3 Reasons the Holistic Practitioner Needs a Niche
One in 3 Americans use complementary health approaches and collectively spend $30 billion per year out-of-pocket on complementary care, according to the most recent National Health Interview Survey. Patients are seeking the services of holistic, functional, and integrative practitioners more than ever before—but are these patients finding you? If your practice is not as successful as you want it to be, maybe you need a niche.
Niche [nich or nēsh] noun: a particular segment of a market; a specialized market
If you see the word “specialize” and want to stop reading now—don’t! Specializing and niche marketing are 2 very different things. Specializing is a characteristic of conventional care: cardiologists and dermatologists treat distinct organ systems. Holistic practitioners, in contrast, treat the body as an integrated whole (Tolle totem is a foundational principle of naturopathic medicine).
Niche marketing does not affect how you practice medicine. Niche marketing is a tactic to reach a particular population of patients.
Think of a niche as an area of expertise. There are 3 indisputable reasons that every holistic practitioner needs a niche:
- Patients Seek Out Experts
Put yourself in the shoes of a typical patient. If a woman is suddenly experiencing unusual digestive symptoms that she suspects may be irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), what type of doctor will she seek out? What terms will she enter into the search engine? She may go online and search for “naturopathic doctor IBS” or “natural treatments IBS.”
Will she find you? If you have positioned yourself as a generalist who “treats the whole person” and “finds the root cause of disease” and “supports vitality by stimulating inherent healing abilities,” she will probably not find you. On the other hand, if you claim to offer “natural solutions for patients with IBS and other digestive disorders,” she is highly likely to find your website, click through, call, and end up in your office.
When you create a niche, you speak to a specific population through your website, your public talks, and your marketing materials. You establish yourself as an expert who provides results—exactly what patients want.
- Colleagues Refer to Experts
What do you do when you are not achieving adequate results with a patient? What do you do when a patient presents with a condition you feel hesitant to treat? You probably make a referral to a colleague who has established herself as an expert in that particular condition—a colleague who has created a niche.
When you position yourself as an expert in women’s health, environmental health, autoimmune disease, cancer, or any other niche, your colleagues will know exactly which patients to send your way. It also opens the opportunity for you to act as a consultant for other holistic and integrative practitioners.
- Experts are More Focused and Efficient
If you try to be all things to all people, to be an expert on all conditions in all populations, to do everything—you will succeed at nothing. We live in an information age, where patients access answers to health questions on their phones with the touch of a finger, where new clinical trials are published every day, and where PubMed indexes more than 26 million citations. It is not humanly possible to stay up to date on this vast body of ever-changing medical information.
When you embrace a niche, you instantly have focus. You can opt only to read studies related to your chosen area. You can tailor your newsfeed and your inbox to provide information that relates to your niche. Your routine research, your continuing education, your marketing efforts, and your entire practice become streamlined. With focus and efficiency comes calm. You can finally relax and enjoy the practice you have created.
Think about how you have been marketing and running your practice. Entertain the possibility of creating a niche. We offer a variety of tools, including webinars and articles, to help you do so. Remember that niche marketing is a technique to bring patients in your door. It does not change your identity as a holistic practitioner, and it does not change the principles of how you approach health and disease.