Is Your 12-Step Focus Losing You Patients? - Circle Social Inc

Is Your 12-Step Focus Losing You Patients?

This is very controversial for many addiction recovery centers, but your commitment to 12-step and the original Hazelden model may be losing you patients.  Even if it’s not losing you patients, I can tell you for a fact that you’re missing out on a ton of potential ones if you’re advocating 12-step as your sole path to recovery. Take a look at the results for one of our client Facebook campaigns since August.

Results Screenshot Addiction Recovery

You’ll see in the Results column that, between August 1st, 2017 and today, December 13th, 2017, over 3,000 leads with full contact info were brought in. The average cost for those leads as seen in the Cost per Result column? $2-$6. When was the last time you brought in a lead for under $6?

This is for a center that had done zero digital marketing before, so they had no brand and no established audiences to build off of. So, how did we manage to get such amazing results?

Clients Are Seeking Alternatives

Their center intentionally promotes an alternative to the 12-step Hazelden model. And they’re still promoting abstinence, so this is not a MAT program.

Yes, our advanced Facebook Ad Manager skills at effective targeting, audience building, and copy-writing are definitely helping this client, but it’s really the core message that has attracted the results. We rarely see leads coming in at this frequency and with this low cost for 12-step programs.

When we talk to our 12-step centers, they also indicate that they regularly get calls from potential clients stating that they don’t want a program like AA. There are generally two reasons for this:

  1. They do not like the higher power aspect. This is especially true for centers targeting high-income demographics and is also more prevalent in the Western US than the Eastern.
  2. They don’t like the “you are powerless” narrative. This can again be especially true for high-income demographics. CEOs, lawyers, and business owners making $400,000 a year didn’t get to that level by believing they were powerless. Trying to get them to change that mindset is often a losing battle. However, we’ve seen this attitude across income demographics. Millennials, as well, often don’t do well with this approach and they are the biggest demographic since baby boomers, so you better have messaging and programs tailored to their needs. Reading a book written in 1935 does not appeal to most of them.

Effective Treatment Must Meet the Needs of the Clients

All of us in the addiction recovery field know that for any treatment to work, the patient must absolutely be ready and willing to change. Without that, there is no foundation to build upon.

The 12-step model has saved many, many lives and will always work for a certain portion of the population, but, for those it’s not a good fit for, the customers and data are clearly telling us that recovery centers need to step up their game and provide alternatives.

The good part is that most centers are already doing this. They offer cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, dialectical behavioral therapy, and others, all in an effort to individually tailor treatment. We all know that addiction comes in many forms and there is no one-size-fits-all approach that works every time, so we need to continue adding on evidence-based practices.

However, if every one of those modalities filters into a core 12-step model, that’s where you’ll probably see push back or lowered interest from this other, large demographic with unmet treatment needs.

So part of effectively promoting your center and doing outreach in today’s world is to highlight non-12-step aspects of your program to those that are looking for it.

Messaging Is Key to the Success of Any Outreach or Marketing Effort

From what we see in our work with rehab centers across the US, this is currently a blue ocean of opportunity. In a recovery market where everyone is promoting the same exact treatments and messaging, this is one area that you can stand out, and where we can guarantee you there is high demand.

So think about your current marketing strategy and see if it’s appealing to more than just an AA or 12-step oriented demographic. Are you missing large segments of the population that are looking for alternatives? Are there ways you could position yourself differently in today’s hyper-competitive market in order to stand out from your competition?

We can tell you from experience that there definitely are. Need help crafting a strategy and executing on it from a team experienced with both 12-step programs and alternative models? Get connected with us below and we’ll see how we can work together to build your census with people who really need your help.

Contact Us to Get Started

Fields marked with an * are required

About the Author

Nick Jaworski is the Chief Digital Community Builder of Circle Social Inc. Seeing a real need for innovative, ethical recovery center marketing, he launched Circle Social to help people struggling with addiction connect find the centers that could provide the best level of help. He is also the proud father of the most beautiful girl in the world. You can most often find him sharing thoughts on digital marketing and cracking jokes on Twitter or Snapchat as @NBJaworski.