004: Identify Your Niche with these 7 Questions
When we start our clinical practices, many of us don’t yet know what we love to do. We haven’t yet found the things that light us up and that will help us build thriving practices and long, satisfying careers. For example, we don’t know that we love to work with patients with digestive disorders or metabolic conditions, or that we love to treat people working through thyroid issues or menopause.
As clinicians, we can treat all of these things, and it might be our first impulse to do so. However, practices that treat everything often find that the phones aren’t ringing, the appointment book isn’t full, and qualified traffic just isn’t growing. Why is this? It’s simple: when patients have extremely specific problems, they want to see someone who is uniquely focused in that problem area – not a general practitioner. To make this comparison clear, think about this: you can buy everything at Walmart, but do you ever get the best version of anything at Walmart?
If you want your practice to stand out and succeed in a crowded field, today’s episode is for you. We’re going to help you find your superpower, build a practice focused on the patients you love (and not the ones that make you say “Them again?”), and become a true authority in your field.
- Why being a one-stop-shop for your patients limits your growth potential and your ability to provide exemplary service.
- The reason no one is actually a jack of all trades – and why listing 15, 20, or 50 conditions that you treat on your website scares off more patients than it attracts.
- Seven questions to ask yourself to help you discover your niche and become a true specialist in a profitable field you love.
TweetableWhen your website is just a big generic, ‘I can fix everything,’ you will be less likely to attract the people that really need and want your help. – Dr. Ronda Nelson Click To Tweet
- Worksheet – Identify Your Niche with These 7 Questions!
- The Practitioner Hub with Ronda Nelson – our new Mighty Networks social platform
Connect with Dr. Ronda Nelson
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Dr. Ronda Nelson: Well, hello, my friend, and welcome back to The Clinical Entrepreneur Podcast. My name is Ronda Nelson and I am your host. I’ve got a topic I want to share with you today that I find quite fascinating. It’s one that you’re probably not going to like at first but I think if you hear me out, you will have a little better context for what I’m about to share with you.
After working with practitioners for 10-15 years, I’ve seen practices that have been very, very successful and sadly, the majority of the practitioners I’ve worked with have had less than successful practices. They’re not making the money they want to make, they don’t have the income level they’d like to have, they’re not seeing the number of patients they want to see and they’re not having the impact they want to have in their local community. And here’s the problem.
What I’ve consistently seen in the practices that are not as successful as they’d like to be, when compared to the ones who are, is that their websites, their marketing, social media strategies, and other marketing efforts in the community, are following what I call a Walmart mentality. I’m sure the concept of Walmart, in relationship with your alternative medicine practice, is not what you expected to hear today, but I’ve seen it over and over again. And once you understand what the correlation is and why you are basically being a Walmart to your community, you can make the necessary corrections and do something about it by the end of today’s episode.
Here’s why I believe Walmart and your practice might be closer than you think. When we start out in our clinical practice, many of us don’t know what it is that we love to do. We don’t know do we love to work with digestive disorders or metabolic conditions, or do we want to help people with thyroid issues or menopause? What is the thing that lights you up? That’s your specialty, right? So, this is what we’re going to be talking about today. But again, what does that have to do with Walmart? I’m going to tell you.
When we open our practices, and we have a website and we’ve got our social thing going on – we’re all set up. Everything is rolling along but the appointment book is not full. And the phone’s not ringing and you’re not getting the people that you thought you were going to get and you don’t understand why. Because, good grief, you know how to fix everything, right? You can fix thyroid and menopause and digestion and diabetes. You can support all of those different things. But that’s the problem. You see, Walmart is a one-stop-shop for pretty much everything. You can go there to get toenail clippers, you can get oil to put in your car, you can get yarn for a craft project, you can buy a children’s toy, you can buy a TV, and you can buy underwear. You can buy everything at Walmart. Walmart is known as the one-stop-shop. Now, if you want quality, Walmart isn’t going to be at the top of your list. And as that translates to us, if I am sick, and I need help, I’m probably not going to go to a Walmart-type practitioner – one that does everything, has everything, but specializes in nothing. I want someone who is an exceptional specialist at, let’s say thyroid disorders. Same thing is true if you break your leg. You don’t go to your GP and say, “Hey, when was the last time you did surgery on a broken bone? I’ve got a fracture. Could you brush up your skills and maybe go to YouTube and watch a video on how to reset this bone and do surgery on my leg?” Of course, you wouldn’t do that. You would go to the orthopedic surgeon because that is what he or she specializes in.
