Interview With Michelle Grasek
It is such a pleasure to spend time with Michelle. She is so nice and genuine, and it is so clear how much she simply wants to help her fellow acupuncturists succeed. She is to the point about sharing tips and tricks about marketing your practice, especially if it isn’t something you like to do, or are uncomfortable doing. The way she frames ‘getting the word out’ will make even the most ‘anti-sales’ folk consider how important it is to tell the world about you and your wonderful gift you have to share! She also has so many free things to share, and recommends a few valuable resources as well. Check out the links in the show notes to explore all things Michelle. Enjoy the podcast. ~ Spence.
*14-Day Free Email Course – https://goo.gl/DwznfY
*Marketing/practice management resource library – https://goo.gl/Acn2Pd
*Free eBook with marketing calendar: “10 Ways to Book More Patients with a Marketing Budget of Zero Dollars – https://goo.gl/oua2df
*Lewis Howes’ Podcast, The School of Greatness: http://www.lewishowes.com
*The 1-Page Marketing Plan, by Allan Dib: https://www.amazon.com/1-Page-Marketing-Plan-Customers-Money/
*Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain: https://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Power-Introverts-World-Talking/
Licensed in NY State since 2010
MS AOM (2010) from Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine in Seneca Falls, NY
BA (2007) in Biology from Le Moyne College, Syracuse, NY
Founder and author of acupuncture marketing resource michellegrasek.com (formerly Modern Acupuncture Marketing) (2014)
Online marketing education (online course) published in 2017
Guest lecturer in AOM Practice Management/Marketing course (2015-16)
Lead instructor in AOM Practice Management/Marketing course (2017)
Associate Acupuncturist, AcuHealth of the Finger Lakes, Geneva, NY (2014-Present)
Independent Contractor, Acupuncturist, Monroe Community Hospital, Rochester, NY (2011-2014)
Acupuncturist, Owner, Ageless Acupuncture & Wellness, Rochester, NY (2011-2014)
Admissions Counselor, New York Chiropractic College/Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (2014-Present)
Founder, Author, MichelleGrasek.com (2014-Present)
Interview with Michelle Grasek
Dr. Pentland: Hey, everybody, welcome to thegoldencabinet.ca, another podcast. I’m really excited to be here today with Michelle Grasek. Welcome! If you haven’t been to the Golden Cabinet before, it’s a website dedicated to helping people grow their practice, whether you’re just starting out, just fresh out of school, or you’re in a clinic and you’re wanting more patients, or you’re wanting to grow your clinic into a business or something in here for you. So, YouTube, Facebook, all the usuals. But thegoldencabinet.ca is where this podcast is going to be, and all the rest are going to be posted. Without further ado, Michelle, welcome to the podcast!
Michelle: Thank you! Hi!
Dr. Pentland: Awesome! I am just going to read through your CV because, again, like I just said, I will not do it justice. My memory, as I age, I need systems, and this is one of them. Anyway, you are New Yorker, you’re licensed in New York State to practice acupuncture since 2010, the Master of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine 2010. I’m Canadian, I’m not familiar with the acronyms, but that’s right?
Michelle: Oh, right.
Dr. Pentland: From the Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in Seneca Falls, New York. BA in 2007 in Biology from LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York. A New York girl through and through.
Michelle: Yes, upstate.
Dr. Pentland: Upstate. The beautiful, beautiful, beautiful part. I’ve driven through there from Toronto to New York in my passes, it’s such a beautiful place. I had no idea actually. You’re the founder and author of Acupuncture Marketing Resource, which is now michellegrasek.com, which formerly was Modern Acupuncture Marketing and you did that switchover, I don’t know if you want to touch on that at some point. Your online marketing education online course was just published earlier this year, so that is something I definitely want to get into because I’ve dealt through that, and you’ve put a ton of work into that, good job. You are a guest lecturer at the AOM and Practice Management Marketing course in 2015-16, and a lead instructor, and AOM practice management and marketing in a course, also that’s in 2017. You’re an Associate Acupuncture at AcuHealth of the Finger Lakes in Geneva 2014 to present. But I think you might be retiring, you can touch on it.
Michelle: Yeah, actually.
Dr. Pentland: Getting old and ready. Independent Contractor Acupuncturist, Monroe Community Hospital in Rochester. You started out as an owner of Ageless Acupuncture and Wellness in Rochester. That was back in 2010-11. And then Admissions Counselor at the New York Chiropractic College at Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture and Oriental medicine, that’s to the present from 2014. And the founder and author of michellegrasek.com obviously from 2014 to present. If you haven’t been to her website, it’s fantastic, and it’ll be in the show notes obviously. Such a great resource, all the interviews of other wonderful people doing things. We’re just on the same page, that’s why I love Michelle. We connected the first time we chatted, and she’s got a lot of good things to share. Correct me if I’m wrong, Michelle, I’ll turn it over to your story, but first a quick question. You are now you said in retirement, you’re now teaching at — where are you teaching?
Michelle: I’m at the Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture. I teach the Practice Management Course, and then I have my website basically, where I do online teaching, I have my online course.
Dr. Pentland: Such a weakness that we’ve heard over the years from so many people, ‘you know, our schools throw us into the world with no practice management or business skills’, can you kind of give a snapshot of what they’re doing there, so maybe all schools here? I know Jason Stein is also teaching something, I don’t know if it’s similar or what.
Michelle: Well, it was similar, yeah. We actually have to practice management courses at the Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture, and I teach the second one, which is more about like marketing and patient recruitment or retention, that kind of thing. The first practice management class is more about the legal stuff and insurance, that sort of thing. So, yeah, I feel like I get the fun practice management course, because I really love marketing and teaching students about that. That’s really what we focus on. I try to bring the students like from the basics of marketing, which I think very few acupuncture schools teach, like, the foundations. Like, this is why you need to do certain things, this is why they matter, all the way through to like what are the specific things that you should do or should at least try.
Dr.Pentland: Just even exposure at an early stage would help. I think marketing yourself gets to a point where maybe it’s community specific, and it might be patient population specific, and it might also be just what feels good and right to each person. I mean, that might not always get a lot of patients through the door. That’s why you exist, to help with these students, but just early exposure like that gets people thinking, because there is zero in the schooling that I got. Thank God that I grew an interest and understood the connection and importance between just building relationships, and how that affects patients walking in the door.
