What’s Our USP?

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In marketing there is a concept known as the Unique Selling Proposition (USP).  It is that which is special about your product or service.  “Lowest prices in town,” “service after the sale,” “money back guarantee.”  It is that which makes what you have to offer more attractive than anyone else’s.  Most marketing experts agree that a USP is an absolute necessity and that it should be constantly promoted to the public.  Unfortunately, the chiropractic profession has no USP.  Some have tried to position us as back doctors or specialists in musculoskeletal conditions.  However, physiatrists, physical therapists, osteopaths, orthopedics, athletic trainers and assorted other therapists all do those things.  Nothing unique there.  Another group has tried to position us as a drugless approach to healing and the treatment of disease.  While that may be better than the musculoskeletal USP, it does present some problems.  First, it has to be desirable.  7-Up developed a USP a few years ago as the “uncola.”  It was a boon to their image and sales. However, they never jumped ahead of Coke and Pepsi.  Simply because people apparently like the taste of cola better than 7-Up, even though they are the best-selling “uncola.”  Well, chiropractic may be the “best-selling” drugless healing art but we are definitely not the only one.  There is acupuncture, homeopathy, massage, reflexology and a dozen or more other therapies.  Being drugless does not make us unique.  Further, like 7-Up found out, if being caffeine-free is so great, others, including Coke and Pepsi, will soon follow.  Medicine will incorporate drugless if drugless ever becomes that attractive.  (Isn’t “drugless medicine” an oxymoron?  But then, so is “chiropractic physician”).  So the bottom line is whether we try to position ourselves as treaters of musculoskeletal conditions or as a drugless healing art, we are not unique and will have to share the “market” with others, including medicine.  Whether we can garner enough of a market to survive is the question that is on everybody’s mind.  The issue of doing what we do for less cost than medicine is the USP for some of our profession. However, when government-managed care is forced upon us, that will not be a consideration.  The government will establish fees for everybody.

The reason for a lack of a USP for much of the profession is a lack of a unique objective.  Most of our leaders, organizations and practitioners really do not know what we want to be as a profession when we grow up.  Well, after a 100 years, it’s time we grow up and decide what we want to do.  One small segment of our profession has decided what it wants to do.  It is not to provide a drugless alternative to medicine.  It is not to fill a small niche in the area of orthopedic problems.  It is a unique service, one that no one else can provide or chooses to provide.  There is no competition and no profession that provides an alternative to it.  There is no alternative to it.  The objective, straight chiropractor corrects vertebral subluxations to allow the innate intelligence of the body to be expressed more fully over the nervous system.  That’s all, nothing more, nothing less.  We definitely have our act together when it comes to knowing what we are and what we want to do. Unfortunately, I believe we have yet to articulate a unique selling proposition to reflect what we do for society.  We have a difficult time finding not just a catchy phrase, like “good to the last drop,” but a USP that adequately describes what we do.  “It’s the real thing” doesn’t do justice to the idea of increasing an individual’s ability to express more of their innate potential (besides, it’s already taken).  “Be all that you can be” comes close, but I think somebody has already used that also.  How do you get across all that regular, lifetime chiropractic care has to offer in one phrase or even give people an idea of what it has to offer them?  It involves health, life, productivity, interpersonal relationships, potential and a whole lot more. The problem is that what we do is so abstruse, it does not affect peoples’ senses.  Enabling the innate intelligence of the body to better express itself
does not tickle the taste buds, is not pleasing to the eye, is not as smooth as silk and is not music to the ears.  What we do is difficult for people to grasp on the level that they are.  We are further handicapped by the fact that the effects of what we do are so vast, and often times subtle, that it is impossible to distill them into a single phrase.  We have in the past tried by focusing solely on chiropractic’s beneficial effects on the body’s ability to heal itself.  As important as that is, it is such a small part.  It is so inadequate and denies the majority of the public the opportunity to grasp the vast benefits of a lifetime of chiropractic care.  Besides, improving the body’s ability to heal can easily be misconstrued or actually degenerate into just another therapy.  Chiropractic history shows us, that is exactly how therapeutic chiropractic came into existence.  It is the illegitimate child of “enabling the innate intelligence of the body to better heal itself.” It’s true we do that, but it just doesn’t cut it as our USP. We have already discussed in previous issues of The Pivot how “Wellness Care” is a worthless phrase that is totally inadequate as part of our USP.  It is my opinion that anything with “human potential” in it is not satisfactory.  While it, perhaps more than anything, describes what we do, to most people, it is just as esoteric a term as “enabling the innate intelligence of the body to better express itself.”  Additionally, “human potential” is often asso-
ciated with New Age practices and chiropractic must remain disassociated from everything to impact upon society the way it should.

There is no doubt we need a USP for objective, straight chiropractic.  It must be something everyone can relate to and everyone can desire.  As important a concept as innate intelligence is, at this point in time very few people can relate to the importance of its maximum expression.  Our USP must not compromise our philosophy or our singular objective. It must be unique to us.  It must be something that the public can associate with chiropractic and only chiropractic. You do not associate “fresher breath and whiter teeth” with shoe polish.  A recent survey indicated that only 5% of the American public associates chiropractic with the nervous system.  When you realize that probably 20% of the public has been to a chiropractor at one time or another, that’s a rather scary statistic.  Not only doesn’t the general public understand that what we do relates directly to the nervous system, three out of four patients who come in the office don’t know it!  We definitely need a USP, one that gets across the importance of what we do for every man, woman and child in the world.  Perhaps we need a concerted effort by chiropractors and marketing geniuses.  Or perhaps there is someone out there with the right phrase or words.  Any ideas? v12n1

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This article has 1 comment

  1. Tom 09/13/2013, 11:41 pm:

    What’s Our USP?

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