Using Your Mission and Positioning Statements to Market Your Practice
Marketing allows you to tell prospective patients what you do and what makes your practice special, and it reminds current patients about the benefits of your care. However, before you can successfully market your practice to others, you must clearly define for yourself the unique benefits of your practice. Developing your mission statement and your position statement are essential steps in this process.
Your Mission Statement
Your mission statement is about you and the reason your practice exists. It's why you do what you do—the practice's reason for being, its purpose. It should be broad, but not vague; specific, yet flexible; personal, yet understandable to all. Here's a quick exercise to help you write your mission statement.
- STEP 1: When you decided to become a chiropractor, there was something specific that drew you to this profession. What was it? Write it down.
- STEP 2: As you look to the future, what are the main services or functions you'd like to offer?
- STEP 3: Now combine the two statements into one phrase. With a little tweaking, this can be the mission statement for your practice. Your mission statement should be shared with your staff and posted in a prominent place. It is an important element in managing your practice.
Your mission statement should be unique to you and your practice. Here are several examples of effective mission statements:
Dr. L. was in a car accident five years ago. He sustained massive injuries and was told he would never walk again. After exhaustive care at the hands of many medical specialists, Dr. L. sought the help of a chiropractor. In six months, he was able to walk with ease. This was such a life-changing experience for Dr. L. that he quit his job as a teacher and went to school to become a Doctor of Chiropractic.
As a result of this refocus of motivation, Dr. L developed the following mission statement:
"To use chiropractic care to help heal people who suffer injuries related to accidents and promote better health in all my patients."
Dr. H. has long been interested in the benefits of natural healing techniques, such as chiropractic. He became a chiropractor with the intention of bringing quality natural health care to people in his community. Dr. H. hopes to add a massage therapist to his practice within the first year.
His mission statement reflects these intentions:
"To provide the best holistic health care for my patients and to create a holistic health resource for my community."
Dr. K. is following in her father's footsteps. She attended the same chiropractic college as her father and is looking forward to continuing his tradition by providing excellent chiropractic care in her hometown. She is getting ready to take over his practice.
Her mission statement shows how she plans to leverage her father's past success:
"To continue the excellent chiropractic tradition started by my father by maintaining his same small town values."
Your Positioning Statement
Once your mission statement is formalized, you're ready to identify your practice's marketing position. In essence, your practice position says what, in the end, you want your practice to be remembered for. It's your identity in the marketplace—how you want your potential patients and colleagues to view your practice and services.
What's the difference between a mission statement and a position statement? Your mission statement is about you, while your practice's marketing position is about you and your prospective patients.
Developing your practice position will be one of the most important things you do to market your practice. However, it also can be challenging because you can only have ONE practice position. This means you must focus on one aspect of your practice that is most meaningful to your audience. Here's how:
- STEP 1: Start with your mission statement. Now think about your prospective patients. What do they need? What do they think about chiropractic? Don't be afraid to go out and talk to a few people to answer some of these questions.
- STEP 2: Now look around at other chiropractors in your community. What are they saying? What do they tout in their advertising? What do people think of them?
- STEP 3: From the attitude of your target audience and the positioning of other chiropractors in your area, what is the one thing you can focus on? What one thing is most unique and special about your service?
To be successful, a positioning statement should relate to the types of patients you would like to appeal to. Here are several examples of positioning statements:
Dr. L. was in a car accident five years ago and was healed with chiropractic care. His mission statement: "To use chiropractic care to help heal people who suffer injuries related to accidents and promote better health in all my patients."
Dr. L. practices in a large city with many executives and business people. Most people use the freeways each day and there are many accidents. His competition talks mostly about back pain, although there are a few chiropractors who specialize in personal injury.
Dr. L. notices, however, that none of the other chiropractors in the city talk about their care in the language of upwardly mobile professionals. Dr. L.'s positioning statement:
"Turning Accidents into Achievements."
This statement tells Dr. L.'s prospective patients:
- He is especially adept at treating accident victims.
- His care allows patients to achieve better health, even if they've been in an accident.
- He understands you have goals and he is ready to help you achieve them.
Dr. H. became a chiropractor with the intention of bringing quality natural health care to people in his community. His mission statement: "To provide the best holistic health care for my patients and to create a holistic health resource for my community."
