Ivan Delman, DC offers advice on how to focus on implementing your own marketing strategy rather than following the competition.

by Ivan Delman, DC 

Watching the Others

After we sold our practice and retired, my wife and I traveled full-time for three years before settling down in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee. As we traveled around the country, we regularly visited local chiropractors to trade adjustments and war stories.

During those conversations, it saddened me to hear competent DCs tell me how much they watched “The Other Guys in Town.” This is not a good idea. It dilutes and weakens the proper management of a practice.

Rearview Whiplash

In my early, learning years of racing cars, I discovered how not to watch the “other guy.” Here’s why… During a race, when someone would be trying like the dickens to pass me, I had a tendency to get suckered into watching my competitor in the rearview mirror more than looking ahead and focusing on holding a good line around the track. This usually resulted in either my making a mistake or increasing the distance between me and the car I was trying to catch for the next position.

Similarly, distractions will occur when you pay more attention to your competition than to your practice. These distractions will cause you to start making mistakes, making poor decisions or losing focus on your practice direction. This is especially true when you are marketing your practice’s services.

Don’t give yourself whiplash by constantly eyeballing your competition. There’s nothing wrong with being aware of how the other providers in your area function. However, it’s better to invest your valuable time in playing your own marketing game. This means you must concentrate on your “racing line”—keeping a tight focus and continuing to build your version of a successful practice.

Be aware that playing your own game starts in your head. That means YOU are your toughest competition.

Your Competition

How many times has someone (patient, newspaper reporter, colleague) asked about your “competition”? Technically, anyone providing similar services in your marketing area is your competition. That shouldn’t be your concern, however, because in the real world of management, concentrating your efforts on your own mission, goals and strategies will give you success. Plus, it will always be independent of what your alleged competition is doing.

Here are some “Don’ts” I continue to use that help keep me focused and on track with my marketing:

Don’t give a hoot who else is competing for your market outside of being aware of their general operations. True…I have learned things from other successful DCs in my area who had some good ideas, but I didn’t become concerned that their practices were bigger or better than mine. Some practices will be ahead of you and some will be behind. Just concentrate on improving yourself in light of your mission and goals.

Don’t let the naysayers pollute your thinking. You’d be surprised at the real motives of those who tell you, “It can’t be done!” They’ll tell you a certain form of advertising won’t work because it failed for them, therefore, “Don’t waste your money.”

Do your own evaluation to determine why their ad didn’t work. You’ll usually find out that it either had been poorly written or terribly placed in that particular advertising venue.

Throughout my life, I’ve received a lot of advice from many sources. Some of that advice was very good. However, when I received negative advice without its being balanced with the positive, it usually was from losers or from those who don’t like to see anyone succeed—for whatever reason.

In most cases, the losers’ advice was flawed and inapplicable to the situation. Eventually, I discovered that naysayers are usually the kind of people who would sell their car to get money for gas. You can do better than that.

Don’t forget that the best solutions for most situations come from within yourself. There’s nothing wrong in getting ideas from others. However, only you will know if that advice will fit in with the direction you want to guide your practice or, for that matter, your life.

Don’t be afraid to expand the walls of your comfort zone with new concepts. While everyone is playing “follow the marketing leader” you have an opportunity to become your community’s chiropractic leader. You will accomplish this by determining whatever needs in your marketing area have not been addressed by the other providers. Then, come up with concepts that will allow you to provide services for that missing community need.

Your new concepts do not have to be world-shaking. They can be as easy as rearranging your practice hours to better accommodate your current and future patients. Or… mailing your new patients all the necessary paperwork prior to their first appointment. This will speed up your intake procedures and will make that first visit less traumatic for your new patient.

My favorite is exclaiming to the community that when my patients come in for treatment, they hardly have time to sit down before their name is called. Our marketing proclaimed, “We have minimal waiting in our office. We respect your time!”

We all dislike waiting past our appointment time, so why not offer a solution for that dislike?

Just be sure you make promises that can be fulfilled. Otherwise, those unfulfilled promises will turn around and bite you. Anyone who consistently promises results without delivering is probably working with a business intellect rivaled only by garden tools.

Don’t compromise your principles, then justify it by saying, “It’s good business.” Compromising your ethical standards is not good for any business!

Our life-train should travel on the unbending railroad tracks of ethical behavior and solid principles.

Basic Ethics

Ethics are a system of moral principles that define the difference between right and wrong. Where this statement ends is the point at which philosophers start arguing the differences between right and wrong. To simplify that process and keep myself on track, I use the Rotary Four-Way Test to help me make ethical decisions.

During the decision-making process, ask yourself the following questions. The answers to those questions will tell you if that decision complements your principles.

• Is it the truth?

• Is it fair for all concerned?

• Will it build good will and better friendships?

• Will it be beneficial to all?

By focusing your efforts on good planning and sound, ethical programs, your practice will steadily move upward to whatever level you desire. By playing your own marketing game, you’ll soon be the “expert” people seek for advice.

by Ivan Delman, DC. Reprinted with permission from Do Write Publishing.  

Dr. Delman is the author of the book The Business of Chiropractic: How to Prosper AFTER Startup. He has degrees in both business and chiropractic. After 38 years of enjoyable, productive work in both fields, he and his wife have retired to travel and write. He can be contacted at:   Ivan@BusinessofChiropractic.com.

Dr. Chris Clark, a chiropractor and consultant, purchased Do Write Publishing and Business of Chiropractic Publications in 2007. For more ways to improve your practice, visit www.businessofchiropractic.com.