This special guest post comes from Gene Shirokobrod, DPT, co-founder of UpDoc Media, and Ben Fung, DPT, MBA, chief content officer of UpDoc Media.

As physical therapists, we use evidence-based reasoning to provide the most effective care for our patients. Why, then, do many clinics resist using evidence to inform other areas of their businesses—like marketing? There is a tremendous amount of information available on how to use marketing principles effectively—and yet, few clinic leaders use this research to inform their marketing efforts, which means they’re missing out on opportunities to generate new patients and develop meaningful relationships with referral partners. The good news, though, is that all of that can change. Anyone can implement a digital marketing program today—and creating a solid digital footprint can go a long way toward future-proofing your practice. If you don’t already have social media accounts, check out the social media section in this PT marketing guide and then come right back, because you’ll need a social presence to take advantage of the advice we’re about to give you. Okay, here are three strategies for evidence-based marketing:

  1. Understand that content is king, marketing is queen, and consistency is key. We’ve arrived at a point in history where almost everyone has a profile on almost every site—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, Snapchat, Pinterest, and the like—which means that merely having an online presence is no longer enough. In fact, it’s expected. Now, you must use those digital channels to share meaningful, valuable, and actionable content. That’s the best way to successfully engage with potential patients and consistently tell your clinic’s story in an impactful way.
  2. Take advantage of the power of video. Facebook is predicting that within a few years, people will communicate online predominately via video. That means Facebook—and all other social media platforms—eventually will change their algorithms to favor video. By creating and publishing videos to your social media accounts, you’ll be in good shape to handle this change. Not sure what to capture on camera? Potential patients want to get to know you, your staff, and your practice, so consider publishing videos that help tell your story. You also could post short educational videos for different case scenarios that would benefit potential and current patients. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just needs to provide valuable content. And be sure never to post videos of a patient—or broadcast any HIPAA-protected information—without express written permission from that patient.
  3. Measure what you want to improve. Data tells an objective story, and what a sexy story that is. Want to maximize your marketing return on investment (ROI)? Craving a better understanding of your customers? Wondering what would be your practice’s best direction for growth? You can find the answers to all these questions—and many more—in your data. We could write an entire article on this subject alone, but suffice is to say that data matters. (Check out our website to learn more about implementing data-tracking to boost your marketing efforts.)

The evidence is clear: brands that provide unique, raw, entertaining, educational, and engaging content—especially videos—designed to develop meaningful relationships with their customers outperform their competitors. And the only way these companies know what works—and what doesn’t—is by keeping a close eye on their data. You can do the same thing. Start small and build up your content. Try new channels and new formats, and test, test, test. You’ll start seeing a difference in the effectiveness of your marketing in no time.

Gene and Ben discussed all this and more at WebPT's 2016 Ascend Private Practice Business Summit. Missed it? No worries; there's always next year. Stay tuned—or subscribe to—the WebPT Blog to stay in the loop on all things rehab therapy business, including details for the 2017 Ascend conference.

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