No Magic Formula to Grow Integrative Health Companies: Start Here Instead

By Glenn Sabin

Whether your business is a medical practice, supplement company, pharmacy, technology platform, nonprofit organization, or provider of other goods or services, one thing holds true: there is no single, magic bullet formula to grow your integrative or functional medicine enterprise.

Word-of-mouth referrals and the activation of fanatical brand-ambassadors remain the holy grail of any organization.

The above is absolute for integrative and functional medicine enterprises. But how does this low-spend, or no-spend, word-of-mouth phenomena take flight? Can one just create an amazing product or service, or deliver exceptional medical care, and simply expect unending momentum and success to happen magically? In select cases, sure, but for most of us… not so much.

It’s said that ‘luck’ is the intersection of hard work and opportunity. From the outside looking in, many envious onlookers mistakenly believe that a successful person or organization was built solely on some sort of secret sauce: seemingly instant success rooted in pure good fortune and incredible timing.

It’s not that easy. If there existed a one-size-fits-all formula for business or brand development… there would be a lot more thriving enterprises out there in the integrative health ecosystem—thousands of flourishing integrative clinics and hospital programs, scores of technology platforms, and innumerable top-tier supplement manufacturers killing it on quality, trust, customer engagement… and sales.

Build It and They Will Come

This adage is mostly outdated; a misnomer in this age of hyper-competiveness. Sure, what you provide in terms of products or services is, hopefully, highly-differentiated in the market, but the ‘build it and they will come’ approach is a risky and failing primary business strategy.

Enjoying this article? Subscribe and get our latest, delivered straight to your inbox.

The Crossroads of Success

If luck is found at the intersection of hard work and opportunity, then success happens at the same crossroads. Inevitably, the work must get done. But determining the key tasks on which to focus and execute—and phased in to ensure traction—is critical.

Because, let’s face it: whether you run a company solo (today) or are a critical player in team management, you cannot waste time focused on disparate tactics that will never provide a substantive return on your expended resources and energy.

I’m not suggesting best practices don’t exist for your business category or model. Study these, as they may exist and be applicable to your situation. And I’m not saying that structured, canned learning modules or hybrid online business/practice development programs do not provide some level of actionable guidance and accountability. They can, especially for the dogged, overachieving DIYer.

You Do You

What I posit is that you are different: your brand ethos is different; your personal narrative is different; your goals and aspirations are different.  And how you engage your target customers around your products or services must be highly differentiated to break through the noise and chatter in this ever-increasingly contested marketplace we call integrative health.

The following set of foundational reading material—a comprehensive primer, if you will—provides actionable guidance for a newly launched organization, or otherwise provides required information for how you can accelerate your business growth.

FON’s Essential Reading List for Non-Formulaic Thinkers + Integrative Health Builders

I’ve combed through scores of FON articles over the last few years to cherry-pick 14 that I believe are the most foundational and essential for any integrative health entrepreneur or business/clinic development person to explore. Each article includes actionable insights (and a prevailing mindset) you can put into practice immediately.

Is Functional Medicine Becoming a Commodity?

Functional medicine should never be considered indistinguishable—its various products, services and providers are unique, with specific expertise, attributes and features that help differentiate brands in a crowded market. Functional (and integrative) medicine should be widely accessible, yes, but never indistinguishable from the competition.


Your Integrative Health Brand and Platform: Invest or Fail

Your brand positioning matters. If you do not budget and invest in the core aspects of your brand and platform, in unison, and upfront, you are ultimately impeding your cash-flow and disadvantaging your enterprise right out of the gate.


The Integrative Health Business: ‘Administrators’ Versus ‘Builders’

Integrative and functional medicine business and organization leaders are often burdened with the weight of managing day-to-day operations, which allows neither adequate time nor sufficient resources for the strategic business development and execution efforts required to ensure long-term success.


Becoming an Integrative Health Thought Leader: 7 Part Series

This 7-part series aims to provide the basic framework under which you can begin focusing on becoming a thought leader by creating a platform from which to spread your message with more impact, enlarge your community of followers, and achieve your professional goals.


Establishing Prices for Integrative Health Products and Services

As an integrative functional medicine business owner or executive, you may serve a local, national, international clientele, or a group of constituents comprised of varying demographics and psychographics. So how do you best decide fair market value for what you offer?


We’re All in Sales: Advancing Integrative Health

You don’t have to be part of a formal sales team to be ‘in sales’. We are all in sales. Yes, including you. You just may not have realized it yet.


Enjoying this article? Subscribe and get our latest, delivered straight to your inbox.

The Power of Effective Copywriting to Engage and Sell

You may pen exceptional prose, do a bang-up job on crafting business reports and/or blogs, or churn out scientific papers with ease—but are you the best person to write the content for your website, collateral, advertisements, or any number of key copy and messaging areas organization-wide? Or even for your small business?


Customer Service in the Age of Integrative and Functional Medicine

Does the end-to-end customer experience your integrative health organization delivers align with a service ethos that drives retention, ensures loyalty, and creates fervent word-of-mouth referrals? If you want to serve demanding Boomers, and even pickier Generation Xers, Millennials, and Generation Zers to come, this article is a must read.


Ultimate Guide: Using Community Events to Gain More Patients

Nothing touches people like an ‘in-person, living, breathing, experience’. Whether it’s sports, music or … yes, even health and medical information—LIVE (done well) will always engage more than books, television programs, or websites. Here’s how to make it happen.


SEO Magic: 7 Ways for New Clients to Find Your Integrative Health Practice

Whether yours is an established practice, or you are relatively new on the scene, it’s critical to take ‘ownership’ of your local market. And for that, you need to make it easy for people to find you.


7 Critical Steps to Mastering Your Integrative and Functional Medicine Sales Funnel

Unless, through other means, you’ve created powerful word-of-mouth referrals to keep you booked for months in advance, you need a well-oiled sales pipeline—a funnel—that collects leads and converts prospects to customers.


9 Ways to Earn Your Patient’s Lifetime Value

According to Wikipedia, customer lifetime value—what we’ll refer to as patient lifetime value (PLV)—predicts net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer. Though extraordinarily important, it’s often overlooked by most integrative and functional medicine practices.


Testimonials: How to get them. How to Promote them.

Given that testimonials significantly influence a prospective customer or patient’s proclivity for your brand, it is incumbent upon you to play an active role in what is said, and where it appears. Don’t sing your own praises… leave this to your happy customers (or patients).


Grow Your ‘List’ to Grow Your Integrative Health Business

There’s no single magic silver bullet approach for growing integrative health and medicine practices today. It requires comprehensive strategy featuring a range of digital and non-digital communication tactics, of which growing a list for email marketing is incredibly important.


The Right Information is Power…

However, information without execution results in subject matter knowledge. This is important, but the work still must be done. Let’s discuss what you are working on during a complimentary 30 minute strategy call.

About FON

FON is a leading integrative health and medicine business development and strategy consulting firm. FON specializes in custom solutions for growing patient volume, developing programs, and increasing product sales. Our practical business models are driven by innovative marketing, clear messaging, and customer engagement via branded storytelling.

Photo Credit:

Image of Glenn Sabin
Author: Glenn Sabin
FON’s founder, Glenn Sabin, is a nationally recognized thought leader with a reputation for successfully positioning integrative health organizations for sustainable growth. Combining media, marketing and business development expertise with an extensive professional and personal integrative health and medicine narrative, Glenn is deeply passionate about advancing the field as the new standard of care—accessible to all.
Read Glenn’s story.


image of FON book arrow,

What are you working on?