The Mailroom: Kids, Boomers, Chiros, Gyms, Docs, Data (& more)

We love to hear from subscribers. Need a sounding-board? Want to bounce an idea off someone? If you take the time to ask, we take the time to answer.

Send us your question.

Here’s the latest round of questions we’ve tackled, some edited to fit:

1) Marketing a kid-oriented speech therapy practice

Our speech therapy clinic works with kids and needs a tagline for a small newspaper ad, maybe something about helping kids communicate or grow or bloom and a nature picture. Is that too sappy?

Radial/Leslie Nolen: Sure, all of those ideas have potential, although we think you should definitely include the communication concept – growth alone is too generic. Good taglines are a snapshot of your business. You need emotional power that captures the concerns that keep parents (who write the checks) up at night. Avoid puns and cute slogans – speech is terribly serious to parents and cutesy slogans will devalue your professional expertise.

Also: Avoid ads in newspapers – they generally are extremely ineffective in this market unless there’s a specialty local publication that targets parents especially effectively.

Our advice for marketing health-related services: focus on building word-of-mouth from happy parents and referral business from pediatricians and others likely to be consulted on how to develop speech and address speech concerns. Develop simple marketing materials that speak to the concerns and hot buttons of both customers (aka parents) and referral sources (MDs, teachers, audiologists, etc.).

2) Marketing a baby-boomer/retiree fitness business

We are launching a new fitness company, starting with personal training and planning to open a full gym within 2 years, then grow geographically. Our target market is retired baby boomers and we are emphasizing individualized programs. What should we think about as we develop our marketing plans?

Radial/Leslie Nolen: The physical condition of most people in their 30s and 40s is relatively similar, but enormous variation develops among people as they age. Some people in their 60s and 70s are bedridden even though they have no acute illness, while others are still going strong.

It’s the product of many lifestyle choices over a lifetime + genetics + environment, not so much a product of chronological age. So with this segment it’s even more important to market to them based on their capabilities/goals, not just on age.

But: as a practical matter, in most communities adults in their 50s and beyond are unfit and overweight and starting to experience health problems related to their inactivity.

Key concerns: fear that increased activity will harm or kill them; intimidation by equipment they don’t understand, a sense of hopelessness that they’re too old to succeed, fear of early disability leading to nursing home.

As a group, they tend to be much more motivated/loyal than younger customers. Designing your services to “meet them where they are” capability-wise and ensure small, early successes will be huge in attracting/retaining them.

3) Business challenges for chiropractors

What’s the biggest challenge for a new chiropractor? We’ve been told that we should advertise heavily and offer extensive free “try us out” services.

Radial/Leslie Nolen: Giving away free services isn’t really an effective business development tactic. In fact, traditional advertising and marketing approaches usually fail in the health/wellness sector, primarily because most clients won’t choose a chiropractor, for example, based on an ad. And even if they did, what are the odds that they’ll see your ad at the exact time that they need a chiropractor?

Most chiropractic clients choose chiropractors based on word-of-mouth referral from family, friends and coworkers. Don’t assume that clients know you want referrals – plant the seeds for referrals early in the relationship. Check our website for articles on referrals and marketing through organizations.

Bottom-line – the key success factors are 1) select an appropriate location; 2) take the initiative to build referral networks; 3) proactively build word-of-mouth business; 4) make yourself visible to your target audience and 5) give yourself quantitative goals for all of these.

4) New gym needs name

We are opening a boxing and fitness gym in the next 6 months and need a strong name. We’ll also have self-defense classes and cardio. We are targeting everyone, not just boxers. Any suggestions?

Radial/Don Muchow: 1) Couple of thoughts as you evaluate names: You said “The gym will service anyone…not just the aspiring boxer.” If you refer to boxing in the name, you’ll turn off people who aren’t interested in boxing or have a negative view of it. For example, you probably won’t attract women interested in general fitness (unless your focus is kickboxing, and even then…). You also probably won’t attract anyone who’s relatively unfit. Not saying that’s good or bad – depends on your business goals.