Michelle: Absolutely. I am fully aware that the students, in their mind, they have so many more important things to be thinking about. Like, they really want to nail their diagnosis and their point location and their needling technique, and my class is kind of on the back burner, but I accept that because that certainly how it was for me when I was a student. Like you said, my job is exposing them to these important concepts in marketing and practice management now, and giving them detailed notes and worksheets, so that when they’re out in practice, and they’re like, ‘holy crap, who put me in charge of this?’, they can be, like, ‘I think we talked about this.’ So, that’s kind of my goal. I just want it to be on their radar as a resource they can come back to.
Dr. Pentland: Then they’ve got michellegrasek.com on the footnotes, right?
Michelle: I couldn’t decide if it felt appropriate for the school, but I ended up telling them, like, ‘oh, and if you have this question, I interviewed so-and-so, and, you know, she was brilliant, you should read this interview on my website.’ So, yeah, unfortunately, I’m sure they got inundated with, like, ‘is it michellegrasek.com?’ more than I intended.
Dr. Pentland: I mean, it’s great. There’s enough of us out there now that like yourself and myself and Jason, anyone from the AOM will resonate with people, like we talked about. And to be exposed to those resources as well isn’t something that students or even fresh practitioners are looking for. Because I remember getting launched or going through school, and it was so mesmerizing. I was so romanticized, you know, the Sinophilia, about Chinese medicine and its foundations, and it was just magical.
Michelle: It was amazing and kind of mysterious, and you can’t wait to like be a part of that tradition.
Dr. Pentland: And just the brilliance of it, when I step into the world, it is going to just attract a whole ton of people to me. And then we get thrown out into the world, and it’s like, ‘oh, I don’t even know what resources are out there.’ So being exposed to everything from you to Golden Cabinet to Lisa Hanfileti additive to Jason, to Lauren spoke to all kinds of things, and you’re just doing them a service. Anyway, I know we’re going to get into a few things, but I want you to kind of tell your story because of that fresh new acupuncturist that might be watching and anyone. It’s just nice to hear a story what’s your kind of background in life, to bring us from early days to what kind of inspired you toward Chinese medicine and your education process to where you are today. That would be great to share.
Michelle: I always am tempted to start out with like, ‘it was a stormy day on October 3rd, 1985 but I don’t want to torture people. In high school, I knew that I wanted to be in medicine, so I did New Visions, and I’m not sure if that is the thing in Canada or even across the most of the US, but basically, it’s a BOCES program, where you spend half the day at hospitals and doctors’ offices shadowing them, and you also take classes in the hospital to help you decide like what kind of medicine you might want to pursue. And I actually grew up 15 minutes from the Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture, and it was my first exposure. We visited the school of acupuncture, and the dean at that time Jason Wright, gave this awesome introduction to this medicine I had never heard of. And what I loved about it was that there was zero involvement with the pharmaceutical industry. Because even as a high school student, I kind of felt like do I really want to prescribe medicine for my whole life, like, sit in a little white room and see a bajillion patients a day and not connect with any of them and just write prescriptions for my livelihood. And I thought the answer was maybe, so I was pre-med in undergrad at Le Moyne. Actually I have a BA, like a Bachelor of Arts in Biology because about halfway through, I decided that I did not want to go to med school, that I really wanted to do acupuncture. I didn’t want to take physics, I chose to study abroad instead. I remember the day that I was sitting in the office with my advisor for classes, and she was like, well, the only way that you can study abroad is if you don’t take physics, but you don’t need it to get to an acupuncture school. I was like, ‘is this a hard decision?’ I’m not taking physics. So, I studied abroad in England, which was kind of like my start of my obsession with travel, and then I kind of didn’t look back from there. I would just shock everyone from sophomore year on, and be like, yeah, I was pre-med, but now, I’m not, and I’m stil like best friends with all the pre-med students who are now doctors, mostly pediatricians. I’m like I’m going to be an acupuncturist. And I think in 2008/2009, people were like, ‘What?!’ How can you know that, what is that?’ But my whole family had been treated with acupuncture at the school, and I just knew that it worked. It was kind of an easy choice for me at that point.
Dr.Pentland: Looking back then, now your twenty-year old self, would you give her any different advice, or you are like, that is exactly the road I was supposed to be on?
Michelle: I think there’s always advice to be given. First of all, I would say that you as a 20-year old self, you have no idea what you’re doing, and it’s fine.
Dr. Pentland: She wouldn’t listen to you anyway.
Michelle: I think I would say not to be so hard on myself because the decision not to even take the MCAT was very difficult. Especially when I was surrounded by, like I said, people who are now mostly pediatricians. Like one of my best friends is a pediatric oncologist. She was, like, chief resident last year, and with high achievers like that, it was hard for me. I’m not doing that because that’s not right for me. It was a good choice. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Dr. Pentland: That would have been difficult times for sure. The psychology part, what I mean, because I’m sure there’s going to be some people watching this. They’re like, did I make the wrong choice here, or am I making a wrong choice? You seem like someone who’s so in touch with her heart and her authentic self – is that what got you through? How did you persevere, because that would have been hard with all these academics saying basically, ‘you’re a fool’, I guess.
Michelle: I have some pretty supportive friends. And I think it helps that when I make up my mind, I make up my mind. I don’t think I really had any friends who like tried to convince me that it was the wrong choice. I also had a really forward-thinking academic advisor, so I actually did three years of research in undergrad with rats and feeding them different supplements, because I was thinking alternative medicine at that point already. I started research with her as a freshman because I thought I wanted to use that to get into med school. So then, when I turned around and I was like, I don’t want to go to med school anymore, she was surprisingly like, okay, what do we have to do to get you into acupuncture school. Instead of being, like, you could go to med school, are you sure, are you sure and giving me a hard time. I feel like, being surrounded by good people who had my best interests at heart, was super helpful. And my parents loved acupuncture, they had already been getting it a little bit, so they were just kind of like, okay, whatever you say.
