When it comes to marketing your rehab therapy practice, the old school of thought is that to get more patients, you’ve got to get more referrals—and that means appealing only to physicians. Well, as the saying goes, “Out with the old, and in with the new!”

As you’re probably—hopefully—aware, the rehab therapy industry is changing. Direct access to therapy services is rapidly shifting from being the exception to being the rule. This not only augments rehab therapists’ reputation as highly competent medical professionals, but also allows them the opportunity to “eliminate the middleman” and focus their marketing efforts on those who actually need therapy.

Of course, this isn’t to say that referrals aren’t important. On the contrary, referral marketing is essential. However, we can’t solely rely on this to generate new business. We must learn to market our practices on multiple fronts. To do so, we need to embrace what so many other health and wellness facilities have done so well: marketing directly to potential patients, or the consumer.

This starts with differentiating ourselves from the medical masses and spreading awareness about the value of therapy in general. We all must take it upon ourselves to educate consumers about what therapists do—how we use our expertise to improve our patients’ function and thus, their quality of life. There are a lot of people out there who could benefit from rehab therapy, but they don’t seek it out. Why? Because to the average consumer, there’s still somewhat of a shroud of mystery around physical, occupational, and speech therapy. And if potential patients don’t even understand what we do, why would they think they could benefit from our services?

So this month, we’ll tackle some strategies for getting the word out about ourselves and our profession. We’ll also show you how to wield the power of the Internet to increase the number of new patients who walk through your door, with a particular emphasis on developing your clinic’s online brand and establishing a strong social media presence. After all, people are using online social platforms more than ever, and that—combined with the fact that most of us turn to the World Wide Web as our primary resource for medical information—provides healthcare professionals with a highly effective tool for reaching potential customers.

We didn’t become rehab therapists to be on Facebook, write blog posts, develop websites, or create advertisements, but alas, it’s all part of marketing—and marketing is business-critical. And truth be told, marketing is actually pretty fun. You just have to learn the ropes and more importantly, how those ropes relate to you. That’s our mission this month, so #GetReady.