If you’re like many physical therapists and practice owners, promoting your clinic’s brand often feels akin to stumbling across a minefield loaded with revenue-destroying marketing mishaps and blunders. Or perhaps you feel lost in a maze of budgetary figures, ever-changing social media platforms, and web design and development. But, as long as you stick to a few rules of thumb, you can easily avoid an expensive mistake. To that end, here are some major dos and don’ts to consider as you market your physical therapy practice:

Modern Marketing Decoded: A Guide for Rehab Therapist - Regular BannerModern Marketing Decoded: A Guide for Rehab Therapist - Small Banner

Do Have a Marketing Plan

In the days before Google Maps, getting from Point A to Point B required some advanced planning. If you didn’t follow a map—or print out directions from good ol’ MapQuest—taking a wrong turn was practically inevitable. Similarly, you should always map out your plan before you begin your marketing journey—that is, unless you have a real taste for the unexpected and a surplus of money to burn through. To start, picture your ideal patients. Think about things like:

  • How do they spend their time?
  • Why would they seek physical therapy?
  • What kinds of physical therapy services do they need?
  • Where do they go to get information about PT services?

As the APTA explains here, your marketing efforts “will be most effective if they are highly targeted―from age and gender to income bracket and the type(s) of publications your potential patients read.” So, consider those characteristics as you create a mental image of your ideal patient, and build a marketing campaign that targets these demographics directly.

Budget Better

Another crucial piece of your marketing plan is your budget. The patient personae you pictured before will help you decide where to allocate your marketing funds (e.g. social media versus email marketing), but here’s the real question on everyone’s mind:

How much money should you spend on your marketing efforts?

We have an entire blog post (which you can read here) that lays out an in-depth, step-by-step process for creating your marketing budget. Essentially, it all boils down to this:

  1. Assess your current financial situation.
  2. Hammer out some specific financial goals.
  3. Decide where your marketing efforts will have the biggest bang for your buck, based on your aforementioned patient personae.
  4. Allocate a certain percentage of revenue to marketing, based on the size of your business (approximately 7% to 8% for small-to-medium-size businesses).
  5. Based on your goals and priorities, divide that amount among the marketing efforts you pinpointed in step three.

As WebPT’s Shawn McKee wrote in this post, “You’ll want to start with a few key investments and build from there as you start seeing results. Once you have a foundation of key channels, you can start to test new channels and diversify your portfolio.”

Put It to Paper

Once you figure all of this out, it’s time to write it all down. That way, you’ll have a resource to refer back to throughout the various phases of your marketing campaigns. (WebPT’s Charlotte Bohnett lays out the steps for writing your plan in this post.)

Don’t Ignore Your Competition

Your competitors can tell you a lot about what works—as well as what doesn’t—when it comes to marketing physical therapy services in your area. As we recommend in our PT-centric e-book Modern Marketing Decoded, “Find providers in your locale who offer services similar to yours, including wellness facilities, yoga and pilates studios, and chiropractic offices. Examine how they market their services, and compare that to how you market your own practice.” Consider things like:

  • Do you offer something they don’t?
  • How do your services differ?
  • What do they do better than you do?
  • What do you do better than they do?

Once you have that figured out, you can build a marketing campaign that highlights what makes your practice the best choice for your target audience.

Do Have an Online Presence

Before the rise of the Internet, patients were referred to PTs by their physicians. (In other words, they got what they got—with little say in the matter.) But nowadays, patients have wised up, and you can pretty much guarantee they’ll be looking you up online before setting foot in your practice. So, when patients plug your name into Google, will they like what they see? If the answer is “no” or “I’m not sure,” then it’s time to get online. There’s a myriad of online platforms and websites that contribute to your overall online reputation, including:

  • your practice’s website,
  • social media sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram),
  • online review sites (e.g., Yelp, Healthgrades, and Zocdoc), and
  • blogs.

You don’t necessarily need to be on every platform, but the more profiles you have, the larger your Internet presence will be. Just make sure you devote time to updating your clinic’s various social media profiles every day.

Don’t Replace Your Website with Social Media

Beef Up Your Brand’s Image

Speaking of social media, while you don’t need a profile on every social platform, you definitely need to have a clinic website. While social media is a great way to engage with patients online, using a social media page in place of a website can make your practice appear less-than-professional to prospective patients and referral sources. Conversely, having an attractive, well-constructed website shows all of your web visitors that you take your business seriously.

Resist Cutting Corners

Additionally, some practices opt for social media alone in order to save a buck or two. It makes sense—Facebook is free, right? But here’s the dirty truth: social media marketing isn’t all that effective for practices that don’t pay to play. So, the money you save by skipping the website could actually be more damaging, revenue-wise, in the long run.

Optimize Your Online Visibility

If you still think social media is a viable replacement for a website, consider this: Having a website will actually boost your ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs), which means potential patients are more likely to see you when scanning the web for physical therapists in their local area. And if you also happen to be on social media as well, your SERP ranking will climb even higher.

Do Interact with Patients Online

Your clinic’s culture is essential to creating a positive experience for your patients, and the culture you have in your practice may not be the same as the one in the practice down the street. Basically, your culture should help you attract the kind of patients you want, and one way to ensure it does just that is to accurately represent that culture on social media. So, make sure you post regularly and respond when people comment on your posts. Plus, consistent posting to social media can help you connect with and reactivate past patients—as well as retain current patients—by keeping your practice top of mind.

