Today let’s look at four key marketing concepts and what they mean. Let me just say this is NOT an academic exercise. The point of this post is to make each of the following strategies work for you. You’re offering something special, something much different than Starbucks or the Gap. So with each concept, ask yourself, “How can I use this idea to reflect that special something that makes my practice what it is?”
The Big Four
This is when you pay someone else to reach people. Much of what we call advertising is “blanket marketing,” including Valpak® coupons, yellow pages, newspaper and radio ads. If you focus on “target marketing” on the other hand, you will be reaching out directly to the kinds of people you most want to serve. For example, it would be target marketing to run an ad in small publications such as newsletters directed at seniors, athletes, young parents, or your chiropractor’s patients, instead of your city’s newspaper that goes to everyone.
Classic public relations involves getting stories about yourself into the newspaper, on the radio, and on television by pursuing connections with reporters. First, you do things that are newsworthy — something new, novel, or of service. You then use a specific tool, the press release, to communicate that to the media, and give them a way of contacting you to find out more. So when you participate in fundraisers, make a free public presentation, or give away your services to a particular group, let the media know! Public relations is often considered more credible than advertising because people know you pay for advertising, but not for public relations.
When you market your practice, you are likely to hear people say, “Oh, you’re the one who gives a great neck massage/helped get rid of my sister’s backache/teaches classes on infant care.” Corporations refer to this as “brand recognition.” No, I’m not comparing you to Pepsi. But I’ll bet you want people in your community to associate your name with what makes your practice unique.
Let’s say you want to focus on stress and pain relief for office workers. Every piece of paper you put out should have your name, contact information, and a phrase that indicates you are an expert in this area. Every public relations effort should involve talking about how folks can relieve their stress and prevent repetitive strain at work. People coping with these issues will think of you when they need help and pass your name on to others.
Word of Mouth
This is a kind of free — and very effective — advertising. For some practitioners, it makes up most or all of their marketing efforts. Word of mouth means that people hear about you from those they love and trust. This builds your credibility in the most powerful way. Build word of mouth recommendations by nurturing your relationships with your clients. Ask your best clients to pass on your business card. And when clients purchase gift certificates, treat their friends or loved ones extremely well when they come in to redeem the certificates. This is your chance to let your skills shine with a person who could become a client for years to come.
If one of these concepts sparks your creativity, be sure to fold your new idea into your marketing plan. To make this happen means you need to do more than just write down your ideas. You have to include them in your daily schedule, and organize your time around getting them done. For example, set aside one-half hour twice a week to distribute business cards (one that includes your tag line), plan a presentation, send a press release to a local publication, or whatever you have designated as a good strategy in your marketing plan. And please, let us know what works!