Keep in mind that the already-active folks out there have plenty of gyms to choose from. The underserved part of this market is unfit people of all ages/both genders.

2) Customers tend to respond best to straightforward names that clearly explain what your business is about. They don’t respond as well to “cute” names or plays on words.

Google your name ideas to see if anyone else is already using it. Find out if it’s available as a domain name. You can do a free search yourself at the US Patent & Trademark Office (www.uspto.gov) to see if it’s already registered. Sadly, any name that’s especially catchy is probably already taken, and even very small businesses can get cease-and-desist letters when they use names that are already registered…better to check it out upfront and consult an attorney, in our opinion.

We’ve got guidelines and examples of what to do/not do on choosing names specifically for wellness businesses; drop us an e-mail if you’d like a copy.

5) Specialty medical practice looking for health fairs

We want to expand our patient base by participating in health fairs but can’t find any in our area. Any ideas on how to find out where health fairs are being held?

Radial/Leslie Nolen: A couple of suggestions:

1) Talk to large local hospitals, specifically the wellness department or wellness center staff. They often host and staff health fairs.

2) Check the events calendar with large local indoor malls. They often host health fairs.

3) Fewer and fewer employers host traditional fairs, for a variety of reasons. However, depending on your clinic’s specialties, contacting nearby employers and offering to sponsor a day of screening might be well-received.

4) Ask your current patients for information about whether their employers currently sponsor health fairs. Keep in mind that if you do contact a patient’s employer you need to be careful to observe HIPAA privacy requirements.

5) We see fewer health professionals participating in health fairs, primarily because they don’t get enough future clients to justify the time and cost. A structured approach to getting referrals (staying clear of any Stark conflicts, of course) + increasing visibility of the practice & its professionals (not just the docs) in the community is usually much more effective. Just a thought…

6) How to market a pain management medical practice

My clinic provides pain management without surgery or drugs through a board-certified MD. I need a tagline that explains what I do, because potential patients are often confused about whether I am a chiropractor, a doctor, or a physical therapist.

Radial/Don Muchow: When you’re trying to develop a tagline, start by writing down the way your patients (clients) describe your clinic’s benefits to their friends, family, coworkers.

If you’re not sure what they say, we suggest that you actually ask a handful of them for their input. They’ll be incredibly flattered. Don’t ask them for a tagline, though – just ask them how they have described the services and (very important) the benefits to other people they know.

Then, to come up with your tagline, boil down the most promising comments into a very short phrase. Something simple and clear, like “no drugs, no surgery…no pain” is best.

Remember that taglines alone don’t win customers. In your line of work (which sounds similar to PM&R physicians), your best source of clients will be referrals from other professionals and happy patients, and networking in your community – for example, addressing parents of school-age athletes on non-surgical options, addressing women’s groups, etc.

Not saying you shouldn’t have a tagline – merely that it’s a “nice to have”, not a “got to have” for a successful strategy for your particular situation.

7) Projecting market growth

Is there a way to predict market and population growth in a community?

Radial/Leslie Nolen: You bet. If you have more time than money, you can get free census projections in Excel spreadsheets at www.census.gov. It’ll include gender, race/ethnicity, different age groups, and more.

If you have more money than time, you can subscribe to a service like DemographicsNow for a month (about $130/month & up) and run a huge variety of reports that show detailed historical, current, and projected demographic data down to an extremely granular level (smaller than a zip-code region). You can pay more and layer on additional data (psychographics, for example).

It’ll probably take a first-time user most of a week to review the reports, customize as needed, create and print them, and analyze them. You can then use this data to feed your revenue forecast. If you need help, call us at 877-851-0098 and ask about target market analysis.

8) AEDs and equipment distributors

I would like to see an article on AEDs. My company distributes fitness equipment and I’ve been trying to convince it to carry AEDs for 3 years and it is still not offered in our product line.

Radial/Lucy Miele: We’re not currently planning an article on AEDs, but if you search the IHRSA, Fitness Business Pro (Club Industry), and Red Cross sites you’ll find coverage.

 

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Leslie Nolen, Radial's president, is the nationally-known expert on the art and science of selling health and wellness.

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