Narrow Your Focus to Expand Your Business
by Dr. Rodger Murphree, D.C.
Here’s no way to sugar coat it, the economy has tanked. Businesses are suffering as the economy continues to nose dive. Like most businesses, chiropractors are feeling the pinch and are seeing fewer new patients, returning patients, and ancillary sales. People are guarding their money, if they have any, and are looking at ways to save money. All unnecessary services and or products are being postponed or forgotten.
However, some businesses have positioned themselves to weather and, in some cases, grow in this stormy economic climate. How, you ask? They found a growing niche market and have become the undisputed experts at filling the needs of this market.
A niche market is a focused, targeted and segmented portion of a larger market. You can think of a niche market as a specially defined group of potential customers.
Companies large and small often carefully target market segments in order to maximize the effectiveness of their sales. For instance, Proctor and Gamble found a niche market, people with dry scalp and dandruff, and filled it with their product Head & Shoulders. There are literally hundreds of shampoos to choose from. Head & Shoulders was marketed to the niche market of people with dry scalp and dandruff. Without this "unique" property, it would have been lost among all the other shampoos crowding the aisle.
So how do you, as a chiropractor, weather the doom and gloom economy?
Find a growing, profitable niche, become the expert, and provide great products or services to fill this niche’s needs. Natural oriented healthcare is too broad a niche. Instead, think lumbar herniated discs, carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fascitis, or attention deficit disorder.
People don’t think nutritional supplements when they think about chiropractic. They think of you as a specialist in helping those with musculoskeletal complaints, primarily low back. It has been my experience that it’s not enough and is a waste of time and money, to market your clinic as a wellness center or whole health center—one that uses or sells nutritional supplements. However, if Joe who has high blood pressure knew you specialized in treating high blood pressure with nutritional therapy, then you’d have a chance of getting his attention.
The trick to capitalizing on a niche market is to find or develop a market that has customers who are accessible, are growing (even in an economic downturn), want or need your service or products, and that are either not being serviced appropriately or can be dramatically served better by you.
Ten years ago when I opened my integrative medical practice, I realized that I was good at and liked the challenge of treating patients with FMS. Fibromyalgia patients fit all the criteria for a successful niche market—those with FMS are easy to find (and market to), the number of those with FMS continues to grow and traditional medicine has failed them. I own FMS because I became an expert at treating and beating it.
In helping yourself find your niche, ask yourself, "What type of patients do you like to treat? What illnesses have you had success with? What health condition do your patients complain about the most: high blood pressure, attention deficit disorder, fatigue, low thyroid, chronic headaches, diabetes, mood disorders, digestive disorders, etc.? Is there an opportunity to become the local (or national) expert for this particular illness?"
Once you establish a niche you’ll find that marketing your specialty becomes easier and easier. Please keep this in mind when you establish your niche market:
1. Focus on the market’s unique needs. The products, services, and benefits you offer must have special appeal to your targeted niche market. What can you provide that’s new and compelling? Identify the unique needs of your potential audience, and look for ways to tailor your product or service to meet them. Start by considering all the product or service variations that are already being offered. Then, seek to find ways to stand out of the crowd—be the best in your market, own it.
2. Speak your patients’ language. Know what they are going through, what they want and need. Know what makes them happy, and supply it without fail. In other words, you should understand the market’s "hot buttons" and communicate with the target group as a member—not an outsider.
3. Test your new market. Before moving ahead, assess your direct competitors that operate in the new market niche and determine their strengths and weaknesses. Make sure you enjoy and can become the expert in your chosen niche market. It makes no sense to choose a particular type of patient or case that you don’t enjoy or aren’t good at helping.
Put your raincoat and waders on, because 2009 will be stormy. However, you don’t have to be a casualty of this economic storm. Find a niche, own it and sail on into 2010 safe and dry.