In this Founder's Corner episode, Ajay shares his marketing experience on expanding a Functional Health Practice to the next level with Renee Bergmen, a Functional Health Practitioner, Hormone Guru, and Enneagram specialist.
Renee is a Functional Health Practitioner, Hormone Guru, and Enneagram specialist. She works as a health detective to help enthusiastic fun-loving moms (and their families) who are frustrated with exhaustion, hormone disruptions, and lack of clarity on their health challenges uncover root causes to their pain. Through formulated food plans, Functional labs and Enneagram-focused connections Renee’s clients get results and gain back vitality.
Renee: Absolutely. So, my business is called Megaphone Functional Health. And I’m a functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner, which is a big mouthful. I basically am a health detective, that I help people get to the root of some of their autoimmune diseases and health things that have plagued them for years that they cannot figure out. And we do that through functional labs, through diet, exercise, and really figuring out what are the root causes in their system that are off-kilter and off-balance and how do we put those back onto the right track.
Ajay: Oh, okay. So, the autoimmune disease, that’s a very big deal. Because I know that’s a big problem. So, tell me, so, are you a medical doctor or what’s your expertise?
Renee: Yes. So, I have a degree in Biology and then I have a degree in functional nutrition.
Ajay: Okay, okay, okay. So, now I understand, totally 100%.
Ajay: Okay, good. So, how long have you been doing, in your business right now?
Renee: A little over a year.
Renee: Yep. And so, I’m just in the stages of really building and getting things — I’ve had a lot of clients. My practice has really taken off, but I’m trying to really go to the next level and grow even bigger.
Ajay: Okay. Good. So, how are your clients finding you right now?
Renee: Right now, primarily through social media or referral.
Ajay: Okay. That’s the best way to, referral is the best way to do that, so that it shows really what you are — that’s where the most confidence comes from. And so, are your patients typically the ones who have some autoimmune disease issue and then, they are like, “I need to see if the doctor has a medication”? Is that what you are getting?
Renee: Yes. Oftentimes, it’s people that they just can’t get rid of symptoms; and they can’t get to the bottom of why they’re still feeling as bad as they are. And so, we run functional labs to figure out what system is off. And how do we support that?
Ajay: Okay, okay. That is really wonderful. And typically, what kind of people with the problem come. So, is it some big name? I know that a good friend of mine, his wife, has arthritis. And that is supposedly because of the autoimmune disease, right? So, that’s why it hurts. And whatever she is taking, because of that that impacts her — what do you call that? Immunity. So, in the past year, she was literally home-bound, because she was scared of exposing herself to anyone, including her husband, actually. So, is there any specific — and you can tell me about some of the kind of autoimmune disease that have come and you have seen that improvement.
Renee: Yeah. So, some of the big ones that I typically see are Hashimoto’s, which is a thyroid condition, Celiacs Disease, people with Celiacs Disease. Because often times, if you have Celiacs, there are other autoimmune issues – Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis. And then, a lot of IBD, which is Irritable Bowel Disease things. So, like Crohn’s Disease and people that have struggled with Lymes Disease, people that have IBS symptoms, things like that.
Ajay: Oh, okay. So, that is very interesting. Where are you based?
Renee: I’m based out of San Francisco, California.
Ajay: Oh, San Francisco. Okay. Yeah, we are in the Bay Area. I love San Francisco. It’s a beautiful city. So, this is fantastic. So, you have in one year seems like you have addressed a lot of these. And what kind of training you have to go through other that Biology and all? Did you get some, I mean, where do you get this skill set you have?
Renee: Yeah. So, there’s a facility called Functional Diagnostic Nutrition. And that’s where I did my training. It’s an entire course on learning labs - learning how to read those labs, how to run them. What is looks like to get to the root of all these different diseases and how do you help someone adjust their entire lifestyle? So, all of their habits, all of the things that they do that really support —
So, food is medicine, right? So, food is something that is huge when it comes to, especially in the autoimmune disease world, it is something that we definitely need. But sometimes have a really hard time digesting food. And so, I help them figure out what’s going on with their gut and what’s at the core level, so that they can actually use the food as medicine, instead of feeling like food just makes things worse.
Ajay: Right, right. So, for example, I know that Colitis is like a lot of people and that’s a very painful. So, have you had any success with people with Colitis also?