When you have a significant problem, you want to see a specialist. This makes complete sense, right? But here’s where we, as clinicians, get it all wrong. We want to be specialists at everything. We say things like, “Sure! I can help you with your prostate issue” or “I can help support your nutritional deficiencies.” “Oh, you’ve got SIBO? No problem at all. I know how to help support that too. And I know how to do this, and I know how to do that.” But wait a minute! Time out. You are now no different than every other Walmart across the country.
Because now, you’ve become known as the person who can fix ‘everything,’ but you don’t specialize in anything. So, the example I like to use as it has to do with your marketing and advertising is to talk about it like a TV. Let’s say my TV broke and I’m ready to upgrade. I need to see what kind of new features there are. The first thing I’m going to do is go online because that’s what we all do. Your patients do the same thing. They go online, looking for a specialist, the person who can help them with their specific problem. So, I’m looking online, searching for TV’s. I want to know who has the best price – which is what most people search for. I might even go to Consumer Reports and look for the best-rated TV. But I am doing my research.
What I’m looking for is information to help me solve my problem – that I need a new TV. I’ve compared and am looking at various sites, features, offers, rebates, etc. and I finally decide that Walmart has the TV I need. What do you know? They just happen to have the TV I need. So, I’m going to traipse over to Walmart and get my TV.
But here’s the deal: I went in for a TV but what are the chances you or I would come out of Walmart with just a TV. Because sure enough, I’m going to need some underwear and some toenail clippers, and a can of oil or some toothpaste. I might need some pans for my kitchen. And oh yeah, I need a potholder. And maybe I’ll pick up some shampoo. And by the time I leave, I’ve got a big cart with a big TV and about 15 other things.
And that’s what our patients do when they’re looking for help. They’re looking for the person who specializes in whatever their problem is. I know Walmart has my TV because I did my homework. And if Walmart hadn’t done their advertising the way they did – letting me know that they had that particular TV as their “specialty,” I would have glossed right over them. If their ad said something like “Walmart, Your One-Stop-Shop-For-Everything-You-Ever-Needed-In-Your-Whole-Life,” I wouldn’t have batted an eye and would have kept on searching. I wouldn’t even think about going there for my TV because I need somebody who really knows TVs.
When I visit a website and am reading up about this TV or that TV and which one has the features I want, I’m making a decision about who to trust. I know exactly what I need to solve my problem. All I have to do now is figure out who has the best price, who do I trust the most, or maybe I’ll decide based on how close they are to my house. Walmart is right around the corner so maybe I’ll go there. I’m not exactly sure in the beginning. But once I’ve made my final decision about which TV will solve my problem, that’s where I’ll go. And in this case, it just happens to be at Walmart.
So, now, let’s take that analogy and turn it around. If you are a practitioner and you want everyone to know that you are a master of all trades, what are you really saying? You might be a chiropractor with a beautiful website and you have the following statement on your homepage: “I help people with subluxations and maladjustments and posture issues and I offer functional medicine and a comprehensive nutritional evaluation.” And that is probably all 100% true. But what does it tell me as the patient? I have a problem and I need a solution. My problem, as the patient, is, I think I have a thyroid issue because I’m gaining weight, my hair is falling out, my skin is dry, and I’m constipated. And based on all my Dr. Google research… Hey we’re back to researching online. Based on my Dr. Google research, I have determined that I must have a thyroid problem. So, now I need to find someone who is a what? A specialist, as it has to do with the thyroid.
I don’t need a Walmart. I don’t want to go to Walmart for my thyroid condition. I don’t want to do that because to me, Walmart is where everybody goes to just pick up crap they don’t need. What I want is to find a place I can go where somebody knows the thyroid really well because I have a thyroid problem and am looking for a solution. So, when I’m looking online and I come to your website and I see spinal subluxations and traction and all the things you’re saying about your chiropractic superpowers and functional medicine, I am overwhelmed. All I see is a long list of the conditions that you can treat: SIBO, hormones, menopause, children’s health, prostate, this thing, that thing and my eyes start to glaze over. You have a list of 25 things that you are an expert in, listed on your website and one of them, of course, is thyroid but that doesn’t make me feel like you will know how to fix my thyroid problem. Because you fix everything. So instead, I’m going to keep looking for someone else. Someone who says, “Think Have a thyroid problem? Not sure what to do? I can help.” Now, that speaks to me. That makes me go, “Oh, yeah, you’re the one I want to work with because you know about thyroid,” or it might be SIBO or whatever that is.
