Clinic Marketing Through Mud and Dust – Lessons from my time in Africa

When I worked in West Africa, I had a book about marketing in Africa “Marketing through mud and dust”. 

Marketing through mud and dustThe lesson in this book was that brands are built at street level.

With large extended families dependent on a small number of bread winners, when you engage a couple of people with your brand you engage with the whole family because of the network.

Big brands like Maggi (Nestlé) do the tv advertising and bill boards, but when you get down to street level they all have an army of foot soldiers talking to local people and businesses.

maggi-1Maggi event Maggi rep

Without that the fancy expensive stuff doesn’t work nearly as well – or you have to spend a fortune.

Some brands I worked with had more budget than others – Absolut vodka to Vita stock cubes (competitor of Maggi stock cubes!) , but the starting point is always at ground level.

That is like local clinic marketing.

Community MarketingEvery new patient is worth many referrals.  You might be or just think you are special because you get your business from word of mouth, but there are new patients in pain looking for a new clinic.

How do you think your competitors survive? If you get out there and in amongst it you will get visible.

Think of it as grass roots brand building.

Author: Stephen Small
Director Steadfast Clinics Ltd
www.steadfastclinics.co.uk

Clinics in the community – get visible to be seen and remembered.

For clinics without natural footfall or street visibility then you have to work harder.  As we come into the summer there are fares and local events where you (or your team) can be out and about promoting the clinic. 

Community Marketing

Get out and about to be seen by your community.

If you are engaging in building your brand through other media, local people will already have an imprint of your brand in their minds, so this is a moment for them to meet you.

My sisters live in Leicester and a couple of weeks ago sent me this when out and about at a local street festival. You don’t need to be there yourself.
You have team members who could get out there for you or you could even pay someone to talk to people and engage people to come in.

The best part is, they often only cost £30. If not events – often for free or a modest fee, local supermarkets will let you have a table with a banner.

Author: Stephen Small
Director, Steadfast Clinics Ltd
www.SteadfastClinics.co.uk

Spinex Disc Clinic – the new name for non-invasive disc treatment in London

All physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors treat intervertebral disc problems.  And yet, pain consultants up and down the country have waiting rooms full of people with back pain and neck pain, caused by disc-related problems.

Spinex Disc Clinic

Spinex Disc Clinic – Edgware Road London

Spinex Disc Clinic, a specialist back pain clinic in London helps patients caught in the back pain no-man’s land where standard manual therapy and exercise haven’t worked, and where they need something more for their pain without resorting to injections and/or surgery,

Causes and consequences. 

When it comes to back pain, cause and consequence are quite similar.  The cause of your back pain might be a herniated or slipped disc.  However, the real cause of your herniated disc is one of a number of factors such as the compression of the disc from poor posture over a long period of time, combined with a lack of exercise and so on.

So the cause of the pain is actually the consequence of changes in the body which lead to the disc problem.

All clinicians treat the causes of pain, but first of all they treat the consequences of the causes of pain.

Where Spinex Disc Clinic and other IDD Therapy Spine Centres come in, is when the consequences of the causes of pain e.g severe compression and restricted mobility, are such that manual therapy alone is not able to address the problem.

The first things to do therefore is to take pressure off the disc and improve tissue function, then the focus can be on addressing the real causes which led to the problem.

In some ways it’s like obesity treatment.

The cause of obesity is a calorie surplus each day built up over time.  The consequence of that is excess weight/ fat.  First the person has to work hard to get rid of the excess fat and then they make lifestyle changes to ensure they stay at a healthy weight.

Now, the person will make the lifestyle changes as part of the process of losing weight but they have to work harder than normal because they need to burn more calories to cut the excess.

When it comes to disc treatment, for some patients lifestyle changes alone (improved strength, more activity, better posture etc) are not enough to undo the consequences / causes of the pain.

Spinex Disc Clinic is primarily focussed on those patients with disc problems who need something more than manual therapy.

Clinical Director Sally Lansdale is a highly experienced osteopath who finally resolved her long standing problem with a series of IDD Therapy treatments.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYSH9JM4XBI]

Since then she has had two clinics offering IDD Therapy and now Spinex Disc Clinic is the evolution of those clinics now located in North West London, just off Edgware Road.

For more details about Spinex Disc Clinic, visit www.SpinexDiscClinic.com 

Selling drinks in Africa and clinic marketing – valuable lessons for growing your clinic.

In the first ten years after leaving university I worked primarily in Africa, based out of the UK. 

A complete career U-turn led me into healthcare but now, as I look back, I can see how certain strategies used by multinationals can be applied to clinics of any size.

Whisky and the legionI had several jobs which included two working at large drinks companies.  I dug out this old photo out which sees me, bottom right, with members of the French Foreign Legion in a bar in Gabon, Central Africa.

So what does selling Grants whisky have to do with clinics??

It’s about the approach to marketing.

In the drinks industry the last three months of the year, and in particular Christmas, are when you generate most of the sales volume.

But, in order to get people to choose your brand, you have to have your brand in the purchasers mind when they are at the supermarket shelf, in a bar/restaurant or thinking about a gift for someone.