Renee: I have two clients right now that have Colitis. And we have seen great success with them as we’ve really adjusted things, gotten to some root issues. They’ve had some parasites that needed to be killed off, some Candida that was going on. Lots of different things that the system can kind of pick up because the gut is not very stable, and so, because of the Colitis, and so, we work on that. And then, we work on stress reduction and their sleep is really important. So, we do a lot of work on their hormones so that their sleep is done well.
Ajay: Okay. And how does it start? So, when someone comes to you, do they have a free consultation first and then you consult with them and then you come up with a system? Or do they just pay you to consult them? How does that work, the whole process?
Renee: Yeah. So, I have people book a free consult and we walk through a bit of their medical history, what some of the symptoms are they’re wanting to address. And then, if we feel like we are a good fit, they sign on, typically, between six months and a year time with me to work. And we work monthly. And everything is actually done all online. We’re able to do everything via Zoom, because labs are able to send the test directly to person’s home. They do the labs at home, and then they send those back into the lab. And I receive the information and then we work through those.
Ajay: Perfect. And so, that means that your patients can be anywhere, right? In the country? Or for that matter, anywhere in the world?
Renee: Yep. Absolutely.
Ajay: So, this is interesting. So now that, and we’ll talk about your marketing challenges. But one of my initial question is: so, since you are already doing well and then this is something that is very, it’s not scalable in the sense that, how many patients can you see when you are doing a consult, when you have, I don’t know how often you do when they sign up for six months, they may meet with you. So, are you concerned by the rush that you have a in a day or is there — tell me.
Renee: No, not right now. I don’t feel constrained by the hours in the day. I actually have a lot of space and room. So, after we go over all their — Their first appointment is 80 minutes, because we go over all of the lab tests. But then, after that, it’s just a 45-minute session every month. So, I’m actually able to get a lot of clients into my schedule.
Renee: Yeah. But I am interested, at some point, at doing some group coaching with people. People that all have the same condition and we’re working through things. So, that’s maybe down the line something that will be something that my practice offers.
Ajay: Okay. And are you thinking about maybe adding some people and training them to also work on some of the issues?
Renee: I’d love to at some point. Yeah. I would love to bring on other practitioners.
Ajay: Okay. Good, good, good, good. Okay. Perfect. I made you talk a lot, so now I’m going to let you ask me the questions and I can answer. I’ll try to answer. I don’t profess to know everything. But I will try my best to answer your question.
Renee: Right. One of the things I would love to know is how to do you get past some of your already circle of acquaintance of people that you know on social media? How do you get to a larger audience, truly get to a large audience? I’ve taken social media courses and I’ve done some work. But to really break through and be able to grow pretty exponentially, that’s one question I have.
Ajay: So, let’s go over that one question. So, one thing that I would suggest to you, actually Renee, is generally speaking, right now I understand that you are in the early stages of business. So, you are doing everything. But at some point, on social media, what you may want to do is bring a consultant at least who can help you, who has expertise in that area. So, when you are saying you have a circle of acquaintances, right now, can you tell me on what platform, social media platform do you have or you are focused on?
Renee: Yeah. I primarily focus on Instagram. I have a Facebook account, but I don’t put — I’ll let things that are posted on Instagram post to Facebook. But I primarily focus on Instagram.
Ajay: Okay, so, again, there’s no, I won’t say any platform — Instagram has a lot of people. So, to me any platform is good. You want to focus on one platform and quote-unquote “master” it before you should even move to the next platform. So, you are already doing something that is very smart, not spending your limited energy and resources on five different platforms. So, that is great. That what you are already doing is right. And so, the thing that may suggestion would be when you are on Instagram, you already have to the circle and they are the best, right? Since you are getting their referral.
So, they are the best who can help you broaden your circle. But in order for them to do that — If you just said, “Can you help me and let your friends know about me?” It only works up to a certain extent, right? So, the best thing to do is you are an influencer. I can talk to you, and just by talking I can tell that you know your subject, right? And you are very confident about it. So, what my solution would be that you may think about creating some really useful, not sales, just a useful information documents, not just one. And you can have a very short about something what this paper means and you are the expert in that area.