So, back to the Walmart story. I just happened to know that Walmart had the TV I wanted, but I did my research first. And when patients go online and they do their research, and they know they have a thyroid problem, they are much less likely to find a practitioner that specializes in everything like Walmart has everything. What they want to find is someone who has identified their niche. And the niche is, in my example, the thyroid. So, your website, your marketing, all your out there kind of communication about what you do should revolve around what you want to specialize in. So, that could be in this case, a thyroid. Now, if I’m the patient, I’m going to find you and go, “Oh, yeah, this guy, this lady, I think they can help me,” because you have content on your website that’s about thyroid. You have all kinds of stuff that’s all relative to my problem that makes me believe that you can help me. Now, you might have every other thing in your office that you do too just like Walmart. You might have toenail clippers and shampoo and oil and yarn and a shirt and the TV. You could have all those other things in your office where you help with digestion and you have traction and you do upper cervical work or you have a rehab center or whatever. You could have all the other stuff that Walmart has but what you specialize in is the thyroid or in digestive disorders or specifically SIBO.
Because patients who want help with a problem will find the practitioner who specializes in that problem. They aren’t looking for Walmart practitioners. They’re looking for someone who can specialize. And when your website is just a big generic, “I can fix everything,” you will be less likely to attract the people that really need and want your help and the people that you want to serve. So, then, how do you know what you want to specialize in? This is probably the biggest question when I work with practitioners from all over the country and coach with them. This is the biggest issue that comes up and everybody gets all their panties in a pinch because they don’t know what to do. So, I have seven questions I’m going to ask you, seven questions on how you are able to identify your niche.
Number one, you have to think about what you are naturally super good at. Everyone has a superpower. Everybody has a superpower, that thing that you don’t think about but just comes so naturally to you as it has to do with your clinical skill. It might be that you just have the ability to look at someone and look at their face and you just somehow know how to kind of interpret everything just by looking at them or just you’re really gifted at just conversation and pulling out the little details that they’re going to give you information that will help you with this particular patient. You might be a great communicator. You might be really, really good at the thyroid or working with SIBO and often the thing that you’re very good at, at least as it has to do with a physical dysfunction, often that thing is something that you’ve struggled with yourself. You had digestive issue or you had cancer or you had a thyroid problem or you had a prostate problem. You’ve done a lot of research to fix yourself and now you just know how to fix it. So, when you’ve got that type of passion and/or you’re just naturally really good at it, that’s a good thing to consider. So, question number one is what are you super good at? What do you love to do? What do you just like wake up in the morning and you go, “Oh, I really love helping patients with X.”? So, that’s question number one.
Question number two is instead of thinking about what you do, let’s think about the patient. What are the things that were the patients walk in the door and those cases that come to you, a patient problem, which ones are you naturally drawn to? And we all have patients on the schedule and we see their name and we think, “Ugh, Mary again?” Those are not a good fit. Those are not your people, right? Those are not your people. We need to find who your people are? Who are your people? What kind of situations walk in the door with a patient face on them? So, do you just get so excited when you get another thyroid case? Or you get another menopause case? I love working with menopausal women. And you know why? Because I am one. And I don’t think I was as fired up about menopause 10 years ago when I was not in menopause but let me tell you something. Now that I am in menopause, oh baby, I feel your pain, sister, and I’m going to help you get out of that pain because I lived it. So, I really love working with menopausal women. So, what kind of patient cases are you just naturally drawn to, you just go, “Oh, I really love working with X condition.” That’s number two.
Number three, what are the health challenges that you’ve overcome that make you super knowledgeable about? So, that kind of piggybacks with number two, but for me, it’s menopause. I had a child that had cancer. So, I know a little bit about that and so those are probably two things like the fertility, endocrine stuff, and all the cancer side, I love those things, because I’ve had experience with that. So, that’s number three, what are your health challenges that you’ve either successfully overcome or a family member has or your spouse, your child, something that you have a little bit of extra intel about? That can help you define your niche because you’re going to have passion around that. Number four, what are your passions and interests when it comes to alternative medicine? What are you just naturally interested in? All seven questions should lead you to Rome, right? All roads lead to Rome. So, these should all start to flush out that thing that you are just really good at and that’s what we want to market you as, that’s what you want to have out there for people to find you as that specialist. So, what are your core passions and interests? When it comes to alternative medicine, what blogs, or who do you follow? What are they talking about? Are you a heavy metal person? Are you a detox person? Are you a mold person? Like what things are you just naturally drawn to? Thyroid, menopause, whatever it is. That’s number four.
Number five. If you were going to look at your bookshelves, what is the dominant topic or theme of the books on your bookshelf? Just go in and look at your books. If you’re like me, I have hundreds of them and I’ve given hundreds and hundreds of them away. And I still have more. But if you were going to go look at your bookshelves, what do most of your books say? On my bookshelves, they are probably largely business, business marketing. And then second, I would say endocrine and digestion. Those are my two places. I would say that that’s what’s on my bookshelf. So, that helps me know a little bit more about where I need to put my attention.