Dr. Pentland: It’s nice now that some Trail Blazers like ourselves, I mean, I started this journey in the late ‘90s. I’m not going to say how long, but it’s more of a career choice now than it was not even that many years ago. But, you touched on a support system. That I think permeates life, and that is something I try to live by and talk about. And I’m sure it is for you too. The people you surround yourself with, what does Tony Robbins say something about the five people you spend most of your time with, or who you become largely. That would be the primary thing that helped you, and, plus, you said, when I make a decision, I’m solid on it. That’s why you’re a leader and that’s why you’re a teacher, and you’ve got this wonderful online presence in course and stuff. This profiling would put your way into decision and leaving, so, that’s great. That’s a good advice, and that’s a question I like to ask anyway. Maybe that can help us skip over into something that’s really big for you, is helping acupuncturists that — I don’t know what it might be, but something that’s holding them back from stepping into marketing themselves and telling the world about their gift. Is support system maybe important in that, or what are your thoughts with that?
Michelle: Yeah, definitely. I think in terms of other people’s opinions of us, that support system can help a lot. Because, let’s say that you are trying to market your acupuncture practice and your spouse gives you positive feedback and was like reassuring you, yes, the way that you are marketing, it is like genuine and authentic, and I promise it doesn’t feel sleazy, and like you’re going about it in the right way, like, don’t give up, don’t stop. Like that, of course, would be incredible, whereas if you’re surrounded by people who are, like, marketing is disgusting, you shouldn’t talk about yourself on your social media, then it’s like, of course you’re going to feel bad and think that you’re doing it wrong. That is something that I try to tackle in my course, in-person and online, on my website, it is to always remind people that like all you’re doing is letting people know that your practice exists, and that acupuncture can help them. You’re just sharing information, and people can do whatever they want with that information. But I’ve never met an acupuncturist who sells themselves in a sleazy way. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced acupuncture advertising where I was like, ‘ew’. It’s not who we are. It’s not how we operate.
Dr.Pentland: You don’t need to come for this probably. How much of it do you think is rooted in — a lot of the associates I’ve had and people that I’ve worked with over the years, I feel like sometimes too, especially when you’re new, it’s this double-edged sword. It boils down largely to confidence. If you haven’t really personally experienced the medicine helping people, it can be really difficult to tell people that, yeah, confidently. It’s like, well, come see me. People are always going to choose. You’re not strong-arming them through your clinic door, but if you’re confident and say, you know, I actually can have a tool and a skill set that might be able to take care of that knee pain, or why don’t you come see me. I mean, is it confidence too that plays a bigger role?
Michelle: I definitely think so. I feel like there’s two things I would say about that. One is, and this sounds terrible, but I’m kind of a fan of like fake it till you make it. You might feel as a new graduate, that you don’t have the experience to say, yes, I can help you with your headaches. You should come see me, but at the same time, you know the medicine works, and you know the steps that you have to take. It’s just maybe you haven’t taken those steps with enough patience yet to say like, yes. But the answer is, yes, it is probably going to help them. So, say it with confidence even if you’re not a 100% sure. I mean obviously not lying and being like, I can care everything, I guarantee it, but just like staying with confidence, I think that this is really going to be beneficial. Then the second thing is that a lot of new graduates do have experience in clinic before they even graduate, and they really discount it. So, what I tell my students at the Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture is when someone asks you how long have you been in practice, and they’re trying to figure out are you brand new, did you just get started, should I trust you? You can tell them, well, I have a year and a half of experience treating patients. Because, at least at our school, they are considered senior interns for a whole year, where they’re in charge of the patient case. Yes, of course, they have to bring it to their clinician and get approval, but they’re in charge of the case, and of the associates who are like second-year acupuncture students who are helping them. They have seen headaches and back pain and knee pain and all these different things, but for some reason, in their minds they’re like, well, that doesn’t count. I can’t tell people that that’s my experience, when it really is! I feel, like, if that helps you say with confidence, yes, I think I can help you, absolutely include your clinical experience in that mindset.
Dr. Pentland: Confidence in any relationship is what helps establish trust, and the shyness aside, people are coming to your clinic to develop a relationship with you. It could be viewed as nothing more than that. If you believe you do have something that can help them, you can borrow that confidence from, you know, I’ve told younger associates at my clinic, borrow the confidence from me and the senior practitioners. Just talk to us about a case and we will express where we’ve seen X, Y & Z work. Or like you said, you’ve been in clinic in school, or whatever it is, borrow it and bring it in. Because it’s so important that first visit, unfortunately, I don’t want to strike fear anyone, but that first visit is establishing of that trust for that relationship, this foundation. So, they’ll actually come back, and you actually get a chance to work with them, and let the medicine do its work, facilitate the healing or however. It’s so fake it till you make it. Makes sense, you know. Then there’s that second disconnect, how do you bridge the booking crisis that most acupuncturists have? Actually, laying out a plan that’s realistic for people, like your dentist would, straightforward. Unless they’ve got reception, how do you gain that confidence?
Michelle: I always tell my students that in advance they kind of need to decide what is their standard for seeing patients? It could be once a week for six to eight weeks, or it could be seeing them twice a week for two weeks, but whatever it is, just decide, so that when you first meet someone and you’re explaining, like, in their first treatment, this is how it works. You just run through and say, you know, in a typical case, I recommend this. This is considered a course of treatment, so that they expect from the beginning to have to see you like six to eight times. I know that some people do like master tongue style and everything, and they’re talking about like much quicker response and stuff. I don’t have any experience with that, but like whatever it is you, just need to decide it in advance, so it rolls off your tongue with that confidence. And I feel like the worst thing is, and this would still happen to me when I was in practice, like forgetting to tell people, I’m going to expect to see you here at least six times. And then there was a receptionist, and then she would have to be like, oh, yes you’re coming back next week. Not like, oh, it’s a surprise. It shouldn’t really be a question. It should never get to that point at the front desk, where the patient is deciding if they’re coming back next week. They should already be aware, this is how it works, this is when I expect to see you, when should I come back, not should I.
