Welcome to the Evolution of Medicine podcast! In this episode, the fourth in our Practice Marketing Series, James sits down with chiropractor and author John Bartemus, a functional medicine doc from Charlotte, NC. John has built a very successful practice in the autoimmune niche, and he shares his insight on building digital marketing for his practice, specifically video marketing. John committed to making one educational video a day for a year and sharing them on his practice YouTube channel. He ended up exceeding his goal and build his practice exponentially by sharing his knowledge and expertise in a video format. His journey to successful practice marketing is one you can take, too. It was a super interesting interview with lots of tangible value for physician entrepreneurs. Enjoy! Highlights include:

  • How to commit to creating and sharing a video every day to market your practice (John made a video every day for 411 days in a row—wow!)
  • How to use video to market your practice, from pre-appointment to post-appointment
  • The journey from practicing functional medicine clinician to published author and digital marketing wiz, and how you can make that journey, too
  • And so much more!

Resources mentioned in this podcast:

James Maskell: Hello, and welcome to the podcast. This week we’re with Dr. John Bartemus of Functional Medicine Charlotte. Dr. Bartemus has built a super successful practice in the autoimmune niche, and we talked to him all about video marketing. One of the things that we got into was his commitment to make a short video every day for a year and how many days he actually did that. We talk about all the different ways that he uses videos in his practice for the original marketing funnel, for the pre-appointment, for the post-appointment. And then we talked a little bit about the journey from building a successful brick-and-mortar functional medicine practice to becoming an author and what that journey looks like, and a predictable journey that you could do it, too. Super interesting half an hour. Lots of tangible value for physician entrepreneurs. Enjoy.

Everyone, welcome to the podcast, Dr. John Bartemus. Welcome, Doc.

John Bartemus: Hey, James. Thanks for having me.

James Maskell: Yeah. Thanks for agreeing to be part of the podcast. It’s been such a pleasure. And I guess I want to start by acknowledging you and the work that you’ve done to really be a great example of what’s possible through your practice, through the Practice Accelerator, through your making videos. And just to acknowledge that I know it’s not easy, and I know that it requires a new set of skills that they didn’t teach you in school. And just really stepping into that was really exciting to watch, and I’m super excited to see the journey that you’re on now, so thank you.

John Bartemus: Yeah, you’re welcome. Thank you for putting the community together so I didn’t have to do it alone. It’s been exciting. So the support you’ve offered has been key, and I’m happy to help and help others following on the same path.

James Maskell: Yeah. Well, let’s just get into it. I guess maybe let’s just start with a little bit of your story of sort of how you decided that you really wanted to pursue functional medicine, why you felt you could help people, and sort of some of your early parts of your practice journey.

John Bartemus: So, yeah, I’m a chiropractor by license. So the chiropractic philosophy really isn’t different from the functional medicine philosophy, in my mind. Chiropractic says that the power that made the body, heals the body. The body doesn’t need any help. It just doesn’t need any interference, right? So as long as we’re providing sufficiency for the body, it’ll be great. If we’re inundating it with deficiency and toxicity, then we have problems.

So functional medicine basically focuses on all of that. And, for me, chiropractic is great. It’s a tool on my tool belt, but I’m nerdy enough to want to know mechanisms and understand why things are working or why things are wrong with people. So when I was exposed to the functional medicine, the focus on the uniqueness of the individual and the different, say, puzzle or crime scene that each case is, was intriguing to me because it made me think beyond, “Okay, is there a high shoulder here, a high hip there?” And it incorporated lifestyle, which if you’re adjusting people and they leave, they can come back tomorrow because they went to McDonald’s when they left your office and they’re still going to be a mess. So if you don’t address that stuff, we’re not going to get where we need to go, ultimately.

James Maskell: So part of what I wanted to get into here today was just I think you’ve really used video in an amazing way in your practice and really leant into that in a great way. But I guess before we get into that, the podcasts that we’ve had so far in the series have talked about how to set up an infrastructure, to educate people, to put your best foot forward. We’ve had a number of other people from the Accelerator on who have just talked about their journey to build an education delivery system so that every patient who comes into your office has enough of a background to really want to participate in their care.

