The United States is one country, and in the age of the internet and globalization, it tends to be one market as well. If I’m searching for a textbook, for instance, I can search online retailers like Amazon in addition to instantly searching the catalogs of most book merchants in my area through the internet. I can find the best price quickly – some shoppers even utilize browser plugins to automate this process for themselves – and then have the product shipped right to my house. It’s extremely convenient and efficient. Every store in the country is competing for my business, and if I have the wherewithal and the means to find the best price, you better bet I’m going to get it.
This is the reality for most businesses. However, there are a few industries that, by the nature of what they do, are not sucked into this national and international marketplace. These businesses tend to be locally focused services. Businesses whose distribution methods require geographic proximity do not have to compete with every other business in their industry through the internet. If I want a plumber in my city, it doesn’t really matter how much cheaper the one 100 miles away is.
Marketing Moves had the chance to speak with a business owner in just this sort of field. Chiropractors treat more than 35 million Americans each year. Chiropractic Doctor Alex Kaminsky practices craniosacral therapy in NYC and is an expert in the Schroth Method, a unique chiropractic technique meant to help correct scoliosis. Since there is no way to actually have a doctor work on you virtually (yet) his business model is similar to that of other geographically dependent services. If you want Doctor Kaminsky to work on you, you’ll have to come into his office, which means you probably live in New York City. Speaking with him, I realized New York is not like other markets that I’m used to dealing with. Most of the entrepreneurs we’ve spoken with in the past here have been from the Midwest themselves. Outside Chicago, we don’t have a massive, everything-within-a-mile-of-you market like New Yorkers are used to.
Challenges practicing the Schroth Method in NYC
So, Dr. Kaminsky works at the intersection of two specific marketing opportunities. His market is geographically bounded and it is acutely specialized, due to its size. As a chiropractor in Midtown NYC, he told me that if a potential patient is in uptown or downtown it is highly unlikely that they would find him, let alone come in for business. As an Indianapolis native used to driving across town for just about everything, this is simply outside of my cultural sphere. The market in New York City is so compact that chances are there is whatever you need within a mile of you. For that reason, Dr. Kaminsky’s craniosacral therapy specialty comes in handy. Since it is a unique specialty, people will drive in from most parts of the city to see him, even New Jersey. His chiropractic work is limited to mostly those within his more immediate area in Midtown, Manhattan since that is a more generalized service.
The medical services market has its own peculiarities as well regardless of where one is located. Just like any market, one has to learn specifically how to operate within it to be successful. The biggest challenge here Alex and I talked about is cross competition between practitioners. For instance, if a patient is searching for someone to help them with their neck or low back pain, they might find information from chiropractors, physical therapists, acupuncturists and orthopedists. Each has their own way of addressing the problem. Either the patient must investigate each of these and determine which is best or they will have to consult with the different doctors get their opinions.
This intense cross competition means that you aren’t just trying to be the best in your own category, you also have to justify why a client should do business with you instead of a number of other different specialists. You have to know your competitors offerings as well as your own to explain to a patient why your treatment is more effective than theirs. Of course, when your treatment isn’t the best option this cross competition can turn into collaboration as you refer patients to other doctors and vice versa. This is just an extra complication that presents both challenges and opportunities.
Interviewing Dr. Kaminsky was an interesting opportunity. His market is different than any other that I have thus considered. As a marketing major, my thoughts instantly go to “How could I create a marketing plan for success?” in this system. With the extreme density of the New York City market, I would have to consider unique strategies such as guerrilla marketing. Some sort of technique that reaches out and touches individuals as they are in what is usually an impersonal urban environment could be effective as well. Dr. Kaminsky’s decision to specialize makes good business sense because of the intense competition. This gives his business more market power and a greater value proposition. In a referral heavy industry like the medical field this is extremely beneficial. Doctors that would be your competition now send clients to you because you can perform procedures that are outside their expertise. The challenges Dr. Kaminsky faces are good thought exercises for any marketing professional. For those Kelley students planning to head to NYC after graduation, they will quickly become more than mere thought exercises!