Hi, I'm Sarah, for those of you who I haven't met yet. I am in practice in New Jersey, the lovely state of New Jersey.
What kind of strategies do you use on social media to promote products you recommend?
I really want it to be authentic. I want it to maintain my identity which sounds so cheesy but people may not know me, but at least they know how I portray my real self and that's what they see.
How did your partnership with PowerStep begin?
This is the craziest thing – I feel like it's all going to come back to social media in this whole conversation.
So, there's this wonderful gentleman, Dr. Bass, who reached out to me on Instagram and he just wanted to talk about NJPMS and me becoming more involved in the local society and seeing how I want to contribute and bring the residents into being part of it. We got to talking, and he talked about what do you use in your office, and I said I use PowerStep. I’ve used them for a long time.
I was driving to work in my car, it was 8 am on, I think, a Friday and you know, he was like, you promote the product anyway, you should talk to these people and see if your interests truly align. Crazy -- it's all social media so if I wasn't on social media I wouldn't have gotten the message. I would have just been telling people to buy PowerStep offline and I would know not as much as I know now.
On the importance of being authentic
I feel like I see through people posting ‘oh my gosh, this is the best shampoo I've ever used in my life.’ I'm like, great, totally not buying that, so I mean, I truly buy what I already use. I’ve used over-the-counter PowerStep inserts for years and now when my patients ask me what I use I can take off my shoe. I show them what I use. I tell them all the time, ‘it’s gross but you're going to see what I use every single day and I use these inserts because I believe in them.’ I think that's the easiest way to just translate what I do on a day-to-day basis into patient care.
I think it's really neat because, I'll get into it later I suppose but at the same time it's easy enough to say it now, when people come in and you've been recommending the product for… I’ve been in the business for five years, which is kind of crazy. You come out of fellowship and you're like, oh I’m going to do all this crazy reconstruction and all this crazy surgery, and then you realize people come in they're like ‘I have heel pain.’ I’m like, yes, everyone has heel pain but you don't have to have heel pain. All you do is do this and then you're done and then we can talk about other things -- your bunion, everything else that you want to address while you're here. But it's kind of crazy that it's something so simple as doing these stretching exercises. This is your next step and you're going to put this inside your shoe and you're going to like me a lot more.
What is your go-to recommendation?
So when I was brought into practice I was told everyone belongs in some kind of arch support because the most of the stuff that you buy over the counter, whatever shoe brand it may be. All of those inserts that come out are very flimsy as a piece of paper, there's literally nothing to them. Your arch, your foot has more bones more structures than anywhere else in your body. You can't tell me that that's enough support, and
the degradation that happens of the sneaker over time I don't want that to happen to me or my patient's feet, so I just tell them an over-the-counter orthotic suffices for most in the sense.
Their classic line is all you really need. If you have a foot deformity that's a whole different business that we need to address and depending on what the pathology is we're going to get into different types of orthotics. I personally like the ProTech Met and that's why and I usually recommend that because fat is the one thing that we all want to lose but you don't want to lose it in the bottom of your foot. It's the only place you truly lose it. It's kind of messed up, so I tell people to get this met because it actually puts pressure behind the metatarsals and adds to the cushion that you get when you every single day.
I'm on the hospital floors every day. I have no idea what your life is like, but when you're wearing a supportive sneaker you want that extra cushion to make sure that you have a good rest of the day because 8-10 on your feet is not easy for anybody.
I see a lot of people and they have bilateral bunions so you don't fix bunions simultaneously; you do one foot at a time. People will come in and say, what do I do now that we reconstructed this one foot but I’m still in the waiting period, I’m still going through swelling post-operative but I’m still uncomfortable on the other side. That's when they easily go into a PowerStep because it's accommodative. It'll help support the work that I’ve already done to make sure that I don't put extra pressure on the bones that we just reworked but still accommodate for the deformity they have on the opposite side. So, I think it's been really imperative to make that part of my practice.
For your patients that are getting custom orthotics, do you start them with an OTC at first?
