I received this email from a chiropractor this morning:
“I plan to open an office in a town of 18,000 people January 8, 2007. I would like to advertise in the local paper and was wondering if you have any example formats or suggestions as to what should be included or avoided. I put together a little description of the spine relating to the nervous system and its effects on our health, without mentioning back pain or neck pain. Do you think that is wise? I didn’t want to be labeled a “pain” doctor, yet I don’t want people to think that I can’t treat those symptoms. I just want to communicate that the underlying problem is more than pain; it’s the nervous system. Thanks for any suggestions you may have.”
The fact is, whether you want to be labeled a “pain doctor” or not is largely outside your control. Because you already have that label. It was assigned about the time chiropractic care became a reimbursable expense under indemnity insurance policies. Decades later, the damage is done.
Virtually every marketing student knows you must reach the consumer where he or she is. While advertising critics suggest that advertising creates needs that aren’t there, in reality, it simply taps into a preexisting want. And the fact is, the vast majority of people don’t consult a health care provider unless they have a specific complaint. And only then when it gets bad enough to put a crimp in their lifestyle. While some would point to dentistry as an exception, that’s only because the dental profession invested in a major educational program targeting elementary school children in the 1960s.
So, the short answer is, without the momentum that an established practice enjoys, you’ll probably want to take the symptom angle. But rather than being thought of as a pain doctor, how about being seen as an innovator?
New Solution to Back Pain.
Drug-Free Headache Solution.
Innovative Answers to Chronic Pain.
Breakthrough Results: Naturally!
Natural Pain Relief That Works!
Relief Without Drugs or Surgery.
Scientific Discovery Offers Relief.
Those who have a vision for chiropractic to assume a prevention and wellness persona (which I applaud) will likely cringe at these suggestions. However, as a practical matter, there just aren’t enough people willing to show up in a doctor’s office (of any ilk) when they’re symptom-free.
“Well, advertising as your suggesting simply pushes further away the day they will,” observes the critics.
Maybe. But the public doesn’t link chiropractic with wellness. And imposing such a connection in your advertising will be seen as either unbelievable, irrelevant or both.
Remember when the city of Las Vegas unsuccessfully tried to advertise itself as a family destination? Spending millions, it couldn’t “buy” itself a new perception. Instead, it returned to, and amplified its perceived reputation as an “adult playground” with considerably greater success.
Give patients and prospective patients what they want. Then use your relationship to explain what they need. Some call this “bait and switch.” I call it “up-selling.” The former is based upon philosophical wishful thinking and the latter on down-to-earth pragmatism.