Referral MarketingThis month, we’re talking a lot about marketing rehab therapy to consumers. And while that’s an important piece of the marketing puzzle—especially in a world dominated by search engines and social media—we’d be remiss to skip over another key method of generating more business for your practice: referral marketing. To significantly boost the number of referrals you receive, you’ve got to be proactive. So, here’s a rundown of some referral marketing best practices to help drive more patients through your front door.

1. Build relationships. When people—physicians or others—refer patients to you, they’re putting their own reputations at stake. To make them feel more comfortable about sending patients your way, you’ve got to make them feel more comfortable about you, both as a therapist and as a person. So, unleash your inner extrovert and put yourself out there. Make friends with potential referral sources. How? In this day and age, the options for reaching out are plentiful—phone, letter, email, social media—but there’s nothing more genuine (or memorable) than a face-to-face interaction. Make it a priority to stop by a handful of physician offices every few months. A friendly smile can go a long way. But don’t limit yourself to physicians; local athletic trainers, yoga instructors, and massage therapists can be great sources for referrals as well. Just make sure you actually get some face time with the man or woman in charge—not just the front-office staff. If the person you came to see is busy, try to set up an appointment to meet or have lunch.

2. Be valuable. This means more than just providing exceptional patient care (although that’s pretty important, too). But to prove your worth to those who have not yet discovered how awesome you are, you have to make yourself—as well as your passion and expertise—visible in a public way. Volunteer at local sporting events, write a column for your community newspaper, or host a free fitness clinic. The more you engage with people in your area, the more they’ll value your professional skills and knowledge—and the more likely they’ll be to endorse that value to others.   

3. Follow up. The referral process doesn’t end once a new patient walks through your door. Continue to nurture your relationships with referrers by touching base with them periodically, whether it’s by phone, email, or business lunch. Each time someone sends a new patient to you, respond with a prompt thank-you call or—even better—a clinic-branded, handwritten thank-you card. That way, you’ll always stay top-of-mind—even as other providers jostle for referrals, too.

4. Simplify the referral process. In the age of laptops, smartphones, and tablets, people have little patience for inconvenience. So make sure all of your contact information (on your website, business cards, and social media accounts) is current, and if you don’t have a website yet, get one—stat! Then, to make it even easier for people to refer patients to you, consider posting a user-friendly patient referral form on your website for physicians and other referral sources to access, fill out, and submit to your practice. Include the form’s page URL on your business cards and marketing materials. Need help creating a form? Check out Google Docs.

Speaking of Google: you can also use it to add a dedicated referral phone line. Simply create a free account with Google Voice and record a custom greeting. It will even transcribe your voicemails straight to text, so your front office staff can transfer referral information right from your email to your documentation software. How’s that for organization?

5. Embrace EMR. In addition to upping your credibility factor with clinic-branded notes that appear neat, clean, and legible, some EMRs offer referral reports that help you track how many referrals you’re receiving from each source. That way, you can adjust your marketing efforts based on who needs a little more attention and who needs a thank-you.

 Have you tried any of the above methods to bolster referrals in your practice? What advice do you have for therapists looking to strengthen their relationships with referral sources? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. And for more great physical therapy marketing advice, be sure to download our free PT marketing e-book.

The PT Patient’s Guide to Understanding Insurance - Regular BannerThe PT Patient’s Guide to Understanding Insurance - Small Banner
  • articleSep 10, 2013 | 6 min. read

    How to Create a Marketing Plan for Your Practice

    As a clinic owner, director, or manager, you know that marketing―both to consumers and referrers―is crucial to your business’s success. And as with any new endeavor, it’s good to have a plan. As Joanna L. Krotz at Microsoft Business explains, “a marketing plan gives you a roadmap that can drive action and point the way.” Beyond that, a marketing plan can help: Define your audience and identify key prospects. Evaluate and compare your business’s data against your …

  • articleSep 13, 2013 | 7 min. read

    6 Common Rehab Therapy Marketing Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

    So, you’ve got a marketing plan , you’ve honed your content-creation skills , and you’re ready to get down to business—or, to be more accurate, you’re ready to get down to marketing your business. As with any new endeavor, you’ll probably experience a few bumps along the road to building a successful marketing campaign—and that’s okay. After all, some of the world’s best innovations came about through trial and error. But while mistakes often present you with …

  • articleSep 18, 2012 | 5 min. read

    Discovering and Marketing Your Physical Therapy Niche

    One way to better market the physical therapy profession is to ensure that you’re appropriately marketing your own clinic. As is the case with any business, you need to know your audience. A common mistake is the “we’ll-fit-anyone” approach. You either end up clueless as to how to promote your clinic or cast too wide of a net, catching flitting minnows rather than loyal marlins. But by narrowing your focus—by finding your niche—you can better position yourself …

  • The 3 Immutable Laws of Direct Access Marketing Image

    articleOct 15, 2014 | 8 min. read

    The 3 Immutable Laws of Direct Access Marketing

    It took expensive membership dues, countless lobbying and volunteer hours, and 25 years, but we finally did it: Direct access to physical therapy services is now available in all 50 states in at least one form or another. It wasn’t easy, so it’s important to take a few moments to celebrate our achievements and raise a glass to all of the passionate physical therapists and physical therapy advocates out there who made it happen. Okay, time’s up—and …

  • D’Oh! 3 Major Physical Therapy Marketing Fails Image

    articleSep 18, 2017 | 8 min. read

    D’Oh! 3 Major Physical Therapy Marketing Fails

    Homer Simpson introduced the catchphrase “d’oh!” on the long-running cartoon sitcom, The Simpsons, in 1989. It’s arguably one of the most recognizable catchphrases in American pop culture. So much so, in fact, that the Oxford Dictionary of English added the word in 2001. Defined as an informal exclamation “used to comment on a foolish or stupid action, especially one's own,” “d’oh” is the most fitting—and safe for work—reaction to committing a major fail. “D’oh” is even more …

  • 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 …

  • articleSep 15, 2013 | 4 min. read

    Use Promotional Products to Grow your Business and Boost Referrals

    Today's blog post comes from Tom Killingsworth, owner of Hadley Promotions in Phoenix, Arizona. Visit him on LinkedIn , or email him questions at  tom@hadleypromotions.com . Thanks, Tom! Rehab therapists should continually market their services to stay top-of-mind with current and potential customers as well as referring physicians. One way to do so is through promotional marketing. As the owner of a company that provides imprinted products and branded merchandise and apparel (with many customers who are …

  • articleSep 27, 2012 | 1 min. read

    Marketing the PT Profession Webinar Recap

    Today's blog post comes from copywriters Charlotte Bohnett and Erica Cohen.    On Tuesday, WebPT hosted a webinar on how to market the PT profession—and why it’s so important. Together Co-founder Heidi Jannenga and Marketing Manager Mike Manheimer tackled topics far beyond business cards and email marketing. They dove into ways you can influence how your patients, the public, and fellow medical professionals perceive the PT industry. Here are some of their marketing action items: Increase referrals …

  • webinarSep 27, 2012

    Marketing the PT Profession

    You’ve learned all about marketing your clinic; now it’s time to talk about marketing the rehab therapy profession. In this webinar, we go far beyond business cards and email marketing. Here, we dive into ways you can influence how your patients, the public, and fellow medical professionals perceive the PT industry. This webinar was hosted by WebPT Co-Founder Heidi Jannenga PT, MPT, ATC/L and Marketing Manager Michael Manheimer.

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