Give Me PT Meow!One of the most frequently discussed topics in the realm of rehab therapy (PT, OT, and SLP) is brand awareness. When the general public thinks “back pain,” they most commonly think “chiropractor” for the solution. How can we achieve such instant associations in the general public for physical therapy? We need to educate the masses on what PT is and how it benefits everyone. Your patients can help with this endeavor. How? Through brand evangelism.

In The Thank You Economy (if you haven’t read it yet, definitely do), author Gary Vaynerchuk explains that the Internet “has given consumers back their voice.” Customers (i.e., patients) now wield tremendous power with their opinions on social media. And as WOMMA demonstrates with this infographic, their opinions matter—big time.

Your practice may have always had brand evangelists—those loyal patients that adore you, recommend you, and sing your high praises, all without being asked. But with the advent of social media, they’re more crucial than ever, because these evangelists do all the high praise singing they’ve always done, but now publicly and instantly online.

How do you as a rehab therapist and we as a profession take advantage of this?

Identify and enlist. Do you have patients, friends, and colleagues raving about you? Enlist them; give them a platform to do so. Just don’t make it uncomfortable (e.g., “Here’s chocolate, now say nice stuff.”). Get to know them before asking them to provide you with testimonials or other praiseworthy information.

A great way to garner really specific testimonials that speak not only to your services, but also to the benefits of therapy in general is to provide a questionnaire for patients to complete. Just make sure you also get written permission to share their testimonials on your website or as part of your marketing campaigns. You can also direct patients to provide feedback through social platforms, such as Yelp, Google+ Local, and LinkedIn recommendations. (Check out David Straight’s blog post on reputation management to see more review sites.)

Let the good vibes freely flow. Connect with your raving fans online and provide them with platforms—like your Facebook or Twitter pages—to openly share their feedback. Make an effort to not only respond, but also open new dialogue. Start a conversation online with open-ended questions like:

  • “What do you want your PT to do for you?”
  • “What do you like most?”
  • “What do you recommend?”
  • “How do you explain physical therapy to your friends or family?”

No matter how the conversation flows—as Mr. Vaynerchuk reminds us—always say thank you!

Listen to your offline customers, too. As Alaniz Marketing points out, “Chances are you already have brand evangelists. Though they might not be on Facebook or using the latest hipstainstatweetdeckbook thingy.” Just because they aren’t on a social network, doesn’t mean they can’t applaud you. Your patients “may be your best assets when it comes to creating a real [community] presence,” says Alaniz, because they’re most likely already talking about you and your practice with others in the neighborhood. And if they’re talking about you and your services, they’re probably also sparking great conversation about the therapy industry in general. Make sure you’re active in your community as well, so you can aid and fuel such dialogue.

What other ways can we use brand evangelists to the entire profession’s advantage? How can we better assist patients in spreading the word about the benefits of PT, OT, and SLP? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.

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