In working with hundreds of doctors, lawyers and consultants there is consistency in my research. Most seem to struggle because they are undercapitalized. They subsist in small offices, with limited budgets anticipating client volume and wishing upon revenues. Now is the time to create competitive differentiation and a pipeline for a better future.
Marketing is Not What you Think
Many professional services misconstrue the use and need for marketing and sales. More importantly many believe that marketing requires creating complex four color brochures. Many do not believe marketing is necessary to build client volume. Many subsist in the belief, “Build it and They will Come!” All are untrue. Marketing is defined as an exchange of information for the benefits of providing value to the organizational stakeholders. Selling is the exchange of cash for value received.
For either to be effective requires a candid trusting relationship. Simply put, clients do not buy products rather they invest in relationships. When marketing is apparent, relationships strong and trust built, revenue is easier to obtain.
Consumers are loath to conduct business with those they do not know. Individuals do business with those that articulate value. However to produce revenue requires less sales tools and more marketing. Many clients invest in brands. Value stems from proper marketing which develops brand formulating a process to furnish an active pipeline.
The Power of Brand
Brands offer instant recognition and identification. They are also promise consistent reliable standards of quality, size, or even psychological attraction. Several national and regional surveys typically illustrate that consumers choose brand not because of price but simply name alone! People will make a purchase and choose a vendor solely for brand.
The ability to build brand offers a host of blessings such as customer loyalty, price inelasticity and long-term profits. A loyal customer is nine times more profitable as a disloyal one. An existing client who is affected by your brand value helps to obtain new clients for you more efficiently through referral that a new one. Building brand does not arrive inexpensively and without time. Research shows that it costs 200 to 400 times more to build brand equity but the long-term effects are worth it.
Typical Methods for Brand Building
- Referrals – So often overlooked, over 94% of agents surveyed say they know they need to ask for referrals and do not. Referrals are required for business development. Referrals are the original social network. Buzz marketing is so helpful in developing brand recognition. More importantly in today’s competitive marketplace the tactic is not to ask only for one referral but as many as five. Return to your strongest clients often and ask them once every 30 days for up to five colleagues, friends and peers that would appreciate the value you provide.
- Testimonials – Current market research shows that consumers do not want to hear from agents but rather agent’s customers. Prospective customers devour learning form those that have received value similar to what they seek.
- Increase Communication – One of the strongest brands in the world is Coke Cola. Without much effort the beverage company is worth over 80 billion dollars. Coke does this by continually communicating to existing and new clients. Increased communication increases brand and value.
Publicity, and Public Relations can be a huge benefit for chiropractic dental and legal marketers. These must be managed and aligned with other promotional elements but provide low cost and impactful methods for creating relationship and opinions with the practices publics. Numerous definitions define public relations however the best is one that identifies the publics attitudes of a practice with the public interest and develops programs and initiates that denote value for the public. While PR can be used as a separate marketing activity it is best to integrate some of the efforts with other promotional programs.
Typically, public relations are best used to create excitement and buzz about a practices program. One of the best examples of buzz development was Apple’s introduction of the iPhone in 2007. For over six months, media outlets dissected features and benefits of the device. During that time Apple did no advertising until one week prior to launch- the result, over 175,000 devices sold in 24 hours! Albeit professional service marketers (i.e. dental, chiropractic, legal) are not moving product but they do require community buzz.
After careful selection of target markets and their initial desires chiropractic public relations activities might include:
- Educational Institutions – Educators are ambassadors of goodwill and control the flow of communication to publics that need to obtain it.
- Civic and Business Associations – Local organizations are very useful for controlling information providing local opportunities for professional service marketers (i.e. dental, chiropractic, legal) to create goodwill with both boards of directors and members. Additionally, these are great networking opportunities.
- Press Releases – Enables news to be disseminated to local and national press creating an instantaneous method of communicating health related intellectual property. This is a tremendous way to build your brand in the community.
- Interviews – The tactic of interviews especially with radio and television creates allure and cache with a wider demographic not originally thought of by the chiropractor.
- The Internet – I do not advocate the use of social media and the Internet for chiropractic marketing however there are two methods where Internet PR aid the practice:
- Clients desire to know more about the practice before calling the office and an Internet presence is vital in today’s economy.
- The Internet allows information to be presented quickly.
- The Internet provides more substantive information than collateral materials.
In both absolute and relative terms, a public relations is very low when compared with other forms of media. Additionally the low cost and degrees of visibility offer higher levels of activity and credibility when compared to traditional media. More importantly public relations creates better marketing differentiation as it cuts through the clutter of traditional advertising since interviews and service announcements are oriented toward news and not marketing cacophony.
With maximum exposure and little cost the benefits of public relations outweigh the disadvantages. As doctors seek methods to optimize their practice and increase client volume, the only way is to offer differentiation from cross town rivals. Using the power behind public relations might provide the competitive advantage necessary to be the home town brand.
©2011. Drew J. Stevens Ph. D. All rights reserved.