Know Your Competition to Grow Your Practice!
To most effectively promote your holistic health practice, you need to know as much as possible about your fellow practitioners. Just as athletes and armies study their opponents, you should find out the strengths and weakness of your competition. But this is not so you can defeat them – as in football or war! It’s to help you differentiate yourself from others! To create your unique position in your local holistic healthcare marketplace and get noticed by your niche of Ideal Clients, you need to know your competitors!
Who are the other practitioners in your area who treat the same problems that you do, both in your modality and in others? They may be your colleagues and your friends. Even if you are not a competitive person, their practice is in competition with your practice. It’s not personal, it’s business!
Suppose you are a counselor who helps people manage the stress in their lives. Here’s a partial list of your competitors (other professionals who also treat stress): Clinical Psychologists, Massage Therapists, Spas, Personal Trainers, Life Coaches, Acupuncturists, Yoga Instructors, Meditation Teachers, Hair Stylists, Bartenders and Priests (kidding…or am I?). Who are your competitors – other practitioners who treat the same type of clients, conditions or problems as you?
Conduct thorough research on colleagues and competitors in your local area who work with the same type of clients as you do – those who target the same niche or population, or treat the same conditions. Read their ads in the Yellow Pages, their brochures, their business cards, their flyers on the wall at the mall.
Call other practitioners and ask them what conditions or populations they work with, what sets them apart and why you should choose them. Chances are they will stumble over this, letting you know that they have not given much thought to their own USP, which gives you a marketing edge.
Introduce yourself and ask if you can stop by their office to meet in person – a friendly professional visit. Bring them a small gift for their office such as a treatment product or a plant. At their office, look around through the eyes of a potential client to get a feel for their space, how they present themselves, the impression their office makes.
Meet your colleagues and competitors so you can get a sense of their business – their personal style, policies and procedures, skills and techniques, personality and professionalism. If you like what you see, briefly mention the possibility of working together in a future joint venture, such as a public presentation to grow both your practices. Invite them to visit your office, or to a networking or business event. Ask if they would be interested in trading services with you and, if they agree, offer to do their session first.
If your competitors are not differentiating themselves by defining their USP, this gives you an incentive to make your practice stand out in the marketplace. If they are clued in to marketing themselves as unique, you have an even stronger reason to do so.
Make a list or spreadsheet to keep track of all your different competitors. List all of the practitioners who compete with you, as well as everything you learned about them from your research project – their modalities, skills and techniques, credentials, mission, professional philosophy, personality, office features, marketing materials, Unique Service Position, joint venture potential and any other qualities you discover that characterize their healthcare practices and/or help you to define your own business.
If you’re tempted to skip this step – if you think you don’t want to call your competitors and go schlepping all over town to meet them and check out their practices – think again! Think about how this research will help you differentiate yourself. Think about the competitive advantage it will give you. Think about all the clients you will get as a result. Think about how doing your homework will grow your income.
Think about it as if your success depends on it – because it does! If you think it’s a lot of trouble – you’re right! But do it anyway – you and your business are worth it!