There’s competition out there…I said it!
It’s a rough and tumble business world for some of you and it’s EXTREMELY difficult to build a practice. I know…I was there too…but, I did something about it, 15 or so years ago, my $15,000 gamble. (BTW, if you want to learn more about that story, click here)
Since there is competition, you have to make yourself stand out and help people choose YOU or the next acupuncturist. The reason why it’s so important to stand out is it helps your patients have clear choices of who to see for treatment.
If all things are equal between two practitioners the prospective patient might just pick the acupuncturist who’s just cheaper or closer to their location. You run the risk of losing patients that could otherwise have been yours.
Open your local phone book and you’ll find that you have lots of competition from other acupuncturists, healers with various backgrounds and modalities, traditional doctors, and more.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that every acupuncturist is unique and offers something different.
No matter how much competition you may have, you can still find a few ways to stand out from the crowd.
Below is a simple four-step process designed to help you figure out what makes your practice unique.
Step One: Benefits
Get a sheet of paper and a pen and begin listing every benefit that patients can receive from your work as a practitioner. Keep the following things in mind as you work on this list:
- Remember to list benefits, not features. What’s the difference? A feature is a “bell and whistle.” A benefit is what the patient receives from the feature. For example, the fact that you always use new sterile needles is a feature. The extreme rarity of infections or other complications is the benefit.
- Be shameless! List every benefit you can think of, no matter how obvious, silly, or boastful it may seem.
- Keep these questions in mind:
- What do I have to offer?
- What do I do, or offer, that is different than other acupuncturists?
- What kind of image and atmosphere do I want to project?
- What kind of patients do I want to attract?
- Where do I want to be in 3, 6, 12 months and in 3, 5, 10 years?
- How can I be extraordinary as an acupuncturist?
- Any special training or skills?
- Do you specialize?
- Do you offer great prices and/or package deals?
- Do you speak certain languages?
- Do you practice TCM or 5-element acupuncture?
When you’re done, sit back and take a long look at your finished list.
The list is all the good you are willing to contribute to the world.
Hopefully this is a long list.
Step Two: Competitors
After completing your benefits list, your next step is to examine your competition.
Open up the phone book or your local health pages, and keep your eyes posted for flyers and business cards from around town.
Look for anyone in the field who treats the same or similar conditions and ailments that acupuncture can address.
Each of these businesses will present benefits to their patients, including some that you may offer.
Take out your list from step one and cross off each benefit that your competitors also offer.
You’ll probably find yourself crossing out most of your list. That’s OK.
As you do this, you’ll start to see benefits that your competitors offer that you don’t. These fall into one of two categories:
- Something you forgot. If you do indeed offer the benefit but forgot to include it on your list, don’t worry about it, and no need to put it on your list anyway.
- A competitive advantage. If one of your competitors offers an amazing benefit that you don’t, then you need to decide if:
1) you are capable of offering that same benefit, and if so, whether you want to or not, and
2) decide whether that benefit represents a barrier to your own success or if it’s something that you can use to distinguish yourself. If the former, you need to rethink your offerings. If the latter, rejoice! By filling a different niche with your own, unique offerings allow you to stand out from the crowd.
By the time you’re done with this step, you will most likely have just a few items left on your list.
On to the next step.
Step Three: Your Unique Practice
Take a look at the list of items that survived Step Two.
You should be able to pick out three to five distinct benefits that you alone offer.
If not, rethink your offerings until you can come up with at least three to five benefits that are unique. They can be as simple as “I have a quiet space for people to relax after treatment,” “the Qi in my waiting room is so soothing and calm,” “I add Reiki to my treatments,” or “I make my own blend of organic herbs.”
These three to five benefits are what separate your practice from other acupuncturists and healers.
They are what make you unique and special. They are what make you stand out from others and will help to drive patients to your practice.
Your marketing efforts should revolve around your unique benefits. In business, we call unique benefits your competitive advantage.
Step Four: Your Patients
The unique benefits that you uncovered in Step Three offer clues as to who your ideal patients are.
They will be the people who will most resonate with your unique benefits.
Who are these people?
Try to discover who your ideal patients are for yourself. The more labels you can apply to them, the better.
Take a look at the traits below and write down information describing the types of people you’d like to attract to your practice. Look at traits like:
- Religious/spiritual beliefs
- Marital status
- Health status
- Sexual orientation
- What do they do in the morning?
- What do they wish they had more of?
- What is their biggest “pain” point? And I’m not referring actual pain, I’m referring to what do they want that they don’t have?
- What do they wear?
- What do they eat?
For example, you may find that your practice is best suited to younger yuppie executives who may have high blood pressure caused by work and domestic stress, and who love to fly kites.
Knowing who your ideal patient is allows you to market directly to those specific people without wasting your time and resources on the rest of the world.
The idea is to market to that very select group of people who want what you and you alone have to offer through your unique benefits. This is called nanocasting—the opposite of broadcasting.
This allows you to dial in your conversation and direct your communications more laser-like…because when you unearth all the details about your prospective patients, they will feel as though you are talking directly to them and not some generic person!
This is a good place to start!
Let me ask you this…what makes you different from Joe Schmoe acupuncturist down the street? Why would I choose you over them?
If’ you’re struggling, and you need help to figure out a few ways to stand out from the crowd, go ahead and book a FREE, no-obligation, 15-minute consultation.