The adage “the riches are in the niches” no longer seems to hold true. (There are few approaches that haven’t become commodities anyway anymore.) And people have short attention spans. If you don’t provide a commodity, they’ll just be confused. They may not find you because they don’t know what they’re looking for, or they don’t know what they should be looking for, or they don’t know that you provide something they are looking for or could use.
So, provide something they’re looking for. That’s a pretty simple answer. One problem solved.
And now for pricing.
Pricing one’s services doesn’t have to be a race to the floor, so don’t denigrate yourself (or the profession) that way (please!). But it seems that people no longer care about who’s the best.
My practice partner recently had lunch with someone not in our field, but someone who knows things. This person told him that he’d been to every other DC in town, and out of all of them, my practice partner is the best. But people in our area simply will not pay our clinic’s price for an adjustment. The non-DC guy had sent many people to our office. Millionaires, some multi. They heard my partner’s treatment price and never scheduled. They walked right back out and reported to our non-DC contact that the price was too much. These were people who drove Mercedes cars and spent $2500 on a Gucci purse or $120 on a cashmere sweater or $3k on a suit or $1k on a phone, but wouldn’t pay our (upper end but not unheard of and fairly reasonable) price for an adjustment. They didn’t care that he was the best; they weren’t going to pay the price. They were going to go down the street and pay 2/3 our price, even if it meant getting less than half the service.
I know what you’re thinking… “who is this guy your practice partner had lunch with? Does he have his PhD in Business from Harvard or something?”
Actually, yes–he does.
So anyway, we were offering something different, something better, something more complete, a much better value for the money…
…and nobody cared.
Another lesson learned: trying to appeal to the upper class does not always translate to getting away with upper-end pricing, even if it’s reasonable and even if you’re offering much more for the money, and even if what you offer is starkly different from the rest.
His advice: drop the price by $6, to a number that ends in 9, and drop the quality a bit to match. Maybe you can upsell some of them later(?)
The concept of Value seems to be lost, and the respect/appreciation for it seems to have disappeared overnight. It’s all about price now, if you offer a commodity. A niche is going to be even harder to sell, because of the education involved with teaching people an unknown new concept. People usually don’t shift their way of thinking that fast.
I know what else you’re thinking… “don’t you have a website? Doesn’t it spell out your services and why you’re different from the others? Are you sure you’re doing enough pre-education??”
Check, check, and check. Website fully fleshed out and well-optimized. Very descriptive. In fact, we’ve relied upon it and referrals alone for the past four years, and it served us well. We also rank fine on Google searches.
Our website isn’t the problem. It had worked well before, and it brought people in. It didn’t change; people did.
Pre-education works, to a point, but everybody’s onto that secret, so inboxes are somewhat saturated by competitors. And most of them are doing it wrong, marketing too frequently and trying to bypass the Promotions folder by engineering the email to land in the Primary tab. People see this as manipulative, and it is. And most have attention spans shorter than fruit flies, so whatever you say in your marketing, make it count.
Again, don’t race to the floor; that doesn’t work, and you’ll only burn out and end up feeling resentful. Keep being a good doctor. But we can’t fool ourselves into thinking that we’ll simply eliminate the competition just because we think we’re doing something different. And even if we truly are doing something different, it only counts if other people know that and are in a position (mindset, resources) to pay.
(Note: this may not be happening everywhere, but it is happening in our area.)