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REP 3 - Personal branding tips & strategies for health business success

Randy Goodman, PT

As a Clinical Specialist in sports physiotherapy, I’ve been working in the field for more than 25 years. Now I’m considered one of the premier Sport Physiotherapists in Canada – that’s part of my personal brand.

Your personal brand as a health practitioner is very important to your overall success and helps establish you (and your clinic) as a leader in your field.

Your personal brand is how you appear to the world, but more importantly, your personal brand is how you are perceived by the world. Especially in today’s electronic world with multiple potential exposures on social media, it is essential you pay attention to your personal brand.

A strong brand will help you build your presence in a community, much more effectively than an unpolished or weak image. The question that commonly arises though, is how do you establish your brand, build a following, and establish your authority as a professional physiotherapist and clinic owner?

I hope to shed some light on these questions today so you can get to work on building your personal brand.
 

 

What Is A Brand?

There is a difference between a brand and marketing. A brand, whether for a company or an individual, is a “promise delivered.”

According to Robert Bean, who has published significantly on this topic, a brand is a promise to customers and colleagues about who you are and what you do. It is essential to deliver on this promise to establish brand credibility.

Marketing is essentially the strategy and tactics of delivering the message of your brand (and the products and services you offer) to your customers.

 

Have You Ever Made a Brand Statement?

A brand statement defines you as an individual professional. It is 1-2 sentences that answers what you are best at (value), who you serve (clients) and what makes you unique (differentiator).

As an example, Google’s brand statement says:

“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

An example of a personal brand statement is:

“I strive to inspire and empower health professionals in Canada to understand business practices, successful life balance, and achieve success in practice management. Through my unique 30 years of experience and passion for knowledge, I will spread my enthusiasm for business success.”

Each individual brand statement is different and it is important to remember it is a work in progress. Begin with trying to define what values and attributes are important to you.

 

A Personal Brand Starts with Who You Are and How You Are Perceived!

How you act, how you speak, and how you interact with everyone around you plays an integral part in developing a brand.

It is important to understand who you are interacting with and how they will perceive you. If you want to be a professional…..act like one. Arrive on time, communicate professionally, return phone calls timely, etc.

We can all think of someone who isn’t professional…..so be the opposite!

If you are a leader of people, define expectations and be the leader who will have the difficult conversations at times. If you do this with tact and class, you will be much more respected than if you simply leave things alone and pray they will change.

Remember that it’s about how the customer perceives you…..not what you think looks or feels right. Are you an active listener? One of the leading reasons a client will leave a business is indifference towards their concerns.

 

Be Authentic

People know if you are bluffing. You are most effective when you are who you are.

A “ fake” brand is exhausting to maintain. Do you know what you stand for and believe in? Trust is earned over time, and lost in an instant. It is also important to remember that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Be real!

One of the best resources I found for discovering who I was, and what was important to me is a book called Three Big Questions by Dave Phillips. This one small book made a big difference in defining who I am and what is essential.

 

All of your Social Media Posts Matter

It always amazes me that people think that their social media posts don’t affect their brand. Think about a new customer searching you on Google. What will they find?

You cannot have a professional LinkedIn or Twitter profile and a different public Facebook page. Your message and image must be consistent to be effective. Think twice about what you post, and maybe double check it before you hit “send.”  You must own what you post, because someone will find it.

Do you have a personal website? In today’s world, this is one of the most effective tools to deliver your brand message. It is very affordable using current technology such as GoDaddy and Wix, and it allows you to control information about the most important thing – your brand. You can then link to your various workplaces etc.

 

Speak to Groups

One of the fastest ways you can gain exposure and have people understand your expertise is to make presentations to groups. Find groups that can influence your clients in a positive manner.

An example of this is a coach of a sports team. If the coach thinks you are knowledgeable and a leader in sports physiotherapy, they will tell their athletes.

Imagine if you could speak to 20 coaches at once!

If you are professional, and deliver some valuable content that informs the participants so they gain some knowledge, they will see you as an expert.

If you don’t do much speaking, or are nervous, practice with some small groups first.  Be prepared for questions and be open for feedback. Authenticity gives you credibility, and if you have a question raised that you can’t answer, be honest, but follow-up later with the answer once you have found it out.

 

Write

You can also help people learn what you know by writing. Social media and blogs have helped make this easier for people to do. Publications, both print and electronic, are always looking for content.

Again you must work on this and develop a style, and remember that the information must be valuable and current. I am always amazed by the reach of a simple article in a newspaper or repost in a blog.

 

Dress for Success

First impressions are essential. You must dress how your customers expect, rather than based on your opinion of what seems cool. Look around at mentors in your profession that you respect.

If you are speaking to a group….one piece of advice that has served me well is to dress up one notch higher than the group you are speaking to. Just be sure again it is authentic and appropriate (no heels while speaking about foot mechanics).

If you are still questioning the importance of appearance, think about a restaurant. If you look behind the kitchen door and see a dirty mess, are you still hungry?

Humans react to first impressions.

 

Be a Student of the Profession

The only way to remain current is to have a passion to learn. Take courses, read, review journals, and listen to new ideas. This is one of the reasons I like taking students. They keep you on your toes, and help you justify and explain your theories on what you do. If you constantly learn, you spread an enthusiasm that is contagious to everyone.

Only by developing your personal brand, consistently delivering the message, and constantly growing as a professional will you be successful in establishing yourself as a leader in your field.

 

By Randy Goodman, P.T.

 

This post was republished from the CPA Private Practice Division blog on March 4, 2016, and can be accessed here http://cpaprivatepractice.ca/personal-branding-tips/​

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Comments

Beautifully planned and presented.  I don't doubt you are highly respected as a sports physiotherapist.  You are a credit to the profession.

We agree- thanks to Randy for participating in #30Reps!

@CPA_Chantal and @CPA_Melissa

As a publicly funded physiotherapist, my initial response to this REP was that it did not apply to me. However, after reading through your post and the links, I think branding is actually one of the central pieces to our profession whether that turns into official marketing purposes or to our every day interactions with clients, administrators, other health care professionals,  and our communities.  

As you noted, branding is about how others percieve us and our authenticity.  As someone who has chosen not to be on social media, I recognize that my personal interactions in practice, at meetings, at conferences is what reflects my brand.  

your post was thought provoking. thank you

Thanks so much Randy for a wonderfully succinct article relating to branding, there are some excellent suggestions with respect to branding for Physiotherapists in any setting.

I had the pleasure of attending a PPD pre-congrerss course last year in Victoria where Randy presented some of this information.  His in-person presentations are even better than his articles!

@CPA_Melissa

Thanks especially for the 'dress for success' comment.  It always irks me when I hear therapists complaining that we don't seem to be respected or taken as seriously as, say, chiropractors or doctors, and yet there they are at work in their yoga pants, jeans, or my particular favorite, jeans with 'fashionable' tears in them!  

I know of a public health facility, that after much consultation with the public came out with a new dress code.  Essentially it boiled down to "anything you would wear to the beach, the gym, or the club- don't wear to work."

You have touched on the most important things we as physiotherapists need to do so we can be out there doing our thing as the premier source of efficient and injury-free movement 

I can't get over PT's dressing to work like they work in a community recreation centre. I know PT's in public institutions that wear faded shorts and round collar T-shirts to work as senior staff where they work and this really makes angry

Great post Randy!

Excellent commentary 

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