A National Name, A Local Market

craniosacral therapy business national name local market service company

The internet has done amazing things for businesses and for consumers. A few short years ago it would have been unthinkable to hear that I could be laying in bed, roll over and grab my phone, order anything from a book to a coffee table have it show up a few hours later on my doorstep. 

However, this is now the world we live in. For retail businesses, this has been extremely challenging. Adapting to this new dynamic is not always possible, and every time you drive by a “going out of business” sale the brutal truth of that is tangibly reinforced. However, for service providers, things are somewhat different. Since they aren’t competing with internet juggernauts like Amazon that can ship something anywhere at any time (yet), service providers are challenged by our new digital reality in different ways. To get a deeper insight into this, we spoke with Dr. Alex Kaminsky, a New York City Craniosacral therapist. 

Dr. Kaminsky’s experiences offering craniosacral therapy in NYC are extremely interesting and reflect this reality for a number of reasons. First, he is in a very specialized and skilled industry. This has the double effect of limiting competition and new entrants to the market, but it also means that his offerings are often to a smaller, niche market as opposed to the national market at large. Second, as a doctor of chiropractic utilizing the internet for business, his website becomes a tool not only for helping potential patients find him, but also for educating them as well about what he offers and the potential benefits of his services. 

Competing With National Brands 

Competing digitally doesn’t bring all rosy news, of course. For local practitioners like Dr. Kaminsky there is also a level of national competition that is brought about by Google. Particularly in the physical therapy and recovery space, national brands like ATI and Athletico can outcompete local businesses. While this has always been the case, on the internet they are capable of shutting out local businesses altogether. With larger marketing budgets and websites that carry much more weight with the search engines, it can be very difficult for smaller, locally owned businesses to compete at all with these brands. 

With specialists like Dr. Kaminsky, the solution is often to specialize even more. These large national brands are by nature generalists, offering a wide range of services to appeal to a large market. Rather than fighting with them directly on that terrain, you can instead find a specialty and stake your claim there. Craniosacral therapy and some of Dr. Kaminsky’s other offerings are niche enough that they are not offered by any coast to coast brands – although that does not mean there aren’t any large competitors. 

The Battle Of The Specialists 

This brings us to another unique aspect of Dr. Kaminsky’s field. While most local service providers are not challenged by the digital age in the same way that traditional retail shops and manufacturers are, the medical field has a unique element of cross competition that you often don’t see in other service fields. For instance, if your lawn needs mowed, other contractors will not have that much to say to you. The painters and the plumbers will tell you to call a lawn care company. 

However, with the healthcare field, if you back hurts, there are dozens of potential causes and each specialist will probably have their own solution to the problem. There is also the added complication that each of these solutions offered is the result of years of specializing in a particular approach, therefore it is often difficult for the patient to really understand the ins and outs of each of their options and make a fully informed decision. 

While the internet has leveled this knowledge gap to some degree, a Google search will never be the equivalent of years of training. If customers aren’t already looking for your service, it can be difficult to speak to them and help them see the benefits of what you offer. In that case, you can either target the customers that already have an understanding of what you offer, going after them with the sorts of marketing tactics that target the end of the sales funnel – search optimization, pay per click, that sort of thing – or you can educate your current patients about all your expertise and offerings. If you offer a more general service, such as chiropractic care in Dr. Kaminsky’s case, you can educate your patients on the benefits of more specific treatments such as craniosacral therapy care. 

What’s Next? 

So far, service providers have largely been sheltered from the rapid changes brought about in large part by the internet. No matter how easy it is for me to order a new item from my phone or laptop from the other side of the world, this cannot be the case with services. Most services are locally concentrated, meaning they require a person to be physically there to do the work. It is unlikely to see this changing anytime soon. 

What this means is that for those businesses that are able to adapt to whatever new technologies and marketing tactics are coming down the pipeline, they will be able to survive and thrive. They can compete at price points that fit their local market, rather than having to engage in a race to the bottom with manufacturers on the other side of the world. More than competing on price though, they can continue to cultivate the sorts of one on one, professional yet friendly relationships with their customers that allows them to compete on things other than price. 

Final Thoughts

The market has taken note of this. It is no secret that the American economy has transitioned to a service-based economy. In fact, this change has been rapid. In 1990, the manufacturing industry was the largest employer in 36 of the 50 states. But today, this is only the case in seven states. If more small businesses take notice of this and learn from the lessons provided by unique service industries such as Dr. Kaminsky’s, they will be able to come out of the internet age in one piece, rising to and meeting whatever challenges it throws at them.

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