Get Over Yourself

Get Over Yourself

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– Get Over Yourself –

Article by Jerry Durham, PT

Edited by Ann Wendel, PT, ATC, CMTPT

Let’s review— a Unique Value Proposition (UVP) is a promise to provide services that a customer will find of great worth. The value you bring to your clients is unique to you. Clients can’t get YOU anywhere else.

Once you determine your UVP, you must make sure to share it appropriately; yet, many business owners are uncomfortable selling themselves.

I have worked with business owners to help them shape and define their UVP. Many business owners get stuck when I ask about the unique value they bring to their customers. They can talk about their services, products and their company’s commitment to long lasting partnerships. But when it comes to sharing more about themselves, they clam up. I think it’s hard to toot your own horn without feeling arrogant. Typically our values teach us to be humble, to say please and thank you. So it can be understandably difficult to talk about our strengths. If you allow yourself the indulgence of thinking about this, you might be shocked at how uniquely valuable you really are. Here are some tips you can follow to present a more compelling case when you talk about your unique value proposition:

Opening Lines

Choose a few key words to get the conversation started. Have a few bullet points that you can talk about in a quick 10-second snippet and in a longer conversation when relevant.

Your key words should explain your particular approach to what you do. Below are examples from people outside the Healthcare world that can be used for starting conversations.  For example, one business owner I spoke with likes to start with the phrase, “I like to see myself as the organizer of chaos.” Another business person I spoke with often starts new business conversations with: “Frankly, we give a (bleep), when others really don’t.” Once he has his prospect’s attention, he then elaborates. Another starts by saying, “We bring new life to what’s gotten stale.” And another: “We help companies remain relevant.”

These are not comprehensive, company-line Unique Value Propositions. They are key words that start to get at the heart of your unique perspective in a more human, less pre-packaged fashion. Think about what your conversation starter might be. And be sure to have some fun with it.

The Takeaway

Ask yourself: “What do my clients get when they choose me?”

You bring particular values, styles and strengths. Maybe your strength lies in your willingness to deliver the hard truth even when it’s not what clients want to hear. Your best customers appreciate this, so talk about this approach. Maybe you were a college athlete and that experience fuels an obsessive level of discipline, focus and drive in everything you do. Not everyone is so driven. You can talk about your drive without seeming boastful. It’s who you are. Maybe you have a big heart. Maybe you’re a good listener. Maybe you love to solve hard problems. These traits drive your unique approach to serving your customers. Consider what your traits might be and don’t discount them. They will be more compelling than you think.

The convergence of what you most love to do, what you are best at and what your customer most needs and values is the sweet spot where business growth comes most effortlessly.

If this topic freaks you out, ask a client for help. Pick some of your best clients and ask them why they stuck with you and what they most like about working with you. This will be uncomfortable. Do it anyway. Those who know you best often can articulate what you are unable or unwilling to acknowledge or comfortably explain. Then you can use their words when talking with others, “My best clients tell me what they most appreciate about doing business with me is…”

Plan on struggling with this a bit. Everyone does.

It’s worth spending more time on articulating your Unique Value Proposition. Consider that your customers gain something when they decide to do business with you. When you focus on your value, you draw your perfect clients to your business. Instead of focusing on beating the competition, focus on making the competition irrelevant.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section!

Thank to Tom Batchelder for sharing his knowledge of UVP and marketing in his book “Barking Up a Dead Horse.”

  1. Amazing post! I’m going to be thinking long and hard about how to incorporate this not only into how I view my but also how I view others’ UPV. Fantastic insight, as always, Jerry.

    • Thanks, Matt! You are so far ahead of the curve by thinking about these things as a student. You will have a really good working knowledge of your UVP by the time you graduate next year!

    • Thanks Matt

      I really enjoy talking to people outside of Healthcare about their UVP. It gives me a better perspective and insight into what I need to think about.

  2. Ditto, the concept of UVP is outstanding and something that I think all PTs and SPTs should focus on developing. Thanks for the article, very helpful. Thanks Jerry & Ann

    • Zack,
      I love your passion for the profession that you are entering! Please share with your new classmates!

    • Good thought Zack

      Make sure and share this with your classmates. Your UVP will make you more marketable as an individual, too…Not just a business.

  3. Great follow up post. I tell my clients all the time that I don’t settle for less and I do not expect them to either. So I will always deliver the best care, give sound & practical advice, be truthful to them as I possibly can. I’ve found it so much easier to market myself from hearing what my clients have said they’ve appreciated/valued most about me during & after working with them. People you give value to, give you the greatest feedback.

    • Monique,
      Yes – it’s amazing, when you just ask your best clients what made them choose you, then you have incredibly valuable information. You can use that information to draw more of those perfect clients to your practice.

