So, you’ve got a marketing plan, you’ve honed your content-creation skills, and you’re ready to get down to marketing your business. As with any new endeavor, the road ahead might be a little bumpy—but that’s okay. After all, some of the world’s best innovations came about through trial and error. But while mistakes can present you with valuable learning opportunities and allow you to fine-tune your marketing efforts, no one wants to get stuck with a serious problem that they could have avoided all together. With that in mind, here’s a rundown of common rehab therapy marketing pitfalls—and how you can avoid them.
1. Highlighting your services—not their benefits.
When marketing messaging focuses on the product, it’s less effective than when it focuses on the positive value that product can provide. Think of it this way: patients probably don’t know why they should want something like gait training or dry needling—if they even know what those services are in the first place. It’s up to you to educate them.
As you craft your marketing materials—ads, social media posts, blog posts, direct mail, and the like—try to address how your interventions can benefit your audience. How will your therapy services make their lives better? Swap “we-centric” statements like, “Here at ABC Physical Therapy, we strive for excellence in patient care,” for “you-centric” ones like, “Do you suffer from low back pain? Let ABC Physical Therapy help you eliminate it for good.” This clearly demonstrates your value and shows potential patients that you truly care about helping them.
2. Forgetting to market to your current patients.
Some healthcare professionals get so hyper-focused on generating new business that they forget about a huge portion of their consumer base: the patients they’ve already seen. Obviously, no rehab therapist wants patients to re-injure themselves. But, accidents happen, and if your patients do get hurt again—or experience a different type of musculoskeletal impairment–you want to ensure they come back to you for help. Plus, a base of loyal patients will work wonders for your clinic’s word-of-mouth marketing reach.
The best way to retain patients (and to make them happy in the first place) is to provide exemplary patient care. But your efforts shouldn’t stop at retention. Look for opportunities to recommend some of the other services you and your clinic offer—not only to your patients, but to their family and friends as well. For example, if one of your patients mentions that her son runs marathons, tell her you’d love to get him in for a gait analysis. If a patient compliments your care, take it as an opportunity to hand out a business card and encourage him or her to refer you.
Enhance the patient experience.
Another way you can make your patients happy is by critically looking at (and improving) the overall patient experience—from the moment patients walk in the door, to their time spent in a waiting room, to the payment and appointment scheduling processes. And you don’t have to rewrite the playbook to make patients happy; little improvements can make a big difference in how patients perceive, and engage with, their treatment.
Address patient churn.
Let’s face it: occasionally, patients bail on treatment. The reasons why, though, aren’t always clear, which makes patient churn a difficult problem to fix. That’s why many of the most successful clinics track how their patients feel about their care—and how loyal they are to the clinic—using Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) surveys. (See that link for more information!) Tracking your NPS can help you:
- understand how your patients feel throughout their care journey, and
- identify problem points.
If the idea of tracking another metric feels daunting, then consider pairing up with a patient relationship management (PRM) software. With the right PRM, you can track NPS, ensure regular communication with past and current patients, and manage your online reviews.
3. Failing to maintain your online marketing campaigns.
Speaking of managing online reviews: One of the biggest marketing pitfalls in this digital age is failing to maintain (or even launch) online marketing campaigns. Google Health Vice President David Feinberg, MD, has stated that 7% of Google’s daily searches are health-related, which works out to around 245 million health-related Google searches per day. Furthermore, according to this 2017 study, “more than 40% of the health care consumers utilize social media for their healthcare information needs.” In other words, to stay competitive, healthcare providers pretty much have to market to patients online—in some shape or form.
If your clinic already has a robust online presence, then you’re off to a good start! You simply must put in the effort to maintain it. Schedule time to devote to digital marketing each week, and force yourself to follow through. Check your social platforms daily, and respond to any questions or comments in a timely manner. Create a content schedule with hard deadlines so you know which articles and posts to write and share on which days. If you don’t yet have a significant digital presence, then start with these tips:
Create and maintain a website.