So, my thing is that if you do that and when you share of useful to your audience, social media circle, and if you now, number one, they are more likely to send it, right? Because now this is something useful information that maybe some of the friends know who can do it. But also, now you can request them, right? So, you can post that and you say, “Read this thing and if you find it useful, please share with your friends.” So, what we have experienced in some, we have been doing digital marketing, is a lot of the time, focusing on giving things to someone with no expectation is probably one of the best things to do.
And it also helps you position as an expert, right? As an influencer? So, when you have document you are sharing, you are sharing your experience from the knowledge. And again, I am not a big fan of — Yes, on the website it’s fine to have some white paper and all. But I’m not a big fan of sharing white papers on social media. But it’s just personally me. On social media, you want to just share the snippets so that they can see, “Huh… Did you know XYZ?” And then it’s something that they can go to and they can get some more information. So, first thing is the engagement will increase on social media.
And the more engagement you have, the more likely they are to heed your request to say, “Share this with your friend.” Okay? So, the best thing always is to, when you are trying to enlarge your circle, to focus on the people who are already trusting you. Right? And make that they can do really. And they are being served with something with your skill. You can even ask your audience and say, “Hey. Anything specific you would like me to share on this thing.” So, you can do a survey through just SurveyMonkey. You can post it and say, “Can you take a quick survey for me?”
Because again, the people who are in your circle, they are more likely to help you, right? So, they can do a survey. And there you can ask and say, “What are some of the more interesting things that you have? What you think that your friends may be interested in knowing about this procedure?” I always say the more become an influencer and expert in your area, the more people will follow you. Okay? But I would focus on your group to build upon it. I mean, you already have a group. So, that’s a great thing. And you are doing it right. Don’t worry too much about Facebook or anything for now. You should only worry about anything else when you feel like you have maxed out on this platform.
Renee: That sounds great.
Ajay: I don’t know if I answered your question okay.
Renee: Yeah. Absolutely. That sounds great. Okay. How do you get current clients to refer you to their people, to really refer you to their people? I mean, people with a job.
Ajay: Yeah. So, exactly right. So, what we suggest, so, there are a lot of different platforms. So, as it is, you want your client to write about you online, right? So, getting more reviews and all. So, if you follow a process, and there are several platforms that there is. So, I always tell my clients that if you go to our website, you will probably see the three pillars of healthcare marketing. And one of the three pillars is a stellar online reputation. Right? And today, even if you are influencer of your friends, if they tell their friends, and say, “You should talk to Renee. She is very good.”
The first thing that we would do, if they are interested in is go and search you, going in put your name and see what people are saying about her. So, you can, I don’t mean, of course, it’s a lingual. And these days, I don’t know what I’m saying that is politically-correct. I’m old guy. But you can literally kill two birds in one stone by number one, asking people about their experience after they have left, right? Or who are using you. Maybe once a month you ask them. And so there, number one, you get the feedback from them. So, people, if they are dissatisfied why, they are satisfied why. And ones that you see very happy, so there are several platforms where you can ask them.
So, there is something called natomoto score. And what it is it advices people who can be your advocate versus who can be your detractor, who will say things against you. And also, just a simple survey will tell you, “Okay, these are the people we will refer me.” And then you practically ask for a reference. So, if I am using your service, you sent me very quickly saying, “How was your experience with this month with the treatment?” And I say, “This was absolutely wonderful. Renee, I am giving you a score ten on zero to ten scale.” Now, what the system will consider. I am your advocate.
So, then, at that point, if you ask me, after doing that, and you say, “Can you help me by referring me to some of the people who may be looking for my services?” I’m very likely to do that, right? And you want to automate the system. So, this is where I always see a lot of healthcare providers make a mistake. I go to their office and they will have a sign that says, “The ultimate (whatever) compliment would be a referral.” People come in, it’s not like they go out thinking, “Oh, I saw that sign, so I should refer.” But again, if the doctor sends you something that says, “How was your experience?” You say, “Very good.” And then, the doctor ask you, “Would you please refer?” The probability of referral is increased.
So, I would say, automate the process. Ask for referral only from people who are very happy, right? And then, that will also, by tracking this, who’s happy, who’s not happy, will also help you understand if someone is not happy, what is going on there. Right?
Renee: Yeah. That makes sense.
Ajay: And, by the way, these things are not very expensive also, these platforms that I am talking about. So, you can just search out for review platform or something and check them out and see what is available or it’s not available there.
