You can’t just open a practice, plan to serve everything to everyone, and hope that they’ll want to buy from you specifically.
You need to give them a reason to choose you over the many other options.
Focus and intention on who and how you serve will let potential customers know if they’re making the right decision before they even buy from you.
When you choose a restaurant for dinner you don’t look for the first one that sells food. That’s ludicrous! Unless you’re physically starving..
You look at what type of food, what kind of customer they tailor towards, how or where they serve it, how much it costs, and what kind of extra feeling and experience do you get when you go.
Exactly the same principle applies to your practice and its clients. You need to allow people to choose, and to not choose you by making it obvious how you differ from the other practices.
Differentiate By Specialty
Finding a niche, or target to focus on is not really an option if you live in a highly populated area, it’s a necessity. This can be a scary tactic because it seems like you’re limiting yourself. But what you’re actually doing is giving people a reason to pick you over your competition.
Sidenote: Keep in mind, my view on competition is that there is none. There are only options, and you let customers decide what option is best for them even if it’s not you.
You do need to think strategically when picking a specialty to focus on so that you don’t limit yourself too much. Picking something like chiropractic for pregnancy is perfect, especially if you’re in a city with many other chiropractors who don’t specialize.
But, be careful with narrowing down to something like nutrition for celiac new moms who are professional cyclists. There is a definite risk of narrowing too much for local businesses if the market need (number of total customers) is not big enough to purchase from you consistently.
HOWEVER, if any part of your business is focused online, and you could provide a product or service in a global marketplace, then please, please “niche down” very narrow. You’ll be able to find a lot more people when your geographic region is expanded globally as opposed to locally. And they’ll have an easier time finding you if you solve their exact problem very well.
Differentiate By Customer Type
So if we divide the total pool of potential customers into different pieces of the pie depending on different factors you can pick a group to target with your messaging and branding. This means that we could split the group into sections like different languages. And you could focus on Mandarin speakers, or Punjabi speakers. This is one way, but is not incredibly specific on it’s own.
If you choose a broad topic in this category, be sure to include another kind of differentiation along with it. Again, your specificity will depend on the size of the market you work in.
Or you can choose a more specialized type of customer, like runners. In this case you could do many different types of.. say.. acupuncture treatments, but specifically targeted to runners.
Or for another couple examples: teens, office workers, labourers (construction), elderly women, singers, hipsters, yogi’s, and even other wellness practitioners! It can be tough work bending over a massage table for hours, a timely chiropractor treatment every now and then would be perfect for them.
If you choose a group of people that already identifies themselves as being a cohesive set of people, you’ll have a much easier time finding situations where they hang out (in real life or digitally).
After you’ve chosen, you can do a bit of research to learn how to target your messages appropriately to your chosen group. And, if it fits, start modifying the other aspects of your differentiation to suit your type of customer.
Differentiate By Price
While it’s a natural choice for many businesses, being the lowest price is the worst decision you could possibly make. It’s a never ending cycle of who’s the cheapest, and in the end no one makes any money.
But, differentiating yourself by being the most expensive can work in some situations. To effectively do this you need to match the rest of your business with the luxury aspect. Both the experience and the price need to be in harmony or a customer will get turned off very quickly. Provide more perceived value than anyone else and you can easily charge more than everyone else.
The other benefit to a high price is the assumption of the customer that the value will be greater before they even know about what you do. If you don’t deliver, though, you better watch out! Out come the pitch forks.
Differentiate By Service Method
Like the restaurant that can provide take out, eat in, a patio, catering, so to can you with your service.
Maybe there isn’t an acupuncturist that does house calls in your area, or at least not many. This could be a great opportunity for you to stand out. Or try to be creative by mixing your usual clinic services with online offerings at the same time. Possibly provide a counselling service that combines in-person meetings, with online sessions to get the best of both worlds.
I came across an interesting idea a while back for a massage company that provided you with a table in your home as long as you signed up for the monthly subscription to receive at least 1 massage per month. Zeel.com is innovating in this space between massage therapy and technology with an app and this unusual business model. They’re now providing a pay-per-massage service alongside their monthly premium members to allow different levels of commitment. Ideas like this help you to stand out.
By Extended Value
This is really where any of you get to shine. This section includes everything that your customers don’t outright pay for – a lot to do with customer experience.
Your improved customer’s experience will make the value of what you do go up exponentially. Most businesses, don’t even do the bare minimum of providing what the customer expects. Just going a little above and beyond can easily make you look a whole lot better than the other guys. This includes how YOU interact with your clients not just your receptionist. And believe me, it’s important.
In wellness, they pay you to help them feel better. If you make them feel loved, cared for, special, appreciated, and valued, they begin to feel good about their decision to choose you before they even feel better.
Want some more quick ideas to wow your clients with extras? Provide instructional books, videos, and other informational content. Choose your receptionists carefully so that they represent your values and understand the importance of care for your customers. Put comfortable chairs in your waiting room. Follow up with a phone call after a session to see how they’re doing <— you’d be surprised how amazing this makes people feel!
Putting it all together
Don’t just pick one broad topic and call it quits. Use a mix of all these aspects to find what makes you truly unique.
Some of these are more crucial than others. Everyone I know can benefit from giving extra value and a better customer experience to their clients. However finding a different method of delivering your service might not be your focus. Find a balance that works for you and that stands out in your marketplace and location and you’ll be on your way to a winning practice in no time!