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How Much Should You Spend on Marketing for Your Acupuncture Practice?

Your patients are your business. But it’s not how many patients your holistic practice schedules that matters - it’s the profit that those patients generate that will be the difference between a successful practice and one that is closing its doors. In order to set an advertising budget, you need to understand the value of your patients, and to do that you need to understand your Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

At Holistic Billing (HBS), we focus on billing insurance for acupuncture services allowing us to use last year’s data to analyze the CLV specifically for an acupuncture insurance patient. However, we encourage you to go through the exercise for your other types of patients as well.

Why Does Marketing Matter for Your Acupuncture Practice?

As with any business, marketing is how you attract your customers, explain your services and backstory to the community, and stay relevant to your audience. If you don’t market your holistic practice, what are the chances someone will stumble across it? Of course, word of mouth is always helpful, but that can’t be the only marketing strategy your practice utilizes.

Marketing yourself to your community as a holistic practice, detailing who you are and what your story is, and offering snippets of relevant content is a great way to get noticed and attract your best patients. Your practice can’t grow if you don’t show it off!

How Much Should Acupuncture Practices Budget for Marketing?

A good rule of thumb is to spend 5% of your gross revenue on marketing activities if you want to maintain the size of your practice. So for instance, if you collect $30,000 per month you should be spending $1500 per month on marketing.

If you’re looking to grow your practice, it’s recommended that you spend between 7% and 15% of your gross revenues on marketing depending on your goals and how aggressively you want to pursue them. It’s also understandable if your marketing budget changes a little bit over time; it should be somewhat flexible to account for the status and potential growth of your holistic practice.

What Is Customer Lifetime Value?

acupuncture advertisingCustomer Lifetime Value is a prediction of the total worth of a patient to your practice. The CLV can be applied to any business, but it is particularly useful for healthcare and service sectors like your holistic practice.

The lifetime value of a customer, or customer lifetime value (CLV), represents the total amount of money a customer is expected to spend in your business, or on your products, during their lifetime. This is an essential figure to know because it helps you make decisions about how much money to invest in acquiring new customers or retaining existing ones.

In the big picture, CLV is an indicator of the profit associated with a particular customer relationship, which should guide how much you are willing to invest to maintain that relationship. For example, if you estimate one customer’s CLV to be $500, you wouldn’t spend more than that to try and keep the relationship as it wouldn’t be profitable to your holistic practice.

What Is the Lifetime Value of A Holistic Practice Patient?

No two practices are alike, thus lifetime value will vary depending on your location, the services you offer, and how long your patients stay with you. Here is how we calculate the CLV for your insurance patients:

Average Annual Value x Relationship Years + Patient Referral Value

= Customer Lifetime Value

Let’s look at the figures more closely.

First, we determine how much the average patient generates per year. For this exercise, we used acupuncture patient averages across our national claims database. This past year our clients saw their patients on average 11 times in the calendar year. The payment per visit averaged $175 for a total of $1,925 in revenue per patient. Then factor a 20% profit margin on that revenue. Therefore, the Average Annual Value of an insurance patient is $385.

Next, you will need to know the lifetime of an average acupuncture insurance patient. If you‘re not sure, use the healthcare industry average of ten years. Then, plug the number into the first part of our formula to get a patient‘s lifetime value of $3,850.

Average Annual Value ($385) x Relationship (10 Years) = $3,850

Now, this is when it gets interesting. Let’s say the average client provides referrals for two new patients during their relationship with your practice. Each additional patient is worth $3,850. So, for two patients, your Patient Referral Value is $7,700. Now, let‘s go back to the original formula:

Average Annual Value ($385) x Relationship (10 Years) +

Client Referral Value ($7,700) = Customer Lifetime Value ($11,550)

Why Does the Lifetime Value of a Customer Matter?

Once you understand the CLV for your practice you‘ll be able to make better decisions about when, where, and how much you should spend advertising on new patients. The rule of thumb is that you never want to spend more money on acquiring a new patient than your calculated Customer Lifetime Value.

Now that you are familiar with the CLV of insurance patients in acupuncture, apply the formula to your cash patients and clients using other services at your holistic practice. With this information, you can make more realistic marketing decisions that will direct you to the right type of patients and ensure your most successful practice yet.

Market Budget Basics

The first step in determining what a proper budget would be for advertising your acupuncture practice is to gather all the figures of your practice and create SMART goals:


The goal must be specific and well-defined. You and your team should be on the same page about where your holistic practice is currently at, and where you all want to see it go.


Make sure you attach a metric to your specific goal. Of course, you want to grow your holistic practice, but by how much? Do you want to see 20 new patients over the next 6 months? Expand your practice by 20% by the end of the quarter? Calculating a number to aim for will keep you and your team on target.


You certainly have big dreams for your holistic practice, but they won’t come to fruition overnight; your goals should be attainable for where your practice is currently. It wouldn’t be realistic to aim for 100 new clients in a week, but you could change that perspective and aim for 100 new patients in one year.


Ensure that your marketing budget is focused on the results that matter to you and your overall mission for your practice. Achieving a goal should be rewarding to you and your team, personally and professionally.


This ties into every other facet of your SMART goals; tailor your marketing goals to a particular time frame to hold yourself accountable. This will once again affirm your holistic practice’s goals for yourself and your team, and keep everyone in alignment.

HBS recommends setting goals for patient visits, new patients, and collections, as a strategic starting point for your holistic practice. From there, you and your team should develop a month-by-month, week-by-week, and day-by-day marketing plan focused on achieving your goals.

Once you layout the marketing activities that you will be participating in both internally and externally, you can then begin to develop a budget to fund those activities.

Best Practices for Acupuncture Marketing

Now that we’ve discussed the importance and foundational basics of marketing, let’s dive into the best practices for holistic marketing:

Network with the Health Practitioners in Your Area

Whether you are an experienced practitioner or new to the industry, a sure-fire way to get solid client referrals is through the doctors, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, physiotherapists, and other holistic practitioners in your area. These professionals work with patients who might desire a holistic approach to take care of their health, in addition to medical services. Patients who are referred to you in this manner have a high probability of following through and becoming long-term, paying clients.

Encourage Word of Mouth

Good old word of mouth is one of the best forms of flattery for any business, but especially a holistic practice. This method of marketing is one that potential clients trust the most, but few businesses have mastereWebsite Marketing for Holistic Practicesd it.  It’s alright to ask for referrals or testimonials from your existing clients, colleagues, friends, and family.

Social media and other internet review sites are also excellent ways to encourage your patients to talk about you.  Providing meaningful content and engaging with your followers can spread like wildfire and attract the right opportunities for your business.

Make Yourself as “Findable” as Possible

If they can’t find you, they won’t know you even exist!  Creating an online presence via a professional website and social media profiles will demonstrate to your future patients that you want to create a consistent and welcoming impression. Potential clients will likely do some research before they put their trust in you. If they can’t look you up to research your credentials and experience, they may move on to another holistic practice with a stronger web presence.

Host or Participate in a Contest

Everyone loves to win free stuff! Whether you do an online contest or offer a drawing at an event, putting together a contest is an excellent way to collect the names of potential clients and grow your email list.  You can offer a special prize or free services to the lucky winner and, hopefully, you just got yourself some great leads in the process. It’s a win-win.

With these steps and essential basics of marketing, we’re sure your holistic practice will take off! Holistic Billing Services is here to help you grow your practice in a variety of ways and has been facilitating the growth of holistic practices since 1999. Contact us today and let us help your holistic practice reach its potential!

May 8, 2021
 - by Antonio Arias, MBA, CHBME
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