Embrace the mindset of marketing, communications and public relations that allows you to be a media expert and reach more patients
MANY YEARS AGO, a movie called “A Few Good Men” featured a Colonel Jessup uttering the infamous line, “You can’t handle the truth.” While the line has become whimsical and trite for many years, the line is emblematic of your role. Presently, we use verbiage during this pandemic such as “unprecedented,” “challenging,” “new norm,” etc. These words and phrases illustrate the issues of chiropractic and marketing as a media expert — challenging and unprecedented.
However, so too are implied issues at school; you were never told that you needed to be a marketer and media expert, a sales professional or an accountant. These roles not only became the new normal but the truth.
To that end, you froze, you faltered, and you failed miserably at trying to get patients, and then the desire to succeed became the nightmares you experienced — your truth — until now.
I want to calm your anxiety and provide you an inexpensive and easy way to become your own marketing and public relations agent. Let’s begin with the easiest — the one not spoken about in lab — “What in the devil is marketing?”
Marketing is providing value
According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is the organizational function and set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders. Now that is a lengthy definition that means, as a patient, getting your attention, providing you value and keeping you forever. More comfortable to remember, isn’t it? Marketing is nothing more than giving value to your patients.
Value is then exchanged for cash, for reimbursement, anything that helps the patient out of pain and comfort. When you provide value, others speak about you. This is where reviews and reputation websites assist, and when you provide exceptional patient service and experience, the patients tell others.
This is what is known in marketing as a pull strategy; in other words, you are helping to pull individuals into your universe by hearing about and learning about your uncompromising service. But what happens if:
- You are just beginning your practice
- You are running out of patients and need more
- Your practice, similar to others, has taken an economic hit
How can you develop more patients as a media expert and your own media outlet? This is where the challenging part that was never told to you comes from. Ready for the truth? It comes from marketing and its many techniques.
In the past, many marketers built substantial barriers around the various marketing and promotional functions, planning and managing them separately with different budgets, different views of the market, and other goals and objectives.
In the 1990s, however, many companies began moving toward the concept of integrated marketing communications (IMC), which involves coordinating the various promotional elements along with other marketing activities that communicate with a firm’s customers. As marketers embraced the concept of IMC, they began asking their ad agencies to coordinate the use of a variety of promotional tools rather than relying primarily upon media advertising. Several companies started looking beyond traditional advertising agencies and using other promotional specialists to develop and implement various components of their promotional plans.
As the advertising industry recognized that IMC was more than just a fad, terms such as new advertising, orchestration, MARCOM, and seamless communication were used to describe the concept of integration. A task force from the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) developed one of the first definitions of integrated marketing communications, defining it as:
A concept of marketing communications planning that recognizes the added value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communication disciplines — for example, general advertising, direct response, sales promotion, and public relations — and combines these disciplines to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum communications impact.
Integrated marketing communications requests that you devise a plan to: a) create a harmonistic message across; b) an array of marketing What are some of those marketing channels? These include but are not limited to sales, advertising, promotion, patient service, and public relations (PR) for the purposes of this article.
The cool aspect of public relations is that it is relatively inexpensive and easy to use. The truth is you can quickly and instantly become your own media expert, media company and public relations person with as little as 5-10 hours per week — that is less than one hour per day. First, let me explain PR.
Be a media expert and brand ambassador
Public relations is a large part of the integrated communications process that requires a strategic approach to developing relationships with your target market. You may look at this and say, so what on earth is the difference between this and general marketing?
We are typically promoting a brand, service or product in marketing; for example, chiropractic tables or orthotics. Public relations helps build an image in the target market’s mind to say to the market, “Notice this brand, trust this brand, review this brand, and finally, interact with this brand.”
PR cultivates a story that portrays that client’s reputation, idea, product, position or accomplishment in a positive light. PR truly tells a story about you, your practice, the doctor, the patients and draws individuals into your world.
How to get started
Many years ago, I was the CEO of a public relations firm. Public relations is part of marketing but works differently. First, you can take the lazy way and hire a public relations firm. Giving money to someone to help you with your image is similar to playing the lottery and hoping you win.
The truth is no one, and I mean no one, can tell your story better than you. So rather than pay money or at least hordes of cash, here are three very inexpensive and, dare I say, free yes, I said free — services to help you begin as a media expert and your own media outlet:
- Use Google Search your metropolitan area for each and every AM and FM radio station, your regional periodicals such as magazines and newspapers, and finally, your local television and cable stations. Have you ever read your local newspaper, and questioned why the local accountant or attorney was quoted in an article or perhaps had their own column? Simple — they conducted outreach. To become a media magnet, people need to know who you are and what you do, and what better way than in the local area with your own column or perhaps a quote in a journal.
- Contact your local television stations Those locals are always seeking something fresh, new and exciting. For example, early this year you can be on television to discuss new fitness techniques for the annual diet, you can provide quick recipes for people on the go, and for those now stranded at their desks, OSHA-compliant stretching and aware- ness helps quarantined individuals move and remain healthy. Local television is continually looking for new and controversial items that shake people up and get them to say, “I want more.” It’s no more difficult than sending them a press release outlining what you’re available to speak about or when you’re available to make a television appearance.
- Social media More than 3.6 billion people use social media globally, and the number is only projected to increase, to 4.41 billion in 2025. Social media is being used more today by journalists than ever before. The rationale for the use of social media as a PR resource is because:
- News cycles are shorter, and if you and your colleagues can provide something interesting for journalists, they are apt to see and carry your story, especially if you “@” them or “cc” their Twitter or social media handle in their message;
- Social media is free. Thankfully, there are no membership fees nor rote advertising. You simply keypunch your message and have your community review the content. Every small business can afford to hire a college student studying communications, journalism or public relations to manage their online presence as an intern or part-time employee;
- Your thoughts, words and choices help create community, and that is what public relations is all about — building community;
- 24-7/365. You create social media messaging based on your time and your energy, but there is no music if you do not make any noise. With social media available around the clock, you can reach an audience wherever, whenever and however you desire;
- Cision and HARO. These names mean nothing to you now, but in a moment, they will. Cision is a database that houses every print and multimedia company in the world. HARO (Help A Reporter Out) works similarly. The two online subscriptions tie journalists worldwide with experts like you desirous of telling a story or of being quoted in a periodical or podcast based on a theme. Next time you switch on the news or a talk show, do not fret that you will never be on television — untrue! Every guest has someone or themselves use CISION (or other media databases) and HARO to become a media agency while pitching to the press. Politicians, celebrities, and even professional speakers have all gotten more extensive with these databases’ power.
The next time you believe your business is failing and you cannot get out of the free fall, walk over to a mirror, be truthful, handle the truth and ask yourself if you are marketing in an effective and self-effacing manner.
If you desire to be the chiropractor everyone wants to know and be, you must be honest and begin marketing techniques that thrust your practice to a new level a a media expert and your own media outlet. All you need is a story, the ability to connect with journalists and the desire to succeed. Trust me, you can handle the truth.
DREW STEVENS, PhD, is the best-selling author of “Practice Acceleration – The Only Manual That Develops and Implements a Thriving Chiropractic Practice,” and a leading chiropractic advisor. Contact him at drew-stevens.com. © Drew Stevens 2021 All rights reserved.