Most of the time a person is going to be in an over-the-counter orthotic which is going to be my PowerStep. If they actually have a true foot deformity, I’m talking I have a guy that had a corrupted club foot when he was a child, so that's an incredibly difficult foot pattern to replicate, so he needs a custom orthotic as opposed to some of my other patients that just have a dorsal spur on the top of their foot that rubs in certain shoes. We can alternate their shoes, alternate the way that they tie their laces and then put them in a PowerStep and they're happy campers.
What made you decide to recommend PowerStep exclusively?
This is the interesting-- so when you're a student – I was a student for eight years-- you get a lot of free stuff and what do people give out? They give out a lot of inserts, so I want to say I've tried basically everything on the market and when I tell you that I probably have a plethora of them. I can make a Christmas ornament for every single one.
The one that stayed is PowerStep and that's not a lie. I got them when I was at a SAM conference way long ago when I was still in Florida, and they were really, really comfortable, and since I got them I’ve been recommending them. But I think it was one of my patients that came in -- he said he's always had a custom orthotic then he transitioned to Medicare and he couldn't dance at his daughter's wedding so he was all upset and rightfully so. So, I put him into a PowerStep orthotic with the metatarsal pad and he came back, he brings pictures and he's like, I was able to dance at my daughter's wedding, why did I never know about these things before? I didn't know I needed just this pressure point to be altered. I’ve been paying for a $400 orthotic for the last, I don't know, 15 years of his life and now it was as simple as transitioning into an over the counter with the appropriate treatment plan. So, I think it's kind of cool that I’ve seen the transition from myself and in my private practice that patients, they're the test of time, right? If they come back and they throw it at you like ‘this is crap,’ the writing's on the wall. That hasn't happened to me and I’ve been doing it for five years so I think we're doing pretty good so far, so that's a good sign, but as far as even patient support I don't think patients have ever really complained to me about how they're fitting, the integrity of the product, it's falling apart – nothing like that.
How do you explain to patients the benefit of the product in a way that compels them to purchase?
I think, hey, I think this product would be really, really great for you. It's what I wear every single day. I believe in it and I tell them I think this will benefit you and help you get better faster. It's part of your treatment plan. I don't really even give them an option. This is part of your treatment plan.
Say you're coming in for plantar fasciitis, right? First visit I see you we take x-rays. We diagnose the problem. You're going to get stretching exercises. You're going to get a night splint. I'm going to tell you to go into an over-the-counter orthotic PowerStep and you're going to come back and see me in a two-week time frame and we'll check to make sure the orthotics are fitting well inside your shoes, make sure you didn't like flip-flop them. I make sure that people are better.
You start them on a physical therapy program but they come in back and check with me and
I make sure that they have the product. It’s as simple as that. I give them three things that they have to do – (1)you have to go to physical therapy, meaning do it at your house or you actually go to an actual physical therapy place, (2) you have a night splint that you're sleeping with and (3) you're getting an over-the-counter orthotic. You do three things you'll get better at the end.
If you don’t dispense from the office, utilize the PowerStep Online Referral program.
Everybody there that I operate on gets my phone number which is probably the scariest thing you'll ever do in private practice and people will text me like, oh what was that code again? So I
know that they're using it. That’s the cool validation of it. I like the pictures -- right in the text, in the picture, like, I got it! It's like a little boomerang. It makes me so happy. I know they're getting it, I know they're following the treatment protocol. It's kind of nice.
Treating kids with PowerStep
I had like a four month old come in the other day and that was pretty crazy but I like the adolescent, like the seven year old, is kind of like my specialty. They go from warts – warts are a big thing in kids. I don't know if you guys have kids but they seem to contract everything from their play studios. That's another reason I use the PowerStep. You can take them out of these kids shoes and spray them down with Lysol because the warts are a really big issue in kids. Your feet sweat a half a pint of fluid a day. i'll never get rid of that fact because I think it's just crazy and then taking out the PowerStep and lay it outside. It's not like leather like something like the custom orthotics so it's not going to wrinkle up in the sun. Sit the PowerStep on the windowsill, let it air out and get rid of all of the bacteria, all the grossness that's actually collaborating to make more of a happy space for the warts that are in these kids shoes.