Avoid Advertisement Overload

That said, be careful not to oversaturate your social media pages with advertisements for your services, as this can actually be a turn-off to your followers. (It’s pretty much the social media equivalent of email spam.) Instead, share engaging content that’s relevant to your target audience; put friendly faces on your page by spotlighting your clinic staff; or get creative with social media contests and follower polls.

Engage with Email Marketing

While social media is an incredibly effective tool that connects you with a wide audience, don’t discount the power of email marketing. The vast majority of adults worldwide use email (about 3.7 billion as of 2017), and targeted email messaging can help you connect with those who aren’t on social media. For example, you can send relevant content directly to current and past patients, which can prevent patient attrition and spark patient reactivation. What’s more, with targeted email marketing, you can curate that content to be even more specific to a patient’s condition and speak to him or her directly. (Hint: A robust patient relationship management [PRM] platform like WebPT Reach can help you easily craft email marketing campaigns and automate content delivery between appointments and after discharge.)

Don’t Hesitate to Leverage Your Loyal Patients

So, your online presence is important. But, if your digital reputation leaves something to be desired, it could end up hindering your practice more than helping it. When patients seek you out online, they’re mostly interested in (a) location, (b) your service offerings, and (c) what other people are saying about you. And according to BrightLocal, “84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.” If that’s not enough to convince you of the power of online reviews, remember that a business’s number of reviews and average rating factor into its Google SERP ranking. The more reviews you have—and the better your average rating is—the higher you’ll rank. So, if you want to literally rise above your competition on search pages, you need to make sure you have great reviews—and plenty of them.

Tap Trusted Patients for Reviews

The question, then, is, how can you get those reviews? Simple: Ask. Or, more accurately, ask your loyal patients. To get started, you must first figure out who those patients are. I’d recommend using loyalty tracking tools like the Net Promoter Score® (NPS) to determine which patients are the most likely to promote your services through word-of-mouth—if they aren’t already doing so. Then, leverage that data so you can confidently approach those patients about leaving positive feedback online.

Heading into uncharted waters without a guide is a dangerous undertaking. So, in addition to heeding these essential dos and don’ts, make sure you download this comprehensive resource for physical therapy marketing. (Think of it as Google Maps for your marketing efforts.) That way, you’ll always have a roadmap you can rely on—no matter how many twists and turns you encounter along the way.

  • 6 Biggest Takeaways from PPS 2015 Image

    articleNov 16, 2015 | 10 min. read

    6 Biggest Takeaways from PPS 2015

    Last week, I joined hundreds of amazing physical therapy professionals, students, and vendors (including yours truly, WebPT) at this year's PPS Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. Despite the uncomfortable combination of tropical heat and humidity outside—and near-freezing conference rooms inside—everyone was in high spirits. Though I never made it to Disney World, I still felt like I was in the most magical place on Earth, thanks to the inspiring and informative presentations I saw and the thought-provoking …

  • 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 …

  • 3 Things You’ve Gotta Know About Running a PT Practice Image

    articleApr 7, 2016 | 7 min. read

    3 Things You’ve Gotta Know About Running a PT Practice

    As physical therapists, we’re observant. We closely examine movements, attentively listen to patient complaints, and expertly read between the lines. Unfortunately, though, we don’t always give that level of attention to the non-clinical stuff. Because while we’re expert empathizers, we’re not the strongest scrutinizers. And when it comes to business, you need to scrupulously scrutinize. I worked as a Physical Therapist for more than 15 years, and I spent a good portion of that time as a …

  • How to Spend Your Clinic’s Marketing Dollars for Maximum Returns Image

    articleAug 17, 2016 | 11 min. read

    How to Spend Your Clinic’s Marketing Dollars for Maximum Returns

    As author and marketing guru Seth Godin says, “In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.” If you want to stand out in the rehab therapy marketplace—and potentially grow your clinic—then spending money on marketing is essential. But, to ensure a maximum return on investment, you’ve got to carve out—and carefully manage—your physical therapy clinic’s budget. Knowing where to put those dollars can …

  • 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 …

  • How to Get More New Patients Without Spending a Dime Image

    articleAug 18, 2017 | 6 min. read

    How to Get More New Patients Without Spending a Dime

    When you’re trying to get more of the stuff you need, sometimes all you have to do is ask . But shy of affecting a Dickensian persona and approaching referral sources with your hat in hand, you may not know what sort of strategy you should employ to get more patients into your clinic. The fact is, word-of-mouth advertising has been proven to boost marketing effectiveness by up to 54%. The message is clear: word-of-mouth is must …

  • 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 …

  • 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 …

  • The Social Media ROI Quandary Image

    articleMar 24, 2014 | 4 min. read

    The Social Media ROI Quandary

    To take a page from Ferris Bueller , social media moves pretty fast; if you don’t stop and look around, you might miss it. What do I mean by look around? Examine your metrics. Of course, I’m not talking about a traditional “dollars in versus dollars out” analysis.  A recent study from Business Insider (BI) found that the percentage of marketers tracking traditional return on investment (ROI) on social media is dropping; however, social media marketing budgets …

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