    • Excellent example….If we use their words we will be successful with attracting the right clients!

  4. Thank you for this post. It really helped me on how to better frame my UVP. Also I agree that many of us hold back because it might feel boastful, because typically when someone is boastful they also tend to be derogatory about others. As long as the UVP statements are about yourself and what you have to offer clients then we do need to get ourselves and shout it from the mountain tops. I would assume that the UVP of PTs as a whole is being discussed with #visionnow as well? And we as a collective will need to pushing that concept in every way possible. Our profession needs the one voice approach just as much as each of our own clinics do as well.
    Thanks to such great mentors as Jerry and Ann as well as the collaborative effort from the people that will be reading and posting.

    • Exactly, Stephen. When we focus on our own UVP and drawing our own perfect clients, we realize that there isn’t any competition, because not every client out there is “ours.” The need to be derogatory towards others dies away, since we realize that not everyone is “our” client. We have to trust that those meant to work with us will find us if we are clear about our UVP and we effectively get our message out there.

    • Great differentiation on “being boastful” vs. sharing your UVP. I like that thought!

      Yes #VisionNow puts a high priority on distinguishing PTs UVP….. it has to be a priority. Again I would say if people like you and the others here are sharing your UVP with the public then we are fixing this from the #bottomUp!

      Lead by example and it will happen #bottomUp

  5. Great post! When I first opened my practice I found it very to “talk about myself” without feeling like I was being arrogant, but I have been told by many patients that it was in fact my confidence in myself that helped them have the confidence that I could help them when others could not.

    • Yes, it’s funny how difficult it can be to “sell yourself” when you first open a practice. We are not taught to do this in school, and unless we had a different career prior to becoming a therapist, we may have no idea where to begin. The best advice I was given a decade ago was “Decide what you are worth, make your Policies and Procedures, and then share your cost and policies without any emotion either way – they are just facts. Those people who are your clients will have no issue with it, and you will identify early on who isn’t your client.”

    • Brilliant…. I love it.

      Thanks for sharing that. Others need to see how this works.

  6. Thanks to Jerry and Ann for dropping knowledge bombs as usual! I believe there is a fine line between arrogance and confidence so how you deliver your message and describe what makes you who you are is important. There is a reason that people continue to seek out your help, tell friends/family members, and basically market for you for free! On the flip side I definitely think that not every patient is your patient to treat. If you try to take on every patient that may or may not improve then it might hurt the value of your UVP. Stick to what you know best and collaborate with others. Your patients will appreciate that much more than trying to force the issue.

    The line that stood out the most to me is “Instead of beating the competition, focus on making the competition irrelavant.” It’s such a great statement and puts things into perspective. If you stick to your UVP and show patients how you are different than the rest, everything will fall into place. Thanks again guys, great job!

    • Russ,
      Thanks so much! Absolutely agree – we need to be clear on our UVP and perfect customer and serve as a resource for those people who aren’t our ideal client (for whatever reason). As long as we keep our message true, and operate from “highest intent” then I don’t think we will be arrogant. We are just being clear about WHY people like working with us.

    • Great thoughts Russ….

      Stephen above, I thought summed it up perfectly, “As long as the UVP statements are about yourself and what you have to offer clients ….”

      And to your point of all clients. It is your UVP that will attract the ideal clients. The UVP is key to that. If you are not sharing what makes you unique then you will burn time, money and energy on the wrong people. As you said, “If you stick to your UVP and show patients how you are different than the rest, everything will fall into place.”


  7. Russ and Ann great discussion. It is good for us to be aware of and know our competitors but more importantly for us is to truly know ourselves. We have to believe & show why and how unique we are. The constant, repetitive small efforts that we do daily to add value to our clientele is laying the foundation we need to help us avoid many disasters in business.

    • My favorite Core Value for me and my business is “Be Self Aware”….. Know ourselves first.

      Thanks Monique

  8. Great article. I think about this when describing what I do at networking events, especially since I’m usually the only SLP there. I tell people, I help people retrain their brain. Then I elaborate once I have their attention.

    • Rachel,
      That’s a great “Opening Line!” We do need to capture people’s attention with a one liner – it needs to get them interested on an emotional level…then we can go from there!

    • awesome Rachael…I love that.

      So well pointed out how to start the conversation. That is a huge key to the success of this process. If I start with “Im a Physical Therapist”….then they put me in their category of what they believe a PT is and now the rest of the conversation is based on their assumption.

      With your example you control the conversation.

      Thanks again

  9. Jerry and Ann,
    Excellent post! Interesting that you write about strengths and how that translates into value. About 2-3 months ago, I asked friends and patients what they thought my 5 best/worst traits/strengths were. A bit of an uncomfortable exercise but I have to say I saw a pattern emerge and it was quite an eye opener for me. I also asked patients who had seen other pt’s why they chose me over other therapists.

