As a professional marketer, I’ve heard my share of bad marketing advice. In fact, I’ve probably inadvertently doled some of it out. The truth is that the world of marketing changes so quickly that a few bad tactics here and there are inevitable. But sometimes, I hear a piece of advice so egregiously awful that I feel compelled to refute it. It’s my duty as a marketer.
So let me set the stage for you: I’m at the APTA’s CSM 2014 conference at the Venetian having an excellent time networking with PTs from all over the country. As I make my way through the crowd, I overhear a conversation among a few physical therapists and a person who I assume goes by the self-proclaimed title “Marketing Guru” (pro tip: beware of people with the word “guru” in their titles). What I heard as I walked by stopped me dead in my tracks:
“Physical therapy clinics don’t need a website.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. His statement challenged all that is good and right in modern marketing. I didn’t want to be rude, but I had to hear more. How on earth could someone justify a business of any kind not having website? Here, I’ll walk you through the conversation with my annotations added:
Marketing guru: “When it comes to growing your clinic, don’t worry about investing in a website. In fact, physical therapy clinics don’t need a site at all.”
Skeptical group of PTs: “Really? We’ve always heard that a good website is essential to small business success.”
Marketing guru: “A website is important for some businesses, but the truth is websites don’t matter for PT clinics. First off, a website is way too expensive to build and who is going to maintain it? As a PT clinic, you don’t even sell anything online anyway. Plus, nobody is searching the web to find a physical therapist.”
Thankfully, the PTs couldn’t be fooled by the self-proclaimed expert. They chose to save themselves and their clinics by respectfully ending the conversation. That marketing guru couldn’t have been more wrong about PT websites. Let me debunk his flawed logic:
A website is too expensive to build and maintain.
A website can be expensive to build and maintain, but it doesn’t have to be. Truthfully, websites have become so ubiquitous in the business world that you can find top-tier, professional website services at a very reasonable price. (Case in point: our friends at e-rehab.com.) If a professional service isn’t your bag and you’re a bit more hands-on, then I recommend Wix and Squarespace. They require minimal coding, are incredibly cost-effective, and demand little maintenance. Carve out 15 minutes a week to make a quick update or check for errors; that’s enough to stay up and running. Don’t have 15 minutes to spare? Tap your staff or co-workers. I’m sure there is someone in your practice who has a few web skills up his or her sleeve.
You don’t sell anything online, so why invest in a website?
While it may be true that you aren’t retailing books and DVDs like Amazon or shoes like Zappos, you most definitely are selling your physical therapy services. Your website is your own personal space to tell people about the amazing services you provide. The web is where most of your target consumers:
- learn that you’re a practice within their area,
- make a first impression of your clinic, and
- validate that you are the right choice for their physical therapy care.
Without a site, you will make the worst first impression of all—none—and as a result, you’ll fail to gain their business.
And websites aren’t just for selling. They are also a great platform for distributing basic information to your community. What if someone wants to know your clinic’s phone number or hours of operation? Without a website, you leave patients confused and unable to acquire reliable info. Worse, you leave your potential patients open to choosing another provider who is more easily accessible. You should never create barriers between you and your patients, and failing to have a presence online does just that.
Nobody is searching for a physical therapist online.
The Internet is not going away. A study conducted in March 2002 showed that 63% of Internet users—or 73 million people— seek health information online. More than six million people search for health information on any given day. That means, on a daily basis, more people search for health information online than actually see a doctor.
If you do not have a website, you’re missing out on the chance for patients to discover you online. Plain and simple, you’re pulling yourself out of the game. Here is another startling stat: In a survey of Internet users, Google found that 80% of respondents used search engines to find local services. When patients need local physical therapy care, a huge majority of them search Google. Does your clinic’s website show up? One thing is for sure: if you don’t have a site, your practice isn’t showing up in a search.
The bottom line is that you need a website. If you don’t have one for your PT business, go get one now. The longer you wait, the more new patients you’re missing out on and the more existing patients you’re failing to recapture. Furthermore, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to educate the general public on the value of PT.
If you encounter any website naysayers, you’re now well-equipped to battle them. More importantly, you have the know-how to go get your practice a beautiful, user-friendly website right now.
Does your clinic have a website? How have you made your clinic’s site work for you? Share your tips for clinic owners looking to develop a website in the comments below.