The second rule of marketing any professional service is to know your audience. The first is to know yourself—but as an occupational therapist, you most likely have that part covered. Surely, by now, you know the value of the services you provide—but you may still be struggling to identify:

  • who you’re best suited to provide those services to, and
  • how you’ll reach those patients.

And while it may seem like a good idea to serve everyone, that may not actually be what’s best for your patients—or your business. After all, jacks-of-all-trades are masters-of-none. So, how do you avoid the one-size-fits-all trap? Narrow your focus to find your niche (i.e., consider different specialties in occupational therapy). That way, your marketing can be targeted, specific, and tailored to attract the audience you truly want (a.k.a. your ideal patents).

The State of Rehab Therapy in 2018 - Regular BannerThe State of Rehab Therapy in 2018 - Small Banner

Finding Your Niche

Choose a specialty.

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), specializing and/or receiving board certification can help you “stand out from your colleagues and demonstrate your commitment to the profession.” As noted below, there are nine certification areas: four that are board certifications for occupational therapists and five that are specialty certifications available to OTs and OTAs.

Board Certification
  • Gerontology (BCG)
  • Mental Health (BCMH)
  • Pediatrics (BCP)
  • Physical Rehabilitation (BCPR)
Specialty Certification
  • Driving and Community Mobility (SCDCM or SCDCM-A)
  • Environmental Modification (SCEM or SCME-A)
  • Feeding, Eating, and Swallowing (SCDES or SCFES-A)
  • Low Vision (SCLV or SCLV-A)
  • School Systems (SCSS or SCSS-A)

Beyond those listed above, this resource provides several other specializations available to OTs, including:

  • Certified Hand Therapist (CHT)
  • Certified Lymphedema Therapist (CLT)
  • Assistive Technology Professional (ATP)
  • Seating and Mobility Specialist (ATP/SMS)
  • Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialist (CSRS)

Identify patterns.

While it was originally written for PTs in 2011, Jeff Worrell’s Build Your Practice by Finding Your Physical Therapy Niche is packed full of niche-finding advice that all rehab therapists could still benefit from today. In it, Worrell suggests providers:

  1. write down all of their therapy experiences, and
  2. look for patterns that may point to a potential niche.

For example, Monster.com shares several stories of OTs who happened to find employment in assisted living facilities, and then went on to not only specialize in this setting, but also use their knowledge to provide consulting services.

Worrell also suggests therapists ask themselves the following questions to narrow in on their niche:

  • What type of occupational therapy work do you enjoy doing?
  • What is the market potential for the area you’re interested in focusing on?
  • What type of patients do you enjoy working with?
  • What experience do you have that can help you be successful in your chosen niche?
  • Are there other occupational therapists who have built successful practices in this niche?

Still in school? Try immersing yourself in several different specialties to find where your heart truly lies.

Marketing Your Niche

Go where your prospects are.

This might sound simple, but the best way to market your niche is to reach your ideal patients where they’re researching healthcare options and potential providers. Have a marketing budget (even just a small one)? Earmark some of it to promote your services in appropriate publications and web outlets—as well as to attend events and trade shows—where the people you wish to win as patients are already active. Instead of recreating the wheel, tap into existing communities of prospective customers. Just be sure that you also have a professional and comprehensive online presence—with plenty of positive reviews—so potential patients and referral partners can find you.

Immerse yourself in the community.

Want to help kids and young adults? Check out your local school district for opportunities to get involved with programs that are addressing childhood obesity; teaching disabled children to drive; or creating awareness about autism. Hoping to work with the elderly? Scout out community mobility associations and groups dedicated to finding a cure for Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Don’t have the time to get involved with every group you come across? Identify the ones you are most passionate about and focus on them; then, consider sponsorship, advertisement, and participation.

Be a thought leader.

Promoting—and immersing—yourself in the community is a great first step toward becoming a thought leader for your OT specialty. To take it a step further, be sure you’re applying your knowledge online—through social media and blogging—as well as in your community. For example, if you focus on worker rehabilitation, you could provide educational seminars and blog posts on ergonomics and workplace injury prevention.

Reap the benefits.

Once you get your name out there as a specialist in a particular occupational therapy area, start building relationships with local physicians and professionals in your industry who could refer patients your way for the issues you’re best suited to address. Just don’t forget the outcomes and patient loyalty data. After all, in today’s value-based healthcare paradigm, physicians are looking for more than sweet treats. That’ll garner you—and the profession in general—some serious respect.

What advice do you have for other therapists seeking a niche? How do you market yours? Do you think having a niche specialty helps you better promote yourself—and occupational therapy in general? Tell us in the comment section below. Then, be sure to download our free marketing e-book to learn more great strategies for effectively marketing your practice.