    I also did Strength Finders, Not sure if you all are familiar with it. But I firmly believe that if we operate from a position of our STRENGTHS we will shine and our Value will show. And from that success will emerge in whatever we do. For the record my 5 strengths were Achiever, Learner, Responsibility, Input, Maximizer (in that order). Not surprising for people who know me!


    • Great strengths to have, Erica! I believe this is the correct link?

    • Thanks Erica

      Now to dig deeper as you pointed out. The uncomfortable part of asking, which has to do with understanding the EGO and the its role. Without a good understanding of the EGO we can not be successful in selling ourselves or our business.

      Tom Batchelder in his book, “Barking Up A Dead Horse” does an excellent job in framing the EGO and how we must understand it in this context. I highly recommend reading that for ALL people to better Sell Themselves.

      It was after I read his book that I could take alot of the Marketing and selling forward in a successful manner. And to be honset, it helped me personally as well

      • Here’s what Tom says about the ego:

        The ego is terrified of being invisible and un-acknowledged.It becomes a problem when you are compulsively looking outside yourself for love and appreciation. If you are trying to grow your business from a place of “not good enough” you will show up that way and and allow others to discount you and treat you poorly.

        When being driven by your ego’s desire to been seen and validated at any cost, you find yourself trying to convince people that don’t really see and appreciate your value. They either get it, or they don’t. They are either open or they are not. This is either because it’s not the right time or you are truly not the right fit, or some combination.

        Active engagement, with curiosity, focus, and sincerity is essential, coupled with a healthy level of detachment from needing/wanting desperately for a particular outcome to occur.

        From p.59-76

  10. Yes, Ann this is the correct link. Well, worth it in my opinion! I can attest to it, personally.

  11. This is fantastic! I think many PTs and very few SPTs even begin to think about UVP. I will make it a point to practice this in all of my clinical rotations so that when I graduate I have a pretty good grasp on it! I also think it can be a great thing for students to think about while going through coursework!

    • Absolutely, Lauren. At the end of your clinical rotations, ask your CI and the other PTs what they think your unique value is…ask your patients…ask your teachers! My guess is that you will hear the same thing over and over – and that points you in the direction of getting comfortable with your UVP statement and opening line!

    • Such a great tool for Personal Branding as well.

      Make yourself more desirable to those settings that you believe you could bring Value too.

      Huge Value to the #DPTstudent to work on now!

  12. (Quote from above)
    “If I start with “I’m a Physical Therapist”….then they put me in their category of what they believe a PT is and now the rest of the conversation is based on their assumption.”

    I feel this to be one of the most important things to realize when advocating, networking, etc. Humans inevitably will make assumptions, especially upon first meeting someone. You can ultimately take others’ assumptions out of the picture by starting with something other than “I’m a physical therapist…” (At least until we successfully make the public aware of what it is physical therapists actually do!)

    I will no longer introduce myself as a “student physical therapist,” but rather a “manager of pain and restoration of function specialist.” <–(opening line still in the works 🙂 )

    I think I can speak for most DPT students when I say thank you to Jerry, Ann, and others for helping to shape students like myself. Some people believe you won't know the impact you've had on the life/career of others until 20 years down the road. After interacting with folks in the profession such as Jerry and Ann over the past few months, I can already see the impact on my career.

    Great article!

    • Thanks so much, Trent! I am really encouraged by all of the interest shown in bizPT by current DPT students. The fact that you all are already thinking about the profession from a business standpoint puts you way ahead of where I was when I graduated. You all are already seeing that “marketing” and “sales” are not dirty words when we come from a place of high intent to truly help others find the person who can best solve their problem (and that may not be us – but we can have a network of people to whom we refer).

  13. Great tip, thank you for writing and sharing such a good post. I am new to your group, and have already learned something new.
    As both Ann and Jerry, I am going to ask some of my “long time” patients why they have “stuck it out” with me on and off for so many years.
    Then maybe I will have the nerve to do what Erica suggested, ask other patients what they think my strengths and weaknesses are. (that might take a week or two to build up my nerve) 🙂

    • Marianne,

      I’m so glad you commented – be brave and ask your patients 🙂
      I’m sure that their feedback will be valuable!

  14. Another great post Ann and Jerry! It really got me thinking and I didn’t have to go back any further than this past week. When I discharged 2 patients and without any prompting they told me in the future they would come back and why. I think it’s because although there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, setting the tone on that initial visit as to what we are going to do to help them reach their goals and reassure them that in my care together we will get results. But if we don’t I will not stop working for them until we do. Showing that commitment to them I feel goes a long way with clients.

