“Print’s not dead!” That’s the rallying cry of book publishers, newspaper editors, and anyone else who works in a paper-based medium. And while we don’t rely on print media the way we once did, the heart of these folks’ passion has merit: print is still a valuable way to deliver thoughts and ideas directly to consumers (including patients), and it’s still an effective marketing tool. In fact, there are lots of unique ways you can market to patients without using digital avenues. To that end, here are 10 physical therapy marketing ideas that don’t require an Internet connection:
1. Contribute an article to a local newspaper or newsletter.
Community newspapers are always looking for high-quality contributed content to fill their pages. Reach out to area editors and offer to submit a monthly health and wellness column like this one. Or, if there’s a local business—such as a gym, yoga studio, or fitness store—that publishes a customer newsletter, find out whether it accepts outside content. Local publications often have both print and electronic versions. If that’s the case, so much the better—you’ll have the opportunity to reach even more readers.
2. Team up with your local news station.
If you don’t mind being in the spotlight for a minute, this could be a unique and exciting way to promote your services. It’s also a great way to reach older clients. Approach your local news station about doing a short segment on easy techniques for maintaining good health or educating viewers on your specialty and the benefits of PT (like this segment). Or, invite one of the reporters to come out to your practice for a feature.
This approach isn’t exclusive to TV news: your local public radio station is also a great venue for promoting your services and telling your clinic’s story—especially when you consider the way public radio listenership has steadily increased over the past few years.
3. Run television ads.
Looking for your big break? Consider the small screen. Advertising on local TV is a great way to not only reach a wide audience, but also differentiate yourself and cultivate name recognition in your community. Of course, advertising on TV can be a little costly depending on your market, so you may not want to go this route if you practice in a large metropolitan area. If that’s the case, think about purchasing ad spots in other forms of local media, such as:
- magazines, and
If you do invest in ads, make sure your spots deliver the right message, meaning they need to communicate who you are, who you can help, and what kind of value you deliver. (Hint: Testimonials from real-life patients are a great way to accomplish this.)
4. Host a free injury clinic.
Active people are always at risk for injury—no matter how careful they are. But, they might be reluctant to book a physical therapy appointment, especially if they’ve never seen a PT before. So, give them a no-pressure way to ease into it. After all, once they see how much you can help them, they’ll be way more likely to seek out physical therapy on their own. Lots of businesses—especially gyms and specialty running stores—hold free injury clinics on a regular basis. Get in touch with the owners of these types of businesses and offer up your services free of charge—perhaps by giving a presentation on a common injury or providing brief complimentary injury assessments to clinic attendees.
5. Develop a referral program.
According to the marketing experts at HubSpot, “90% of people believe brand recommendations from friends.” Furthermore, an Ogilvy Cannes study (cited here) found that 74% of customers consider word-of-mouth referrals a key influencer in their buying decisions. In other words, word-of-mouth is an invaluable part of your marketing strategy. To tap into that referral gold mine, consider sending you’re referring patients a little somethin’ as a thank you for sending new business your way.
Stay in your legal lane.
That said, offering any kind of incentive or freebie can create some legally precarious situations if you’re not careful. So, make sure your rewards adhere to the anti-kickback statute, which states that providers may give patients inexpensive gifts (other than cash or cash equivalents) as long as the gift’s retail value does not exceed $10 on a one-off basis or $50 in total throughout the year.
Furthermore, as the APTA states in its Fraud Abuse FAQs, “An incentive to a patient or prospective patient can be a permissible marketing practice provided that the incentive is to promote the delivery of preventive care services and provided further that the delivery of such preventive services is not related to the provision of other services.” The incentive’s value also shouldn’t be disproportionate to the value of the preventative care service and shouldn’t include cash. We recommend consulting a legal expert or state-level professional association for any additional information on state laws surrounding gift-giving.
6. Partner with other health and wellness businesses.
Link up with an area gym, yoga studio, or sporting goods store for a little cross-promotional action. It could be as simple as allowing each other to display business cards at your respective front desks or agreeing to recommend each other whenever appropriate (e.g. “Injuries often happen because you’re not in the right shoes. Go see Bill over at ABC Running Store, and he’ll help you find the perfect pair.”) Just make sure to do your research first, so you’re promoting a business or activity that you truly, wholeheartedly support.
7. Cross-promote your own services.
Don’t forget: Your waiting area can be your best promotional platform. Post information on any ancillary wellness services you offer—and their benefits—in places where patients can learn about them as they wait. Also, make sure your front office staff is knowledgeable and able to answer basic questions about the promoted services. By marketing these offerings to current patients, you’ll give them a reason to return to your practice—even after discharge.
8. Support a local sports or fitness event.
According to this article, approximately 70% of runners experience injuries during training. Who will they turn to when an inflamed Achilles tendon derails their training plans? Well, if you had a sponsorship table at the latest community 5K—or even a simple flyer with a coupon for one free injury consultation in the race registration packet—they might just book an appointment with you. Or, if you live in a town where everyone and their brother turns out to support the high school football and basketball teams, find out what you need to do to get a sponsorship banner in the gym or stadium. This will keep you fresh in the minds of players, coaches, and parents.
9. Sponsor an athlete of the week award.
Create an award to honor outstanding athletes in your community, and be sure to submit your weekly selections to local news outlets. This is one more way to get your clinic’s name in front of area newspaper, television, and radio audiences. Plus, as a bonus, there’s a good chance such an award would make the rounds on social media (people love to brag about their kids’ accomplishments online).
10. Network with other providers in your region.
Lastly, while we greatly encourage PT practices to take advantage of direct access (and decrease reliance on physician referrals), we don’t want to undersell the value of bolstering your professional network and thus, deepening your pool of potential referral sources. To start, you’ll want to:
- assess your clinic’s strengths and weaknesses;
- collect therapy outcomes data; and
- develop relationships with physicians who treat your ideal patient population.
You can expand your physician network by attending professional events—or even approaching them on their home turf. Either way, make sure you’re armed with data that backs up the effectiveness of your services. (Check out this referral marketing webinar for more tips on how to get more physician referrals.)
Print is anything but dead—but it’s also not the only way to market your PT clinic offline. With a little ingenuity (and a sound marketing strategy) you can deliver your message to people who may not see it otherwise—Internet connection not required.