Creating a successful practice
How to align marketing with values
By Shelley Simon, BSN, DC, MPH, EdD
There are as many ways to market your chiropractic practice as there are seminars and experts out there telling you how to do it.
And yet, most of the ideas being bandied about today are derived from tactics that have been around for years and are just variations on a few tired themes — most of which sophisticated consumers are no longer interested in.
When a “fresh” marketing idea does emerge, it’s sold by experts as perfect for every chiropractor — regardless of the individual doctor’s interests, clientele, stage in practice, skill set, or personality.
Perhaps you can relate to Sam. At a weekend seminar, Sam is told that to grow his practice he has to develop a 60-second “elevator speech” (and be prepared to deliver it anywhere, anytime, to anyone who will listen), join his local Rotary Club, and offer screenings.
Sam takes the advice to heart and diligently practices his marketing message, attends weekly lunch meetings, and looks for locations where he can do screenings.
After a couple of months, Sam’s marketing activity comes to a screeching halt and he feels queasy when he thinks about resuming his plan. While Sam is highly skilled in communicating with individual patients, he discovered he is uncomfortable socializing in large groups. He thinks his efforts would pay off, if only he could make himself do the work.
As Sam’s story illustrates, sustainable marketing involves much more than implementing someone else’s tactics. It’s not that it is a bad plan; it’s just a bad plan for him.
Chiropractors who enjoy long-term practice success align their marketing efforts with their personal and professional values, and develop the skills necessary to carry out their plans.
A 3-step exercise
Are you willing to spend the next 15 minutes working on marketing ideas that are congruent with your skills, suited to your current stage in practice, a match for your personality, and that you will engage in consistently as part of an integrated plan? If so, try this three-step exercise.
Step 1: List the marketing activities you have engaged in over the past year. Rank them in order according to how successful they have been. Put a star next to the ones that were a good fit for you and that you executed without dread.
Step 2: Rank in order the following values according to how important they are to you today. Don’t overanalyze, self-judge, or be concerned with what someone else might think if they saw your responses.
___ Financial freedom
___ Delivering quality care
___ Being a positive role model
___ Leading with integrity
___ Being number one in my field
___ Connection with others
___ Contribution and service
___ Write in: _________________________________________
Step 3: Write down your three top values from the exercise above and come up with several marketing activities that match those values. Compare this list with the one you made earlier, looking for differences and similarities.
Then, review your new list again and ask yourself the following questions:
1. Can I envision myself engaging in these marketing efforts on a consistent basis?
2. Would I look forward to implementing these plans?
3. Will I feel good about myself when engaging in these activities?
4. What skills do I need to develop or improve to successfully engage in these marketing efforts?
5. What support do I need to ensure success?
Negative attitudes toward marketing often stem from a lack of authenticity, either in one’s message or the delivery of the message.
Some chiropractors feel pushy when they market their services or embarrassed because they end up saying things that they themselves don’t fully believe. Some even experience shame, resentment, or guilt when they engage in marketing.
It doesn’t have to be this way. When your marketing
plan is in alignment with your core values and your approach is authentic, the process becomes simply one part of your overall contribution to the health and well-being of patients and potential patients.
What do you think Sam (our introverted marketer) should do to be more successful? Because he has good rapport with patients, Sam would be wise to develop a gentle and effective way to consistently ask for referrals.
Since Sam is a good communicator, he could write a “staying healthy” column to his local newspaper as a way to position himself as a wellness expert.
Sam should also interview several patients who’ve had good results and develop narrative-style success stories he could use in his advertising, on his Web site, and in his printed marketing materials.
Since these marketing activities are more aligned with his values and interests and play to his natural strengths, he will be more inclined to “stick” with them and be on his way to creating a successful practice.
Shelley Simon, BSN, DC, MPH, EdD, is the founder of Beyond Practice Management. Her customized services and innovative programs help chiropractors develop high-functioning teams, improve interpersonal and communication skills, increase patient retention, and enjoy profitable practices. She can be reached at 503-504-5585 or through www.beyondpracticemanagement.com.
MAKE THE CONNECTION
Here are three examples of how connecting your personal values with your marketing strategies/activities might work.
o Hold a facilitated practice retreat to establish a marketing strategy and achieve staff buy-in.
o Collaborate with other healthcare providers or related business professionals on joint marketing and/or advertising efforts.
o Sponsor, coach, or volunteer to serve on the medical team for a local sports organization or athletic event.
o Join the conversation about how to reform healthcare and/or improve public health in your community.
o Hire a branding consultant to help determine what is unique about your practice and how to leverage that uniqueness.
o Establish a relationship with the editor of your local newspaper; contribute a series of health-related articles with the goal of getting a regular column.
o Develop a long-term strategy (including skills development) toward establishing your reputation as a sought-after speaker.
o Invest in a customized Web site (rather than using templates) to attract the best patients; add written or video case studies (not testimonials) to your site that illustrate positive patient experiences and outcomes achieved by your clients.
Connection with others
o Refocus your marketing message from “it’s about me, the doctor” to “it’s about you, the patient.”
o Improve your skills in empathetic listening as a way to better understand what patients want to achieve through their relationship with you.
o Cultivate your brand as a chiropractor who serves others through community work, volunteering, and supporting the local economy.
o Become more effective at referral dialogue and develop closer relationships with your top referral sources.