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Dynamic Chiropractic – February 1, 2014, Vol. 32, Issue 03
Dynamic Chiropractic
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Dynamic Chiropractic

Listening to the Public

By Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher

As you evaluate how you can best communicate the benefits of chiropractic in 2014, you may find the results of two focus groups helpful in deciding how to structure your marketing campaign.

In October of last year, the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress conducted two focus groups, one on the East Coast and one on the West. These focus groups were comprised of 22 individuals, only five of whom were current chiropractic patients. The remainder had little or no personal experience with chiropractic, but did have relatives or friends who were chiropractic patients.

The goal of these focus groups was to begin to understand what kinds of messages resonate best with the general public. And while some of these comments may surprise you, it should be understood that this is what the public is thinking about chiropractic, not what we think about ourselves. In some respects, this is a public-relations reality check.

Who We Are

The term most commonly used by the focus group participants was chiropractor. They recognized that chiropractors are doctors, but there was confusion as to why chiropractors don't refer to themselves more often as doctors. There was further confusion about the focus and offerings of various chiropractors. They did not consider chiropractors to be primary care providers.

What We Do

Back pain (#1) and neck pain (#2) were the ailments most associated with what chiropractors do. The concept of wellness fell in the middle of potential choices, with headaches and nutrition near the bottom.

What the Public Wants to Know

When shown a series of advertising concepts, the participants were very clear about what information they wanted in advertisements about chiropractic:

  • Conditions aided through chiropractic care and how effective chiropractic is at addressing a particular complaint
  • General education on chiropractic care – our core competencies
  • Emphasis on the drug-free approach of chiropractic care.
  • Facts about chiropractic; information that will help consumers make a knowledgeable decision to see a chiropractor

What They Don't Want to Hear

Celebrity pitches, patient testimonials and fluffy, feel-good statements were not highly regarded by the focus groups. (They believed the celebrities were paid to make positive statements.) This type of information was not compelling enough to get someone to visit a chiropractor unless they had been to one before.

Not all of the participants were aware that chiropractic is a drug-free profession. This revelation actually resonated to the point that several suggested it be included in the foundation's advertising campaigns for 2014.

Your Takeaway

Based on these results, you can design your own advertising / marketing campaign for your practice. Here's what it might look like:

  1. Focus on back pain – This is not an act of defining yourself as a back pain doctor or chiropractic as strictly addressing back pain. It is framing your advertising message to have the greatest appeal to the consumers most likely to respond to your message. Back pain is clearly the most common problem and there are no good alternatives to chiropractic. Bring people into your office for what they need; then you'll have the opportunity to teach them about all chiropractic is and what you have to offer.
  2. State the facts on effectiveness: Create a value statement people in your community can believe. Share the percentage of your patients who come in with acute back pain and are pain free within a few weeks. It doesn't have to be 100 percent success; no one expects that.
  3. Emphasize drug free: People are wary of taking too many drugs. Chiropractic is the drug-free first choice (as confirmed recently by the Chiropractic Summit1-2). Be proud to share that.
  4. Make it easy to set an appointment: Once you have given the consumer the information they need to make a decision, make certain there is an easy action step to make their first appointment.

In the next month or so, the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress will release its new advertising campaign for 2014. It will adhere to many of these points. Your local advertising can harmonize with this national campaign and yield even greater results. Look for more information about the new campaign in an upcoming issue of DC.


  1. "Chiropractic Summit Promotes Drug-Free Approach." Dynamic Chiropractic, Jan. 1, 2014.
  2. Edwards J. "The Drug Issue: Dead and Buried." Dynamic Chiropractic, Jan. 15, 2014.

Read more findings on my blog: http://blog.toyourhealth.com/wrblog/. You can also visit me on Facebook.

Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.

Dynamic Chiropractic

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