The purpose of this month’s blog theme—small business best practices—is to help you be better in business. And as any business guru will tell you, advertising is a huge factor in not only creating new business, but also in solidifying brand identity. As a small business owner, you probably don’t have a lot of money to throw at media buying opportunities. But if you’re smart, you can get a lot out of the ad spots you do purchase—even on a tight budget. Here is how you can create an advertising plan for your practice while maximizing your marketing dollar:
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 and your profession to increase business. Your marketing will be targeted, specific, and tailored to attract potential patients.
Finding Your Niche
In a whitepaper entitled “Build Your Practice by Finding Your Physical Therapy Niche,” Jeff Worrell suggests a few ways rehab therapists can go about finding their niche: “Take some time to jot down your experiences on a piece of paper…be as specific as possible. Look for similarities and highlight the experiences that are similar.” For example, our very own Heidi Jannenga experienced a sports-related injury in college and received physical therapy as a result. After college, she carved her specialty in athletic rehab therapy.
Worrell also offers a questionnaire as a guide to finding your niche:
- What type of physical therapy work do you enjoy doing?
- What is the market potential for the area you are 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 physical therapists who have built a successful practice in this niche?
Still in school or doing some PT soul searching? Try immersing yourself in several different specialties to find where your heart truly lies. You can also peruse Monster’s list of emerging PT specialties.
Marketing Your Niches
Nailed down your niche? Now it’s time to market to your prospective patients.
Go Where the Prospects Are
Seek out publications, websites, and other advertising opportunities within your niche market to promote your services. Additionally, make sure you’ve amassed a library of online reviews from patients who are representative of your ideal patient market. (Having trouble pinpointing those patients? A top-notch patient relationship management software like WebPT Reach can help automate the review request process.)
You can even take it a step further, like Heidi did. When Heidi’s husband (and WebPT President) Brad was obtaining his archery instructor certification, the two frequented numerous sporting goods stores. Through Brad, Heidi met many wilderness athletes, and she discovered they all suffered from some sort of musculoskeletal injury (for archers, shoulder injuries are incredibly common). Heidi began treating some of these athletes, and her customer base grew through word of mouth. At that point, Heidi realized, as the director of a clinic, that there were opportunities to expand her business by exploring the wilderness athlete market. Because she had frequented so many sporting goods stores, Heidi had established relationships with the managers and employees who let her leave flyers at the different stores, promoting her services as a PT specializing in treating archers and other wilderness athletes.
So you’ve tacked up flyers, bought ad spaces, and sought out places where you can connect with prospects. Now kick it up a notch by fully immersing yourself in your niche’s community. For example, Washington’s Bike Therapy, or Corpore Sano PT, specializes in physical therapy for bicyclists. According to their website, in addition to ensuring proper bike fit, they bring patients their “extensive musculoskeletal knowledge, bike industry and equipment experience, and looking at the goals of bike riders from all walks of life.” They share their “experience, knowledge of physicality—strength, flexibility and conditioning—to work out everyday on-the-bike issues that hold you back from reaching your goals.”
The full-blown bike devotion doesn’t end with their elevator pitch, though. BikePT offers classes; online education through blog posts, newsletters, and articles; and bike buyer’s guides. Most importantly, though, they sponsor and participate in biking events, like this past weekend’s Cycle the Wave.
Be a Thought Leader
At the point that you’ve promoted and immersed yourself in the community, you’ve basically become a thought leader for your PT specialty. As a thought leader, you can apply your knowledge online through social and blogging as well as in your community, like BikePT’s classes and seminars.
One of our New Years Resolutions this year is to tap into the brilliant minds that are a part of the WebPT member base. We have over 8,000 members, many of them in private practice, and I think we could all benefit from tapping their collective knowledge. Between guest blogs and interviews, you will be seeing a lot more WebPT customers around here ready and willing to share their wisdom.
I recently had the opportunity to pick the brain of Adam Banks, CEO of NY SportsMed in Manhattan. This month we are talking all things marketing, so I wanted to see what a business minded clinic owner had to say about nurturing and growing a sustainable referral base.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your practice, # of clinics, staff, location, years in business.
I run NY SportsMed in Manhattan. We opened our doors 5 years ago and each year we have made major investments back into the business. We opened 3 locations in the first 4 years. Our total staff consists of about 55 employees, inclusive of 14 physical therapists and a host of support staff. Each of our 3 locations located in very high-density areas of NYC and are very close to major transportation hubs. New Yorkers tend to be very neighborhood- centric. It was important for us to have multiple locations so patients don’t have to travel too far out of their normal commute to see a physical therapist.
I am not a PT. This has given me a unique perspective on the practice and has actually been a big help in building our business. I don’t look at the business the same way practitioners do. I am currently pursuing an MBA so that I am better able to manage a large and rapidly growing company.
Tell us something we wouldn’t know about NY SportsMed.
NY SportsMed has had the opportunity to work with some pretty famous clients. One of our PTs traveled with Bruce Springsteen’s band. Krista Simon was Clarence Clemmon’s personal PT. Krista actually went on tour with them, traveling the globe. She developed quite a bond with Clarence, so much so that he even mentioned her in his book. We were very saddened by his passing last summer.
What is one thing you think PT’s need to know when marketing to physicians?
Maybe its cliché, but I would challenge PTs to think outside the box and make it memorable. This past Christmas we must have gotten 14 baskets of candy in the week before Christmas. We received so many that we couldn’t keep track of who sent them. We decided to send Apple Nano’s as a “thank you” to our best referral sources last year. They are $50, about the same cost as a decent basket, and I know that we will be remembered for them. If you’re going to send a basket, be the first one to send it or send a Thanksgiving basket instead.
Have you ever thought about the answer to this question:
“How will patients remember you?” As a private practice owner and as pillar of your community, there is nothing more important than a powerful, grand vision that excites and motivates others. Here are four guidelines that will help you create a vision that will not only set you apart, but also help you to define your goals.