Your practice is just that—YOUR PRACTICE. as straightforward and simplistic as that statement may be, many chiropractors promote their practice in a rather generic, almost "vanillalike" manner. Their outdoor sign just above their clinic reads CHIROPRACTOR, their walls are covered with posters that include photographs of a family holding hands while walking down the beach, and their brochures basically convey a general message of "Chiropractic is good for you." The doctors’ intentions are commendable; yet, they really don’t tell the prospective patient anything more than "I’m a chiropractor—just like the other guys down the street."
You are a doctor and, whether you like it or not, you’re also a businessperson. Your obligation to your business is to market your clinic, not everyone else’s clinic. What we’re talking about goes well beyond concepts like brand marketing and, no, this isn’t about stepping on the toes of other DC’s in your area. Rather, what we’re talking about is positioning your practice so that it stands out, and then giving that positioning a swift kick in the rear (the drive).
Most doctors are familiar with terms like USP (unique selling proposition) and target marketing. That’s all well and good; however, our concern for the moment is raising as many aspects of your practice as possible up on a pedestal so that they are visible. What do I mean? Well, for starters, it would be in your best interest to let prospective patients know what it is that you do in your clinic. Yes, I know that you are a chiropractor, and I realize that all techniques have something to offer. But, tell me, what do YOU offer under the heading of chiropractic? To put it another way, what exactly is chiropractic in YOUR CLINIC?
Some clinics consider disc decompression to be their definition of chiropractic, while other clinics consider chiropractic to involve the elimination of thought-based subluxations. Both clinics are chiropractic, yet very different in their approach in treating their patients. Why leave it up to the patient to figure out what it is that you do in your practice? Tell your prospective patients that you are a chiropractor, but then proceed to tell them HOW you define chiropractic in your office.
Regardless of what you’ve been taught in the past, uniqueness and positioning are not one and the same. Having an old firehouse as a location for your practice is a unique quality. If you offer your patients homemade cookies at each visit, that is also something that makes you unique.
Unique qualities and characteristics serve as attractors, but are not nearly as powerful as a positioning strategy that is built around building value.
Positioning involves a strategy that broadcasts the aspects of your practice that are clearly different from other doctors in your community. Notice that I did not say that these aspects were better, just different. Perhaps your focus is structural correction or the correction of Anterior Head Syndrome? If that were the case, then it would be in your best interest to let prospective patients know that, yes, you are a chiropractor; however, you are a chiropractor who focuses (not specializes) on a certain area of chiropractic.
Does your practice focus on pediatrics? Just the idea that a chiropractor focuses on pediatrics, in and of itself, suggests that there are pediatric health issues that can be addressed by doctors of chiropractic.
Are you an upper cervical doctor? Great! The recent study that came out that links upper cervical adjustments to a reduction in blood pressure is pure gold, and all the more reason for you to position your practice in such a way that prospective patients understand that there are different options when seeking out chiropractic care.
If you are someone who has gone through the effort of getting a diplomate in a certain area of chiropractic, why should you be quiet about it? Yes, I understand that there are chiropractors that are threatened by other doctors who stand up and say, "I do something a little different," or "I may have a little more experience in this area," but their issues are not your issues.
Should not having a certificate on your wall, yet still having experience in a certain area of chiropractic, preclude you from actually positioning your practice and making strides in that branch of chiropractic? Of course not! Without diplomate status, it stands to reason that suggesting that you are board certified is a big no-no. But, as an example, if you have years of experience working with athletes (and athletic injuries), you certainly have every right to position your practice in such a way that is suggestive of a sports injury oriented practice. All the power to you!
As we discussed earlier, unique qualities of a practice are not synonymous with positioning. However, multiple unique qualities that share a common denominator can be used in conjunction with a power positioning strategy.
For example, let’s say that your practice is big on being green (environmentally friendly). You use only 100 percent recycled paper, you recycle all office waste, you use environmentally friendly lighting, and have switched over to using digital ra diography in an effort to eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals. Do you think that, on top of other qualities that establish a difference when compared to other doctors, the fact that you are environmentally concerned could be the tipping point in attracting some of your new patients? Absolutely!
Powerful positioning is not about claiming superiority; rather, it’s about letting people know that some doctors have areas of interest that are different from others. Instead of being vanilla, be proud of your accomplishments and let people know what it is that you do.
Dr. Marc Swerdlick is a 1998 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic and is the president of S Group Inc., and practicecentral.com—Chicago-based companies that offer marketing strategies and systems to health and wellness professionals, as well as to businesses outside the health and wellness arena. Dr. Swerdlick offers his Pre-Sale Strategy, New Patient Acquisition, and Patient Reinforcement Seminars for chiropractors in conjunction with Integrity Strategies LLC. For more detailed information on these seminars, contact Integrity Strategies by going to www.integritystrategies.com or by calling 1-608-865-0466.