By Anthony Lombardi
While reading an article in Massage Therapy Canada magazine featuring Aurel Hamran, a sports massage therapist from Edmonton, I was inspired to write a piece which focuses on the power of volunteerism in business.
While reading an article in Massage Therapy Canada magazine featuring Aurel Hamran, a sports massage therapist from Edmonton, I was inspired to write a piece which focuses on the power of volunteerism in business. This is called championing.
Hamran is a pioneer for massage therapists working in the sports arena, which makes him a brand champion for massage therapy. Not only do the athletes perceive the high value of massage as part of their training, but so do other massage therapists who look up to Hamran’s success, providing hope and direction to those thinking of entering the field.
In our own practices, we must search and cultivate those patients who can become our brand champions.
Brand champions are advocates who promote and refer your business to others. They are passionate about your brand and are active in your promotion.
Over the years, I have developed between 20 and 25 patients who have become champions of my practice. This is part of the reason why I stimulate as many referrals as I do – over 50 new patients per month.
We can build brand champions by providing our patients with reasons to tell others about our product. Not every patient will become champions of our brand because it takes a special individual to become a leader and voluntarily go out of his or her way to spread the good news of your product.
When certain patients begin to refer multiple new patients to me on a regular basis, I offer them the opportunity to tell their story through a written or video testimonial. I have accumulated over 40 written or picture testimonials and 25 video testimonials – from patients and professional athletes to other doctors and therapists who use my assessment and treatment approach. These testimonials can be viewed on my Hamilton Back Clinic YouTube Channel.
How do we attract brand champions?
One of the jobs of a word-of-mouth marketer is to take advantage of that new love and enthusiasm from a brand new customer who is eager to share the excitement of working with you. Remember that new patients are the ones most likely to talk about you, so be prepared to “blow their minds” on their initial visit.
You’ll also want to come up with a regular plan to occasionally ask your longtime customers to spread some word-of-mouth about you. They’ll be happy to support you; you just need to remind them and let them know it would mean a lot to you.
Customizing and perfecting my own assessment approach allows me to recognize a patient’s dysfunction within minutes. As a result, I am able to spend more time focusing specifically on treatment during our first visit. As a result, the patient feels significantly better after one treatment – which blows their mind – and showcases how I can help them. From this point forward, they provide positive feedback about their visit and treatment.
Andy Sernovitz who wrote the book, Word of Mouth Marketing, says people champion your brand for two reasons: they like you and your stuff, and they like to feel smart – they want to help friends by sending patients your way.
The single most common reason people don’t talk about a product or business is because it is not worth talking about. Even “good” products aren’t good enough anymore.
To earn word-of-mouth, you have to truly make something great, deliver an incredible service, and take fantastic care of your customers.
Even when you offer great products and services, you’re not done. That just gets you a seat at the table. To get people talking, you need to do something special, surprising, amazing, unexpected or thrilling.
The second most common reason people don’t spread word-of-mouth – even after doing all this amazing stuff – is because we forget to ask.
We create an incredible product. We deliver amazing service. We absolutely thrill the patient. At this point, ask patients who can refer your brand to others to do a written or video testimonial. It really is that simple. Just ask. Your happy customers would love to help.
Profile of a brand champion
One of my brand champions is fitness expert Jay Zuccato. He became a champion of my brand after I treated him for a shoulder injury. I interviewed Jay to get a feel of why and how patients decide to become a brand champion.
Anthony Lombardi: Jay, you have embraced my brand of services and have become an ambassador by telling others, especially on social media. In your opinion, what motivates you and others to become brand ambassadors of one service but not another?
Jay Zuccato: One of the main reasons I am motivated to promote your clinic is because I know from personal experience that the treatment system truly works. By promoting your services, I know that I can help others who are dealing with a nagging sports injury like the one I had for many years. In my case, I had gone to see over ten doctors over a three-year span without any success. You understood my issue and you took the time to permanently fix my shoulder.
Also, you are a very personable and genuine person who truly wants to help his patients. From past experience at other clinics, these characteristics are very hard to find, which is another reason I am extra motivated to tell others about this clinic. I want to promote something that I know will benefit others and I am willing to put my name behind it.
AL: When people like yourself voluntarily endorse a brand, why do you feel others might take your advice and use the brand you endorse?
JZ: There is a major difference between paid endorsements and promotion that comes voluntarily from individuals who truly believe in the service. I know a lot of people who have injuries from the gym, so by telling them my positive experience from seeing you, they know that they can also benefit from these services. I believe in endorsing products/services that have helped me and that I know can truly help others.
Anthony Lombardi, DC, is consultant to athletes in the NFL, CFL and NHL, and founder of the Hamilton Back Clinic in Hamilton, Ont. He teaches his fundamental EXSTORE Assessment System and conducts practice-building workshops to health professionals. Visit www.exstore.ca for information.