Number six, question number six. What do people come to you for? What’s the most common questions that you get in your practice? And which one. So this is kind of a Part A and a B to this question. So, when people come to you for help, and they ask you questions, which questions just irritate you, and which ones make you want to provide a more in-depth answer? This is a great one for you to think about. Which questions just make you kind of irritated like, “Oh, are you asking me about diet again? No!” whatever it is, that’s the thing that just gets you kind of irritated, that’s probably not your specialty. That’s not your niche. But the question that they ask you and you could talk about it for an hour or two, oh yeah baby, now we’re getting close. That’s your niche. That’s the thing you want to zone in on because that passion starts to come out of you like, yes. I can talk about that all day long. I love this subject. Bingo. There you go.
Last question that you should consider is of all these six questions, the number seven is what’s your niche based on your passion, your superpower, your skills, what you’re attracted to, what you’re repelled away from, your personal experience or with your family. I’m not saying you have to do it because I know this is scary. This makes your panties pucker. I know it. I know. I get it. But what is the thing that you would say, “I really, really am good at _____, I’m really good.” That my friend is your perfect niche. That’s your perfect niche. And it feels so scary to say I’m only going to do one thing, but that would be not a good idea because Walmart doesn’t just sell TVs. They sell everything but their advertising, once I did my research, their advertising led me to them. And then once I was in, I saw, “Oh, well, I also need help with my spine and I also need help with my digestion and I’ve got a kid who gets headaches all the time. Can you help with that, too?” Walmart doesn’t have to say everything that they have and they do. Just like you don’t have to say everything that you have, and you do, and you help and you are Superman at. You don’t have to say it.
What you want to do is become the specialist. And when you niche down and you become that specialist, people will find you for that problem and once they’re in the doors of your office, they start to see that you do other things. You pull back the curtain after they’re in the door but what we want is that what we call a narrow funnel into the door so that you’re only attracting those people that you absolutely love working with more than anything, you love working with them. Those are the people that you want to make sure that you spend time and effort and resources attracting because they’re the ones that feed your soul and they feed your heart and they let you be that superstar stellar practitioner that you are because you are. You wouldn’t be doing what you’re doing. So, all of that to say I created a worksheet for you, you’ll find it in the show notes. So, go check the show notes out. You’ve got this worksheet, download it, print it, work it out so that you can start to identify your niche. Once you do that, then you can start to tweak your website copy, change what you talk about on your social media platform. Like for instance, if it’s thyroid that makes your boat float, then you could talk about all the different things that have to do with thyroid.
And you and I know you could take the topic of thyroid, you can break that down into 50 things that you need to know, should know, don’t know, warning, autoimmune thyroid, I mean, it could go on probably more than 50. And if you just talked about one thing every couple of days or every three weeks and then recycle through them a month later, you would start to be known as the thyroid guy or the thyroid gal. If you have a thyroid problem, here’s who you need to go see. It sounds scary I know to niche down and to say I want to be known for this because you feel like, “But what about all the other people?” I’m telling you, I’ve seen this over and over and over. When you niche down, you will be more successful, you will be more profitable, and you will have a higher number of referrals because people perceive that the specialists are, A, worth more and, B, the perception is that you know what you’re doing. If I break my leg and I go to an orthopedic guy, I need to know that that orthopedic guy knows what he’s doing because I’m going to go under the knife and he’s going to fix my leg. I don’t want an orthopedic guy that’s like chewing gum on his break and hasn’t been in the OR for two years. I don’t want that guy. I want to know that that guy knows exactly what he’s doing. That’s the specialist because I want my leg to work just like I want my thyroid to work.
So, hop on over the show notes, print that worksheet out, I think you’ll find it very, very valuable. And if you have any questions or I can help you, all my contact information is there. You can always reach out. I am more than happy to coach you through that process and get you over the fear hump because that’s where everybody gets stuck, but it gets you over that fear hump so that you’ll be able to start to create your marketing strategy and your pricing because specialists get paid a little more, hello, so you can start to adjust your pricing and your marketing strategy to attract those people and get them in the door and then you can show them everything else that your Walmart store has.
So, that’s it for today. Thanks for hanging out with me. I’m so glad that you spent this time with me. You can find me on Instagram and Facebook. My website is RondaNelson.com, which is pretty easy to remember. And if you’d like to join our social community, you can also find that information in the show notes as well. We hang out over on Mighty Networks inside what we call the practitioner hub with Ronda Nelson. So, I’d love to have you over there as well. But all that information is in the show notes. Be sure you subscribe wherever you listen to this particular podcast and until next time, it’s time that you and I are going to grow your business and my business like a boss. See you later!