The Kentucky Psychological Association published another one of my articles in it’s August 2014 membership publication. Much of the advice can easily apply to attorneys, physicians, and other small businesses. I contribute articles to help practioners in the areas of practice management, marketing, business development and related topics. In the below copy of the KPA article, I focus on the power of differentiation. However, I don’t mean adding additional practice areas to your firm. Instead, I recommend that you focus on ways to differentiate yourself to grow your practice.
The Power (and Profit) of Focus – KY Psychological Association, August 2014
In my previous KPA article (April, 2014), I raised several points related to the profitability of your practice. One of these points dealt with your ability to generate a consistent stream of new patient intakes. More importantly, generating intakes of patients who are best suited for your type of practice. I referred to these as your “ideal patients.” Your success in this area is a key determinant of your long-term performance and profitability. Just how a practitioner does this depends on having a plan, not simply a “hope.” The power of focus is critical. Over the next few articles, I’m going to help you to develop your plan. Let’s consider a few tips you can use to increase your power and your resulting profit.
Your marketplace is crowded. Your competition grows each year. Carving out a niche to differentiate yourself in the minds of prospective patients may seem overwhelming, but when you break it into manageable pieces, it often comes down to consistency.
Believe it or not, there are many free resources already available to you. Many of these can help get the word out about you, your practice and those qualities that differentiate you. The number one question professionals should focus on isn’t how much to charge; rather, it’s effectively answering the question, “Why You?”
Before you worry about how to spread the word, spend time defining what those actual words are. Invest time in understanding your strengths and how you can communicate them, consistently. In a recent seminar, I discussed the power of a well-articulated elevator speech. The brevity forces you to focus on specific words to describe what it is that you actually do.
The term “elevator speech” is based on a simple concept. Imagine you stepped onto an elevator with another person. The person asks, “What do you do?” You have a finite opportunity to inform them, but also to elicit a follow-up question, such as “That’s interesting. What types of patients to you treat?” Or maybe, “How long have you been practicing?”
Those questions may lead to the exchanging of contact information and possibly a follow-up discussion. You never know who may already know your next, ideal patient. If you’ve practiced for any length of time, you understand the value of a good referral.
So what’s your elevator speech? Mine’s quite simple: “I’m a business consultant. I work with attorneys, physicians and other professionals to help them run their businesses more effectively and more profitably.” It’s not fancy, but more often than not there’s always a follow-up question (objective #1 – achieved). Realistically, it may not be that individual who could benefit from working with me. Nevertheless, I’m always willing to bet he/she could become a referral source. Paths cross for a reason.
If you haven’t already, take a few minutes to consider how you describe your practice. Ask some friends outside of your field to listen to your explanation. Would that description peak their interest? If not, focus and refine it. It’ll be worth the effort.
“No one Remembers Average”
I’m often surprised at how many professionals haven’t spent time considering the power of personal branding. How exactly do you begin to standout in the crowd? Find a way to effectively differentiate yourself from your colleagues, albeit in a positive way. Personal branding involves the steps you take to create that difference in the minds of potential patients and those who could impact your business.
William Arruda is a recognized expert in this area. He has a series of videos available for free on YouTube. To assist you in understanding your personal brand – and possibly crafting your elevator speech – click on this link to watch his video on differentiation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aD_oj1cCmTk.
Now that you’ve begun to think about how you describe your practice, test it and refine it. Set a self-imposed deadline and add it to your calendar. I’ve realized over the years that if I don’t actually put it on my calendar, it probably won’t get done. All of us can find multiple reasons to delay this foundational work. The key here is to simply start. Take one small step at a time and focus on the progress you’re making. Wow, does that advice sound familiar?
If you’ve made it this far down the page, I want to thank you for taking a few minutes to focus on your success. In my next article, I’m going to outline some specific free resources and low-cost ways to help you spread the word about your practice. Until then, feel free to visit my business consulting website and consider Liking my Facebook page (Jim Ray Consulting Services). Remember, you can improve the profitability of your practice through the power of focus.