In a Competitive Market, Differentiation is the Key
For the highest chances in receiving referrals, your potential sources need to quickly understand why your clinics are different from others in the market. One cannot assume that a referral source understands the unique qualities of your individual programs or your therapist's specializations.
Physicians and their staff face incredible in-office pressure from sales reps, ancillary service providers, and others - so they need to hear specifics about why they should choose your clinic to care for their patients.
Here are four categories to consider in your value proposition:
- Unique qualities. What do you offer that no one else can? Be sure to share specific programs, data showing your outcome, maps, script pads, etc.
- Advantages. What do you do better than other providers? Do your best to convert the value of your products into financial results for your referral sources.
- Parity. Is there little or no difference between your clinic and your competition? Look for even minor differences that may add up to a competitive advantage. Like providing superior customer service in your clinics (locations, hours, products, front office support, etc.)
- Disadvantages. Are there areas in which competitors have an edge? Do some of your advantages offset these disadvantages?
Look for any gaps or weaknesses in your competitor's products or services, especially when you offer a more complete package, more clinics, or if you have a better community reputation. What are the major strengths and weaknesses of your competition? How do they compare with your own?
To find out all this important competitive information by the following:
- Go to your competition's web page
- Stop in and visit their clinics
- Read the financial reports for publicly traded companies
- Network with care managers, employers and insurers
- Ask referring physicians why they might be referring to your competition
- Attend local or statewide events where your competitors may be
Never overestimate or underestimate the competition. Even the best clinics and marketing leaders make mistakes that can be discovered.
While it is a mistake to overestimate the competition, it can be just as dangerous to underestimate them - this can cause us to sometimes take our own customers for granted. Our competition is going after the same market share we are, daily.
Physical therapy can often be viewed as a commodity - because physicians have heard the same things about our specialty year after year. If we ask questions, uncover needs, and differentiate our clinics - referral sources will better understand the unique offering we can provide and over time new patient volumes should increase significantly.