The term guerrilla marketing was first coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 national best seller of the same name. The concept is so popular, Levinson has built his whole career around it, writing exclusively on this subject for the past 30 years. For good reason; Guerrilla Marketing is considered to be the best known marketing brand in history, was named one of the 100 best business books ever written, selling over 21 million copies. Levinson’s ideas have influenced marketing so much that his books have been translated in 62 languages and are required reading in MBA programs worldwide (I can attest to this).
Needless to say, in 2012, it has become a critical part of the advertising lexicon. While the method has clearly never gone out of fashion, with the explosion of social media, the spotlight has been on it again. With that in mind, I recently revisited my dusty copy looking for inspiration. What did I find? It turns out PTs might be some of the best candidates to become guerrilla marketers I can think of.
Guerrilla Meets The Tortoise and the Hare
Let’s start with guerrilla marketing lesson number one, “Marketing is every bit of contact your company has with anyone in the outside world. Every bit of contact.” This means your company name, website, branding, clinic location, voicemail message, staff, length of sessions, follow-up, growth plans, and so on. If you’re not a clinic owner, you’re not quite off the hook. Don’t forget you are a brand in and of yourself. Your personal brand is much like a company and what the world sees whether it be online networking or looking for a new job.
On top of keeping all these elements in mind, Levision further stresses that “marketing is a process, not an event.” In the tradition of the childhood fable, slow and steady wins the race. A true guerrilla marketer, he says, knows that marketing has a beginning and a middle, but never an end.
Yes, to the average person this method of marketing sounds daunting to say the least, but not you PT. You are not one to run away from a challenge. From the extensive effort it takes to get into PT school and the 3 years minimum to finish the program to your passionate advocacy and lobbying efforts, you are no stranger to hard work. In fact, the very nature of your profession is built around putting in the time to strengthen, improve and evolve.
Viral Marketing, aka, Referrals
Much like the atypical tactics used in guerrilla warfare, guerrilla marketers utilize unconventional and unexpected means of promotion (think Flashmobs, The Truth anti-smoking campaign, or any one of these). The objective of these eccentric approaches is to be out of the ordinary enough to generate buzz, and consequently turn viral. Or, translated into PT terminology, referrals.
Now, I’m not implying you hire a skywriter to make an aerial broadcast to patients or stage a stunt to get you on the nightly news, I’m simply asking you to think about what you can do to set yourself apart. What will make patients go home and share their experience at the dinner table? What will make them Tweet about it? What will make them suggest you to their friends without a second thought? Levinson argues, these aren’t grandiose gestures rather little, authentic “extras” which stick in people’s minds.
Out of the Box, Not Out of Your Pocket
Little things are music to a business owner’s ears, as they are most often low cost. Guerrilla marketing wasn’t conceived for huge companies, rather entrepreneurs and small business owners who have little or no budget, requiring them to think outside of the box. The focus is on time, energy, and imagination, not money.
This challenge always makes me think of the film Rocky IV. In this installment, Rocky is paired against Ivan Drago, a Russian boxer who is not only intimidating large, but fully funded with the latest equipment, coaches, and doctors. He’s the boxing equivalent of a Fourtune 500 company with a big name marketing firm. Rocky, on the other hand, has none of these resources. Instead, he takes to a cabin in the woods where we see montages of him running in heavy snow, cutting down trees, throwing logs, pulling a sled; a figure of grim determination. As you may have guessed, all of Drago’s gadgets mean nothing in the end. A stoic Rocky takes the title.
Contact Time with Customers
Finally, according to Levinson, PT has a real advantage over most industries when it comes to guerrilla marketing- contact time with customers. “In some businesses customers walk in; say ‘I’ll take two of these and three of those,’ then plunk down their credit card, sign and leave. Other business require half an hour or more to transact business. Those are the real lucky ones.”
Levinson suggests you look at every moment of contact time with a customer as a marketing opportunity. As a 30 minute session is often on the low end of treatment time, PTs have hit the jack pot. The more time, the more chances to build relationships, the crux of all marketing efforts. In the true spirit of guerrilla marketing, this contact time is free but the pay off can be huge.
To anyone who has ever said PTs are not natural markets, I say you’re wrong.