Renee: Okay. Yeah, that’s super helpful.
Ajay: Thank you.
Renee: I think I have one more question for you.
Ajay: Sure, sure, sure.
Renee: One of the things that I really am trying to do is not just be on social media, but I’d love to be able to live to speak to people. I’d love to hear you think you can expand sharing expertise in a live setting.
Ajay: Okay. So, you would like to do that, right? The thing that I would say is, obviously, live setting should be by invitation, right? Most of the places. So, again, in order to do that, you may want to start to share — So, you want to build a track record, right? If I am the organizer of something and I feel like Renee could be the right person, then. So, I want to know what you say, how you say that.
So, one thing that I would say is you should start to — I don’t know if you are using YouTube or not a video, but to start talking about, again, this content that you create for social media, like I was saying, for all this factors, start talking about it on YouTube so that people interested will start to get a taste for it. Get some paper published. You want to dominate social media. So, this is one thing Renee, is it will — I can tell you that I’m sure there are some exceptions, but generally speaking, it never happens in one day. Right? It takes time. So, one thing is to do that. Start to build yourself.
But then, immediately what you can do is you can start to offer webinars, right? Free webinars. What could be the reason for autoimmune disease? What is your top finding? And those kind of webinars now, you can use your social media. You can ask people to go and look for it, search it, right? you can do there, I would say Facebook advertising makes sense. Because you can really target people. And say to come in and join a free webinar to start with. If it becomes very popular then you can start charging. But the best thing is to start exposing yourself to the people, to your target audience as much as you can.
Like I said, you can add a video on YouTube and you can advertise, essentially when people are searching for these keywords, your ad will show up. And you don’t pay anything anyway unless someone has clicked on it. There you can have call to action, right? Please if you found it interesting, call us for a free consult. And the free consult is very powerful and so far, I am concerned. And so, that’s how I would, you will build it gradually. Once you have built your reputation, then these things will come. But you can start it very quickly. You can have a huge head start through some video content and also, like I said, start giving webinars.
Renee: That’s great. Thank you so much for all your advice. I appreciate it.
Ajay: Wonderful. Thank you very much. And I can see that you are doing something that is so valuable. My favorite doctor is my chiropractor. And he hates medicine. He will tell me that the last thing I want to give you is medication. So, even my wife, when she had slipped disk and the orthopedic was talking about what she has to do and this and that, he went and said, “No, no. I will do a simple. Give me eight weeks.”
Ajay: It won’t happen immediately. And my wife is also a big believer in no medicine. So, she ended up using him and she was fine. I mean, I used to have a every-day headache, every day. I would, in anticipation, in the evening I would pop a Aspirin. And when I went to him, he just looked at me like, “This is a posture issue. It’s nothing else.” And he just literally gave me some exercise and, God, that was ten, 12 years back. And I don’t think that I have taken more than maybe five times Tylenol for headache. So, I know the value of what you are doing is — and now you are talking — he was giving me for headache and all. This is serious.
People with Colitis, I know they have to go through infusion and all those things. If this can, if you can diagnose it, help them diagnose and help them get rid of, for example, infusion, to me that’s like a massive public service that you are doing here. Right now, those medication also add so much burden on our health system in the country. So, this is fantastic. I really love what you are doing. I wish you the best of success. And, by the way, don’t feel like just because we, now that you had this podcast, you cannot reach out to us anytime for anything.
And if you want me to be the sounding board for something that you are thinking about, feel free to contact Oliver. I’d love to hear with you and help you. I love what you are doing. Let me put it this way.
Renee: Lovely. Well, thank you very much. It was great to speak with you.
All right. If you want to, you can go ahead and download. There’s a link that they’ve provided for you. I have a great freebie for you. It’s called Three Steps to Feel Like You. And it’s just some steps for you to follow to figure out, how do I start to feel normal again. And then, if you have more questions, please go to my website. You can book a free consult. And I’d love to speak with you about what you have going on with your health and see if there’s any way we can get you feeling better and feeling more like yourself again.
Speaker: Thank you for listening to this episode of The Founder’s Corner Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to rate and follow us on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and SoundCloud. If you are interested in being a guest, be sure to visit our main page at www.gmrwebteam.com/thefounderscorner