So what did that journey look like for you, as far as the positioning of your practice and what kind of cases you wanted to work with?

John Bartemus: Yeah. It started for me just as a chiropractor. So I found functional medicine a couple years into my chiropractic practice. So initially, I was using video as a testimonial piece, right? So some doctors have a book with written testimonials on the desk and they’re in their waiting room. Some people, back when I started, had CDs that you could take home and listen to in your car. I wanted to do video because I saw where things were going. So I started with video testimonials in chiropractic.

And then I’ve got an innate kind of bend towards teaching. So then I said, “Well, why don’t I make videos teaching people about chiropractic beyond back pain and neck pain?” And then as I learned functional medicine and all of that, I said, “Well, okay. Well, let me, I can make a video a day for life and I’m never going to teach everyone everything,” right?

So that was my choice to do videos because I felt that that was the most efficient way to meet people or find people, as opposed to just waiting for referrals, as an early new doctor out of school.

James Maskell: Absolutely.

John Bartemus: Sorry. And at the same time, as a new doctor out of school, I don’t have an unlimited marketing and advertising budget as well. So I could make a video and post it on YouTube for free and reach people that way, as opposed to maybe doing print advertising, which was dying as I was entering practice.

James Maskell: Yeah, absolutely. So what did you decide what to make your videos on? What format did you use for your videos, and how did you post your videos to have the biggest impact?

John Bartemus: Yeah. I choose the topic based on what I’m reading and researching and learning at that time. So I started back, I guess it was 2018. I’d been making videos for years, but in 2018, I basically challenged myself to make a video a day for a year straight, and I ended up making a video a day for 411 days straight. But what I did was—

James Maskell: That’s awesome.

John Bartemus: Yeah, thank you. So what I did was the video of the day was either whatever I was learning or interested in in that time or…actually, the very first video was me teaching my then, I think she was three or four months old, four-month-old the benefits of broccoli and sulforaphanes in broccoli. And my wife caught it on video and was like, “Oh, this is cute. You should do more.” So I was, like, “Okay, I’ll just do a nugget a day,” I started calling them.

But then from there, it was, “Okay, what was the most interesting question I heard in the practice that day that other patients and people would want to know the answer to?” And if I didn’t have an interesting question that I heard that day, then I’d do, “Well, what was the research article I was reading that day or what’s a topic focused on health that many people have asked over the years that I should have a video on?” So I can efficiently point the next person that asked me that to that video, instead of unnecessarily taking up time answering it again.

James Maskell: Yeah. I think a lot of practitioners I spoke to the first time kind of wonder, “Oh, what am I going to do videos on?” And then they don’t realize they’ve sat in so many conferences, and actually your day-to-day interaction with patients should be stimulating those kind of things.

John Bartemus: Yeah.

James Maskell: Like, “What is something that you said? And if you’ve never said it before, how can you do it on video so that the next time you don’t have to say it again?”

John Bartemus: Absolutely. And the influence was, back at that time, too, was automation and the practice of efficiency, right? And so I was making the videos to be interesting for sure, but I also had a second motive to be efficient. And so I bled into…I was making a video of the day, but then behind the scenes, I was also making videos for my process. So building an SOP in my practice, or standard operating procedure, that had videos as part of it so that my staff can be efficient when someone calls on the phone and wants to schedule a 15-minute consult with me to figure out, “Is this where they want to be? Do I want to work with them?” Okay. They schedule it and the staff sends them an email, “Hey, watch this three-minute video where Dr. Bartemus is going to prep you for the visit and ask you to be prepared with three things to talk about.”

So, again, they’re not coming to a consult and being, like, “Okay, what do you want me to say?” They’ve come prepared with the three largest pain points, why they’re presenting to my office, so I can be as efficient in that 15 minutes for them as possible. And then the rest of the process, if they become a patient, at each point there’s videos involved pre-visit.

