What’s in a name?
Dr. TomFeatures Business Marketing
Seven foundational principles to build the chiropractic brand
There are likely only a few people in the industrialized world who have not heard of the brands Nike, Starbucks and BMW.
Every strong brand in the business world has built its name on seven foundational principles.
Let us examine each one of these foundational principles and see how they can be used to enhance your chiropractic practice individually, as well as for the collective brand of the chiropractic profession on a more national or global scale.
Provide a valuable product or service
Regardless of the particular “flavour” of chiropractic service you deliver and whether there are allied products or services you offer in your clinic, I am sure all chiropractors will agree that our value proposition to the culture revolves around health.
Health is the cornerstone of all other things in life. Without health we cannot work optimally, enjoy our families and friends, engage in our hobbies and sports, or even enjoy holidays and recreation time.
As chiropractors, we influence every aspect of our patients’ quality of life through the positive impact we have on nerve function.
The more clearly, concisely and repeatedly we can communicate the phenomenal impact we have on the restoration, maintenance and expansion of their health and quality of life, the more lives we are going to touch and the bigger our brand is going to grow.
Have a strong sense of purpose
These well-known brands are crystal clear about the product or service they offer and do not dilute or apologize for it. This is what business writer Jim Collins calls the hedgehog principle, focusing on one thing and doing it well. They don’t play around and waste energy on projects and new product or service lines that are not congruent with their purpose, mission and values. They actualize or mobilize their purpose through their mission statement, supported by a strong corporate culture that stems from their corporate values.
These three items – purpose, mission and values – create a sort of North Star that guides the company through the array of “whats” and “hows” that make up day-to-day systems and operations. It guides team members and managers through the the bumps and bruises that come with being in business.
Do you have a guiding “North Star” for your business that is made up of a written purpose and mission statement, and a list of the corporate values that you and your team stand for? Do you have this posted for all to see? Do you reference it in your correspondence and start all team meetings with reciting or reviewing them to keep you focused and on course? People want to know who you are and what you stand for, so share it with them and watch the impact on the growth of your brand.
Provide consistency, reliability with “that something extra”
Consistency and reliability are cornerstones of a solid brand. Reproducibility of the product or service gives customers confidence that they will have the same experience next time they come to your business. This not only brings them back, it gives them the confidence to refer their friends and family as well.
How reproducible is your chiropractic care? Is it driven and supported by solid systems that give your practice members confidence and trust or are you relying more on your charisma and personality to bring people back in for care?
Charm can and does work for your business, but only in the short term; it does not build a brand. Relying solely on your likeability is unsustainable; once you withdraw your energy for a holiday or illness, people will stop coming.
Provide top notch customer service
Customer service isn’t just a great slogan; it is a must in today’s economy. With the advent of social media and reputation reviews, sloppy, inconsistent or average customer service will just not cut it anymore. Great customer service is where the bar is set in today’s marketplace. Exceptional customer service is the only thing that gets noticed in today’s fast-paced busy world.
Staying up-to-date on the latest trends in chiropractic and natural health care is a good starting point for delivering exceptional customer service. Attending seminars and continuing education programs to keep your finger on the pulse of the profession and to continually upgrade your adjusting skills and/or diagnostic and assessment skills is wise.
Training your team in customer service and rewarding them for going above and beyond always bear fruit. Remembering people’s first names and their family members’ names, where they work, what their interests and hobbies are show people how much you care. Having theme weeks and events, advanced health talks, doctor’s dinners are some of the ways to interact and engage your community are standard ways to focus on high-level customer service.
Stay in touch with client community regularly
Statistically, people are 17 times more likely to purchase from a company again if they have already purchased once. Staying on their customers’ radar screen has always been a priority for these strong-brand companies. It is even more important in today’s information-based age where the average person is bombarded by 3,500 sensory bits of marketing data every day to buy some new product or service. Many of these marketing campaigns are quite creative and intriguing, and can lead people away from your valuable service if you don’t stay on their minds.
This is definitely a weak link for most chiropractic offices I have coached and consulted with over the years. It just does not seem to be top-of-mind for most docs and their teams. They assume people will find their way back to the practice if and when they are ready. These are usually the same offices that complain about the new chiropractor in town who is actually getting his/her message out to the community.
Marketing your practice is so much easier today than it was before the digital age. You can use electronic tools like e-mail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, text messaging, YouTube, Google+ and Instagram, to name a few inexpensive or free ways to connect with and stay in touch with your patient base.
On your intake forms, are you asking patients the best ways to connect with them? Are you investing time and energy to develop a database, keep it current, and develop interesting and informative posts and data to send to your clients? If not, someone else is going to be communicating to them and that is not good for your brand or your business.
Have committed teams that support the value proposition – and reward them
Any person or company that wants to make a lasting impact on the community realizes they cannot make nearly as big an impact on their own than as a team. They invest in recruiting great team members who support the vision and value proposition of the company/brand. They continuously train these team members very well. They also reward them with competitive salaries and bonus options for performance.
Historically, this has been a weakness in the chiropractic brand. The average assistant stays for about two years in a chiropractic office, and the most common reasons they leave are financial and lack of training.
Is your mission important enough to have others assist in manifesting it? Is your short, mid- and long-term vision clear enough to know how many team members you need and in what roles? Do you have a recruiting strategy? Do you have an ongoing training program? Do you pay a competitive salary and have bonuses that inspire? These are all important things to focus on to grow your brand.
Have a succession plan
Leaders behind strong brands like Nike, Starbucks and BMW believe so strongly in the value proposition they are offering to the marketplace that they develop succession plans to ensure the value perpetuates long after their role in their company is complete. This takes strong leadership, powerful and reproducible systems, and a committed team that sees the big picture; but it is certainly doable – and worth the effort.
Is what we do every day as chiropractors valuable enough to outlive us? Should the cumulative wisdom, skill and talent we have developed through the years die with us, or should we pass the torch on to other generations so our communities can continue to be served at the high level they have become accustomed to in our offices? I know the answer for me, which is why I created a succession plan in my practice and why I am helping others do the same.
Building a strong, reproducible and recognizable brand should be the goal of every business, regardless of its size. If we, as chiropractors, have the foresight, courage and wisdom to build our individual brands based on the seven foundational principles addressed in this article, we will effectively build the global brand of chiropractic as well as be as busy and fulfilled as we choose to be in our own practices.
Dr. Tom Preston is the founder of Full Circle Coaching and Consulting. He is a highly acclaimed speaker, trainer, consultant and coach, and has authored several books, audio and video programs. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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