Dr. Pentland: Well, if we put ourselves in the patient shoes, you are going to any service for that matter, and paying them to tell you what you need to do to accomplish your desired outcome, whatever that is. If we’re not doing that, it’s a disservice. I actually look at reception sometimes if they’re well-trained, as a part of that explanation, because the communication between practitioner and reception should be tight. It’s so essential. Also a treatment plan being sent out might be a good idea. After you meet them within that day, you send them a quick email or something at least with the points, and you can see seeing your reception, they can make notes, whatever it is. Just great little tips. This is great for people just starting out. You’ve worked and seen a lot of students, and people come through your course and through your website, and talk to you about, that you’ve counseled or coached – what are the common strengths and weaknesses that that you see acupuncturists have? Because we should be playing to our strengths, and we should be nourishing our deficiencies. Just like the medicine tells us to. What are the acupuncturists’ strengths, and what can they really keep playing to? Is it social media, what is it?
Michelle: That’s a good question. I think our strengths in business are, by and large, relationship making, and really connecting with people. Because we are in such a unique field, where we get to spend time with people and really dig in and talk to them about their symptoms and their life in a way that a lot of other health care providers don’t. Like, they just don’t have the time or the opportunity, they weren’t trained to ask awkward questions like movements or like obvious things. But we just connect with people so well, and I think it takes a special kind of person to become an acupuncturist and to want to be in that deep with people. And that’s important for building a business. Like you said earlier, it really is about creating relationships that creates referrals and everything that comes afterwards. I would say the weakness is definitely our reluctance to sell ourselves and this crippling fear that if we talk about ourselves, people will think we’re greedy and run away from us. It’s just why I always try to emphasize marketing is simply letting the people who need you know that you exist, and that is doing them a service all on its own. I sometimes ask my students to think about, like, imagine a patient that you can really relate to. And for me, it’s like a little old man who has knee pain, who lives around the corner from my clinic, and he really wants to go to Disney World with his family, but he knows it’s going to be a lot of walking and a lot of standing in line. So, he tells them, go to Disney World without me, like, I don’t want to hold you up, but he’s actually super disappointed that he can’t go with his grandkids. If he knew that there was an acupuncture clinic that treated me pain around the corner from where he lived, don’t you think it would a) give him hope, which is huge and b) just make a huge difference in his life. Like, why wouldn’t he try it? Of course, some people are still going to say like, acupuncture, I’m not interested. But a lot of people are going to say, wow, I didn’t know that acupuncture could help me with this, and I’m so glad that I saw your ad, talked to someone who’s been to your office. I’m so glad my daughter googled and found your website and showed it to me. And then he might get to go to Disney World. I feel like we make the person real, you kind of make the stakes high like that. Like, he won’t go to Disney World, he’s really going to miss out. People can’t realize that marketing is doing someone a service, it’s just sharing that information. They can do whatever they like with it when they learn the information. But if you don’t put it out there, he’ll never find you. For me, that kind of changes the perspective enormously.
Dr. Pentland: Reframes everything. Well, before we hit the red record button, we were chatting about these low cost marketing methods, but this is a good segue, I thing. And going back to the strengths, is that relationship part and the weakness hard to sell ourselves, when you’re starting out anytime in your practice. It’s never a bad time to put a lot of your focus into your patients experience with you. And if that is a strength of acupuncturists, which I believe. I believe that acupuncturists need to be at the forefront of health care versus this alternative or this complement too. Because the people that it attracts are just so genuinely there to help facilitate other people’s support care and healing. It’s inspirational. I love acupuncturists, they’re great people. Not speaking for myself, but well intended. If you’re just starting out or you have a lot of trouble marketing yourself, the best way to market yourself is with each and every patient that comes in treating them like the kings and queens that they are, and really which is hard maybe for new practitioners, is really stepping into a place, where you create a relationship versus just trying to like ‘is that spleen deficiency, is that…’, you know? Like, connect with that human across the table, and they’ll like you, and they’ll come back. Because there’s going to be some level of automatic assumption that you should know what you’re doing, you’re licensed. And so connect with people, don’t be shy to just say so, how’s your week, or what’s up, what are you doing on the holidays, do you have trip plans, go into that, and you’ll find diagnostics through that, instead of your form should give you all that basic stuff. When patients have a really great experience, they’re going to also refer people so that IS marketing. That is a form of marketing, plus, it’s such a great way to treat patients.
Michelle: And I would add to that, like, you’re making such an effort to connect with them and get to know them, and so many people are doing that naturally, just adding a little bit extra can really make a difference. And then asking people for referrals, because like you’ve made this effort to connect with them and they like you and appreciate, like the place that you hold in their life, just ask for referrals. I understand that it’s difficult, because, to be honest, sometimes I would have trouble with it as well, but start with the patients who are gushing about acupuncture and what a big change you’ve made in their life, and just say, I would love to help your family and friends the same way. And let them know, like, I am accepting new patients. Especially for whatever condition you came in, for a knee pain or back pain, send me all your people, your coworkers. I think that’s a missed opportunity really, asking for referrals, because we’re so good at creating those connections. One thing that I used to do in an effort to enhance that connection, because I hope I’m good at creating that relationship with people as if they would tell me they had something coming up with their family or friends, like, someone’s graduating, or they went on vacation or they add little sticky notes to my chart, and just be like so-and-so son is graduating on this day. And then that way, if I don’t see them for a couple months, they come back, and I can still ask, like, hey, so what’s up, graduated. And they’ll be like, wow, that happened nine weeks ago, how do you even remember. And sometimes I tell them I made a note in my chart because it was exciting. But they appreciate it regardless.
Dr. Pentland: When you get to know somebody, I mean, it’s basic CRM like that, client relationship management or PRM, whatever you want to call it. I mean I’ve prided myself over the years on connecting with patients even that I haven’t seen for years. And reception needs to take good notes like you’re talking about as well, because they are the first part of the treatment when the patient walks in that conversation. When I call someone you I haven’t seen them for three years, and just, hey, I just wanted to call to check in how’s it going. If they answer, and you remember and ask them about, ‘I remember you we’re talking about maybe buying a new house’. And if you made that note, and you asked them that, it’s just like, ‘wow, you know, that’s so great that you remember that’. I care, and when I’m talking to someone, I want to have something to connect with it. Like I want to show them that I care. It’s not disingenuous, you’ve got notes on it. It’s actually part of your long-term patient care. You have to bring people in, you have to provide them with a kick-ass service, and then you have to cultivate a lifetime relationship. That is your word of mouth unpaid sales force over time.
