The following is an excerpt of an exclusive interview with Irene Diamond, internationally recognized massage therapist, creator of the Diamond Method, also on the web at http://www.thediamondmethod.com. Register now for Irene’s upcoming workshops, with a special discount code available only to our readers….
Nitin C: Hi everyone this is Nitin Chhoda from nitin360.com and I want to thank Irene for speaking with us because it is bright and early in the morning in Hawaii and Irene is actually on vacation. I am indeed jealous because I am stuck here in New Jersey. Irene is the creator of a unique massage therapy method called Active Myofascial Therapy also known as ‘The Diamond Method’ and her website is thediamondmethod.com, is that right?
Nitin C: I asked Irene for an interview so we can learn specifically how she went about creating a brand of massage therapy for herself. And how physical therapists can pretty much do the same and stand apart from the competition. Irene is conducting workshops all over the country and she has established a strong presence both locally and nationally as an expert in her technique “Active Myofascial Therapy” and a lot of physical therapists attend her workshops. For a physical therapist in private practice, who has an idea about a method that they want to pioneer and they want to brand, what is the first bit of advice that you would give them if they want to go about creating their own brand of therapy?
Irene: That is a great question. First and foremost, therapists need to be be sure that their idea or method they are developing is something that is unique and different from what everybody is already doing. If they have the same techniques as everyone else, then it is not going to be unique and you could spend a lot of time trying to brand it and it won’t be successful. I think there needs to be a unique story of why they created their method.
For example, in my situation, when I was 16, I was doing acrobatics and I actually fell and ended up with a spinal cord injury and was completely paralyzed and I went to physical therapy. I got a few sessions and was sent me on my way, but was still in chronic pain so I studied everything I could. And then I started going to therapists myself and started directing them on what to do and where to push, how to get better and I started getting better.
The therapists who were working with me started taking my method and using it on their own clients and patients. They were seeing great results with them, so I knew I was on to something and then I went to school and got my degree in recreation therapy with an emphasis on movement therapy.
With my knowledge of exercise, massage therapy and neuromuscular reeducation, I created a system that is backed by science. If a therapist is listening and they have an idea of the method they want to present then of course that has to be proved, that has to be resolved. It has to be reproducible.
It is also important for you to have a strong desire to get it out there and possibly be a good presenter. One of the comments I hear from people who take my courses is that they can tell exactly what I am doing and take it and then use it with their patients. It is not just a money maker for me or some sort of ego trip.
So really how much information can I impart in one seminar so therapists who are there can take this information and apply it in the next day about this. (ease of application)
I started on very local level and in Northern California I contacted my professional organizations and offered to present. Luckily they say yes and I started with one hour seminars and that then progressed to more seminars for longer sessions.
Therapists need to make the local connections, first contact your state organizations and then once the seminars are successful you can take it and build on it.
To begin with, write up a quick definition and description of the method. And use that to get the word out. Hand it to your patients and have them talk about it with their healthcare providers, you can write articles on the techniques get them to article submission sites online that I did do and that I think was part of how I was featured in advance magazine.
Marketing is very important.
Every time I get a new client (in California we refer to patients as clients), I send a letter to their healthcare provider and also to the doctor saying “Hi Doctor Smith, I writing to introduce my patient Harry and also to let you know about this therapy I am providing for your patient’s arthritis / neck pain or whatever the patients condition is and then I briefly explain my method so that
a) they know about me
b) they know about the method
c) I also go on to explain the quick results that we are getting
This proves the efficacy of my work and I also provide a referral form for them to be able to refer other patients back to me and that has been really been successful because it is an introduction, not just a cold call.
Nitin C : I think you could also take what you mentioned about having the patients communicate with their physicians. You could ask the patients if they know of someone who can benefit from your kind / brand of therapy and then send a letter or have the patients sign off on a card that introduces you and mail that card to the patient’s relatives on their behalf. Does that make sense ?
Irene : Absolutely, Yep I agree everybody has got somebody who has got pain! or some limitation in the range of motion then it becomes a personal referral from a friend or a cousin or a brother.
Nitin C : That is the key, especially in your case when you have your own brand of therapy, to create the buzz factor. Since you provide a completely unique type of therapy, it becomes a trigger for patients to promote you to other individuals they know, it is a whole lot easier to get a chain reaction of referrals with a new method that you have come up with as opposed to the same old traditional brand of therapy.
Irene : Thank you.
Nitin C: And Irene now when you created this method you talked about how you got it out to local chapters and local organizations and taught it out to other professionals, a lot of therapists really wanted to know how they can promote their own practice with their own brand of therapy and how they can get more patients. Can you share some more strategies on how you have used your unique brand of therapy to drive more clients into your practice?
