Marketing your speech-language pathology (SLP) practice with a goal of increasing new patient volume can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be—especially if you have a solid plan in place. To help you formulate a marketing strategy that is not only effective for your speciality, but also easy to implement, we’ve curated these five super simple tips that you can act on now (hello, new patients—and new revenue):
1. Identify your ideal patients.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), SLPs are autonomous providers, which means in many cases, patients can access your services without a physician order (although some payers do require a referral as a condition of payment). That means you’ll want to devote some of your marketing budget to reaching patients directly. But to do so, you’ll need to know exactly who to reach—and where to reach them. Thus, you’ll need to identify your ideal patients—specifically, those your practice is best able to help. Then, take it one step further and determine the following (originally posted here):
- “How they spend their time;
- “What motivates them to seek rehab therapy;
- “How they speak about rehab therapy;
- “Which rehab therapy services they need;
- “Where they get their information about health care and rehab therapy services; and
- “What aspects of care delivery they value most (e.g., a speedy recovery, seeing a [therapist] at every visit, or a spa-like setting).”
2. Tailor your approach to reach them.
Once you know who you’re trying to reach, you can tailor your approach—your message and channel—to connect with those patients where they’re most likely to be and in a way that is most likely to resonate with them. If you’re a pediatric speech therapist, be sure to consider your patients and their parents. As WebPT’s Melissa Hughes wrote here, “That means that while your brand should be geared toward kids (think bright and fun), the majority of your marketing should radiate with a kind, restorative, kid-friendly vibe (which appeals to maternal and paternal minds). Ultimately, you need to convince caregivers that you’re the absolute best person to help their little bundle of joy.”
3. Leverage your already-pleased patients to sing your praises.
Social proof is incredibly important when winning over potential new patients. This is especially crucial when we’re talking about parents and caregivers—who most certainly do a significant amount of research before selecting a provider for their child or loved one. That’s why your online reputation is so important. To that end, be sure you’ve got a professional website, educational blog, active social media accounts, and a lot of positive online reviews that sing your praises.
To the last point, the best way to garner positive reviews is to ask your patients to provide them—but beware: you’ll only want to ask the ones you know are pleased with your services. To figure out who’s loyal and who isn’t, we recommend using a metric like Net Promoter Score® (NPS®). It’ll allow you to easily identify not only your happiest patients, but also those who haven’t had the best experience with your practice. That way, you can take steps to remedy their issues before those patients drop out of care or speak negatively about you online or to their personal networks. (While you could manually track your NPS, it’s much easier to automate the entire process with software like WebPT Reach. This ensures that survey delivery is always consistent and patient feedback doesn’t fall through the cracks.)
4. Build relationships with other providers.
While it’s crucial to include direct-to-patient marketing in your strategy, you’ll also want to build solid relationships with other healthcare providers—and non-healthcare providers who serve your ideal patients. After all, referrals still make up a good portion of most SLPs’ new patient volume. As Hughes suggests, if you work with school-aged children, then you’ll want to build good relationships with local pediatricians, behavioral therapists, pediatric PTs and OTs, and school-based professionals (including teachers, counselors, and administrators). According to Hughes, you could “ask to speak at teacher meetings and consider offering free screenings for students, thus helping teachers identify when students could benefit from your care.” That said, she notes that in some states, providers are prohibited from reaching out to public schools, so you may need to focus on private schools and other entities that work with your ideal patient population—perhaps tutors or club sport coaches. Just be sure to arm yourself with the outcomes and patient engagement data necessary to unequivocally prove your value.
5. Connect with your community.
What better way to market your services than by connecting with your community—especially if your SLP niche is one that you’re passionate about? Depending on who you’re targeting, you could, say, host regular workshops at your practice to teach potential and current patients a new skill—and then follow up those sessions with some sort of community event. You could also join an online community to share your wisdom and expertise and provide support. (This one might be a good fit if you’re also a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist). Or, you could sponsor a local event where you know you’ll reach ideal patients—and/or ideal referrers. Given that May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, there are plenty of opportunities right now to get involved and build community awareness—as well as resources (like this infographic) to help you start meaningful discussions online and off (bonus points for marketing the profession and your individual practice at the same time).
There you have it: five simple SLP marketing tips that you can begin implementing in your practice today. Just be sure that you track the impact of your marketing efforts, so you know which approaches are working and should be replicated—and which ones aren’t. Have your own simple marketing tips for SLPs? Share them in the comment section below.