Think of the most notable companies in the world. Juggernauts like Coca-Cola, Nike, and Apple come to mind. While these companies each have their own specific products to sell, their brand strategy is much larger than a simple product. A brand defines what your company stands for and helps your customers to connect emotionally to the services you offer. In Physical Therapy, establishing this type of connection through effective branding and messaging is crucial to become an engrained member of your community.
Below, we cover the basics of clinic identity. These are foundational concepts that can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of your other marketing initiatives. Many of you reading this probably already have a logo, a tagline and messaging, but it’s a good idea to do a brand “audit” once and while. This exercise can help you decide where you can improve in the New Year. Below you will find a basic flow of a branding exercise. We have broken this process down into five steps that you can do today and see where you’re at with your brand.
1) Define Your Mission Statement and Your Company Values
It’s difficult to create a slogan or a brand name when you aren’t sure what your company represents. What are you currently saying to your customer base?
It’s likely that your current brand is saying something like ‘I provide excellent Physical Therapy services’. While that might be the case, it is certainly not going to create a sustainable brand. Sit down and write out ten things that you consider company values. For example, one of your values could be leadership. This could apply to being a leading in the PT world through education in research or being a leader in your community by offering your services at local sporting events. Once you have decided the values of your business, you can move on to the mission statement. An effective mission statement will embody your company values in a clear and concise statement. The mission statement should make it obvious what the focus of your business is, whether that is service, integrity, professionalism, and/or quality care.
2) Identify Your Differentiators and Play to Your Strengths
There is a ton of competition in physical therapy. There is a likely possibility that within your target metropolitan area there are dozens, if not hundreds, or other physical therapy clinics in a variety of different settings. With more competition for referral sources and consumers becoming more and more savvy, its important that you articulate the unique value of your clinic. Instead of making generic statements around the practice of physical therapy, let potential referral sources and potential patients know that you are an expert in a particular specialty or technique. Your branding and messaging are the vehicles to let everyone know you are different from all of the other clinics in town. Typically, working in an area that you feel comfortable in will result in better outcomes and happier patients.
3) Evaluate Your Marketing Touch Points
Consistency is key in making your brand memorable. If you are saying completely different messages across a variety of channels, your branding and messaging get diluted. You want patients and referral sources to hear, see, or encounter pieces of your brand and immediately associate it with your business and the experience you deliver.
Ask yourself how your ads and messages make potential patients feel about your company. Try to focus on the residual benefits of visiting you for therapy. The benefit isn’t getting a fancy treatment, the benefit is being able to get back to work, or being able to play with your kids again. Those types of benefits create an emotion connection to your practice. A patient that leaves with a benefit that directly effects their quality of life is much more likely to refer friends and family to your business when they need physical therapy. Your marketing touch points should always be creating a connection in peoples minds based on solving their real life problems. The best way to create that connection is to focus on the real life benefits of receiving treatment at your facility.
4) Share and Educate Your Staff on Your Brand Vision
This step could have been considered another brand touch point, but we feel this is so important it had to have its own step. Your staff is going to have the greatest impact on how people feel about your business. For example, companies known for fantastic customer service didn’t get that way by saying they have great customer service. Their reputations are built organically based on real, excellent service.
You created a great core values list and mission statement a few steps ago, now its time to put it into practice. Take some time to present your brand concepts to your staff. Make sure that they each understand the premise and also how they can work the principles into their job. You need everyone onboard to execute an effective brand strategy. Consistently great experiences for your patients will do more for your company and your brand recognition than any advertising or marketing campaign ever could. Nailing this step is KEY.
5) Practice Makes Perfect
You cannot afford to remain stagnant. Remember, your competition is always working to attract the same prospective customer as you. Constant improvement is critical. Practice this exercise periodically and identify holes in your brand. You will learn something new about your business and your staff every time you open up the branding box. Those lessons will ensure that your clinic will continue to grow. There is a reason the fundamentals are always so important to success, so periodically it’s a great idea to revisit them.