Do your neighbors know what you do?
“Many of our potential customers can’t tell the difference in therapists from one clinic to another”. This is an age old argument. Pepsi or Coke? Both colas and both had a strong following in the previous decades. I’d like to believe that the brands are losing strength in the days of paleo, crossfit and the resurgence of health and fitness. Not as much as I’d like to see, but it’s a start.
Let’s touch on this for a second. Why would Joe Shmoe believe that one therapist is any better than another? To start the argument, the APTA has stated that it would prefer that all PT’s place their licensed initials after the therapists name and then place all of the other qualifications after this. This means that my name is Vincent Gutierrez, PT, DPT, cert MDT, CFT. We get accused of alphabet soup, meaning that we have way too many letters after our names. We could easily cut that down by having the therapists establish themselves based on credentials and not on simply passing the licensure exam. For instance, if I wrote Vincent Gutierrez, DPT this would enable our customers to see that there must be a difference between BSPT, MPT and DPT. I’m not going into the turf war of whether or not one is better than the other, but we could allow clinicians to educate patients on why or why not the clinician chose to pursue one degree over the other. The public has a right to know what we do and how we are educated. This is a start. We make the assumption that a medical doctor went through 4 years of undergraduate schooling, 4 years of medical school and a few years to specialize prior to us going to the medical doctor. Us placing our initials after our names is the starting point to differentiation.
Past credentials, another way for Mr. Shmoe to understand the difference between therapists or companies is to soft market ourselves. When I say this, I don’t mean go for the sell, but instead educate the person in front of us while they are there so that the person that is in front of us can make a better choice of which provider to see for their problem when said problem arises. Otherwise, Dr. Superstar is no better than Dr. Squirrely in their eyes. Every person that we encounter is a potential patient either for me or for one of my colleagues. I at least want to make sure that the potential patient has the information to arm themselves with confidence in making that decision.
Your “brand” is how people think of you or your company when the company’s name is mentioned.
Coke = Polar bears
Apple = easy enough for a toddler to use
Honda = 200K miles
Marianos = high end grocery shopping
TJ Max = bargain shopping
What words do you think of when I say your company’s name?
You can see that there are only two companies that my first though was positive for me. I want to exceed expectations for my patients so that when they think of my name they think of excellence and exceeding expectations.
Testimonials were previously against the law in our state. This changed recently and I recently learned of this. Testimonials seem to be the most powerful use of marketing for a service based profession. We are behind the times in healthcare. Let’s look at one brand and how testimonials are used. Crossfit has made significant gains in terms of business growth. How’d they do this? A simple Google search for “Crossfit testimonials” has yielded over 28,000 hits. This is how you brand a business. The same type of search for “physical therapy testimonials” yields about 4X that amount. Wow! That’s a lot of testimonials. What’s the problem with these numbers? PT has been around for almost 100 years and crossfit has been around for about 10. There are over 200,000 PT’s and only about 7,000 crossfit gyms. We need to do a better job of educating the public about the importance of PT using real people. Those that have experienced the joy of becoming pain-free, living life with improved function or simply receiving a consultation that assisted in a life-saving diagnosis. This is what we do! We need to make sure that our neighbors and their neighbors understand our value.
Barron B. Is Your Brand an Experience? The Importance of the “HOW” in branding for physical therapy private practice. IMPACT. January 2017:56-70.