Strategies for Your Acupuncture Practice

October 20, 2023   |   Acupuncturists


Twenty-five years ago, Stephanie Gianarelli, MS, AEMP, FABORM, was opening her first practice in downtown Seattle when another clinician informed her she already captured all the area’s referrals. Gianarelli wasn’t deterred and opened there anyway. “By month two, I was in the black,” she says.

Today Gianarelli has four acupuncture fertility clinics, Acupuncture Northwest Associates, located throughout the Seattle area.

Her early years were when most businesses were still advertising in the Yellow Pages, but what Gianarelli did then to promote her practice still works today. Her advice for marketing your acupuncture practice without social media is especially helpful for those clinicians who don’t want to spend time building an Instagram or TikTok audience. 

How to market your acupuncture practice without social media

Social media today is saturated with clinicians trying to promote their services. For many of them, it can be an effective, free marketing tool. But today it’s significantly more challenging to build an audience on social media than three or more years ago. For those clinicians who want other marketing methods for acupuncture practice, Gianarelli has several tried and true “boots on the ground” methods.

Choose an unsaturated market or a small town

While Gianarelli built her acupuncture practices in a big city with existing competition, she acknowledges that starting in a smaller town that doesn’t already have an acupuncture clinic makes it easier to grow. 

“It’s a really good idea to choose a market that’s less saturated, and ideally one that doesn’t necessarily have mandated insurance coverage,’ says Gianarelli. 

That said, Gianarelli says her experience proves there are enough patients anywhere you want to practice. 


Choose a niche to market your acupuncture practice without social media

While acupuncturists are trained as generalists, Gianarelli says it’s important to specialize for marketing purposes. “It’s how you become known among clinicians and get found on Google,” she says.

Gianarelli focused her practice on fertility and pregnancy soon after she opened. That helped her become known for fertility expertise early on.

Still, she says, you treat all areas of health even when you specialize. “Once patients come to you for one specialty, they’ll ask you what else you treat.”


Offer free assessments or first treatments in your area

Gianarelli opened her first practice in a 17-story building. There she distributed newsletters to everyone in the area, offering a free treatment. “Some of them came, and then they loved it. And then they started referring people,” she says.


Network with referring clinicians

Soon after opening, Gianarelli met with every clinician in the area who might be a source of referrals. She left a binder with information about her practice, together with copies of research studies on how acupuncture can help fertility. She followed up by asking to meet saying she wanted to refer patients to them. 

Gianarelli and her team also attend professional networking functions for fertility physicians in the area. Her goal is simply to get to know them socially. 

Acupuncture is adjunct care and not a competition to physicians, says Gianarelli. An acupuncturist typically has more time to focus on lifestyle health issues, like diet and exercise. “You need not to be afraid of doctors. You are there to help them. They are there to help their patients, and they can’t do everything,” she says.


Communicate with the care team

When Gianarelli shares patients with physicians, she stays in constant communication. She builds trust by sending a notice about her treatment plan and notifying the physician if the plan changes.

She also recommends sending a preemptive letter whenever you refer a patient to another clinician. 


Patient education leads to patient retention

Educating patients about how acupuncture treatment usually leads to more opportunities to help them, says Gianarelli. “You can say this is our goal, and these are the other things we could work on in the future that acupuncture is good at helping.”


Consider writing a book to market your acupuncture practice without social media

Gianarelli will be the first to admit that writing a book is a massive undertaking, but she found it’s one that’s worthwhile. She co-authored Planting the Seeds of Pregnancy: An Integrative Approach to Fertility Care together with a physician in her area.

The book has helped establish her credibility with physicians and patients alike. It also has opened up other marketing doors, like being a podcast guest.

To this day, even with all the social media tools at her disposal, Gianarelli still relies on intentional word-of-mouth marketing. Focusing on getting physicians to refer patients to you and retaining them, says Gianarelli, is all an acupuncturist needs to build a successful practice. 


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