All great competitors prepare for the game ahead of time by scouting out the competition and learning what they’re up to. Doing your homework (and gaining an edge) could mean the difference between a win and a loss—or in the case of a rehab therapy provider, it could mean the difference between gaining a new patient and losing one to the therapist across the street.
At the end of the day, you’re offering a service—and you’re competing to get the next patient to walk through your door instead of someone else’s. Identifying your competitors’ tactics is critical to your success as a specialized business owner, because it can help you pivot and adopt strategies in real time as the market changes. Plus, understanding your competitors can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses as a company—and that’s always good information to keep in your back pocket.
Who are your top competitors?
As a business owner, you should have an idea of who your local competitors are—but you may not know them all. I recommend starting with a simple (and broad) search on Google to find physical therapists in your area. This will get you a preliminary list of competitors—but it still may not include all of them. To round out the list, run a handful of Google searches that target specific services you offer, like sports PT or pediatrics. Or, you could always turn to an external tool that can identify your competitors for you (e.g., ahrefs.com).
Once you’ve pinpointed your top competitors, you’ll need to get a grasp on what they are doing, both internally and externally. You can do this by creating a spreadsheet to organize them—perhaps based on which locations are closest to you. Once you do that, fill out the rest of the spreadsheet by answering the rest of the questions covered below.
Who are your indirect competitors?
One pro tip is to research organizations that don’t directly compete with you but are in similar industries. They may be running campaigns that could inspire you. For example, a chiropractor in your area may have a website that you really like. Or a local acupuncturist may be implementing some great social media strategies.
Because they are indirect competition, feel free to reach out and forge a relationship with them. That relationship could even turn into a partnership somewhere down the road. At the very least, keep them on your organized list of competitors and check in on them from time to time.
What’s on your competitors’ websites?
Once you have a comprehensive list of competitors, you’ll need to check out their websites. This will help you gain more insight into the services you’ll directly compete against—and that, in turn, could help you set your overall advertising strategy. Ask yourself the following:
- What services are they offering?
- What are their calls to action?
- What pricing models are they using, and how do they compare to yours?
- Which insurance plans do they accept?
If any of these websites have chatbot functionality (like the one on WebPT’s site), interact with it and see how well it’s been set up.
What are your competitors doing on social media?
After thoroughly sifting through competitor websites, it’s time to cruise through some social media profiles. Start by asking these questions:
- What social media profiles are active? Do your competitors use Facebook? Twitter? Instagram?
- How often are they active?
- How many followers do they have?
In recent years, Facebook has become more transparent about the ads that pages run. This transparency can give you insight into your competition’s current advertising strategy, as well as the strategies they’ve used previously. The best part? It’s all quite simple. Just follow these steps:
- Find your competition on Facebook with a simple search. Then, go to that clinic’s page.
- Scroll down a bit until you see a box that says “Page Transparency.” Click on “See All.”
- Facebook will then open up the clinic’s page history. As you can see below, this particular page is not running any ads—but if it were, you could gain insight into those ads, including their content and imagery.
Are your competitors advertising on Google?
Just like when you were searching to find your competitors on Google, you’ll now run some searches to see if they are advertising on Google. Beyond that, you can determine if they’re running PPC ads (i.e., the ads that display at the top of the search engine results page [SERP]), maps ads, or both.
To find these ads, start with a broad search like “physical therapist near me.” Then, get a little more specific by searching the services that you offer in your clinic (e.g., “sports physical therapist” or “pediatrics physical therapist”).
These ads are easily identifiable. Google ads are marked with a small, bolded “Ad” to the left of a page’s URL (as seen in the screenshot below).
If manually checking out your competitors isn’t your style, you can also set up Google Alerts: a service that notifies you when your competitors are mentioned online or when they make updates to their advertising keywords.
Feeling frustrated by the number of companies you must directly compete with? That’s totally understandable. New clinics open all the time—and they’re fighting to take away your patients and draw in new ones. But you can pull ahead of the pack by putting in the effort to execute a robust competitive analysis. You’ll be aware of your competition’s content, their services, and any promotions they’re offering—and, if you stay consistent, you’ll always be one step ahead of the game.