I know you’ve got your course, can you walk people a little bit through it? It’s a michellegrasek.com. It used to be called Acupuncture Marketing, but is that URL still useful?
Michelle: Yes. URL used to be modernacu.com, so it was modern acupuncture marketing. Now, it’s just michellegrasek.com. The course is… gosh, I think it’s like 11 chapters. It’s pretty thorough, which is important to me. Basically I started out with the marketing basics that we weren’t taught in acupuncture school, and then there’s a chapter on your mindset, which I know is very trendy, and a lot of people tend to write it off. But I kind of go from the perspective of, like, just listen to these mindset issues that you might be struggling with while you’re like doing something else, like cleaning your house or whatever. Again, just to like put them on your radar, and maybe you’ll be able to identify them later on as they pop up, you and your practice. And we talk a lot about social media marketing. I have a section in there on creating ads that are effective. I’m trying to think. I show my screen a lot, so we have a walkthrough of like email marketing. I’m always sharing my screen, like, this is the platform that I use and this is exactly what I’m clicking to produce what I’m telling you to create. I think a lot of overwhelm happens when people are, like, just go on social media and post twice a day every day for the rest of your life. But there’s no plan, no one says how on earth can you make that manageable. I tend to give calendars and like tips and tricks, free software online that people can use to make it manageable. I feel like there’s so much more than that as well to get more patients this week. It’s probably my favorite chapter.
Dr.Pentland: What’s that about?
Michelle: The three methods are reactivating old patients, which I think people are always, like, well, duh, when I say that. But I’m like, well, are you doing it, and they’re like, well, no, and I’m like, oh, okay. Then we talk about what to say, how to get in touch with them, how often to do that, adding it to your marketing calendar, that kind of thing. And then the other methods for getting more patients immediately…oh, my gosh, I actually can’t remember off the top. I was almost going to say ‘what did I miss? They’re very quick, like fill your patient’s schedule this week.
Dr.Pentland: That’s a part of your course. You’ve got a couple of free things on your site too. There’s three that you offer. One of them is emails that you get, explain what is that.
Michelle: There’s a free 14-day email course. So, the first seven days takes you through mindset stuff, and then the next seven days every day is a tip on how to basically get more patients in your practice this month. And then I also have lots and lots of free worksheets that I like to create. I love worksheets.
Dr.Pentland: I mean with all the practice management, clinic and business growth, people in our sphere now, there’s so many free things. I’ve got a free course and a free ebook, and there’s these podcasts, and we’re just two out of a good handful now of people that are really producing to help. Because I think that genuine acupuncture needs to be more mainstream, because it just is so helpful. Just a question, email marketing, can you give just for those who aren’t aware of it, what is it, and how does it work for people that are just starting out maybe?
Michelle: One of the big concepts that I teach for the basics of marketing first is that it takes five to seven touch points before someone typically purchases or makes an appointment, and that’s across every kind of sales. It’s not acupuncture business specific, it’s kind of everything. The way that I like to teach is what are the cheap or free methods of getting those touch points in. So, email marketing is basically sending out email newsletter or sending out what is sometimes called like a drip campaign. Let’s say that someone opts in to your newsletter list, and then you have this automated cycle where you send them a series of five or six emails over the course of maybe two months. And every time your email lands in their inbox, it’s a touch point. Your goal is to add up to that five to seven touch points, so that over time they are being reminded of you and also learning to trust you. They’re getting to know you better. I kind of outlined in my course like things that you could talk about in those emails, either in your newsletter or if you wanted to get a little more into it and do the drip campaign like how you could, like what to talk about to help them learn to trust you, and be like, yeah, I want to let that person put needles in me.
Dr. Pentland: Yes, great. Often getting people to opt into a newsletter, there’s a) where do you get people to find traffic, where do you recommend people find those browsers, those eyes, and no one these days is just going to see a newsletter sign with a field to fill in and say, hey, great. What I’m referring to then is an opt-in, something usually is like a free little white paper, or something that might be of value to someone who’s looking for something that you offer, and to get them to opt-in – is there a) the traffic question, where do you get the eyes and then b) even the software uses it, AWeber and the opt-in, how do you make that happen?
Michele: That’s a really good question with the traffic. I always tell people the first place you should be getting emails from is your new patient intake. Even people who are brand new patients to you, make them give you their email. You can ask them, do you want to be in my newsletter list. But just because they’re already your patient doesn’t mean that you can’t market to them anymore, like, they might need to be reminded of you next year. So, definitely put them on your email list. There’s a lot of different ways to get traffic. I totally agree that when someone lands on your website, there should be a little pop-up, I know pop-ups are a little bit annoying, but they do work, and they’ve become less annoying over time, people are kind of used to them. And the pop-up should offer them what’s often called an opt-in bribe. So, give me your email in exchange for a little ebook where I share my top ten secrets for wellness related to whatever your specialty is. I always love to use the infertility specialty example because I feel like it just generates so many good ideas. But if your specialty is infertility, you could make an e-book, or even just like a one-page worksheet with nutrition tips for people who want to become pregnant or like stretches for new moms or just something related to your specialty, so that when people give you their email, that is automatically delivered to them. I use lead pages, which is leadpages.net that delivers the ebooks. That I have integrated with an email platform called Mad Mimi, which is pretty cheap, but I’m actually going to be changing to Get Response. Because it has more features. And then to create the e-book, this is probably what prevents most acupuncturists from actually providing an opt-in bribe is how the heck do I create a PDF, a pretty PDF or an e-book. Canva.com is a free graphic design website, where you can select like the size of the document you want to create is the size of a piece of paper, 8.5 by 11, and it’s kind of like PowerPoint. You can add images, text, you can change the color, move everything around, and then you just save it as a PDF. So, I do a Canva walkthrough in my course, but it’s very easy to use. It’s not intimidating like Adobe graphic design or anything like that.
Dr. Pentland: People can also google. It’s like opt-in software or auto email software campaigns, they are pretty inexpensive resources out there. You touched on specialization, which is right up my alley. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve done nothing but being in one lane for the last 14 years of my practice. How essential do you think that is? Obviously from a marketing perspective, it makes life a whole lot easier.
