Here’s Ashley’s Question: “Since many NDs are associates in other clinics, it might be interesting to hear about how to develop one’s own brand as an individual within an established clinic. Most NDs seem to have their own websites, but should we also have our own cards, branding, banners for tradeshows, merchandise, brochures, etc. Does it become confusing for patients? I’m at two clinics so it might actually bring clarity and consistency.”
This is something that I see time and time again troubling new associates – should I blend in with the clinic and let them brand me or should I brand myself?
My answer – Always Create a Back Up Plan, in other words, Always Brand Yourself.
I am a clinic owner and an associate, and even within my own clinic – which has it’s own logo and name, I still brand myself, my face, and my personal name on anything. To me a clinic is simply the building to which you offer your services. An address.
More likely than not, when patients want to refer you, they will remember your name first and the clinic name second. When people talk about you, you want them to use your personal identity, not “the naturopath at “so and so clinic” helped me with my digestion. If there are multiple NDs in one space, how will that new patient find you if you brand yourself as just one of the associates at the clinic?
This also includes giving people direct access to YOU. When I try to reach out to other companies, or even other NDs personally, and I have to go through the generic clinic website, the first thought that runs through my head is – who’s actually going to read this? When? Will it just get lost in the shuffle of all the other e-mails?
Giving people that personal touch, your personal e-mail or a direct link to you somehow (you could even use social media handles) is also a good idea as the patients know they are connecting directly to you to book in.
Also, with your personal website, you can grow yourself faster as an authority than you could ever do with the clinic website. Your About Me page needs to include every single talk, seminar, blog post, YouTube video you’ve ever done. As patients see that, they will be impressed with how much work you’ve done and will feel more comfortable putting their health into YOUR hands, not just the clinic’s.
The other most important thing is that you might not be at that space 3, 5, 10 years from now. It’s common for NDs to move at least 2 to 3 times throughout the lifespan of their career and if you don’t have consistent branding to move with you, you will constantly be starting from scratch.
At every clinic I joined, even if they offered me free business cards or brochures, I always designed and purchased my own where I brand myself. One with MY services, with MY picture and MY personal contact information – with of course the clinic name and address.
If a clinic owner has an issue with this, let them use their marketing material in the clinic, but when you’re networking, doing talks, giving out your materials to your patients, use your own. If they still have an issue, remind them why you’re there. You’re at their clinic to bring in money. You won’t be able to do it that well if you blend into their marketing campaigns.
One of my MAXIMize Your Clinic VIPs just got fired from her clinic because she was bringing in too many of her own patients and doing too much of her own branding! That’s the most ludicrous story I have ever heard! Luckily, at the exact same time, the clinic she’s been wanting to join just opened a possible position for her – talk about the universe looking out for you!
If the clinic owner wants to be possessive, then that may be a red flag for a healthy working relationship down the road.
Growing your Business
Patients always choose the PERSON they relate to. That’s how to attract them. That’s how to establish the therapeutic relationship and most importantly, that’s how to create word-of-mouth referrals.
Building a personal brand will always be easier and faster especially if you want to start doing more speaking engagements, podcast interviews, online summits and guest blogging.
As a personal brand, it also allows you to speak directly to your Ideal Patient Audience. The exact patient you want to attract. Be it fertility for women ages 20-35yo, PCOS women wanting to get pregnant, celiac patients ages 10-40yo. You name it.
You know that there’s patients that you’re seeing in office that you really resonate with. You get amazing results with. The research into their case inspires you. Those are your Ideal Patients and you need to make your marketing efforts speak to THEM. If you let the clinic run all the social media and branding, you’re going to lose your voice and therefore lose a lot of potential patients.
NURTURING is also a huge part of the game of naturopathic medicine.
As a clinic, if they send out newsletters it may be 1-2 times per month, and it’s boringly promoting the clinic’s services with maybe a quick article or two on healthy living.
Do not let the clinic nurture your patients! You need to be sending them personal information from YOU about your teachings, your learning, from your brand. You should be speaking to your patients with great free information weekly. And, as you do more guest speaking, you collect those leads and nurture them to become new patients.
The clinic will do a REALLY REALLY bad job of nurturing your ideal patients because it’s a business of associates, not centered around you.
Blending the Two
There is certainly a way you can blend the two if you wish.
Ask the clinic owners if you can have access to their website for blogging and social media for posting. Literally copy and paste your personal material and repost it again onto the clinic site. There’s never anything wrong with duplicating your material online.
You may want to slightly reformat the copy as the clinic versus as your personal self, but never feel that you can’t put the same information out there, just in a slightly different format.