James Maskell: Yeah. I think one of the things that you’re sharing there which really resonates with me is what I’ve seen for a long time, is that we kind of have…most practices need to have an expectation management system, right?

John Bartemus: Yeah.

James Maskell: Built into the front of their practice.

John Bartemus: Absolutely.

James Maskell: Which is, like, “Hey, this is what this…” Because being in a functional medicine relationship is actually different from being in a regular relationship in the kind of practices that we want to see, right?

John Bartemus: Yeah.

James Maskell: We want to see the sort of locus of control being transferred to the patient, right? It’s not just—

John Bartemus: Yeah.

James Maskell: You’re just not another doctor with another protocol. This is actually them stepping into some sort of accountability for their health, and you as a guide get to help them get there. And I guess one of the reasons why I think what we’ve seen with the Accelerator is that that initial education process with the email automation is really about setting up an expectation management system. So from the first time people hear about you, how do they get to know you before the first appointment? If someone books an appointment, what happens before the appointment, before they book? And then after the first appointment, what kind of things happen then? It does seem that video is such an efficient way of delivering it because you say how many words a minute—

John Bartemus: Yeah.

James Maskell: …and that three-minute video can communicate what would be three pages of text.

John Bartemus: Absolutely. And it can become a multi-headed monster, right? So we have videos for marketing. My YouTube channel has almost 700 videos on it, right? So I will probably…almost everyone who finds me that aren’t referral find me either via YouTube or Google. So if they find me on YouTube, a lot of people walk in and they’re like, “Hey, it’s cool to meet you in person. I’ve seen so many of your videos.” And all of a sudden I’m a celebrity, and I have no idea who this person is. But because I have that digital content, they feel like they know me, right? So the rapport is already there. So that could be the marketing aspect of your videos. But then, like you just said, there’s the internal aspect that when they call to schedule, okay, they’ve got that video, be prepared during your consult to talk about this.

If they sign up or if we agree that we should move forward in our partnership, then we send them the paperwork. There’s a video in there saying, “Here’s what to expect. Here’s what I’m doing behind the scenes as we prepare for your visit.” And also, “Hey, here’s seven videos below that are the most common topics asked about one’s cholesterol, one’s adrenal fatigue in quotes and all of that,” right?

And then with each visit, like you said, there’s bookend videos. There’s pre-videos and post-videos to help them along so that they feel like there’s a relationship and I’m home eating dinner with my family. And there is a relationship, but it’s digital.

James Maskell: What was it like, your first video that you did, and what did it take? Because I know that not only did you start doing videos, but you were part of an accountability group that was starting to do videos. And different people have different amount of feeling comfortable with video. And a lot of people actually ask me, “Well, you look so comfortable and so natural,” and they didn’t see the videos that I was shooting here at my practice 2013 where I was doing it for the first time and being really clumsy.

John Bartemus: Right.

James Maskell: Just came from practice, and I’d just love to hear your experience of sort of becoming familiar and then becoming comfortable just shooting videos at the drop of a hat.

John Bartemus: Yeah. It’s funny because I’ll go back and look at some of the videos from 2013 and ’14 and be, like, “Wow, that’s awful. The lighting’s terrible. The sound’s bad. It looks bad.” And I’ve consulted with people over the years about it. And I tell people, hey, an imperfect video is going to have a higher probability of saving someone than no video, right? So the most important thing is just do it and post it because if you never post, no one’s going to know you’re there. And as you go, you get better. So I got better over time just with repetitions. I sure did, as well. And then as you go, you meet people like Uli and others who can say, “Hey, James, I see your passion. You’re doing great. But if you just had a lapel mic, it would sound so much better,” right? Or, “If you had this camera or you just pulled the shades to your right, your lighting would be…” So you pick up little details. There’s audiobooks on it. There’s one called “How to Make YouTube Videos That Don’t Suck,” and it just gives you ideas and little tips.

