Chances are you became a chiropractor so you could help people – to improve lives with chiropractic care.
While you refer to yourself as a practice, in reality, you are a small business. Therefore, you face one of the most vexing challenges facing all small businesses: getting and keeping customers.
Sure, we call them patients, but the principles are the same. You need customers for your business to survive, grow, and help you reach your financial goals.
The burden of new patient acquisition wasn’t part of your college curriculum. You may have been misled by the “build it and they will come” mantra. By now you know that it takes more than great hands and a great location.
Building a thriving practice begins with crafting a thoughtful business plan. This might feel like unknown territory. But without a solid brand and calculated marketing strategy, you’re missing some key business assets.
With that in mind, buckle up… It’s time to put on your business hat.
Building Your Chiropractic Business Plan
Cash flow, fixed assets, return on investment. We could go on and on about the minute details of building a profitable business.
But this isn’t a lesson in business management. This is about discovering your brand and knowing how to relay your messaging in a compelling way.
You might think, “Branding is for big companies like Coca Cola or FedEx.” Not the case.
Marketing guru Seth Godin describes branding this way:
A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.
In other words, your brand is your distinguishing factor – which is important for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
The first step to building your chiropractic brand is understanding who you are. Now, “who you are” isn’t where you went to college. It’s not your qualifications and achievements.
Sure, they are important. But they don’t constitute a brand. They won’t be the reason a prospective chiropractic patient chooses you over your competitors.
Building a brand is a step-by-step process. In short, the process might look something like this:
- Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses
- Develop your marketing message
- Create your marketing collateral
- Choose your communication channels
- Build and grow awareness
Going from step to step requires a discovery process. And while it may seem like a foreign land, it’s necessary. Because whether you like it or not, you aren’t just a chiropractor. You are a business – with new patients to find and current patients to keep.
Your Unique Selling Proposition
Before developing your marketing materials, it’s important to draft a unique selling proposition (USP). When doing this, avoid becoming a commodity at all cost. Once there is little or nothing separating you from others offering the same services, it all becomes about price.
When you offer a commodity, it’s a race to the bottom… the lowest price and, consequently, the lowest profit.
That’s why you have to find your “special sauce” – the combination of factors that differentiates yourself from the competition. No need to panic. You probably have that “special something.” You just haven’t recognized it yet.
Below is an exercise you can perform to pull out these details. First, start off by asking yourself a few questions:
- Who is my ideal target patient?
- Why did I choose the chiropractic profession?
- What makes me (as a person) unique?
- What does my practice specifically excel at?
- What special techniques/services do I offer?
- What do my current patients say about me?
When answering these questions, it wouldn’t hurt to get feedback from your team. Anyone in your practice who is in contact with patients could have valuable insights.
After compiling your notes, it’s time to put your pen to paper. Take the unique aspects of your practice and convert it into a concise message that connects with your ideal target patient.
From the patient’s perspective, your USP should answer two questions:
- What can you do for me
(i.e. I provide quality chiropractic services for your entire family)?
- Why should I choose you
(i.e. You should choose me because our treatment plans are custom-tailored to you)?
When crafting their USP’s, many businesses neglect the second question. They focus solely on what they offer, rather than why they are the preferred choice. Why is this important? Because most likely, there are plenty of other chiropractors in your area that offer the same services.
There’s nothing unique about saying, “We provide quality chiropractic care.” Sure, it says what you can do. But it doesn’t distinguish you from other chiropractors who likely tout the same message.
Think about your unique approach to serving patients. Maybe your practice is a nurturing environment that caters to families and patients who are anxious about visiting a chiropractor.
A better proposition might say, “Warm and welcoming chiropractic care for your entire family.”
This proposition says, “Relax… you and your family’s health are in good hands.”
How to Illustrate Your Brand
So you’ve gone through the discovery process and drafted your USP. Now what?
It’s time to roll your USP into a branded message that resonates with your ideal target patients. Depending on the channel (digital marketing, radio, direct mail, etc.), you’ll need to craft a compelling message that illustrates your brand.
