As a student of marketing, I love going through the “junk” mail we get each day. And what caught my eye today was a 32-page magazine flyer called Spotlight Magazine that was sent to all the “Current Occupants” in our area. It’s the Back-To School issue. I bet you get something similar where you live. It’s a collection of ads with barely enough editorial material (largely written by advertisers) to give it the look and feel of a magazine instead of it is, a 32-page advertisement.
Among the house painters, restaurants, plastic surgeons and dentists, were the advertisements of two chiropractors. Nothing earthshaking there. I’ve seen this sort of thing before. But what made this worthy enough to write about was the whiplash-producing differences between the full-page ads of these two chiropractors, separated by a mere five pages of carpet cleaning, roofing and grout restoration ads.
Now, if you’re a regular visitor here, you can imagine how tempting it would be to question the context in which these two chiropractors are advertising. And how your reputation can be enhanced (or diminished, in this case) by the company you keep. But there’s something far more troubling.
Here are some actual quotes from both print ads. First the headlines:
Chiropractor #1: “Local Doctor Finally Tells The Truth…”
Chiropractor #2: “Allergy Relief: A Breakthrough Technology.”
Hard to tell what the first chiropractor is selling. The truth? If so, how about revealing that you’re a chiropractor? The second chiropractor appears to be treating allergies. So, if you don’t have allergies, no need to read. (By the way, treating allergies is actually the practice of medicine. Oops!)
Chiropractor #1: “Is your doctor only treating your symptoms? Is your doctor too busy to talk with you and educate you about health and how to keep your body working properly?”
Chiropractor #2: “By adding to his office what some are describing as a modern medical miracle, Firstname Lastname, D.C. can now dramatically reduce and in many cases permanently eliminate the symptoms that you might be experiencing.”
Gosh, one chiropractor says treating symptoms is bad. The other says that’s what it’s all about. So, what is it? I’m confused.
Chiropractor #1: “Once we identify what the problem is we focus all of our attention on fixing it.”
Chiropractor #2: “Finding the root cause of the allergic reaction is more difficult than most people think, but our new computer technology helps us succeed where others methods have failed.”
Apparently, the first chiropractor can identify the problem without “computer technology.” However, more worrisome is that the first chiropractor is showing up as a “fixer.” My understanding has always been that if there’s going to be any “fixing,” the patient’s body will do it, not a chiropractor!
What they do share in common is a belief about what their services are worth. The $47 exam fee ($250 elsewhere) of Chiropractor #1 and the 50% off the initial allergy assessment (Regularly $120, with this coupon only $60) for Chiropractor #2, would cause anyone with modest critical thinking skills to surmise that the prices are either inflated so they can be discounted, or suspect that both practices are recovering their lost income by some other means. Probably both. Either way, “shields up, phazers on stun.”
The breathtaking diversity represented by these two perspectives has prompted some to observe that we need a unified voice. Actually, efforts to bring unification to chiropractic are well underway in virtually every chiropractic college. We’re likely to reach critical mass some time soon. Unfortunately, based on what they are mandated to teach these days, the newly unified profession will be chiropractic in name only.
Now, just to offer some contrast to these two perspectives, here’s an advertising quote from a third chiropractor.
Chiropractor #3: “Chiropractic is most effective in regaining health because it is a system built on natural law—the law which says that health comes from within. Start getting well today.”
This is from the 1924 book by Harry Vedder, D.C. entitled Chiropractic Advertising. It’s filled with sample ads, direct mail letters and marketing advice from almost a century ago. Scanning the pages, you get a feeling for how these early pioneers saw themselves—proud of their unique approach and unafraid to point out the deficiencies of the prevailing model of health. Few chiropractors seem prepared to do that these days.