In that moment of decision a synopsis of all the brand messages they have ever been exposed to goes through the purchaser’s mind.  A lifetime of brand messages creates an attraction to a brand, but also the position of the bottle on the shop shelf/bar makes a big difference: “Eye-level is buy level” and then you have the influential promotions, special offers etc to sway the decision at the crucial moment.

Most clinicians will say with pride that “word of mouth” is their main source of new patients.

That is generally true, but I believe that this can partly be explained by the fact that very few clinicians have a consistent marketing strategy throughout the year to bring them patients from other sources.

If we relied on word of mouth in the drinks business, we would never grow the brand.  Likewise I visit clinics who invest a lot (time and/or money) in marketing and they are much busier than their competitors.

You see, like the person who buys one or two bottles of whisky a year, a potential patient may not be in pain right at the moment.  You have no idea when a person’s pain will be bad enough that they go looking for a clinic (brand).

Not all marketing works, but so often, clinicians expect an immediate response to a piece of marketing.  Then, when it doesn’t come (and they ‘lose money’), they retreat to thinking that “word of mouth is the only marketing that works”.  Perhaps the ad/message/activity wasn’t quite right anyway, but consistency also plays a big part.

It takes time to build trust in a brand, being there (visible) consistently with your brand plays a big part in building trust.

It is much harder to get people to switch a brand of whisky they have been drinking for ten years, than it is to introduce new consumers to your brand.

Whisky PromotionIn this photo you can see me centre (slightly worse for wear!) in a nightclub in Cameroun.

Drinks promotions in bars highlight your brand.  Any new consumer you engage, like any new patient is likely to stay loyal to you provided you look after them.

Plus, the non-whisky drinkers pick up a powerful brand message and one day they may have cause to choose a brand for themselves or someone else.

So, back to the person with a back ache:  most people live with their pain and take painkillers.  How many times do you hear people say “it was finally time to get my back looked at”.

Like the decision to purchase a bottle of Glenfidich whisky, the brand influences have been built up over time.  Drinks companies invest heavily in that.  As pain develops, so does awareness of pain remedy messages.  It’s been well documented that when you think of a new car you want, you suddenly see that make and model everywhere.  It’s the same thing.

For a clinic, even a few hundred pounds a month to get your BRAND visible to people in your community, gives you much more of a fighting chance to be selected over the competition- in that moment in the year when someone’s pain is sufficiently bad that they want to take action.

IMPORTANT – The other reason consistency is important is because it keeps your brand visible to your existing customers.  Of course, the relationship between a patient and their clinician is much more profound than the relationship between a consumer and a brand of whisky!

However, I am yet to meet a clinician who hasn’t told me that they acquire patients from their competition.  Now, when everyone says that, I’m afraid that means that some of those patients who left your clinic and never returned … didn’t all feel that they had a satisfactory experience with you or they aren’t that fussed where they go so are ready to respond to new messages from other clinics (like the eye level purchase decision at the supermarket shelf).

NOTE we Brits are very polite.  I once sat through a consultation with an osteopath, I answered the right questions but I didn’t get a connection with the guy so I never went back.  Now, he may have thought that he restores patients in one visit but that is not the case every time.

If you provide a good service, you have an opportunity to draw in disgruntled patients and those who don’t have particular loyalty – and there again is a reason to stay visible.

Remember 90% of clinics are passive and don’t market themselves consistently to grow their practice.  Therefore, you don’t need to invest too much to make yourself visible and stand out from the crowd.

I hope this helps.  It remains for me to say Sláinte (SLAHN-chə) which means “health” and is a Gaelic toast to use whenever you drink Scottish water.

For marketing strategy ideas for your clinic, you might like to visit our website to get a free report. CLICK HERE

Good luck.

Stephen Small
Director Steadfast Clinics Ltd
www.steadfastclinics.co.uk  www.iddtherapy.co.uk  www.thermedic.co.uk

Case Study Template For Back Pain Treatment – Comments Invited

As we expand availability of IDD Therapy treatment for discs and nerve pain, we encourage all IDD Therapy provider clinics to write up case studies.

Ultimately we want to refine the patient cohort so that we get better predictability of outcomes and use the strength of the network for multi-centre data analysis.

We use subjective and outcome measures and I wanted to share the outline and structure of a case study template so that if someone had some suggestions for improvement, they could contribute.

The template has some details specifically for IDD Therapy treatment, but they can be deleted for use with other conditions, if someone wanted to.  The IDD CASE STUDY TEMPLATE is a word document you can click to open.

IDD Case Study Template doc

There are many different treatments for back pain and as the somewhat cruel saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat.  IDD Therapy spinal decompression is a tool used by clinicians when they want to decompress, distract and mobilise a targeted spinal segment in a manner they can’t achieve with their hands, or traditional traction.

Author: Stephen Small
Director Steadfast Clinics Ltd  www.steadfastclinics.co.uk  www.iddtherapy.co.uk 
email: stephen.small (@)steadfastclinics.co.uk

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