Branding is an important job. Done well, it has the power to efficiently attract customers; done poorly, you may pull your hair out in frustration.
Branding is a systematic way of communicating value. Each industry has different values that are important to customers. With soft drinks, for example, the primary appeal is social-emotional. And because of the importance of the social-emotional component for a brand like Coke, they need to frequently update their slogan every few years to keep the appeal fresh. For Coke, the passing of time has taken the company through 47 slogans, from its original slogan in 1886, “Drink Coca-Cola,” to “The Coke Side of Life” launched in 2006. Coke has a track record of responding quickly to trends, sometimes too quickly, as happened with the disastrous launch of “America’s Real Choice” and New Coke in 1985. Fortunately for a professional brand like Physical Therapy, which is sold based on concrete results and evidence, not social appeal, changing slogans is not quite that important.
At this point you should be wondering what this has to do with you. After all, marketing soft drinks is a bit afield from marketing Physical Therapy, right? Well not really. The principles are the same. So let’s get to it.
With a little help from Coca-Cola’s former Chief Marketing Officer, Sergio Zyman, we can learn how to leverage powerful branding principles to increase the frequency by which prospective patients and referral sources select “Coke Physical Therapy” as the preferred brand over “Pepsi Physical Therapy.”
|Sergio’s Branding Principles*||PT Branding Application|
|A brand is a container for a customer’s complete experience with a product and company.||Make the experience as unique and memorable as possible. Ask yourself, what can I do to make each visitor or referral source say, “Wow, that exceeded my expectations.”|
|A brand simplifies the buying process by differentiating a product on something besides price.||PT is unique, and gives you clearly differentiable skills, but to your prospect, clinic visitor, or referral source, they probably view your approach as typical. You need to fix that, by providing more than just information on what to expect during visits. Comparisons work well here – they help your prospects understand the basic treatment differentiators so they can explain to a friend or colleague why what you do is special, unique, and more effective than other options.
Don’t create patients, create PT consumers.
|A brand is the bundle of functional and emotional benefits, attributes, usage experiences, icons, and symbols that in total comprises the meaning of a product or service.||PT is part of the primary care network. The sheer size, scope, and composition of the network are a very powerful branding weapon. How do you make this information visible to prospective patients and referral sources? Provide tangible evidence, in simple to understand tools or handouts. Create special pages and forums on your website, and SHOWCASE them wherever possible. Reinforce benefits repeatedly with additional evidence in the form of articles and reports. Well designed professional handouts add credibility to the brand. Implement a proactive testimonial and referral program, where permitted.|
|A brand is a company’s most valuable asset.||Effective communication of the brand to your target audience makes the job of generating visits infinitely easier.
There is nothing with the potential return on investment more powerful than a well managed brand.
|Branding is the conscious strategy and action of turning a product or service offering into a brand.||Communicating important and relevant information to your prospective patients and referral sources should be systematized right down to the very last detail. How is the phone answered? What do you send potential referral sources, and how often? What low-risk trial offers do you promote and advertise? How do you train your associates to use all these tools and understand your strategy?|
*As written in Sergio Zyman’s book, The End Of Advertising As We Know It, John Wiley & Sons, ©2002
So how do you tackle this? The very first step is easy. Make sure all your materials include a consistent use of your logo and trade mark. As your special expertise becomes familiar to your prospective patients and referral sources through your other marketing activities as described in the table above, the trademark becomes an INSTANT handle for the special “container” known as “_______ Physical Therapy.” If this is done well, through time and exposure, you become an integral part of that container, and with little thought, PT consumers will choose you.
If you’re doing this on your own, pick one principle from the table and master it. Create materials with consistent design elements and use of the trademark. If you can afford a basic budget, get help from a professional marketing company that understands your unique branding challenges.
To get a better idea about what to look for in your marketing company, download our complimentary Clinic Owner’s Guide To Marketing at www.PTreferralmachine.com , or attend one of our webinars. See the webinar content description at www.PTreferralMachine.com/webinar .