Marketing your clinic may not be your favorite part of running a therapy practice, but it’s wholly necessary to keep your doors open. After all, you can’t help patients if you don’t have patients coming through your doors. And though we’ve provided a lot of marketing advice on everything from creating a value prop to properly using CTAs, that advice doesn’t always address the subtleties of marketing a specialty—especially when you’re trying to reach a younger target audience. So today, we’re talking about the foundational marketing rules for pediatric therapists—and imparting a handful of pediatric marketing strategies.
1. Remember the golden marketing rule for pediatric therapists: appeal to caregivers and children alike.
When you get down to brass tacks, children—your patients—aren’t the ones who decide whether or not to schedule an appointment with you. That’s not to say your marketing shouldn’t appeal to children—but it should address the needs of parents and caregivers.
That means that while your brand should be geared toward kids (think bright and fun), the majority of your marketing should radiate a kind, restorative, kid-friendly vibe (which appeals to maternal and paternal minds). Ultimately, you must convince caregivers that you’re the absolute best person to help their little bundle of joy.
2. Use your most powerful marketing strategy: education.
According to this news release, “1 in 4 parents have had concerns about their child’s ability to communicate,” but parents state they don’t act on these concerns due to a variety of reasons, including:
- not knowing where to go for treatment;
- pediatricians telling them their children will grow out of it;
- schools and teachers not noticing a problem; and
- not thinking it was a big enough concern at the time.
And according to the United States Bone and Joint Initiative (USBJI), “1 in 10 children made a health care visit for a musculoskeletal problem,” but 74% of them went directly to a PCP—not a therapist. So presumably, many, many children could greatly benefit from pediatric therapy—but they (and their parents) just don’t know how to seek rehabilitative care.
Generating Direct Access Patients
Pediatric therapist marketing generally has the freedom to market to patients directly. There’s some form of direct access available to PTs and SLPs across all 50 states and—even though occupational therapy doesn't always have the same kind of patient access—all therapists can reach out to their patient population and inform them about their services through a few different means.
An Educational Blog
In the past, we’ve waxed on about the benefits of running your own blog—and we’re going to speak to the benefits of blogging once again. Running a blog and publishing valuable information on the Internet is an effective content marketing strategy to draw patients in—or in this case, the parents of pediatric patients. “Parents of children who need PT are avid online researchers,” this source states. “Providing that information will establish you as a trusted expert, and they will almost always prefer for you to provide the care and be an in-person guide.”
A Success Story
Patients and parents alike love a good success story. They’re a great way to drum up new and returning patients based on the anecdotal evidence of your expertise. Sharing these stories through your website, blog, or even social media can provide limitless reach to future patients.
A Social Presence
Speaking of social media, using platforms like Instagram or Facebook is a veritable marketing gold mine for reaching parents, not to mention a great place to show off your expertise as well as your clinic’s culture.
If we could lump all our social media tips into one succinct takeaway, it would be this: be intentional, be present, be genuine. Easier said than done, right? Fortunately, we have even more specific tips to get any pediatric therapist's social media strategy off the ground, along with a few Instagram accounts you can check out for inspiration.
An Online Review
As stated above, parents and caregivers are meticulous when it comes to researching—and selecting—healthcare providers for their children. They want only the best for their kids—and that means hunting down the most highly-rated pediatric providers in their community. That’s why cultivating and managing positive online reviews is one of the most important marketing rules for pediatric therapists.
So, if you’re not actively managing your online reviews, you need to jump on that horse ASAP. Fortunately, patient relationship management (PRM) software like WebPT Reach can streamline this process. Reach can help you manage communications with your patients (and their parents), including automatically requesting reviews from those who are the most satisfied with your care.
You don’t have to stop at patient (and parent) education; there are a few other referral sources you could tap via educational outreach.
An Informed Provider
Say you’re a pediatric OT who specializes in treating Asperger syndrome—and you know that it’s frequently misdiagnosed as a temporary behavioral issue. You could create a small flow of referrals by reaching out to different providers (e.g., pediatricians, behavioral therapists, or pediatric therapists) and educating them about the signs and symptoms exhibited by a child with Asperger’s. Short, educational sessions at several different local clinics spread awareness across your community and help children get proper access—and it gets you some referrals, to boot.
If you don’t have a niche to promote, don’t worry. Pediatric audiologist Jacqueline Rogers Scholl, AuD, CCC-A, recommends reaching out to local pediatricians in general, building strong relationships with them and their staff, and making the effort to maintain those connections.
An Informed Teacher
Don’t be afraid to think a little outside the box. You could reach out to—and educate—local teachers about your therapy services. After checking the restrictions in your state (some states prohibit providers from reaching out to public schools), you could contact schools that are open to listening to your expertise (e.g., a private school). Ask to speak at teacher meetings and consider offering free screenings for students, thus helping teachers identify when students could benefit from your care. Pretty soon, you might just have a steady stream of school referrals.
3. If you host a community event, address a community need and keep it kid-centric.
Community engagement is one of the few marketing rules for pediatric therapists where providers need to plan with a mind toward the kids attending, not their parents. You want parents to think of your practice as a safe, welcoming, and enriching space for children. The perfect way to do that? Put your therapeutic mettle to the test, and host a community event that’s fun for kids and educational for parents.
Planning a Relevant Event
Pediatric occupational therapist Nicole Sampson, OT, planned a successful string of events by identifying a need in her community: there were no group play times for children in the county—at all. She jumped at the opportunity to establish “Toddler Time,” an hour-long group play period where children, ages two to five, could “participate in fun sensory and fine-motor play activities.” In this atypical playdate, kids were playing and learning while parents were also learning new ways to interact with their kids to encourage their behavioral and motor development. The event took off during its second meetup, and Sampson was able to spread awareness about the pediatric unit in her practice.
And with that, you have three marketing strategies to leverage in your pediatric clinic. Following these marketing rules for pediatric therapists (in addition to your other marketing plays) should help convince caretakers to red rover, red rover, and send new pediatric patients right over! What marketing gambits have paid off in your clinic? Drop a comment below and let us know!