No Bones About it. How Osteopaths Can Change Our Image

Our worst nightmare. "Osteopathy? That's something about bones, right?" Well no more! Let's find out how osteopaths can change our image.

Osteopathy? Something to do with bones, right?

Ugh. How many times have you heard that? It’s the most eye-rolling answer ever and we all have our own little ways of describing it but wouldn’t it be great if we heard more of “oh yeah, my mate has seen an osteo before” or “I’ve seen loads of stuff about osteopathy”.

This is a real problem for the entire osteopathic profession. Let’s talk about how every osteopath can chip in to changing our image.

No Bones About it. How Osteopaths Can Change Our Image

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Stop posing with skeletons and bones

A picture speaks 1000 words. While it’s fantastic to be known for treating back and neck pain, if we’re going to get away from the ‘something about bones’ typical response, we need to start changing our imagery. Is it be any wonder why people think we’re something to do with bones when many osteopaths have pictures of spines, scapulas and skulls?

That’s not to say that you need to put old skelly bones away, especially during Halloween! It’s about getting creative and being mindful of what story our images are telling. Think about swapping spines for exercise equipment, resistance bands, anatomical models and posters, talking with and assessing patients are just a number of ideas to change things up.

Go and take a look Matt Corbin’s website. Matt is 80% hands-off, meaning he wants to attract patients who want a more exercise-based approach to their treatment. Therefore, during our coaching process, Matt hired a photographer and you’ll see that the majority of the photos reflect Matt’s hands-off style.

Do yourself a favour and have a real good look over your website, social media, leaflets, posters etc and ask yourself: “does this represent what it’s like to be my patient?”

So, we’re going to think about how we treat and how to echo that throughout our entire business. Great! Let’s go deeper.

Start talking about your why

One of the biggest driving forces behind every successful brand in the world is down to the fact that they know why they exist.

Think Nike. “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”

Think Patagonia. “To cause no unnecessary harm” and “use business to protect nature.”

Think Cliniko. “Software for people who care.”

After speaking to hundreds of osteopaths about what being a business owner has taught them, they all talk about the absolute importance of:

  • Your reputation
  • Your purpose
  • Your motivation

It’s clear that osteopaths and the traditional business world are singing off the same hymn sheet.

What does it mean to start with why?

For me, this all started when I read Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why.

Sinek explains that the key difference between the “Patagonias” of the world and everyone else is that their why is at the centre of everything they do.

In the book, he uses what he calls “The Golden Circle” to explain:

Why – The core belief of the business.

How – How the business achieves their core belief.

What – What the business does to achieve their core belief.

The general concept is that most businesses A) don’t know why they exist and B) if they do, it’s hidden at the back of the business and forgotten about.

How do you find your why? It all starts with branding.

Right, now we’re thinking on a whole new level. How do we start educating our patients and community?

Let’s educate

Have a think about this: how would your patients describe osteopathy? Chances are, they’d all have different answers. As individual practitioners, we have an amazing opportunity to educate our patients and the general public in many ways.

Frequent emails

Could you run your finger through the dust of your ‘monthly’ newsletter? Don’t worry, we’re all guilty of leaving the idea of writing a newsletter behind. We’re all busy, right? Well, you may want to start making it a priority.

Paraphrasing from the article we wrote for Cliniko, “osteopaths see marketing as a way of bringing new patients into the clinic, but it’s equally important to retain your existing patient base. Reconnecting with patients is an ethical way to provide excellent patient care while maintaining your network.”

It doesn’t have to be all about getting patients to rebook. Be sure to invite readers to forward your email to people they believe would benefit from your knowledge.

Need of more convincing? Let’s talk about new patients. Emailing your patient database is a great way to drive that all important word of mouth, therefore increasing new patient referrals.

So, commit to writing 100 words of wisdom every month. Don’t get all perfectionism on yourself. Write it. Send it. You’ll feel that winning streak goodness and work hard to not break it.

Condition-based leaflets

If we’re to truly change how the general public perceive osteopaths, the best advocates are our patients. But we must overcome two obstacles.

  1. Patients often don’t know how to describe their experience.
  2. Our patients typically speak about their reason why they’re seeing an osteopath

Wouldn’t it be better if instead of the patient trying to figure out what to say, they can grab a leaflet to give to their friend?

But instead of a generic “What is Osteopathy?” leaflet, wouldn’t it be even better if that leaflet was about the condition your patient has?

All of a sudden, when your patient is trying to describe why their friends should go see you, they have a leaflet ready to do all the heavy lifting.

Get started by:

  1. Visiting Canva
  2. Choose one of their professionally-made leaflet templates
  3. Fill in the blanks.
  4. Create a whole bunch of different conditions osteopathy can help with
  5. Print them off
  6. Start handing them out

For example, every time you treat someone with neck pain and they’re an office worker, hand them your leaflet about neck pain in office workers.

Become the local expert

You may be surprised by the amount of writers who work for local papers and magazines. Every single one of our coaching clients have been able to reach out to and sit down with local news reporters.

The general experience tends to be an interview for 30-minutes about the practice, what osteopaths treat and the benefits of osteopathy. Just be sure to squeeze in a part about how osteopathy isn’t just about bones.

The result? The writer does all the work, you reap all the benefits and you’ve done your bit about what osteopathy is and isn’t.

Alright! You’re equipped what you need to start changing what osteopaths are known for.

Written by Alan Zaia M.Ost

Founder & CEO of Osteohustle. You’ll find Alan coaching osteopaths, travelling in a van or writing our weekly newsletter, The Hustle.

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