Since many of the people in Dr. H.'s area are interested in natural healing, he feels confident that his message will be meaningful. His competition, however, is fierce. There are five chiropractors in his area who also promote holistic health.
Dr. H. notices, however, that there are many older patients who live near his practice. He decides to appeal to these patients with the positioning statement:
"Whole Health for Your Whole Life."
Dr. H.'s positioning statement tells patients:
- He believes in holistic health.
- He treats a variety of patients, including the elderly.
Dr. K. is following in her father's footsteps. She is getting ready to take over the practice. Her mission statement: "To continue the excellent chiropractic tradition started by my father by keeping the same small town values he did."
Dr. K.'s father is well known. From visiting with some local residents she learns that people are wondering if she will be making changes to the practice when she takes over. People are curious whether they will get the same kind of care that her father gave. People in Dr. K.'s town are also very conservative. Since her town is a manufacturing center, many people have back pain. Most people are suspicious of alternative care and holistic health.
Other chiropractors in Dr. K.'s community are all older men. They talk about treating personal injury or headaches and back pain in their ads. Dr. K. is concerned about building credibility as a young woman in practice. Dr. K.'s positioning statement is:
"Treating Back Pain Since 1973."
This statement tells patients:
- Dr. K. is continuing the tradition of quality care her father started.
- Dr. K. may be young, but she is building on a longstanding tradition.
- Dr. K. specializes in treating back pain, the primary concern of her patients.
More positioning ideas:
Are people in your area frustrated by restrictive office hours? Do you carry a 24-hour pager? Are you available after office hours? Do you welcome walk-ins? If so, you may enjoy success by being known as the "Accessible Chiropractor."
If you practice in an area suffering from economic difficulties, you may want to consider positioning your practice as affordable. This doesn't mean your service is cheap, only that it is within the financial range of your patients. Do you accept and file health insurance? Do you accept multiple-payment options? Success with this position is dependent on providing your patients with financial options so that cost is not a barrier to care.
Have you published a book or articles on chiropractic? Do you live in an area where education is valued? Do you give presentations at colleges and area universities? Positioning yourself as an authoritative source can build credibility and prestige in your practice.
Back and Neck Specialist
If you chose to devote your practice mainly to problems of the back and neck, then this position may be for you. Are your prospective patients conservative about chiropractic care? Do you have significant expertise in treating back and neck pain? This position needs to be backed up with solid proof since it is used often.
Use your multiple memberships, certifications, credentials, and experience to build your practice. This position helps differentiate you from colleagues and promotes your knowledge and experience. Remember, even if other area chiropractors have similar credentials, if they aren't talking about them in their marketing, you can.
Difficult Cases Okay
You have the knowledge and credentials beyond the average chiropractor. You have experience treating tough cases. You are looking to build a practice that goes further than routine problems. If this is you, then positioning your practice as one that can tackle difficult cases will prove your capability to all types of patients.
Do you have skills in addition to being a chiropractor? Do you have training as an acupuncturist, massage therapist, or other specialty? Are you also a lawyer? The dual professional position can create a powerful one-two punch for your practice. This position can be especially powerful in an area where patients are more accepting of one specialty than another.
When more than one family member is involved in a practice, you can position yourself as offering a family tradition of care. This works well in suburban areas where family life is a top priority. Be careful to look at the competition, though, since this position is used often.
How many health food stores are operating in your area? Yoga classes? Massage therapy clinics? If you are in an area where people seek out natural health aids, then this position may be for you. Use your holistic philosophy and understanding of the body's healing power to build a practice that is an integral part of your patient's health maintenance.
"I've Been There"
This position is especially powerful if you are a former athlete, accident victim, and so on. Patients will more readily trust someone who has "been in their shoes." Sharing your personal experiences will help build your credibility and your practice.
If your practice offers the latest techniques, equipment, and technology in chiropractic care, then this position may be for you. Be prepared to do some explaining about your new leading-edge offerings—and don't forget to talk about the benefits progressive care brings to patients. However, be careful not to imply superiority over your colleagues. And be sure to check with your State Board of Examiners before claiming your practice and/or services to be the "latest," "most modern," or using these or other superlatives in your marketing.
As you can see, developing a mission and a positioning statement for your practice can help you know yourself and identify what you have to offer prospective patients—an essential preliminary step before marketing your practice. Once you've developed your practice's mission and position, you may be ready to start promoting your practice.