When you pick a narrow business focus, it can make a world of difference.
There are many ways to niche a healthcare practice, but I believe the best way is by isolating at least three areas in which to specialize.
Keep reading to find out what they are.
Limiting Your Area of Specialization
A triple niche is a specific and targeted business focus. It is designed to solve problems for a group of Ideal Patients (or Customers) by constraining in 3 (or more) areas. The number doesn’t matter; it’s more important to develop awareness of how your Ideal Patients respond to your services and how you can provide maximum value to solve a problem such as pain relief, increased mobility, quality of life, etc.
You can create a “Triple Niche” by evaluating a variety of things, including:
- Strategic Marketing Goals
- Demographics and Location
- Health Condition and Symptoms
- Treatment, Technique, or Modality
- Body System or Area
- Delivery Method, and
- Patient Interests
This concept is loosely based on an article written by Rachel Rodgers Esq., called the Double-Narrow Niche. (Take a look at her article: “Niche Slapped: How I Chose a Niche Area of Law to Practice”)
When applied in the healthcare field, there are several areas in which a practitioner can choose a specialized area that best serves the needs of her or his Ideal Patients.
You can hear me talk about this in this video:
Ways to Choose Your Niche
In order to develop the right niche, consider the many ways you can distinguish your business from the competition.
You could specialize in a variety of ways. Let’s take a look at seven categories in which you could develop a niche.
Step 1: Consider your Strategic Marketing Goals
Every company’s marketing plan needs to start with a clear understanding of your ultimate goals as an owner. Without knowing where you are headed, your practice will inevitably face challenges… and possibly lead to closing up shop.
I believe that picking the right goals is of paramount importance when you develop a specialization.
Questions to ask when picking a great niche:
- What are your ultimate business goals? Why do you want to be an owner in the first place?
Examples of your goals might include:
– Feeling security,
– Financial stability,
– Building wealth,
– Free time,
– Freedom to travel,
– Generosity, or
– Leaving a legacy.
- Where do you want your business to be in 10 years?
- Do your Vision and Mission align with your marketing plan and tactics?
Step 2: Demographics and Location
If you know that your Ideal Patient is in a certain age range and has a certain level of income, occupation, and lifestyle, these can be characteristics in which to pick a deliberate niche.
Another option is to be location specific. If your work is primarily hands-on, you could niche in your region.
Or you could choose to provide virtual services, which removes the need to be tied to one particular place.
Questions to ask when selecting a niche demographic:
- Who is your Ideal Patient (or Ideal Customer), and why are they unique?
- Do you have a Customer Avatar?
An avatar is a composite character who has all the qualities and characteristics most common in the people you want to serve.
- Where are you located, and which market area do you serve?
Step 3: Health Condition and Symptoms
When a patient is searching online for treatment options for their health condition, they are more likely to choose a practitioner whose website has excellent SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and which publishes frequent articles on their topic of expertise. I recommend taking a look at the videos and articles by Michael Quinn, an expert in SEO and digital marketing.
Another way to stand apart is by limiting yourself to a certain health condition. This may seem too limiting, but it’s not necessarily true. I’ve met practitioners who specialize in a single, rare disease. Patients from all over the world seek out their expert help. By specializing in just that one condition, they demonstrate that:
- they have a deep understanding of the problem (including what works and what doesn’t)
- they can share options using a variety of treatment methods,
- they demonstrate proven results with patients, and
- they present a very clear message that potential patients can immediately understand.
Most importantly, practitioners who focus on a single medical condition are able to speak directly to patients who struggle with that problem. A niche practitioner is effective because their message is laser-focused; it provides hope to patients who have tried dozens of other methods without success. With a niche message, you can demonstrate a method that can relieve their suffering.
This is another reason why testimonials are so useful. When a satisfied patient was helped by your method, they can convince other potential patients of practitioner’s credibility.
Choosing a super-specific niche (and talking about it) can result in you becoming a world-renowned expert. I can think of several examples:
- The “Lymphedema Guru”: Zoachim Zuther, who is Founder of the Academy of Lymphatic Studies (http://lymphedemablog.com)
- The “Lyme Literate Doctor”: Susan Marra, ND [Naturopathic Doctor], ABAAHP [American Board of Anti-Aging Health Practitioners] (http://drsusanmarra.com)
- The “Fecal Transplant Expert”: Mark Davis, ND, who is the Founder of the Advanced Integrative Care for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (http://ibdspecialty.com/ and speaker at TEDxSalem
Questions to ask when choosing a niche Condition:
- Which are the most common conditions in your patients who generate the highest profit margins?
- Why do patients say they choose your services, rather than going to a different provider?
- Is there one particular condition that has been overlooked by competitors in your market?
Step 4: Treatment, Technique, or Modality
Another way to differentiate is with your treatment, technique, or modality you use. If you’re very well versed in a method within your field of practice, this could allow you to stand out compared to others in your industry.
In chiropractic, for example, only a handful of methods are used most frequently: the Activator Methods, Gonstead Technique, and Thompson Technique. But there are dozens of other modalities in chiropractic alone that can be very effective at treating a particular set of symptoms. Consider whether you are seeing a significant difference in patient outcomes due to a therapeutic method or technique that your competitors aren’t advertising.
