” I bent over yesterday to brush my teeth, my back went out and I couldn’t straighten up.”
The nurse who was leading our meeting let us all know why she was moving so gingerly. Mind you, there were two PTs and a PTA sitting in the room. When I emphatically offered to help she said…
“I’m going to see my chiropractor. I love my chiropractor.”
I found her choice of words intriguing. So when I had an opportunity, I asked her later how her back was doing and then as non-judgmentally as possible I asked her…
“So, why do you love your chiropractor?”
Her answer was fascinating, but before we delve into it let me provide a little context.
People Don’t Have A Clue What Therapists Do
Tomorrow, September 8th, is World PT Day. It’s a day for PTs all over the world to raise awareness about the tremendous benefits of physical therapy on people’s lives. Our challenge lies in the fact that most people don’t have a clue what therapists know and do for a living.
Heidi Jannenga urges us all that it’s time to tackle the PT awareness problem in the US. Heidi suggests leveraging direct access and focused marketing to consumers as two strategies to break down the barriers to therapy access.
This implies that therapists, especially those in private practice, will need to leave the comfort zone of physician referrals and insurance reimbursement. To plunge into creating and selling services that consumers value and are willing to purchase.
In the marketplace, potential clients are the judge, jury, and executioner of our value propositions. They are merciless if we don’t offer what they want and in the way they prefer.
Unfortunately, most therapists can’t explain what they do in a language the average consumer understands. We often confuse our message with insider lingo and talk down to people without knowing it.
We must realize that people will never know as much as we do. It’s up to us to bridge the communication gap. If we don’t they have plenty of alternatives to get the information and help they need.
“Most therapists can’t explain what they do in a language that the average consumer understands. They don’t even know the alphabet.”
Crystalizing your vocation into a single sentence is one of the best tools to grow your practice one conversation at a time.
I wrote a blog post on How Do You Talk About What You Do and a how-to guide on How to Talk About What You Do To Gain Respect and Referrals. These resources will help you craft a clear statement of whom you serve, who you are and what you do. Download the free guide, write your conversation starter so you’ll be ready for the next opportunity to explain to someone what it is you do for a living.
Therapists Don’t Have A Clue What Consumers Value
Recently I was coaching a therapist who wanted to grow her cash practice so she could quit her day job. We talked about how many people in her personal network were aware of her side gig. Not very many.
It’s hard to make a living from PT if people don’t know who you are and what you do. I asked her how many conversations she had with potential clients to learn what they wanted. She said, “Not very many, I already know what they need.”
It’s a common mistake to focus on the physiological problem and forget the emotional and social aspects that people care about. Frequently consumers make their healthcare decisions based on their gut feelings or recommendations by friends.
We must relentlessly take the consumers perspective and be better at listening to consumers rather than showboating how smart we are. Connecting to a variety of people will help you describe how your services will alleviate consumers’ pains, help them achieve their goals, and enable them to live the life they desire.
Eric Almquist and researchers at Bain & Company have identified ’30 Elements of Value‘. They categorize these elements into four groups resembling Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. You’ll find them extremely useful as you think about the nature of the value you offer.
Your value proposition describes the benefits your clients can expect from your services and products. It is the set of benefits that you’ve observed in select consumers that will captivate their attention. It’s an art to unearth what really matters to the people you want to serve.
Today, choices are everywhere. We live in a world that’s moved by connection more than it is by professional credentials. The connection of understanding and being understood, personal connections that creates opportunity and value.
Understanding what it’s like to be in the consumers’ shoes is crucial to creating a service that your clients value.
The secret is asking the right questions and the right questions are not what you would expect. For a limited time you can get Ask, the #1 National Bestseller by Ryan Levesque for free, (just the cost of S&H). Ask is a useful method to find out what people really want to buy not want you think they want.
Is It A Good Fit?
Consumers expect and demand a lot from healthcare providers. We know that we can’t deliver everything our patients want from us. We know we can’t help everyone who walks through our doors.
Our services create value only in relation to a specific patient population. We must realize that great value is determined by making choices about whom we are going to serve and those we are not.
It’s about having a good fit.
You will achieve a good fit when your patients get excited about the value you offer. A good fit is hard to find and keep.
Keep asking yourself:
- Are you alleviating your patient’s #1 pain?
- Are you addressing your patients’ highest priorities?
- Are you helping people make their lives better?
Consumers have a lot of pains and multiple goals. No one can reasonably address all of them. Focus on the issues that are a good fit for your passion and expertise.
Pursuing a good fit is the essence of creating value for your patients and yourself.
“So, why do you love your chiropractor?”
A good fit was why the nurse loved her chiropractor.
She respected what her chiropractor did and didn’t do. The chiropractor got results.
She valued an alternative approach to going to the doctor to get some drugs. She said the chiropractor was personable and didn’t talk to her like she didn’t know anything. She felt respected.
The receptionist understood her financial situation as a single mom and worked out a payment plan with her. They seemed like real people who cared.
Perhaps someday she’ll find that physical therapy might be a good fit for her back pain problem. Then again she might stay with the chiropractor she loves.
My responsibility is to continue the conversation, with more listening than persuading, to raise awareness about the tremendous benefits of physical therapy, regardless if it’s World PT Day or not.