No matter what industry you’re in, the success of your business is largely dependent on how well you stack up against your competitors. But instead of wasting valuable time and resources coming up with ways to one-up the competition, why not take a more positive approach to attracting the attention of potential clients? If our ultimate goal is to elevate the rehab therapy profession as a whole, then we are better off touting the positive attributes of our own clinics rather than attacking our fellow professionals. Here are six tips for setting yourself apart from the masses:
1. Figure out what makes you different. Anybody can come out and say they’re number-one—so instead of making vague, clichéd claims about how great you are, try to develop a substantive story about what, specifically, separates you from everyone else. What inspired you to enter the rehab therapy business? How does your approach differ from those of other professionals in the industry? How do your patients benefit from that approach?
2. Identify your goals. You’re probably familiar with the SMART method of goal-setting: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Rehab therapists often use this method to track patient progress from one visit to the next, but it also applies to your clinic’s marketing objectives. Establish goals that are specific to you—things you not only can achieve, but want to achieve. Resist the urge to compare yourself to your competitors; focus on what you want to attain, and it will make marketing much more fun and rewarding.
3. Be a trendsetter. You want to be the original, not the imitator. Take patient feedback seriously. It might spark an idea that leads to innovation, and as an innovator, you set the standard.
4. Enlist brand evangelists. If you’re good at what you do, you’re going to have loyal customers who sing your praises every chance they get. With the advent of social media, these raving fans are more important than ever. Encourage patients, friends, and colleagues to share their high opinion of you with others—both in person and online.
Online comments and reviews reach a much larger audience than traditional word-of-mouth, and you can augment the impact of your online presence even more by staying engaged with your audience. So, join the conversation. Connect with people in your community. Keep yourself, and your practice, in the minds of current and potential clients—and watch your business grow.
5. Be a team player. Remember, we’re all in this together. Respect your fellow rehab professionals and realize that attacking each other will only weaken the entire rehab therapy community. As PR professional Tom Woolf reminds us in his article on trash talking competitors: “When you sling mud, some of that mud will land on you.”
6. Honesty is the best policy. It might sound cliché, but it’s true: the truth really does set you free. Everyone makes mistakes. If you mess up, take responsibility for your actions, offer a sincere apology, correct the situation, and move on. Whether you’ve tweeted something that didn’t go over so well, received a bad review online, or elicited a wave of backlash from an ad campaign gone awry, do your best to respond quickly, succinctly, and above all, honestly. Your ability to maintain your composure in a time of crisis will end up giving you even more credibility with your loyal customer base.
So remember, competition is inevitable in any industry, and rehab therapy is no exception. A little pressure from your competitors isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you really want to achieve greatness, you’ve got to set your own path.