Perhaps you are using a method which delivers great results for your patients, but which isn’t particularly well known. Consider spending more time and effort to achieve expert status in that method. This could set you apart from the competition.
Questions to ask when considering a niche treatment:
- Are a significant number of patients helped by one treatment method?
- Is there a technique or modality in which you could be a leading expert?
- Have you developed a new modality (or combination of several) which you could teach others and market exclusively?
Step 5: Body System or Area
I was just talking to Chris Flaig (of Revive Therapeutic Massage) about the importance of specializing, and he mentioned that some therapists focus on the feet. There are several therapeutic methods that primarily focuses on the feet. But many therapists don’t particularly like to work on this part of the body. For someone who does not prefer a body system, then choosing a niche in that area would be a bad idea.
It’s important to pick a niche that you’re passionate and excited about.
Very few healthcare practitioners focus on body systems. They tend to treat the “whole body.” And of course, holistic practice is important. But to stand out, you can emphasize the treatment of one particular body system or area. This will set your practice apart from others in your market.
Questions to ask when narrowing a niche by body system:
- Which body areas do you treat for patients who generate the highest profit?
- Do patients choose your services based on how much experience you have in treating a particular body system?
- Is there one type of specialization in a body system that your competitors often overlook or ignore?
Step 6: Delivery Method
In what ways do you provide your services? Is it in an office setting? Do you share space with other practitioners or work solo?
Are your services only available hands-on and in person, or can you deliver them virtually?
Do you provide house calls?
Could you offer extended office hours that are more convenient to patients? (early morning, late evening, weekends, and holidays)
Can patient opt into a premium-level service with 24-hour availability for emergencies? Getting quick relief from pain is a very high-value solution, and people are willing to invest significantly for the peace of mind that you’ll be available when your services are most needed.
Most practitioners offer extremely limited office hours and require patients to meet them on-site. By providing alternate options, you can attract potential patients who are willing to pay more for the convenience and increased value. This can increase your profit margins and also allow you to stand out in the marketplace.
Another delivery option is to provide your services virtually. This could be through telehealth or direct messaging consultations (on a HIPAA compliant platform). You could manage a patient’s decision-making. Depending on the laws in your and the patient’s location and your professional qualifications, virtual services as a healthcare practitioner can share your knowledge far beyond just the area where you live.
Also consider your business model. If you depend on income from unstable revenue sources like Multi-Level Marketing, it may be time to rethink this and develop a more sustainable income stream based on high-profit, standardized processes. (Read more: What’s the Difference Between Brick-and-Mortar, Franchise, Direct Sales, and MLM?)
Questions to ask when thinking of a delivery niche:
- What are some innovative ways to share your services with even more Ideal Patients?
- Could you offer a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) option that complements your traditional services?
- Would your Ideal Patients prefer mobile services or house calls?
Step 7: Patient Interests
Are you keeping an eye out for new trends in the health and wellness field? Where are patients spending their money?
What headaches are your Ideal Patients keen to solve? How do they prefer to distract themselves?
What do your Ideal Patients do for fun?
I like to garden and have a soft spot for cute red wiggler earthworms. It may sound weird, but earthworms are the key to healthy soil, to healthy plants, and can also provide a healthy immune system. So that’s one of my interests that you’ll find on my Instagram account, as well as honeybees (who are equally fascinating creatures with very distinct personalities).
You likely share a number of connections with your patients. Exploring the things you have in common can allow you to establish deeper conversation, and to attract patients who have an affinity to that topic.
An interest area can also tie in with your brand and message. For example, my grandfather taught me all about how birds construct their nests. The word “niche” comes from the Latin root word nidus, which means nest, and I use the nest analogy in my Practice Niche series.
For Chris Flaig (of Revive Therapeutic Massage), he used his faith-based experiences as a pastor to connect with clients. For Beth Petersen of Unwind Bodywork, the common thread is her interest in sports and yoga.
Once you find a shared interest, potential patients will be more likely to want your help, because they relate to you more easily.
Questions to ask when considering a niche that aligns with patient interests:
- What do your Ideal Patients enjoy doing for fun?
- Are these hobbies or interests ones that you share? (An important part of influencing others is finding areas of commonality; read more here.)
- How can these shared interests tie into your niche marketing message?
I hope you enjoyed this summary of the various options you have for developing a Triple Niche. You could choose one level, or three, or all seven.
What’s important is not how many levels you use, but how well you connect your expertise with a target market that will generate a high profit. The more you can narrow the focus, the better you’ll be able to communicate your message to an audience who will appreciate and benefit from what you do.
As you can see, picking a specialized practice area has many benefits that will help you stand out and reach patients who are a perfect fit for your expertise.
Interested in hearing how you can reverse a toxic workplace? Find out more here.
Grace LaConte is a business consultant, writer, workplace equity strategist, and the founder of LaConte Consulting. Her risk management tools are used around the globe, and she has successfully reversed toxic work environments for clients in the healthcare and non-profit fields. Grace specializes in lactation law compliance & policy development, reducing staff turnover after maternity leave, and creating a participatory work culture.