Irene : Sure I have a wellness centre in San Francisco, so we were the first wellness centre called diamond massage. We are constantly trying to get new clients. Therapists need constantly marketing, that is the problem that I see when I do business success coaching because they have that feast or famine where they are busy busy at times with a full patient load and of course people get better and they leave the practice. Or they just move out of town etc. And they start wondering where there next client is and so consistent marketing and a lot of therapists don’t like that word but everything you do with marketing whether it is the introduction letter, asking the patients for referrals or talking to neighbouring businesses, all efforts must be consistent to get a full load of patients. If you can set yourself apart from the guy next door you will have a much easier time marketing your clinic. If you are doing the same old thing that everybody is doing, there is no excitement there and there is nothing for patients to talk about, there is nothing for the local newspapers to talk about.
We really need to figure out what makes us unique.
Nitin C: You mentioned the importance of having your own unique method, as far as getting it out there you mentioned you have press releases. In my experience a press release is really a hit or miss. If it hits it really hits and if it misses (more often than not it misses) you don’t know the results, they are not measurable.
In my experience, getting a newsletter out to hundreds of patients, past and present patients is measurable because you win with the numbers. The more people that read your newsletter and benefit from it, the more referrals you can generate.
Irene : Sure I agree with the newsletter, there is a direct co-relation there. In your newsletter you need to put some sort of ‘call to action’ so your clients get back in touch with you. We also do post cards every two months and we call them call them client appreciation discount cards. I might do a free headache screening or I might do a lot of volunteer work and we will mention the people who are volunteering and would use the post card every two months and they need to mention the card to receive either the ability to take the costs or to get the discounts and so we can directly track it right back to them. It is simple and something to do online and you get it printed at very reasonable prices. Tracking is important.
Nitin C: You can track it and you are pre qualifying your patients and only paying attention to the patients who really responding to your offer. So I love the approach where essentially having people call you and offering them some sort of an incentive to call you so I think that is a great strategy. Once patients come into your clinic practice, do you have a system in place to remind them of benefits of Active Myofascial Therapy, perhaps even communicate with them after they are discharged?
Irene : Yes that is one of the unique selling propositions of my program… once they go through my program, the accelerated package and it is an evaluation and 3 or 4 sessions, 90% of the time they receive the results, but then they also have access to me forever. What that means is that they can call me and they can say “Hey Irene you know that exercise you gave me for my shoulder I forgot, is the palm up down?” This gives them confidence that I am not going to just work and send them on a way I never see them again and it also of course is unique about me as a therapist who else does that?
The way I position myself as a premier provider, and my prices have a lot to do with it.It is a huge financial commitment for a client to see me and I also have a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Nitin C: That is awesome that is really the dream for most physical therapists, I think that you really have handle on how to market the system most physical therapists have to have a cash based practice. Branding yourself just like you have done is absolutely phenomenal. Tell us a little bit about your next workshop, how therapists can register and the surprise you have in mind. I think you are going to provide them with a bonus as well as a discount for listeners of this call who will take action quickly?
Irene: Absolutely, my next seminar is actually right around the corner. August 3rd to 7th and it is being held in San Francisco and it is a first official annual certification course. So it is 40 continuing education units, Monday to Friday and I am really excited about it , its going to be fabulous and not only are there going to getting the applying the technique of AMT but they will also get a whole system.
The system will be information to send to healthcare providers and press releases to send out and client handouts and documentation forms – everything it is a system at the box. Everything from how to price your services to execute the massages. I completely believe that most therapists underprice their services and if you are doing what not very many people are doing you can charge a premium. If they are doing an hour session or a 50 minute session that they can charge at least $20 more per session and for a 30 minute session atleast $10 more so again you are offering a service that very few therapists are providing, this will completely set you apart from your competition so that is all.
My website is http://www.thediamondmethod.com/certification.html Your readers can use the coupon code ‘Nitin360′ on the registration form, if they register before July 23rd they will receive 10% off that is all of the $100 off and that is before July 23rd and after July 23rd they will receive 5% off.
Another bonus I have is video clips of AMT, if anyone wants the clips, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and in the subject of that email just enter ‘nitin360′, I am personally going to make sure that you get a copy of those videos which you can put it up on your website if needed.
Nitin C: This is a special time bound offer Irene has been gracious enough to provide to our listeners but as I said you may listen to this call several weeks or several months after it is recorded but make sure to check out http://www.thediamondmethod.com
Irene, thank you do much for you time. Any closing remarks?
Irene: My only closing comment is we were talking about what therapists can do as far as setting themselves apart maybe they don’t want to go as far as setting up a whole system or whole passage or technique and branching that so if they don’t to go the full round, its ok. Just start by packaging yourself differently. They know if they are going to work with you they need to purchase this package from you obviously the results would be more comprehensive. Percieved value increases.
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