So repetition. Your first patient, you’re super nervous, your first patient ever in the real world. And now it’s like, “Yeah, bring them on.” So just start making them. You’re not going to help anyone if you don’t post, so post. Even if it’s imperfect, I think they’ll appreciate your authenticity there. And then as you grow, you’ll improve.

James Maskell: So just give us a quick overview of your average patient who comes into your practice new, who you’ve never met. What’s the average video journey that they’ve been on there to meet you? What do they know about you by the time they arrive that, in another practice, they wouldn’t know anything?

John Bartemus: So typically, they’re finding me because they’re searching a pain point on YouTube. I’d say 90 plus percent of my practice is autoimmune disease. So say someone was searching Crohn’s. So they found me on YouTube by searching Crohn’s disease, and so they’ve seen many of my videos on Crohn’s and it probably bled over into guts and that sort of thing. So, they come in and they call and schedule for that initial…I offer a complimentary 15-minute visit so we can talk about their case. They’ve had the video where I’ve introduced myself and said here’s the three things to come with.

So, like I said, many times, once a week, someone comes in and says, “Wow, I’m meeting you in person finally.” So they feel familiar with me, and I’ve never seen them before. And that’s key for rapport, as you know. And so since the rapport is built, we can get into the details. And they may share things with me in that visit that they wouldn’t have if they hadn’t seen me or met me until walking through the door, right, because then it’s just a cold call. But the videos kind of break down that wall.

James Maskell: Yeah, that’s really powerful. We spoke to Tara Scott in the second episode of this series, and she shared how part of that journey is a webinar. And so you go from short videos, you earn a little bit more attention by having a couple of short videos on YouTube. Eventually, you push through to sort of a masterclass, which is going to be like the Bartemus method for reversing autoimmune disease. And then by the time they’ve been through that, they’re like, “Not only is this guy super knowledgeable on autoimmune disease, not only have many of his people who work with him reversed their autoimmune disease, and I feel like a certain level of trust that’s commensurate with what I’m about to invest in his practice.”

John Bartemus: Right.

James Maskell: And I just feel like that structure is what every private practice needs to have. If you have that structure, if you are trying to get cash from people, you need to have a structure where people learn to know, like, and trust you before. Because ultimately, even if you have to do ad spend, the ad spend is going to be that much more efficient if you have that structure than if you’re just pushing to a website where you don’t collect 90% of the traffic.

John Bartemus: Yeah, absolutely. And I guess what I left out that you hit on is, so they’ve seen the video, they’ve scheduled the visit, they’ve watched the three-minute video. They’re here, “Wow, I’ve met you.” Then we sit down for the 15-minute free consultation, and I promise you they’re getting more information. And I’ve said this to many of them in a loving way, not conceited or trying to brag or anything to them, but basically… and many of them have said it back to me without me saying it. But essentially, in that 15-minute visit, they’re being heard more than they’ve ever been heard in a doctor’s office. And they’ve gotten either their dots connected in a way that had never been connected or they’ve received some sort of value about their case for free and received twice the amount of time that they get in at a doctor’s visit that they pay a copay for, leave frustrated from, with another prescription.

So, again, like you said, that’s building the relationship. Oftentimes, I’ll tell them, too, “Hey, if I never see you again, here’s one thing just from what we talked about today it sounds like you should start working on,” and go from there.

James Maskell: I absolutely love that. And I think that this combination of automation and human connection is just such a powerful one-two punch for building rapport. And obviously, different practices have different ways of doing that. Some practitioners have been doing events on the weekend every weekend, where you come and meet and shake hands and go to a presentation and connect. And who knows what the future of that business model is, but certainly you see that building credibility in-person can be really powerful. But I really like what you said there where it’s, like, okay, they get enough value from online stuff to get them in the room. And then once they come in and meet with you, you can add more value to them. And likely, from that sort of scenario, you’re getting to a point where a lot of people trust you. And once a lot of people trust you, you have a successful practice.