Michelle: Million times easier, like, if you don’t want to tear your hair out, pick a specialty. I think it’s essential, and I tell my students they need to pick something, but you’re brand new and it can be flexible. Because with specialization, everybody’s natural fear is that they’re going to be turning people away, and that they can’t afford to do that. But the big concept in marketing is that if you’re speaking to everybody, you’re actually not speaking to anybody. Your message is too broad, it’s not going to connect with anyone. In particular they’re not going to sit up and say, hey, wow, that sounds like me, I should look into this. Instead they’ll still have questions, like oh, is that a chronic pain, can I do that, is it pain from running injuries. I bet it’s only for old people with arthritis, like, get specific. Especially in your advertising. If you’re going to create an advertisement for Facebook, I would say, pick one condition within your specialty, and just emphasize that. And that works so much better than being broad.
Dr. Pentland: I mean even a condition within a condition, because I’ve just been in the reproductive health specialty for so long. It’s not just that, it’s not just fertility, it’s actually more down to typical or atypical PCOS. Or it’s male factor, addressing things like premature ejaculation and erectile difficulty, or like really nailing things down because I couldn’t agree more.
I know you could probably build a general practice like that, but it would likely take quite some time. You get to a website, and it’s got a picture of a bunch of scary needles, and then it lists out the WHO list of conditions that acupuncture can treat.
Michelle: No one is reading that list.
Dr. Pentland: Oh, really, you can do all that. Also, I find it’s been bad for our reputation with who can be some of our best referral sources, our western medical counterparts. You know, where it’s like ,really, yeah, you can treat everything. If you really nail things down to where I’ve found specializations really important is in the language that I can share with the reproductive endocrinologists and fertility specialists. I can sit down, have a beer and jam with any of them and talk to tackle whatever they want to talk about the medications they’re using, the possible diagnostics and surgeries, and so we end up becoming not just an acupuncturist, but a resource for people too when their specialization is so deep that you just understand that journey. And you can adjust your empathy and understand the difficulties and the subtle nuances of what that patient population is going through, and you can connect so deeply.
Michelle: I think that makes doctors trust you more. And like they’re specialists by nature, like MDS are mostly specialists, that’s what they’re used to referring to a specialist. So why would they want to refer to someone who’s super broad when there’s someone like you in town, you clearly seem like the right answer. I think that does help.
Dr. Pentland: Well, the badge of acupuncture too is fantastic, and largely the research shows a bunch of safety, and that safety first is huge with medical doctors at least and nurses and the like huge referral sources if you gain that trust. If you step in and really take the time to understand that one little niche, you’re going to not only give confidence to the western medical doctors here, you are going to have confidence yourself in your practice so much faster.
Okay, we’ve run through a lot already. What I want to dial it into kind of going internally here now because there’s been some great little practice pearls and stuff, but what about the psychology. The saying is, success is 80% psychology, 20% skill and it may be different. I would fully agree with that. What characteristics for you or for the people that you’ve seen are necessary for success in acupuncture practice?
Michelle: I would say the confidence that we talked about earlier I have seen that helps a ton, and I think that if they’re like shy people out there, introverts, because that’s definitely me for sure, if they’re feeling like, I’ll never have confidence, I would totally disagree with that. It’s going to come over time, and that’s where I encourage ‘fake it till you make it’ sort of thing, because you are going to get there but you can speed it up a little bit. For example, when I first started my practice, I actually had an acupuncture classmate of mine, who was like, look, if you don’t become more confident when you’re talking to people, you are not going to succeed. Because, why should they believe you that Chinese medicine works when it sounds like you aren’t sure if it works, and I’m like, well, of course I think it works, but what we were talking about the whole, like, I don’t have enough experience, etc. So, then I kind of sat back and watched one of our other classmates in that first year after graduation, and she freaking love to tell people what to do. Did she always have the right answer? No. Because I’d be sitting there in the back of my mind, being like, okay, well, that’s not what I would necessarily say, it’s not wrong, but you know what I mean. She made me realize, and she has an enormous practice. After three years of practice, she had purchased and renovated this building with like seven treatment rooms, and she had an associate and a receptionist and hired all these other people, and she made me realize that patients want to be told what to do, and they want you to say it with confidence. And that her mindset was simply that she had no problem telling people what to do, so, that confidence was really huge. In addition to that, I also think, like, so not necessarily confidence in your clinical skills, or being willing to tell people what to do, but also just the confidence that you’re going to make it and be okay. Because you know when there are people who have that negative self-talk, I really do think they make it more difficult on themselves to, like, go out and do what needs to be done to be successful. Even just like turning that self-talk into something positive, like, I can do this, it’s going to happen for me, it might take time but that’s fine. Like, I’m not going to be the one in five businesses that goes out of business in five years or whatever this statistic is. I think the psychology is huge, but at the same time, it doesn’t take that much to shift it into a mindset that will make people more successful.
Dr. Pentland: Would you recommend people – I know I would – delve into, or at least get some of their CE use from personal growth. Just ways to work with that psychology, because self-sabotage is amazingly powerful, and it’s a fantastic way. And then relationships with money bleed in and a lots of things that are difficult. So, you’d encourage people to step into to personal growth?
Michelle: Yeah, and I also usually recommend like be willing to try different marketing avenues, just to say that you tried them. And that way, you are going to discover what works personally for you and what resonates with you, and you don’t have to do all the marketing efforts. But once you know yourself well enough, based on that experience, you can focus on the marketing that feels good to you. But if you aren’t willing to like get to know yourself, and like make a couple mistakes and kind of dig deep, then it’s harder to be able to understand like this is the marketing that I feel comfortable with and I’m willing to do for the love of my practice. Of course, I’m so biased, I love all the self-help books and all the journaling, and, like, why do I make decisions that I do. So, I would always say yes. The better you know yourself the better you can build a practice. That is actually what you want it to be, and not what you think success should be, because who cares what other people think.
