The public’s perception of physical therapy and especially the “Value” they see in it has become a hot-button topic in the past few years.
I recently joined Periscope and in my first live broadcast, I read some excerpts from a fantastic book called Marketing is Everything by Fred Joyal. I discussed value perception in our patients and prospective patients, how we can increase it, and I wanted to share what I said and expand on it a bit further in this episode.
[If you’re not yet on Periscope, search for it on your phone in the app store and follow me @DrJarodCarter … I’ll be doing occasional live broadcasts giving cash-based business advice and answering questions.]
In preparation for this episode, I began with some stream-of-consciousness style note writing and all of a sudden I had written a decent amount. So today I decided to share both a blog post and an episode. With so much going on leading up to the release of the Medicare e-book, I didn’t have time to make this a perfectly written article… So make sure you also listen to the episode to fill in the gaps and learn my in-clinic value building strategies and post discharge strategies as well.
Getting Patients in the Door by Tapping into what’s Most Important to them
Regardless of your business model you continually need to ask yourself, “Why would someone place a high enough value on my services that they would choose my practice over the competition?” (Note that when the cost of your competition is far less out-of-pocket, the perception of your service’s value must be substantially higher to convert a prospective patient into a paying customer)
Since I and many other cash-based practitioners tout longer one-on-one care and advanced manual therapy training, let me set the record straight:
People do not inherently value your hands-on techniques or longer one-on-one time with their healthcare provider. They value the way those techniques make them feel and ESPECIALLY what limitations those techniques resolve for them.
If you think that only rich people have any surplus of funds that could be spent on out-of-network healthcare expenses, go to Vegas. Do you think all those people blowing thousands of dollars in a weekend are rich? Go to a crappy bar that isn’t really frequented by people with lots of money, and notice that there are still probably at least a few women with breast implants. Not trying to be crude here, just making a point.
Vegas has done an incredible job of convincing the general public that what it offers will make their lives better. Beauty magazines, Hollywood, et al. have done the same when it comes to appearance and what plastic surgery can do for someone’s quality of life. In my opinion, the field of Physical Therapy and other related healthcare fields have done a terrible job of this.
I personally value time and experiences much more than I value things. I have a pretty crappy old car and pretty small TV, and I only go clothes shopping about once every 2 years; but I just spent 3 weeks in Italy, and last year I spent a month in Australia. So someone who wanted to target me for a product or services would be wise to tap into the idea that the product or services would allow me to be in a position to travel more and have more of the experiences that really get me excited (like surfing).
Your market for a cash-based practice is NOT everyone who has pain or everyone who could benefit from your services. It is NOT everyone who has a large financial surplus.
You need to get the attention of those who place a higher than average value on the results you specialize in providing to your clients. Click to Tweet
What you say online, on the phone, in person, and to those who may be speaking to your prospective patients (i.e. your referral sources) should be skillfully crafted to convert that attention into interest and that interest into the decision to choose your practice over others.
This doesn’t mean giving anyone a hard sell. It means getting them to focus on what their pain or other subjective findings are keeping them from doing what they feel is important in their life. Paul Gough mentioned in the episode 36 that the biggest fear/concern for prospective patients is not their pain or that they’ll always have pain, it’s the fear that they will lose their mobility and independence (he was speaking a little more directly about those with back pain).
So if you have or would like to develop a niche market, you need to identify the primary fear of someone in that market. Maybe you’re in women’s health … perhaps your patients most fear that they’ll always have an aversion to sex and it will negatively affect their partnership/marriage (yes, the aversion comes from having pain during sex, but your focus is on the resultant fear that the pain creates in their mind). Or perhaps they fear that they’ll never be able to confidently go out with friends without pads or diapers due to the possibility of incontinence. That fear has nothing to do with pain, but it’s a fear that could compel them to pay cash for PT if you convince them you’re practice has the best answer to their problem.
Runners run through pain all the time. It’s when that pain becomes enough that they can’t run as much as they want to, that sparks the fear trigger in their mind.
What you say in your marketing needs to:
1) Stoke that fear a little bit by directing their attention to what may happen if they don’t do anything about the problem,
2) Then provide hope by letting them know their problem is treatable and that many others with the same limitations have found a solution to their problem.
3) Explain why your solution is different and better than what they will get if they choose to visit your competition.
If you do the above correctly, your prospective patient will place a high enough VALUE on your services to book an appointment. Even though it will cost more to see you than your in-network competition down the road.
But building the perception of your services as being highly valuable has only begun at this point!! Click the Play Button above and listen to the podcast episode to hear the tactics I use in the clinic (and after discharge) to get my patients to place a huge value on what they receive at my clinic.
[Also mentioned in the podcast: Discharge Marketing: Are You Capitalizing on this Precious Opportunity?]
If you don’t want to miss my future live broadcasts, join Periscope now and follow me @DrJarodCarter
Do you have any ideas I didn’t mention on how to increase the perceived value of your services? Share them in the comments below!