John Bartemus: Yeah, absolutely. And then, of course, you have to follow up, right? So once they trust you, they fill out the paperwork, they actually become a patient, now we have to get results. And again, at least in my practice, that occurs because they’re getting more than they’ve ever received in their whole experience healthcare-wise, in terms of, “Hey, we’re taking a history from birth to now. We’re requesting your previous medical records. I’m rebuilding your case to myself so that I have left no stone unturned so we can say, look, this matters, this matters, this matters. You’ve had anxiety and depression for 12 years and you’ve only ever been looked at from a psychiatric angle. No one’s ever looked that your blood sugar or your gut or your XYZ things that conventional medicine would never look at because it doesn’t fit a psychiatrist’s specialty,” right?

So it’s just putting the pieces together and honoring what laypeople know. What the medical profession has forgotten is that James’ complaints are interesting to me, but they’re not happening in a vacuum separate from the rest of James. So James’ sleep impacts his anxiety, his physical activity, his nutrition, has gut health, his work stress, all of that. So if you just go to conventional medicine, say, “I’m anxious,” and you leave with a benzo, they didn’t really help you. If you come here and tell me, “I’m anxious,” and I say, “James, that’s all interesting, but this, this, and this may be contributing,” you might have an “aha” moment and leave and be, like, “Why haven’t the other eight doctors I’ve ever talked to said that to me?” Now they trust you, right? Or at least they’re intrigued to go home and look it up. And if what they find supports it then, “Hey, I’m going to call that other guy back or start filling out the paperwork.”

James Maskell: Absolutely. Yeah, I think that’s so critical, and it doesn’t take that much more effort. And ultimately, I think one of the things that you’ve shared here is just the drastic efficiency of the video medium. And maybe right now is actually a great opportunity to challenge people who are listening to this, which is that the world has just created a pause for us all where we’re not going to do things the same in the future as we did them now, however you take that to mean, whatever you take that to mean. And over the last five years, we’ve been encouraging people to build a big digital infrastructure for patient acquisition and also for care delivery through telemedicine. And I guess I want to challenge all of you now to follow John’s example. And what if you made a video every day for a year, what would that look like for the future of your practice? What would it look like for the value of your practice? What would it look like for all of the things that you’re trying to achieve in your world?

Because ultimately, the first step is building a successful practice. So I guess I just want to start by saying that. I’m challenging you, if you’re listening to this, to really go all in on online video education because online video education is the future of education. It is the way that most people are getting their education. COVID has shown us that any other form of doing it has potential flaws that we didn’t see until everyone was stuck in the house for three months or however long it is. But those flaws now have been shown, and so we need to have a certain level of anti-fragility or resilience in our practice models.

And then I guess the last thing that I want to sort of get into with you, John, is just that I think a lot of people in our community feel like they have gifts that they want to share with a wider audience, right? That they like seeing patients, but suddenly I think when you’ve seen patients for a number of years and you’ve helped people and you’ve worked out specific things about things that you’ve learned, you want to share that with a wider audience.

And I know that you recently published a book, and I guess I just want to get into that conversation because I think a lot of practitioners kind of do it the wrong way round, where they publish the book and then they build the practice off the back end, which is cool because you can get interest in your book. But I think what you did, which is a great model for everyone, is build your practice brick and mortar, build the marketing systems that come in, build your way of educating people, and then put out the book as a way to sort of be your calling card where once they come through the book, then they’re into your ecosystem of all the other videos and everything you’ve created. And I’d love for you to share a little bit about you coming up with the book and how it integrates with your ecosystem because I think what you’ve done is a very solid model for other practitioners to follow.

John Bartemus: Awesome. Well, thank you for the encouragement. Yeah, so I’ve been writing a book. It’s probably been a couple of years since I started thinking about it, but it took me, from the first word to publishing, it took about 15 months. And I did it because, like I said earlier, about 90% of my practice is autoimmune disease. I see great results with people. And every autoimmune patient that comes in my office has pretty much lost hope because, let’s face it, I’m not the first person they come to, right? So they’ve been in the conventional model for a while. They’ve been given Humira or Enbrel or no answers, and they’re looking for help.