But overall their line is great. I really use it a lot for the young athletic population, especially the soccer players when they first get into cleats and they all have Severs Disease. Severs is when the back of the heel bone rubs against the back of the cleat. It irritates so many kids. Parents come in and their kids are writhing in pain. You put them inside of an orthotic that has like a nice heel cushion for them and they can go back to sport because I know that sports are really expensive. Parents are really upset when their kids are out of sports but making sure that they're safe and able to go back pain-free is much easier with the over-the-counter.
The custom orthotic will take me four to six weeks to get back. These kids and the parents want your kid better yesterday. You don't want to hear them, see the tears. They can go out, use the [referral] code online, it gets shipped in two days and their kid’s back on the field in like a week.
What is one of the aspects you love about PowerStep?
This is great, the gentleman who created I -- I think the history of it is really cool. You shouldn't just be making an orthotic just because you got a lot of investors and you can make a product out of a 3d printing machine. You have somebody who is a podiatrist who saw thousands of feet, and that's how the neutral orthotic came to be. That's what's really cool about the brand is somebody studied, somebody tried and tested this for years before I came around. You asked me before about how I think podiatry has grown. That, and I think by using the product I'm actually using what the original podiatrist came out with, supporting it and now using it
further into practice. I think it's so cool. That's my opinion.
What is your advice for a fellow podiatrist looking for their path and choosing the right partners?
Being on social media you get a bunch of free stuff, right? People come at you and they're like, ‘oh you have to use my product,’ just like what I was telling you earlier. You're going to get all these people that want to align with you. They want you to buy in and it's almost like you have to be able to wade through and figure out what your real goals are. Me, personally, I found out that I don't sign on with anybody, right? I’ve aligned with PowerStep and that's been my preference just because I’ve used them forever and I trust them. I think that, to me, is important that I just don't sign on the dotted line with anybody, that it is my personal brand. Just keeping your integrity through the entire experience because you can kind of get lost sometimes.
This is the cool part about why I like PowerStep even more, right? I met these guys [from PowerStep]. They were in Rahway, New Jersey which is where I have my private practice, which is not the most glamorous place. We have an office in Short Hills and Caldwell but Rahway’s my favorite. I shouldn't say that but it's true, and we went out to the bar they're like, do you really want to be part of us? And they're like, just sign, and we were just playing around with the napkin, I'm adding fake zeros and all doing kinds of crazy stuff but that's the relationship we cultivated and that's what's still to this day. So if you're going to get along with a brand make sure you really connect with them. You have a relationship where yeah, it's work, but it's also fun. It should be both.
I just want to make sure that I protect all my [podiatry] work and I know that I’ve aligned myself with this brand I know is great, it's reputable, and I want to make sure that people are good to go right after surgery.
I definitely had so many things in my mind when I’m signing my first contract, right? It's a big step. I don't want to align myself. My identity goes. With PowerStep, just because they gave me a free pair of orthotics in 2011, probably doesn't mean I’m necessarily going to love them 10 years later but I do so I think it really shows the commitment that the brand has had to keep innovating and keep people interested but it also shows that they're not going anywhere and neither am I. So, to align yourself with a brand that's been there for a really long time is a safe bet.
If you would have asked me when I was a student if I would have ever thought I would collaborate with a brand as big as PowerStep, I'm like, maybe they'll know my name but it's really cool to see that innovation has to come from somewhere. The gentleman who first created PowerStep he didn't think he was going to be the face of a brand and look at where it is now.
I think it's just incredible what you can do if given the opportunity and the opportunity is there. We can make other people know about the product, start to use it. Hopefully as the residents learn from me, I tell them you're all going to wear a PowerStep because we're going to give all of our clinic patients. That's what everybody needs to have, especially in that it's just a different population. it's just really neat to start from the very bottom kind of how I did and it grows into your personal brand