As a physical therapist, you know that the vast majority of the general public could benefit from your services in one way or another. The sad reality, though, is that most people don’t even know what physical therapists do—let alone how seeing a PT could drastically improve their quality of life. In any business, though, profits are driven by demand. And if you want to keep your doors open—or better yet, grow your practice—then you have to continually draw new patients through your door. In other words, you have to effectively market yourself and your value. Earlier this month, I gave you some pointers on how to tap into your inner salesperson as you interact with potential customers. But facetime with new prospects doesn’t just happen on its own. To keep the sales cycle humming along at a steady rate, you’ve got to have a long-term marketing and sales strategy. More than that: you have to execute. And between treating your patients, running your business, and juggling your life outside of work, you’d be hard-pressed to find the time for a coffee break. A comprehensive marketing campaign? Fahgettaboudit.
If this is all hitting a little too close to home, don’t worry. After all, a busy clinic is a good sign. But if you feel like your clinic’s marketing efforts are falling by the wayside—or you’re simply ready to take your sales game to the next level—then it might be time to call in some backup. If you’re looking to hire a dedicated sales and marketing person for your clinic, here are some points to consider:
A healthcare background is nice, but not necessary
Remember, you’re hiring for sales and marketing skills—not clinical knowledge. You’re the therapy expert, so you should be able to provide your marketing guru with whatever industry insight he or she needs in order to effectively promote your services. So as you peruse that stack of resumes, look for someone whose expertise complements your own. That said, you should definitely take the time to bring your marketer up to speed on the therapy business before you turn him or her loose. As this article suggests, “Marketing in medicine is...somewhat different than marketing in other industries, so make sure if a marketer doesn't join your team with...[medical] marketing experience, you get them a training course or coach for that specific purpose.”
Desk jockeys need not apply
If you can get someone with outside sales experience, great. At the very least, though, you should make sure potential hires understand the difference between inside and outside sales (hint: one occurs primarily inside the office and the other primarily outside). Sure, this person will be responsible for planning and executing advertising campaigns and beefing up your clinic’s online presence. But he or she also will spend a considerable amount of time out in the world, so to speak—representing your practice at community events, networking with other health and wellness professionals, and talking to the media. The author of this blog post offers the following advice: “The biggest mistake I have made in the past is hiring people with inside sales or straight marketing experience. Most people with inside sales or marketing experience may be great at talking on the phone or coming up with marketing concepts. The biggest problem with them, however, is it becomes hard to get them to leave the comforts of their office setting to actually market your clinic in the community.” Additionally, your marketer should demonstrate the following qualities:
- Superb written and oral communication skills
- Ability to pitch coverage ideas to local media outlets
- Experience with media buying (i.e., negotiating advertising placements and contracts)
- A personality that jives with your practice’s culture and vision (that way, as this article explains, he or she will have no trouble projecting a consistent brand message at all touchpoints)
Hire to get the most bang for your buck
Your sales and marketing strategy should be multi-faceted—and that means your marketer should be, too. And when it comes to cost effectiveness, a marketing Jack of All Trades is definitely your best option. Otherwise, you’ll end up shelling out additional money to fill in the holes of whatever your in-house person can’t produce. According to this article on small-business marketing, “If you hire someone, you need someone who has a diverse skillset and can cover all areas—if they can't manage search engine optimization (SEO), create brochures, then you will end up outsourcing part of it anyway and paying for a manager, not a doer.” So, make a list of needs, and make sure your marketer checks as many boxes as possible. At the very least, this person should:
- Be able to craft clean, well-written copy for your website, blog, and media releases
- Have knowledge of online marketing and SEO best practices
- Know the basics of branding and design (experience using Photoshop or InDesign is a huge plus)
- Feel comfortable organizing and attending events
And while we’re on the topic of efficiency, don’t feel obligated to make this a full-time position if you don’t think there’s enough work to fill 40 hours a week. For small clinics, this could easily be a part-time gig. Make an honest estimation of the time investment required to achieve your marketing goals, and develop your job description accordingly.
Does your practice employ a dedicated marketing and sales professional? If so, do you feel that hiring him or her was a worthy investment? If not, would you consider bringing one on board? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.