We were fortunate enough to be able to interview Dr. Alex Kaminsky, a chiropractor in Midtown NYC for this post. He has worked in the field for many years and has acquired a depth of experience that few can match. We were most interested in the business side of being a chiropractor. Specifically, what sort of marketing challenges will a medical professional like a chiropractor face and how can they be overcome.
We first began by discussing these challenges generally. I asked Dr. Kaminsky what the greatest issue he has in marketing his chiropractic services is. He told me that it comes down to communicating value to people. How do you inform a prospective patient that doesn’t have any medical training at all about your services? How can you teach them why you are a better choice than another doctor when the customer doesn’t understand complicated medical principles? Dr. Kaminsky especially faces this challenge. Due to his love of chiropractic, he takes many hours a year of continuing education trying to hone and refine his treatment skills.
Customers may understand on a general level that more training is a good thing, but they won’t necessarily understand the ins and outs of how this specific training or knowledge benefits them. To address this, I asked Dr. Kaminsky if he has a specific persona or type in mind for his ideal patient. There are a few conditions that he targets. If someone has Neck or Back Pain, Headache, TMJ, Scoliosis, or any other musculoskeletal condition they are his prospective patient. This could apply to anyone, so the market for chiropractic services is rather broad. It can be difficult to target such a market because just about anyone fits that demographic. How do you reach everyone, or at least everyone within a certain distance of you? That is a challenge that most marketers work around by segmenting. If you’re talking to everyone you’re talking to no one. So, how can Dr. Kaminsky address this challenge?
Word of mouth. That is the bread and butter of his practice. Dr. Kaminsky makes sure to provide the highest quality care for his patients and encourage them to refer their friends and loved ones. This is a solution to both problems at once. If you can’t get all your customers to understand the intricacies of medicine and chiropractic you can certainly get them to understand that the experience gained as a patient is worthy of a recommendation, and the prospective patient is better off coming to you than going anywhere else. By providing the best care around, customers will see the value.
Word of mouth also helps with advertising challenges. It is the oldest and most direct form of advertising, and it has hung around for a reason – it works. Rather than spending money trying to locate and target a specific segment of customers, encouraging past customer to come back and refer those that they know with similar issues shifts the work of advertising away from the business. It is important to have systems in place that allow and encourage customers to do this, because it is some of the best advertising you can get.
A lot of people are familiar with professional services firms. Skilled professionals like attorneys and accountants face a unique set of challenges when trying to take their skills to market. Doctors certainly fit into this category, so I asked Dr. Kaminsky what challenges he as a chiropractors faces that professionals in other fields do not. The first thing he mentioned was the amount of continuing education that he is required to take to keep up on the latest information in his practice. In New York Chiropractors are required to take thirty six hours of continuing education every three years to stay on top of their game. Dr. Kaminsky, however, estimates that he takes around ten times that amount because he enjoys learning about new methods of treatment for the body so much and how to incorporate new techniques and skills into his practice.
It is great to be able to interview someone so passionate about their field, so interested in the study and application of it. I’ve enjoyed speaking with Dr. Kaminsky quite a bit, and it has taught me a few things as a marketer. It is not always going to be straightforward trying to market your business. What we learn in the classroom about segmenting and targeting and demographics is useful but it tends to be more immediately applicable to larger corporate settings. Small businesses will not necessarily have the resources or the ability to reach a large enough audience that it is practical to segment it. Furthermore, each industry will have a unique set of challenges that, while not totally overruling the normal rules of the game, do make us adjust how we approach our marketing strategies. Dr. Kaminsky faces all of this and more every day in his business, he’s great to speak with and I wouldn’t mind him working on my back either!