Friday, February 6, 2009

When Will We Reach Chiropratic’s Tipping Point?

Universal acceptance. A strong goal for the chiropractic profession, but hardly attainable: even medical doctors are not universally accepted. Chiropractic is searching more for majority acceptance. We have been talking about it for years, but when will chiropractic finally reach its tipping point and become widely used by everyone everywhere? Can we do just “one thing” to change this or will it take more?

10% of Americans use chiropractic regularly—30.5 million people80% of Americans will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives—244 million peopleMore than 20 million of Americans will seek Chiropractic care this year30% of US population over age 18 had visited a chiropractor—68.4 million people

The US population right now is 305 million people. 75% of the population is over aged 18, which would be 228 million people. If 30% of the population over age 18 have visited a chiropractor, that would mean 68.4 million people over age 18 have visited a chiropractor. Overall that is close to 23% of the population that has been to a chiropractor in their lives.

I don’t know about you, but if I was selling a product or service that 23% of the US population had purchased I would be very happy and wealthy. Of course, there is not one chiropractor servicing 23% of the population, but the market penetration is at a pretty high level right now. So why do so many chiropractors seem to be struggling? Why do we see so many companies offering marketing plans, cards, services, coaching, all to get new patients?

One of the main problems is patient retention. We have tons of marketing information, brochures, pamphlets, and coaches telling us how to get new patients, which is a good thing, but with 23% of the population having visited a chiropractor already, maybe we should focus out attention on those that have already been. Someone who is referred to a business is 15 times more likely to buy and a satisfied customer is 10 times more likely to buy than someone new. We should be “selling” to our existing patient base, because they have already been there done that, and if we did a good job, they are satisfied patients. A Gallup Poll in 1991 said that 9 out of 10 chiropractic patients felt that their treatment was effective.

Chiropractic for years had been striving to get the other 76% of the population, those that have not visited a chiropractor before, to embrace the profession. The progress has been long and slow and has even had some success, especially over the last 25 years, but we still have not reached that proverbial tipping point. How about we switch gears completely and concentrate on the ones that accept and understand the power of chiropractic for a while.

If 68.4 million people are current or former chiropractic patients and there are 53,000 chiropractors in the US, then there are 1290 patients per doctor. This is more than enough chiropractic patients for every chiropractor to be helping and also makong a decent living doing it. Just like the chiropractic philosophy of inside-out, lets turn our marketing programs into an inside-out philosophy. Concentrate on retaining and reactivating the patients we already have and teach them the chiropractic philosophy and lifestyle and all chiropractors will be more than busy. Then if we ask those 68.4 million chiropractic patients to tell 5 people about chiropractic, we will reach the tipping point and have a shortage of chiropractors and not a shortage of chiropractic patients.

Let’s not give up on those unforunate 76% altogether. Donate as much as you can to the Foundation For Chiropractic Progress and let them handle getting the chiropractic story to those 76%, while we concentrate on retaining and reactivating, and our patients tell 5 people for us.