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Hype and Hyperbole

chiropractic-for-dummies.jpgYou probably get them too. “Double Your Practice in 60 Days!” and “Boot Camp for Marketing Dummies” and similar email subject lines. My first reaction has been derision. But then it occurred to me. These sorts of marketing overtures must actually work or they wouldn’t appear in my inbox. Somebody must be responding to them to prompt their continued presence in my inbox! Who?

That got me to thinking. Perhaps this get-rich-quick-shortcut-to-success mentality is what constitutes a majority of the chiropractic profession! Silly me, taking the high road, thinking that chiropractic was about service, value and a natural solution to the symptom suppression of drugs or the maiming by irreversible surgery! Shame on me. How could I have not seen it all these years? Was I that blind?

By now, most people are no longer looking for the Philosopher’s Stone, which by merely touching it to base metals, would turn them into gold. And certainly most have given up on finding the Fountain of Youth celebrated by Ponce de Leon. (Especially since we now know that beauty actually emanates from the inside out!) And certainly by now, virtually every chiropractor has attended enough “success” seminars to know that there are no shortcuts to success. Right? So why are chiropractic marketers, whether selling decompression units or hawking management programs, so inclined to fashion their overtures to appeal to the least discerning?

They must work.

I know. I’m not exactly thrilled by this observation, but the truth is, if the seduction represented by these types of subject lines didn’t work, they wouldn’t be used.

It reminds me of the wisdom shared by Greg Stanley so many years ago concerning the writing of a help wanted ad for a new front desk assistant. While conventional thinking would suggest an ad something like this:

Front desk assistant needed for growing chiropractic practice. Change the world by and make a difference in the lives of hundreds. Flexible hours. Great working conditions. Complementary care. Call 555-1212.

Back in the day, Greg would have wisely suggested something quite different. Perhaps not these actual words, but you’ll get the idea:

Front desk receptionist needed for brutal, task master chiropractor. If you love long hours, low pay, exacting standards and occasional glimpses of maybe making a difference, call for an interview. 555-1212.

His point? Most chiropractors sugarcoat things so much that they attract someone ill suited to the job. Could that be what’s at work with these cheesy subject lines for the latest gimmick or shortcut to practice nirvana?

I hope not. What I’ve learned in the 56 years I’ve been on this third rock from the sun you call earth, can be summed up in three simple steps:

1. There are no shortcuts to success.
2. What looks like a shortcut was a temporary aberration.
3. See point number one above.

Grasshopper, if you’re one of those still searching for an insider’s secret to success who thinks you can (for 12 monthly payments of $495) buy your way into the long-lasting inner circle of true success, you still have much to learn.

Thankfully, success is ALWAYS who you are, not what you do, what you can buy and certainly not associated with some “limited time offer.” The hard yards required to grow you as you is what patients really want and actually find attractive, influential and inspirational. The buy-this-and success-will-be-yours shortcuts? They attract the most easily deceived, wayward patient. Is that who you want to surround yourself with all day long?

Well is it?

Work on you. Clarify and distill you. Know you. Fail. Succeed. Know what is so. And what isn’t. This is what patients really want. I promise.

Comments (6)

It seems to me that we have gotten away from what made our profession great just a few short decades ago: getting sick people well.
From the objective straights saying "Don't sully my philosophy with your symptoms!", to the wild wild west practices offering everything from cellulite reduction to MLM's, to the hyper-agressive salesmen pressuring patients to commit to lifetime care when all they wanted was drug free relief, we're forgetting the patient.
I think it's an issue of confidence. The more I impove my skills the less I worry how much care patients want and how they will pay for it.
People will always want to feel better, so I do my best to help them with that. If they decide to stay better, well, that's a bonus. It's their decision, not mine.
I took Bill's suggestion and apoligized to the files of all the inactive patients whose free will I tried to circumvent because I thought my practice existed to serve my needs and wants. Bill, thank you again for all that you do.

Bob Wagner:


Gosh, I thought you had fallen asleep!:) Good to see you back on fire once again! It's too bad that Greg Stanley has left the platform of preaching what he used to preach, which was hard work and live within your means. You are our voice of reason. When you tell it like it is, it's like the gospel, someone is bound to get the message. Thanks again Bill and Merry Christmas!

Bob Wagner

Tony Russo:

You went out on a limb to say what the vast majority of us are feeling. I have to go to our governing body this February and bring up these issues. Very deep, very unpleasant, but very real. You wonder why respect for Chiropractic is generally low. Don't look past the plastic spine chasing you down the mall aisle. Or the "one year's worth of care for a low, low $2,650" or "I'll give you 5 pounds of coffee if I can't beat your best deal". And you wonder why. "He who hastens to get rich will not go unpunished" is a passage from the Bible (of which I am no expert). The tortoise always wins the race in my book. Be the tortoise, and you will be blessed with success and fulfillment.

Dr. Dan Hestera:

A chiropractic friend of mine recently stated that there is now a whole generation of chiropractors that are great entrepreneurs, but horrible doctors. They have an approach of "how fast can I make the most money?" which usually involves all these ridiculous gimmicks. Instead of practicing for the long haul intent on changing lives and leaving a legacy, they are leaving large quantities of disenchanted, soured patients in their wake. And we wonder why our market penetration is only 10%. Love ya Bill, thanks for your heart and your love for chiropractors!
Peace and Blessings,
Dr. Dan Hestera

Bravo Bill! I'm in my 20th year of practice, I am more authentically me now than ever before, and I still need to remind myself of this everyday. How nice to hear it from outside myself.

I really appreciate reading this. My CA liked it as well. Thinking this way helps me slow down and realize anything good, generally doesn't happen over night. It helps me to better explain to my patients, that the changes they are looking for won't happen quickly either. Thanks for writing a very timely article.

Reese R. Great Falls, MT

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From December 3, 2008 2:10 PM

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 3, 2008 2:10 PM.

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