Dr. Pentland: I couldn’t agree more with everything you’re saying, and I love that. One of the courses that I’ve plugged in Golden Cabinet that began with what is your definition of success, and I think if you don’t have a target in life, you can’t hit it. That’s how I start with every patient. I’m, like, we need to make some health-related goals so you know exactly where you’re headed. If you have more than three, you don’t have any Jim Collins. I’m just borrowing wisdom here, but defining success for myself, especially after having children, it was much easier. It really helped me settle in to an internal piece that I’ve always craved. In the course, you got to dive deep because once you do the work, you know every day when you wake up, it’s, like, I’m headed there and this is how I want to feel. And success isn’t just about something tangible or having a busy practice, it’s more about the person you have to become in order to get that busy practice. So, finding out who you are, and you can be almost any type of person and have a successful practice, but you have to be in alignment with who you need to be. One of the modules or lessons within it is getting people to write their own obituary.
Michelle: Oh, I love that!
Dr. Pentland: There’s a – I think it’s the story of Alfred Nobel, who we all know, Nobel Prize, he had a brother who passed away and in reading the obituary, the newspapers made a mistake, it was written about him. And it wasn’t very positive. It was his opportunity before even — the way I understand this story — before he even called the newspaper to inform them of this grave error, he wrote took the time to write what he would want his obituary to say, and then the rest, we know now. It’s a game-changing history for him. I mean, the power of making sure you know who you are, what makes you feel like you’re in flow, what you want people to say about you, how you want to feel when you wake up and go to sleep. All these things are important steps to go through, and from there, everything gets simpler, I think.
Michelle: Yes. A good example is, I was an associate for a while and the acupuncturist that I work for is… God, like a rock star, and she has three treatment rooms and she sees patients every like 15 minutes. She doesn’t sit down all day. If she was sick or something, I would sub in for her and be like tearing my hair out. At first, it made me feel bad about myself, and I was like, I’m not good enough, I can’t keep up with this. And part of it was, I wasn’t doing three patient rooms all the time, like, two is my sweet spot every half-hour. But for me was, like, it’s not good enough, I could do better, I could see more, we have the space. I eventually had to come to the point, where I was, like, success for me means seeing two people an hour comfortably, keeping my blood pressure low. Because I would wake up on days when I knew that I had to juggle the three rooms, and feel like, oh, shit, today’s going to be hard, and I’m maybe not looking forward to it as much as I’d like to. So I do think, yeah, you got to get to know yourself and accept what success looks like to you. And when you wake up in the morning you should know really good about going to work.
Dr. Pentland: Yes, oh, my god. I’ve been through that. That’s a double-edged sword. I know people that are seeing 150 people a week or whatever. I get that that money is good, but it better be, because you probably only have ten years of that in – I’m speaking for myself. I wouldn’t be able to do that. That brings me to a point about competition, and always being so cognizant of what’s going on around you, and what that person is doing, like you said, with your associate, and it being really detrimental to observe your competition too closely.
Michelle: Definitely. I actually have a blog post that I wrote back when I started my blog. I think it was in like 2014 or 2015. Comparison is the thief of joy. And there’s so much comparison amongst acupuncturists, and we make all these flash judgments based on superficial stuff, like, oh, so-and-so, just remodel the clinic, and is hiring a receptionist, like, clearly she’s crushing it and she’s so happy and her life is amazing and I bet her husband’s the sweetest. And we made like all these crazy assumptions based on one thing, like all of a sudden, she’s like a Disney Princess, and her life is perfect, when the reality is you have no idea what the inside of that person’s life is like. Maybe so and so, like, have some debt or — can you hear my cat trying to get? The point is you don’t really know what the inside of that person’s life is like, and it doesn’t matter. Because you can make your life be the shape that you want, and that is good enough for you. I actually need a worksheet about walking people through that. You’re building something amazing, even if it’s not as many patients as the next acupuncturist in town, you should be so proud of what you’ve created, and all the people whose lives you impact every day. You mean so much to them as just a person in their life, like, you hold space for them, they go through some of the most difficult times in their life in your office. It’s hugely powerful. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter.
Dr. Pentland: No, no. An extreme success is fleeting. It really should be the long game. This is something that we can all practice and work with until the day we die. I get that there’s financial crunches and stuff, but I mean, we need to keep perspective and be in competition with ourselves for raising our bar to wherever we think it needs to be, instead of with other people. Because that can be extremely disheartening. And that’s about being in the flow. You should feel good. Life really is that simple. If it’s making you feel good, that’s the lane you should try to clamor your way into as much as you can. That’s a great advice. I mean, competition can be healthy, but it should be primarily with yourself. Some of these freebies, just side note that you’ve talked about that you have, would you mind sharing the links to them, and I’ll put them in the show notes so people can go over to your website and opt-in or grab them or whatever, that would be awesome. Give me three books or documentaries or something that are just on your mind right now, or that have impacted you hugely in your life or in the past? Somewhat in relation to the success and the business side of things that you’re feeling right now, so people can jump.
Michelle: Things that I kind of like find inspiring to make this journey of practice management and business, I would say, Lewis Howes’ podcast The School of Greatness is my favorite podcast of all time. He interviews people with an eye towards business success as well as living a healthy lifestyle, and he’s not afraid to talk about like how your emotional health plays into everything that you create. So, kind of like getting to know yourself. I really admire him in his podcast. I listen to it probably every other day.
Dr. Pentland: Awesome. With your headphones?
Michelle: Yes. And most recently, I’m reading a book called the One Page Marketing Plan, and I feel like that is really informing like how I’m thinking about putting together my website in 2018. The person who writes it, and I can’t think of the author, is very no-nonsense kind of in a funny way. I like that he just kind of drills down to the basics of like, ‘don’t do this in your business because it’s going to go down in flames’, like, ‘do this and keep it simple’, and teaches people how to put together one-page marketing plan. And I do find that’s what a lot of acupuncturists are missing, is a plan. They know they need to market, but what the heck did they do. And it keeps it very condensed. The book I’m reading right now, that I find really inspiring, is called Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking. And since so many of — at least my audience, if many acupuncturists in general are introverts like myself, I feel like it really gives you a boost and help you understand, like, everything that you add to the world by the fact that you don’t talk a ton, that you have solitude. If anyone’s ever felt bad for not being an extrovert, because I always have people say, if I’m not an extrovert, how can I ever succeed at marketing. And I’m like, you don’t need to be an extrovert to be good at this.
