Q: I'm in the business of alternative physical therapy. I have so many benefits to offer, but I'm uncertain about how to reach an appropriate target market and how to convey a message that's as unique as the concept of alternative physical therapy. Do you have any advice?
A: The best way to build your practice is to target prospects who demonstrate through their current patterns of behavior that they'll be receptive to your marketing message. Since you're marketing an alternative form of physical therapy, your best prospects will probably be interested in other nontraditional kinds of health care and in practices devoted to their long-term physical and mental well-being. They may take herbs or homeopathic medications, visit acupuncturists, or practice yoga or tai chi, for example.
Set up a referral program for your practice that includes telephone calls and meetings with practitioners, such as acupuncturists and yoga instructors, who can refer business to you. If there are tai chi or martial arts schools in your area, establish relationships with the owners or instructors and gain their permission to post fliers, distribute brochures and even offer special workshops, perhaps in partnership with their facilities.
I would also suggest you use a combination of advertising and public relations to reach your target audience. Visit your local health-food stores or pharmacies that sell herbal remedies, and look at the publications being distributed there. Select the ones that carry the largest number of ads and editorial pages for related services, as they'll be the most widely read. Create a benefit-oriented ad campaign to run in these publications; establish relationships with their editorial staffs and pitch public relations stories.
When creating your marketing materials, resist the temptation to rely solely on tangible benefits, such as improved physical functioning, and weave in intangible benefits that relate to how your treatment makes clients "feel." For examples of how to use intangible benefits successfully, just look at the marketing for day spas, which promise to make clients feel beautiful, rested and stress-free. When you reach the right target audience with a message focused on the intangible benefits of long-term good health and well-being, you'll put your practice on a strong growth curve.