“What’s in a Name?
- Attracting new patients in advertisements
- Getting referrals from lawyers
- Increasing the value of your practice
In 1982, I produced a dozen direct mailers for my community to help my practice get started. I spent days agonizing over how to get the message across to the community that chiropractic can help people get well and more importantly, stay well. I went to the reverse directory of the phone book and spent countless hours compiling a list of addresses, along with meeting as many people as possible in my community to complete my database.
I had the mailers“mimeographed,” as I couldn’t afford printing and photocopy machines were yet to be invented (I am old), and hand stamped them. It was a real “mom and pop” operation, yet I was very proud of what I produced. It sent the message I wanted to my community about the type of practice I wanted. I waited for my phone to ring for one, two, three submissions, and got nothing but big bills and unrealized expectations.
I received a letter after the 3rd submission from an anonymous recipient that said, “Dr. Studin, I am an account executive for a large marketing firm in Manhattan and I work with very large medical groups and hospitals to help build their business. Your newsletter, although informative, will not work for you according to our market research. We found that there are only 2 things that motivate the public in the health care sector: pain and fear. Your marketing piece that you send to the community addresses neither of those topics…”
After I spent a day or two pondering who this ass was who had the nerve to criticize me, I realized I was the ass and changed my entire thought process regarding my marketing campaign. This person was hired by the biggest corporations in America to build their business and my experience was osteology, diverisified adjusting and central nervous system…meaning I had no training or experience in marketing. I changed my entire focus on marketing and advertising to “pain and fear,” with the understanding that I no longer cared why they came into my office. I knew that when they were in my environment, I could educate them to anything I wanted. By the way, it worked and to this day, I have never met the person who wrote me that letter, although I remember that lesson like it was yesterday.
Along the lines of “wellness and family practice,” I practiced exclusively as a family practitioner for over a decade, successfully. The name of my practice was Stony Brook Chiropractic Office and after those 3 failed newsletters, I never again repeated my mistake and always marketed along the lines of pain and fear. I realized that the words “family” and “wellness” did not motivate 1 person to seek my care, not in an ad or in a practice name. My goal was to get as many people under care as physically possible and not feed my ego about a practice name.
Your practice name is a very powerful vehicle in the success of your clinic every day you open your doors and equally important when you close your doors. From a marketing/advertising perspective, if a patient is referred by another patient, your practice name means nothing, the referral is coming regardless. However, if you advertise by listing your name in the phone book or any other medium, the potential patient will inspect the ad to find some emotional or logistic connection to make a decision. One of the most important components of the decision making process is location.
When studying marketing, the advertising psychologists have concluded that the average person purchases headlines when there is an emotional connection. Meaning, that the headline catches their attention and something strikes a feeling motivating them to purchase; sex, pain, fear, greed or joy are some examples of what advertisers strive to get across in their message. Look at every ad on television or national magazines and find the message in each ad. It’s there.
People today have very full lives; they work multiple jobs, have children that have to be cared for or driven and are just too tired to drive further than they have to. Therefore, if you have a physical landmark in the name of your practice, it will meet the emotional need of a person looking for a doctor in an ad….your location. Pick a town, street, community name and avoid a building name, as most practices make a move or two in the life of the practice.
When Mrs. Jones looks for a doctor, she can find one that is in her neighborhood that jumps off the page. Remember, people do not read the “fine print,” they only read the headlines. When they read my ad, if it said “Studin Chiropractic Office,” they would have to find my address in smaller font vs. seeing “Stony Brook Chiropractic Office” as the focal point of the page and by the headline. If they are in pain, they will be looking for a chiropractor that can help get them out of pain and who is close. As a side note, I always had a “pain reference” in every ad I placed, although the majority that came in from those ads shopped location.
When it’s time to join me in your second life after practice, you will work very hard to sell your practice. If the name of my practice was "Studin Chiropractic Office" and Studin didn’t go with the practice, it would lower the value of the practice. Should the name be associated with a location, then it increases the value of your practice at the sale. I am a firm believer that you have worked very hard to build and maintain your practice and you are entitled to every penny the practice is worth.
In the personal injury world, from the lawyers’ perspective, the least qualified practitioner to treat the injured is the family medical doctor, and I agree. Their world is about infectious disease and as a rule, they do not treat, nor document appropriately, the injured. Therefore, if you have “family” in the name of your practice, you will fall into the lawyers' belief system of being unqualified and prevent referrals from an emotional and business perspective.
From a lawyer’s perspective, the name “wellness” does not inspire them to want to work with you either. They are looking for an experienced doctor in treating the injured, not a doctor who focuses on vitamins and cleansing diets; THAT IS THEIR PERCEPTIVE of the wellness doctor.
Since we have already established that the words “family” and “wellness” will not get you new patients, and it is a negative having your name attached to the clinic, change it. If you have a legal entity that has either "family" or "wellness" in the name, do not change. Crete a DBA and register it in some legal entity so no one can steal it from you. I have had many doctors attempt to steal my practice name through the years and profit from my “branding” of the name and my reputation in my community.
If you want to maintain a family practice, I would suggest using only the name of a physical location, as examples:
Note: For those who are creatively impaired, substitute your location for the examples below
- Main Street Chiropractic (Street)
- Stony Brook Chiropractic (Town)
- Indian Point Chiropractic (Region or community name)
If you want a trauma or pain practice, use both the name and a location:
- Stony Brook Injury and Relief Center
- Stony Brook Spine Institute
- Stony Brook Pain & Injury Center
- Stony Brook Spine and Injury Center
- Stony Brook Spine and Relief Center
- Stony Brook Accident and Injury Center
You also must take into account the laws of your state, as the description of "institute," "center" or others have certain requirements. Please verify with legal counsel.
As you can see, “What’s in a name?…Everything!”