  • 3 Quick Wins for Your Online Marketing Strategy Image

    articleMar 24, 2015 | 6 min. read

    3 Quick Wins for Your Online Marketing Strategy

    Starting a clinic in a new city—with new referral sources and limited networks—can be very challenging. But with the right online marketing strategy, you can expedite the process. In fact, over the last three months, I’ve been able to grow my patient base by using old school word-of-mouth marketing and establishing an online presence in the local community. There are many ways to use the power of the Internet to market to patients and referring providers, and …

  • Common Questions from Our Physical Therapy Patient Retention Webinar Image

    articleMar 28, 2018 | 12 min. read

    Common Questions from Our Physical Therapy Patient Retention Webinar

    Strive Labs co-founders Ryan Klepps and Scott Hebert recently joined WebPT president Heidi Jannenga for an insightful webinar about improving patient retention and reducing early patient drop-out. We know this is a super-relevant topic, especially because the cost of diminishing patient visits represents a $6 billion problem that not many people in the industry are talking about—at least not yet. As a result, we received a slew of great questions that we couldn’t get to live on …

  • 4 Ways to Involve Your PT Staff in Clinic Marketing Image

    articleDec 18, 2018 | 9 min. read

    4 Ways to Involve Your PT Staff in Clinic Marketing

    Unless you have a complete monopoly (or run an incredibly niche-based practice), word-of-mouth efforts generally won’t keep your clinic’s doors open. Marketing is an essential part of running a healthy PT clinic, and while many clinics keep a dedicated marketing specialist on staff, smaller clinics might not have the budget to do so. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to leverage existing clinical staff to help with marketing efforts—and they’ll get the chance to flex their creative …

  • Knock Out Patient Dropout: 8 Ways to Increase Retention and Revenue Image

    webinarFeb 12, 2018

    Knock Out Patient Dropout: 8 Ways to Increase Retention and Revenue

    In one corner, we have a highly skilled rehab therapy provider known for delivering amazing clinical outcomes through noninvasive, movement-based treatment. And in the other corner, we have a discouraged, disengaged patient whose quality of life has taken a major hit due to musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. [video://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/d11isduky2]   If you’re a rehab therapy provider, you’ve probably seen this battle play out more times than you can count—and we’re betting that more often than not, your therapy …

  • How to Take Over the Internet: 5 Simple Strategies to Win More Patients Image

    webinarFeb 27, 2015

    How to Take Over the Internet: 5 Simple Strategies to Win More Patients

    Nowadays, everyone is looking for a way to “go viral” online. But with all that go-big-or-go-home hype, it’s easy to get intimidated—and that leaves many small business owners wondering if they have the time, resources, or wherewithal to even make a dent in the Internet, let alone break it.  Don’t get stuck in the muck and mire of cliché goals; you don’t have to hit a million views to make a big impact online. As a private …

  • Common Questions from our Art of Discovering and Selling Value Webinar Image

    articleMay 16, 2018 | 12 min. read

    Common Questions from our Art of Discovering and Selling Value Webinar

    Earlier this week, WebPT President Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, and guest host Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA, hosted a webinar designed to help physical therapists learn the art of discovering—and selling—their value. While PTs have historically shied away from sales, in today’s evolving healthcare ecosystem, it’s absolutely imperative that all providers—and especially specialists such as rehab therapists—excel at positioning the benefits of their services in such a way that resonates with patients, payers, and referral sources. At …

  • 29 Ways to Remedy Rehab Therapy Burnout Image

    articleJun 30, 2015 | 4 min. read

    29 Ways to Remedy Rehab Therapy Burnout

    As a therapist, you care about your patients (thank you, captain obvious ). But it’s this helpful nature that’s often responsible for stress, frustration, and even career burnout. When things get rough, you might find yourself internalizing patient progress—or lack thereof. Additionally, you might feel like you have to constantly fill the “therapist” role, even when you’re not in the clinic. Plus, you’re under pressure to answer tons of questions thrown your way on a daily basis …

  • Common Questions from our Physical Therapy Website Optimization Webinar Image

    articleOct 18, 2017 | 21 min. read

    Common Questions from our Physical Therapy Website Optimization Webinar

    On October 17, 2017, WebPT’s own Charlotte Bohnett and Shawn McKee hosted a webinar detailing how rehab therapy practices can make themselves findable—and, more importantly, discoverable—online. During the presentation, they covered everything from blogging and soliciting reviews to keywording and optimizing online profiles. It was a lot of juicy information—and we received a lot of juicy questions from our audience. We’ve compiled the most common ones—and their answers—in the FAQ below. Reviews Can I send patients a …

  • How to Showcase Your Company Culture Externally Image

    articleJan 22, 2014 | 4 min. read

    How to Showcase Your Company Culture Externally

    The main purpose of establishing a strong company culture is to get everyone in your business on the same page when it comes to core values. So, on the surface, “company culture” might seem like a strictly internal initiative. But if you think about it, your company culture is basically your practice’s personality—the thing that sets you apart from all the other rehab therapy clinics out there. And because—according to this Bureau of Labor Statistics report —the …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.