Chiropractic marketing should be unique and dynamic. A giant spine parade and event costume creates excitement and attracts attention for a Chiropractor in their community.
Publicity is important for any business. The giant parade spine will attract tremendous attention because of its size and uniqueness. When used properly, the giant spine will be the hit of the parade and result in priceless advertising value. People will talk about it for a long time.
“If your business is not worth being advertised, then advertise it for sale.” – BJ Palmer, developer of the chiropractic profession.
To make your own giant spine costume you will need special quality foam for each vertebra, extra-wide Velcro for each vertebra, and a specialized highly durable sprayable contact adhesive. Foam and Velcro are petroleum product so the price is high. Total estimated material cost per vertebra is $139.00 as of 08/2013 plus shipping of these supplies (approx $30.00) plus tax.
For tools you will need several razor blade knives, scissors, a pen, a yard stick, and a wooden, flat cutting surface that is at least 6 foot by 3 foot (an old wooden door works best).
The vertebrae are best created in a well ventilated area because of the fumes from the adhesive. Do not attempt it indoors. You will need a large open area to lay out the pieces for cutting and then drying after glue is applied.
It’s best to make just one type of vertebrae for ease of production. Also, the public does not know or care about the specifics of spinal anatomy.
Arrange a clear space in a well ventilated area with approximately 10 foot by 10 foot of working space. I placed my wooden cutting surface (an old door) on 2 construction horses to eliminate the bending over while working.
Start by laying the foam sheet flat, then trace the templates ( available below) of each piece as specified. Carefully cut the foam using a razor blade knife. The knife will dull quite easily and begin to tear the foam instead of cutting it, so watch for that and change blades/knives frequently. It’s best to take your time and get a smooth, straight cut. But don’t worry about imperfections because the spectators won’t notice, and no vertebra is perfectly symmetrical or similar either.
With the pieces cut (4 transverse pieces, 2 spinous pieces, 2 fastener pieces, and the body), cut the Velcro with a scissor for each appropriate piece and trace the Velcro’s outline on the foam so you’ll know where to apply the glue. Even if the Velcro has adhesive already on it, you will still need to apply the glue to both pieces (the Velcro and the foam). You must let the glue become tacky before joining the Velcro to the foam, and then allow to dry for at least 48 hours. Apply the glue at the narrow ends of both the transverse and spinous pieces last (each transverse and spinous piece is made of 2 foam pieces glued at the ends about 4 inches wide).
You will need 16 total pieces of Velcro for each vertebra: 6 pieces on the outside of vertebral body, 4 on the connecting tabs on the inside of the vertebral body, 2 pieces on the inside of the spinous, 2 pieces on the inside of the transverses (4 total), and 2 pieces on each fastener tab. Velcro is two part, one part has hooks (male), the other part has loops (female). Make sure you place the correct part on the pieces you want to join.) Don’t try to save money by skimping on the velco. Using shorter and narrower pieces is tempting, but in a wind the pieces will not hold together.
The giant spine can be used anywhere you wish to gain attention for your office. It works great as a parade float, but it can also be used (single vertebra) at a screening event, office promotion or a sporting event.
You will need one person for each vertebra, 2 people to carry the banner at the front of the giant spine, 1 person to drive the vehicle at the back of the giant spine, and at least 2 people on each side of the giant spine handing out candy/promo items (it’s better if you have 4 on each side). This totals 19-23 people assuming you have 12 vertebrae as I always did. Organizing this many people for a summer holiday can be quite taxing. After the first year that I used the giant parade spine, I called my local high school and spoke to an administrator who directed me to one of the sports team coordinators. The team (tennis team) was happy to assist me especially when I told them I would like to make a donation to their team in gratitude for their help. The following year the football team helped me. Always arrange or ask for more help than you think you will need because it’s likely a few will not show up. If you do use your staff or perhaps even some patients, reward them. When office staff and patients are used, it adds the benefits of teamwork, camaraderie, and unity of purpose.
– Ignore some peoples’ initial comments of “Oh, look at the little airplanes or the little white sharks” – they will figure it out when they see your chiropractic signage.
-The landmark designation on the signs is important because people will remember that easier than an address (I used across from South Shore YMCA).
Consider adding music and have a “dancing spine”.
-Give candy to the kids and the promo items to the adults. Give each person carrying a vertebra a small bottle of water to carry with them. Distributing coupons to the crowd for a complimentary exam is a great idea.
-Most people don’t know how many vertebrae are in the human spine, nor do they know that each is shaped differently, that’s why the number and imperfections do not matter.
-Expect to have some overspray/application of glue, and some scuff marks, and perhaps even some errors in your cutting of the foam. These flaws will not be noticed by the parade crowds, so don’t worry about it. For dirt smudges like fingerprints, use a sprayable cleaner and towel.
-Store the collapsed and stacked spine in a flat dry space surrounded with plastic wrap.
-Palmer College rents out their giant parade spine but it is difficult to obtain on the holidays. Last time I checked the rent was $600/day. Also, their vertebrae do not dismantle and lay flat so you must rent a large truck to transport Palmer’s spine, substantially adding to the cost.
-The vertebra are quite light (less than ten pounds), but most parades are slow and about 1-2 miles in length so make sure those you recruit/invite can walk that far.
-Extra attention can be gained by making a vertebra for a dog and walking it at the back of the giant spine – the tailbone!
Using the giant parade spine can be one of the best chiropractic marketing events for your practice if you use it correctly. The key is to let the crowds know who you are and where to find you. This is accomplished in two major ways: 1) have your name/address and a landmark close to your office clearly visible in the front of the spine (using a 3 foot by 6 foot(minimal) banner carried parallel to the roadway), and large banners (at least 6 foot by 6 foot) on both sides of the vehicle at the back of the giant spine. 2) hand out items with your office name/address/phone to the crowds as you pass by (I handed out coupons, bent pens, and jar openers). The crowds love to see the main doctor at the front of the display smiling and waving. This is your chance to ham it up, doc!