I would bet that most people understand the inherent value of a business website—but there are still too many clinics that haven’t created one. Some clinics even use their Facebook page as a website substitute. (Please don’t do that. It’s super ineffective!) But, don’t worry—creating a website doesn’t have to be scary or expensive. Simply follow the tips in this download. Here’s a sneak peak of what it covers:
When creating your website (or examining your current website), make sure it checks the following boxes:
- Your site is mobile friendly (i.e., it adjusts to all devices and screen sizes). Nowadays, all website templates are designed this way, but if you have an older website, your template may not be. To check, run your website’s URL through this Google testing site.
- It includes your business’s name, address, and phone number (or NAP) as well as your email address (if available), locations, and business hours. Bonus points for listing your clinic’s name, address, and phone number on the footer of every page!
- It lists the services you offer as well as the types of care and injuries/conditions you specialize in.
- It contains a list of the insurance carriers you accept.
- It has a clean design (no clutter or crazy fonts); it looks balanced; and it’s representative of your brand.
- Every link, button, and navigation bar works. Broken links are bad news bears when it comes to Google!
Shore up your reviews.
People reference online reviews to help them choose just about everything—from restaurants and HVAC repair companies, to plumbers and, yes, even healthcare providers. In fact, according to Health Leaders, “70% of patients call online reviews crucial in selecting healthcare providers.” So, if your practice lacks reviews (or has an abundance of negative ones), there’s a good chance prospective patients will choose your competitors over you.
If you have few or no reviews, then it’s time to amass some—not only because your prospective patients want reviews, but also because Google does. This WebPT Blog post outlines how to amass reviews and collect testimonials for your website. Plus, it includes a free downloadable testimonial release form; that way, you can be sure you’re following the rules of the HIPAA road, too.
If you only have bad reviews, then you have a little more work to do, because the first step is a big one: fix what people are complaining about. Do people dislike your customer service? Your style of treatment? Your wait times? Whatever they’re unhappy about, you’ve got to address it immediately. It’s only when you fix what’s broken that you’ll see an improvement in your reviews. Lastly, once you resolve these issues, respond to the reviews and let the authors know what you’ve done to make things better—and encourage them to give your practice another shot.
Get on social.
No matter your personal feelings about social media (I’m not a huge fan of it, myself), you can’t get away from it. As I mentioned before, more than 40% of health consumers use social media to find information about healthcare clinics and providers—and you want to be in a position where you can capture that market. So, get on social: make a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and an Instagram handle. Then:
- Post frequently and consistently;
- Create content that will interest your audience;
- Connect your social accounts to your website; and
- Promote content that’s already doing well.
For more tips, check out this article.
4. Ignoring the competition.
It’s easy to get so caught up in your own marketing efforts that you forget to stop and survey what’s going on around you. But to successfully differentiate yourself from other rehab therapists—not to mention chiropractors, personal trainers, and massage therapists—you’ve got to tune in to their messaging.
Keep tabs on what your peers are up to. Make it a point to periodically check their websites and social media pages. You might come up with ideas on how to better market yourself and your practice. You definitely don’t want to flat-out copy your competitors, but you do want to feel out effective marketing methods. If you see something that appears to be working—by generating a lot of buzz on social media, for example—make it better, tweak it to fit your practice, and incorporate it in your marketing plan.
5. Failing to track your results.
The goal of any marketing campaign is to increase business. But if you don’t monitor how your marketing efforts are impacting your bottom line, then how do you know if your time and money are being used effectively?
There are many ways to gauge the effectiveness of your current marketing strategy. The easiest? Asking new patients how they heard about you and tracking their responses. If you want to get a little more technical, use a free web analytics tool such as Google Analytics to figure out how people are finding you online. Then, focus your attention on the marketing tactics that drive the most traffic to your site.
Remember, even if you get tripped up by one of these common marketing pitfalls, all is not lost; simply correct your course and move forward. Have you or your clinic experienced any bumps in the road to effective marketing? How did you overcome them? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.