Dr. Pentland: Awesome. There’s a lot of talk about that. There’s even people who claim they are extroverted introvert, which is you. You’re here right now, you would have somehow turned down this interview.
Michelle: I might get to this point where I was, like, you kind of record me, why would you do that.
Dr. Pentland: Everybody will enjoy looking at you, you’re so cute. I think the online world is like laden with introverts, and that’s their avenue to them. Even stepping into video and stuff that everyone’s going to do. The beauty of it all is that the more you put yourself out there, especially on video, you can’t help but being a bit of the bumbling fool that you are. I mean, that I am, that all are, but that’s the authentic side of being human, and more today what people want to see. Because then they know who they’re connecting with. It’s not some polished marketing sales video that is all its points and is refined. It’s what we’re craving more today. We’ve been through this age of corporate perfection and sales and advertising. That’s old. It’s more of an introverts’ world right now. There’s a soft spot for anyone who is just kind of shy and humble but authentic. It doesn’t mean they’re not kicking ass with what they understand or their skill set, it just means they are like, holy shit, it’s hard to be in front of people sometimes.
Michelle: I think that gets much better with time. I give a lot of presentations, and I remember when I first was in undergrad, that was when I had to start giving presentations about my research with the rats, the professor told me, if you don’t give the presentation, you don’t get the credit for the research. You don’t get your three credits, and I was like, fine, I don’t need the credits, forget it, take it back. And she was, like, that’s not happening. I would have rather like gouged my eyeball out with a rusty spoon, but I’m finally — what was that, like, 12 years ago — I’m finding me at a point where I can’t stand in front of people and talk. So, even though I’m still an introvert, and I still get myself geared up for that. And for podcast like this, it’s like, if I’m sharing something that is really important to me and I’m passionate about, it is a little bit easier. And then over time, you kind of get used to the nerves in your leg, this is normal, and you’re still willing to do it and the payout is so worth it. But, yes, I do think there’s a ton of introverted marketing methods, especially with the internet lately, that work so well. The first time I ever recorded a Facebook live, I could not figure out how to turn it off. So, there’s like the end of the video, my uncle Lou, I think was the only person watching me at that point. I was like, uncle Lou, how do I turn this off, and he’s like, I don’t know, I don’t know how to do Facebook. So, I had to turn my phone off, and it’s like the funniest video of all time. So, I totally agree with you, people want that authenticity, because they’re like, oh, my god that would be me if I did that.
Dr.Pentland: It’s true. And it’s funny, by the time you get to the end of any talk or the end of any interview or the end of anything, you’re like totally loose and then it’s over. One last point on it, if you pretend to be someone else, you’re going to attract patients that are meant to be with someone else, and that is as hard as hell for you to get results with because you won’t connect, they’re not your tribe. They are not who’s supposed to be with you. If you put out into the world who you really are, you’ll attract exactly who you’re supposed to be with. That’s relationship advice. I don’t know. Tinder, I don’t know! I was married before tinder. Anyway, thank you so much. It’s already over an hour, which is awesome. I super appreciate your time, and we can do this again. My idea just quickly is, every year on December 21st, you and I reinterview, because it’s like, what happened this year, like, was your last year. And there’s going to be those pearls in that year. We can define success and we can do all these things that we talked about, but it’s going to change all the time, and that’s kind of the good and the bad of life. That’s why it’s so important to find the systems, like, layout your marketing plan, do it for a year, don’t look too much for the next shiny object, and then look back and look at results. It’s going to change anyway, but if you can make it solid for a while, that’s the only time you’re ever going to really understand what the hell’s working and what’s not.
Michelle: Exactly. Consistency, so important in marketing.
Dr. Pentland: Yes, it is, and that’s helping people understand who you are. I’m going to let you go. Actually, one last thing. You just got back from like Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand or something, right?
Michelle: Cambodia, Laos, Thailand Toyland.
Dr. Pentland: How important is it for people to take sabbaticals to take vacations?
Michelle: Super important! I’ve always been a little obsessed with travel, and the reason for that is it just teaches me so much about myself and other people, kind of, I like that it makes me feel small. It reminds me all the things that I’m worried about in my life are my new show compared to what’s happening in the world, and what are other people dealing with in their lives. And I also love experiencing the generosity of total strangers in other countries and cultures, like, when you can’t even speak to them but they can communicate to you without words that they’d like to share something with you, or, no, you can use the restroom first. I think that’s amazing. I think taking a break all by itself is super important, and then traveling when you can, if you can. I don’t have kids so I can go away for three weeks. But I definitely feel if you take time off and you’re truly off, you’re not still checking your email and still doing work on your way, then it actually makes you a lot more creative when you come home. Because all those new experiences are really stimulating, and you have new perspectives, you come back really refreshed. Is that something that you experience as well when you go away?
Dr. Pentland: Well, sure. What you touched on last really meant something to me, because if you want change in life, you have to change something. You got to shake it up. I really loved what you said about it, making you feel small. It seemed like you’re explaining that microcosm of what people say they experience when they go to space and look back at Earth. And how important that probably is to help stimulate you feeling okay to, like, let your light shine be as big as you can, because even being as big as you can is still small in the grand scheme of things. I’m so glad you got some travel in, and you’re back and refreshed just in time for a holiday season. If it was Hanukkah, I hope it was good. Merry Christmas. Quantica mass. Anyway, Happy New Year. This will be up probably between Christmas and New Year, just so people have like a wonderful face and some great messages to look at when they’re with family and want to get away and listen to a podcast. Thank you so much. You can be reached at all the usual places, or where do you want people to come find you?
Michelle: michellegrasek.com is good, and then my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Email me, I love emails.
Dr. Pentland: It’ll be in the show notes then, and she’s at Facebook and Pinterest these places too, as far as I understand. Thank you so much for being here today. I so appreciate your smiling face, and I know it’s later for you, but I’m just about to go out and start my day. I’ve got a deer right outside my window on the mountain beside me. I just moved and I’m in paradise, so I’m going to go for a little walk and maybe do a little Facebook live. We’ll see what it comes to me. I’ll chat with you soon. Thank you so much.
Michelle: Absolutely. Thank you.