So I can only help so many people in my office, and so I wanted to be able to reach a larger audience, like you said. And not only a larger audience with the book, which is called The Autoimmune Answer, I don’t want to just reach a larger audience of patients, but I want to reach a larger audience of practitioners and swing them towards the functional paradigm, hopefully. So I’m hoping many medical doctors come across it and say, “Hey, this is an intriguing way to think about it. Let me look into this further.” And then my pie in the sky goal would be that the book shifts healthcare towards the functional medicine paradigm as well.

So it’s called The Autoimmune Answer, and each chapter has real patient in my office. I’m walking you through their experience previous to me, with me, what we found, and how they beat whatever their autoimmune disease was. And I leveraged video in the book because each chapter ends with a curated video list from my YouTube channel to learn more. So say chapter one is on Parkinson’s disease, and there’s the whole chapter, and then reader action steps. And then part of that is, “Hey, if you want to learn more, check out my curated Parkinson’s disease video playlist at my website right here, slash, Parkinson’s.” So in that case, it’d be functionalmedicinecharlotte.com/parkinsons. And now I think for that chapter, there’s six other videos they can learn more about Parkinson’s on and alternative ways to address it.

And so, again, there’s the book where people can learn about me and then the video links funnel them back to my website, back to my YouTube channel, so that they could ultimately interact with me as a patient or, at minimum, receive more value for free and learn more and find a functional doc somewhere out there in the world to help them.

James Maskell: Absolutely. Well, Doc, I think it’s really exciting. And I would just also say that I know, for instance, your Functional Medicine Charlotte, I know that there are other functional medicine doctors in Charlotte that know that you have sort of locked up search engine optimization because you made 400 videos or, what’d you say earlier, 700 videos now that are all tagged with Functional Medicine Charlotte. Ultimately, this is just a journey to go through, to be an entrepreneur.

And I think the reason why I love the journey that you’ve been on is it’s been great to just watch and bear witness to it, but I also feel that there’s a lot of doctors out there that have the same kind of feeling than you. And other practitioners, too, is that, yeah, they want to help people. And over their whole career, they want to help a whole lot of people. And also, like me and you and hundreds of others, we’re all hoping that we’re going to shift the voice to functional medicine. And even in some of the emails that I’ve been writing recently, it’s like, “Hey, we all knew word of mouth was a powerful tool to be able to bring people to patients of functional medicine, but what about to actually change the system?” Right?

John Bartemus: Yeah.

James Maskell: What if we could get 20 doctors in the 10 miles around each of our functional practices to think differently, and that’s the point of the communities and the meetups and all those kind of things. So I guess I just want to say thank you for doing it and showing the path. And I hope that anyone who’s listening to this could go to Functional Medicine Charlotte and check it out. And that I’m excited to see what you’re going to do with the next 20 or 30 years because I think we’re all on the same team, and it’s exciting to see different groups of practitioners coming together and really working it out.

So thanks for being part of the interview today, and thanks for being on the cutting edge of taking these ideas, moving forward, and building a really strong and resilient practice in Charlotte.

John Bartemus: It’s my pleasure and privilege, James. Thank you for the role and influence you’ve had in my practice and career and the career of many others out there. So keep it up, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for us all as well.

James Maskell: Beautiful. Well, check out Dr. John Bartemus, functionalmedicinecharlotte.com. You can check out his new book. It’s available on Amazon. We’ll have links to that in the show notes. This is the Evolution of Medicine Practice Marketing Series. I think there’s a ton of great knowledge, wisdom, and information inside this video, and take my challenge. Make some videos, get them on YouTube.

John Bartemus: Absolutely.

James Maskell: Get them in your funnel, get organized. Every time that someone watches a video, it’s like you connecting to them in a way that they don’t have to do again themselves. So this is the moment. This is the pause that you’ve been waiting for. Doc, thanks so much for being part of the podcast, and we will see you all next time.

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