    • Alex,

      Were their reasons (for why they would come back) pretty much what you expected to hear? Or did something they said surprise you…? I’m sure they gave you valuable feedback!

      • Ann,

        They were reasons that I expected to hear, but what made it so valuable to me was that prior to meeting them they had no hope and had given up on themselves. So for them to be so happy to get their quality of life back. That’s why I wake up in the morning and I assume the rest of us as well.

  15. I love the idea of focusing on the positive aspects of what we do. So many clinics harp on the negative. Emphasizing what we do well and replicating that is so important and often overlooked!

  16. Great article!!!
    Thanks for sharing JD!

  17. Great post Jerry, and thanks for giving him a venue Ann! I always tell everyone I got married to stay humble because around the wrong individuals it seems as my confidence can be taken for arrogance. I’ll have to think of an opening line for my “Do as I say or you won’t get better” approach.

    • Love that last line…… I used it for many years, and found I wasnt the PT in the office getting return patients.

      Thanks for sharing..

  18. Thanks Ann and Jerry for another excellent post! Knowing our UVP makes it easier to ‘sell’ future clients and potential referral sources on our services. It took us some time after opening our practice to hit our stride and more clearly define our UVP- in the early days we realized that we were almost apologizing for our practice model (out of network cash practice). In effect we were sending the message that even we didn’t think we were worth paying out of pocket for. As Ann points out, we don’t learn about selling ourselves in PT school, so there is certainly a learning curve when you strike out on your own. Thankfully we were able to recognize what we were doing and change our interactions with potential new clients to demonstrate our value, identify those clients right for our practice and refer those who needed a different fit.

    • Great point on the apologizing….

      We have backed ourselves into a corner with insurance payments by doing that exactly year in and year out. We will have to show outcomes BUT i would argue the VALUE we show will go alot further because thats what the public will pay for and demand from Payors (insurance).


      • So I made sure this before, however I think it’s worth reposting. I had a really interesting conversation with our lawyer and some of our administrators over the differences between medically appropriate and medically necessary.

        Medically necessary is what we’ve been backed into a corner with. I recently received the denial on an athlete because one of my goals was to return into light running. Now it doesn’t matter that the primary reason the athlete came to see me was because he was unable to run or that he was a track athlete on scholarship track. So the guidance that we got from a very enlightened lawyer was this, medically necessary as what’s deemed by the insurer as the minimum standard that needs to be appropriately provided and will be reimbursed. There’s two concepts are very important provided and reimbursed.

        On the other hand, medically appropriate is really what were all talking about here. We’re talking about doing the right thing for the right client at the right time. We’re talking about providing or skilled services in only a way in which a physical therapist may be able to better enhance the life skill and engagement of a person.

        I may be on the other end of the spectrum and it sometimes I need to reel it in from a full-fledged Brian-fest, however I never apologize for selling our services whether it’s medically necessary or medically appropriate.

        If I’m not the right therapist for someone, I will fully manage up the right person who is even if they’re not one of my coworkers. I want to make sure that the profession is well spoken for and well represented. To me this speaks to a better understanding of what is medically appropriate to be provided by physical therapist.

        Last night I was out in the rain running one of our clinic sponsored races that we promote in the community to enhance awareness about therapy. I get about 90 seconds to speak before the race starts and I’m always amazed because I try and make the best utilization of those 90 seconds I can. What is truly amazing is how many people stick around at the end of the race and come back to our tents and want to talk to me because they don’t understand what the therapist is what we can be doing for them or how we can really provide qualitatively enhancing services for them.

        To anyone starting out in this I would encourage you not to stress over finding your UVP in its entirety right now.

        What’s really important is that we don’t let a little perfection get the way of operations, set your UVB as best you can and get out there and get over yourself.

  19. Jerry,
    Excellent post.
    I’ve thought of this topic in terms of Benefits to patients and letting people know how they can benefit from our services. this is in contrast to trying to sell features of the therapist or the practice.

    It is so much easier to sell an inanimate object rather than ones self and your suggestions for selling ones value is spot on for how to sell the personalized service of physical therapy.

    Since the UVP is unique to the individual, how do you in your practice hire other therapists (and position their value) when the patients are coming in to see you and for your value? Do you create a company wide UVP?

    • Thanks Aaron

      yes we work with our individual staff, PT and non-PT on personal Branding. We encourage them and coach them on how to figure out and live their brand.

      With that said everybody in the company is aware of the company UVP, ” We create happy patients”. They are made aware in the interview process and we constantly circle back to it. I bring it into conversations when the staff is caught on how are what to do about a certain situation. I will ask, “will that help us create happy patients”?

      Thats our promise….we need to deliver on it

      Thanks again for the comment

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