When it comes to today’s careerscape, service-based jobs reign supreme. However, don’t interpret that to mean the only way to find vocational security is to wait tables. That’s not what we’re saying at all.
To be a success today, a person must have some type of service to offer to others, a service that can meet specific needs. In fact, this is the reason for the recent rise of many niche-based markets.
We also want to be clear about the term “service” which rolls off the tongue a bit more smoothly than “something to offer”. In reality, your service could be a product, an idea, or – as is the case for the up-and-coming sober coaches among us – an unlimited supply of emotional support and encouragement. Whatever it is that a person can offer that others find of value can become the inspiration for a lifelong career.
Remember, though, that success doesn’t just happen. Even the greatest innovations might have stagnated if it weren’t for the other side of the service-based industry, which is marketing. But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves here because there’s an important prerequisite to a marketing campaign, which is branding.
Until relatively recently, there was very little marketing in the addiction treatment industry. The numerous addiction treatment facilities located nationwide didn’t have effective branding strategies on which to base their marketing campaigns, perhaps because the pervading stigma of addiction made our lot feel that it would be in bad taste to promote alcohol and drug rehabs. However, the branding identities of our treatment facilities are essential in virtually all methods of marketing, which is how we inform those in need of where they can go to get help for their addictions. See how it’s all connected?
So today we’re going to have a really important discussion about branding. It’s an incredibly important discussion to have, especially for those who are in the addiction treatment industry because it takes so much more than a name to connect those in need with the recovery programs offered at your treatment centers.
Demystifying the Concept of Branding
Although there’s surely a relationship between branding and marketing, the two are still very distinct concepts. To put it in the briefest terms, marketing is basically the promotion of a brand. They’re not the same thing, but branding is obviously inextricably linked to marketing. But we’re not here to talk about marketing, so let’s spend a moment exploring the concept of brand.
By definition, brand is the unique name and image a customer associates with your product or service. In essence, your brand is the cumulative experience of being a someone who uses your product or purchases your service. People who compete in saturated markets differentiate themselves from companies with similar products or services with their brands.
Does it sound a bit vague? That’s because it kind of is. Brand isn’t really something you can hold in your hand. It’s not exactly anything you sell, but rather it’s what you attach to your product or service that somehow enhances the inherent value.
Why is Branding Important for Your Treatment Center?
According to recent estimates, there are more than 14,000 addiction treatment facilities in the U.S. As professionals in the addiction recovery industry, we can typically determine what distinguishes one treatment facility from the next after just a few seconds of skimming a website. We tend to be familiar with the terminology that’s used, so when we see that an addiction treatment facility offers “holistic treatments” we know that means the facility likely offers things like guided meditation, biofeedback, acupuncture, or any number of other holistic offerings. However, for people who aren’t acquainted with the addiction recovery industry, it’s difficult to assess a facility and identify what characteristics it possesses that makes it different or better than another facility. For the layman, a strong brand can be the difference that causes them to enroll in your treatment center instead of the facility down the street.
Again, branding doesn’t really have anything to do with the specific features of your treatment facility. Instead, think of your alcohol or drug treatment center’s brand as being the sum of its parts. The brand is the image your facility projects to prospective clientele.
Let’s consider an example. Have you seen those television commercials for Passages Malibu? Whether you’re in the market for an addiction treatment center or not, the word “rehab” will remind people of commercials for Passages that they’ve seen. Treatment for addiction is the product, but Passages Malibu and the image of luxury is the brand. If a person who’s seen those Passages commercials a thousand times ends up needs addiction treatment or starts looking for treatment options for a loved one, it’s likely that Passages Malibu would make it onto their shortlist.
Having a strong brand for your treatment center is important for you and for the people who are in need of the services you can offer them. Obviously, anyone who owns or runs a company wants to see that company flourish; with a strong brand, you can make sure that your alcohol or drug treatment center stands out from the crowd, offering more of a recovery experience than a program that simply meets expectations. As well, having a strong brand increases perceptions of value and will result in increasing future business.
How to Actualize Your Branding Potential
There are countless ways to give your treatment center all-star branding, from little details to more big-picture stuff. One place that you might want to start is with the name and logo of your treatment facility. Make sure that what you choose captures your treatment center in some way, whether it’s evoking a feeling of calm and relaxation or alluding to the types of treatment you offer. When the name of your facility and its logo are just right, you can move on to other things.
Think about what you offer at your treatment facility that is also offered at many others. Now think about how you can make your products or services just a little bit better or different from the others. Maybe it’s an amenity or some type of perk that patients at your facility get. Whatever you offer that might make someone choose to seek treatment at your facility rather than one of 14,000 others should be incorporated into the image of your treatment center.
It’s also a great idea to get a community behind your treatment facility. Do some community outreach to get members of the community on your side; having the approval of people who don’t need your services and maintaining a positive relationship with the community will surely lead to referrals since word-of-mouth is still the most effective form of advertising. As for the patients who enroll and graduate from your treatment center, encourage them to continue being involved with your facility by offering some type of alumni program. Having people who are enthusiastic about your recovery center serves to validate or affirm the image you’re trying to create with your branding and will make your future marketing efforts exponentially more successful.