We’ll use your website as an example, specifically your “About” page. Despite being one of the most important pages on your site, it’s one of the most overlooked.
It shouldn’t be. It’s critical.
In fact, based on data from thousands of Perfect Patients client websites – and the journeys of over a million new patients = it’s one of the most important pages.
Take a look at your own About page. It might read like a job applicant résumé. You’ve added your years of experience, academic credentials, and various achievements. These are good things to know. But it shouldn’t stop there.
Put yourself into the mind of a back-pain sufferer who is anxious about going to the doctor. We’ll call him John. John has been dealing with back pain for the past several months, and after doing some research, he decided maybe chiropractic care would help.
John has a lot of anxiety about visiting the doctor. He comes across your website and reads your “résumé.” He visits the websites of five other chiropractors and reads their résumés.
At this point, they’ve all blended together, similar to how an HR rep might feel when sifting through hundreds of job applicants. John still hasn’t made a decision.
Rewind… How could you have captivated John the moment he landed on your website? How could you prevent him from researching your competitors (or at least, encouraged him to come back after browsing other options)?
You could have inspired him, given him a reason to trust you.
About 40 percent of consumers say they distrust bands. They’re skeptical of what a company claims to value or offer. This is often a result of disingenuous brand messaging. Don’t fall into this category. You must flip the narrative and instill trust.
Every business owner knows what they do. Everyone knows how they do it. But the “why”. That’s the secret sauce.
In reality, you are your brand. Therefore, prospective patients want to know about you. Tell prospective patients how you got into the chiropractic field. Tell them about your hobbies. Your passion for helping others. Why you do what you do.
As uncomfortable as it is, be vulnerable.
Vulnerability creates emotion. The key is to build an emotional connection, inspire hope and communicate trust.
Where to Market Your Chiropractic Brand
To get your brand out there, you must spread your message through several different channels.
In the B2B world, it is said that it requires six to eight touches before a viable sales lead is generated. To put this into perspective…
Let’s say you are a chiropractor with aggressive growth aspirations and you’re looking to grow your practice with digital marketing. You’re researching digital marketing strategies and find this article.
The article you are now reading is only one touchpoint. That means, based on the numbers, you would need to see our brand five to seven more times before you’d become “sales-ready.”
While this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison to a chiropractor gaining new patients, the premise is the same. Sending out one postcard because your patient schedule just got thin isn’t a marketing strategy. It’s a touchpoint, but not a marketing plan.
You have to blitz your new patient drawing area with compelling messages that reflect your brand.
Here are a few branding action items you can start today:
- Update your website
Beginning with your About page, re-work your content so it reflects your brand messaging. Make your USP front-and-center on your homepage, so visitors notice it the moment they visit your site. Make sure your branding is consistent across all marketing channels (website, social media, practice signage, etc.). To make things more personal, include professional photos of you, your team, and your office.
Example: Add a snippet to your About page that describes why chiropractic inspires you and how you got into the profession.
- Review your marketing collateral
In addition to any digital content you have, differentiate your traditional advertising campaigns so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. Running a postcard campaign? Don’t just announce your new patient special. Illustrate your brand – and what makes your practice unique – so it stands out from the crowd.
Example: Rework the content in your marketing materials so they don’t just list your services, but focus on why patients should trust you.
- Run (or adjust your existing) digital marketing campaigns
While it’s arguably the most profitable channel, there’s a lot of clutter in the digital marketing realm. These days, the majority of chiropractors have a website. Social media platforms are littered with ads. These channels produce excellent ROI, but make sure your messaging is personal, persuasive, and memorable.
Example: Make your social media presence more personal by showcasing staff members and posting about fun new developments in your practice.
An effective digital marketing plan requires an integrated set of activities. With more than a decade of experience managing the online presence for thousands of chiropractors, we’ve discovered that there are five digital marketing factors to maximize new patient results.