Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it can spell failure for physical therapy practices when they try to copy techniques used by other clinics. Emulating tactics is easy, but they won’t further a clinician’s goals unless he/she understands why the techniques work.
No two practices are the same despite offering the same treatments and services. Even small differences can result in one physical therapy marketing plan failing while another succeeds. Many practitioners read a few on line articles about marketing and think they’re prepared. While those articles are long on technical details they don’t explain why certain techniques work best in specific situations.
Building the Wrong Audience
Clinicians and many professional marketers become good at using tactics without understanding the audience to which they’re marketing. Practitioners marketing a physical therapy business must understand that different types of content attract a specific audience. A new mother isn’t going to care about therapeutic massage for addressing sports injuries, but she will be interested in how massage can help relieve sore muscles associated with nursing.
Blogs, social media posts, downloads and newsletters that offer “10 Ways to…” content may actually get a reader to the practice website, but it will typically attract the type of individual who is looking for a quick fix without actually making an appointment. For new patient acquisition, the goal is to create content that makes services attractive to those most in need of them.
The key is providing content targeted to a specific market. Some clinics will see more patients with sports injuries, while others will have more patients with concerns related to ageing. The same information won’t interest both. Sometimes physical therapy marketing must rely on an existing demographic already within the clinic, in combination with efforts toward new patient acquisition.
National Marketing Federation owner and marketing expert, Kim T. Gordon, noted in Entrepreneur that the best way to market a practice is to target prospects who have demonstrated they’re receptive through their current behavior patterns. That can be current patients or those who have opted in to receive communications from the clinic.
Give and Receive
Much has been said in marketing courses about the importance of providing an audience with value. When a physical therapy business provides readers with something of real value (content), the rule of reciprocity indicates an individual won’t mind giving something in return (email information).
What most clinicians don’t realize is that there comes a time in every physical therapy marketing plan when he/she must step back and give their audience a chance to give back by making an appointment. Years of striving to continually provide engaging, entertaining and enlightening content without increasing patient volume will become a liability to the practitioner and ultimately the clinic.
Rachel Clap Miller, assistant marketing director at Force Management, advises having a process in place to separate qualified leads from those that have no intention of becoming a patient. Part of effective physical therapy marketing is knowing when to walk away or step back so as not to miss out on better opportunities.
Content to improve conversion rates has been the primary focus for marketers, but clinicians are finding that a specific tactic isn’t working as well for them as it is for others in their field. One factor affecting conversion rates is exposure. If clinicians want people to opt-in to their content, they have to provide an opt-in form on the page.
Once an individual has provided their email address, the featured content must provide value to the reader. If it does, exposure will follow as the reader shares the information and website link with others within their social media circles, which in turn leads to greater conversion rates.
According to Moz co-founder, Rand Fishkin, to be effective, content must be relevant, helpful and enhance the user experience. It must also be unique to be identified by search engines and that can be accomplished by using wording and phrases in new ways that haven’t appeared before in other places.
In certain circumstances, it helps to place a value on the content to let readers understand what the information would cost from other sources. The initial cost for the practitioner is only in its creation and the data can be used multiple times in different campaigns, but the audience doesn’t need to know that.
Standing out from other practices is essential and one way to do that is by being the first to offer a particular service or product. Known as the first mover advantage, the tactic provides physical therapy practices with an enormous advantage over the competition.
In an article for Business Insider, Ira Kalb, president of Kalb & Associates, an international consulting and training firm, noted that being a first mover has a powerful advantage. He added that it’s essential for a business to record and communicate that they’re the first in a particular service or endeavour to ensure the new, unique and memorable factor is associated with that business.
Practitioners are collaborating with a wide range of other professionals to offer targeted obesity management, nutritional counselling, and partnering with performing arts companies to expand their range of opportunities. Bike fittings are a popular and lucrative addition to physical therapy practices overseas, along with training sessions developed specifically for professional athletes.
Aquatic sessions for arthritis patients, clinical Pilates for expectant mothers, and therapeutic yoga for enhancing strength and flexibility are just some of the ways that physical therapy practices can be the first to appeal to new prospects, while offering something new to established patients.
Producing content isn’t just for attracting interest and capturing email addresses for leads. A successful physical therapy marketing plan will find ways to convince individuals through content that a clinic’s services will add value to their life. The reward for practitioners is that they’re compensated for their efforts.
To attract new patients, diversification is finding favor in many physical therapy practices, with clinics providing products ranging from nutritional supplements to physical therapy products. It provides value to the patient’s life and makes the practice a one-stop resource.
Providing physical therapy products at the clinic is an added service and convenience that patients appreciate and practices can market. It relieves patients of the uncertainty attached to trying to select the products themselves from the local pharmacy.
No Perfect Template
Email outreach is the usual method of contacting patients for everything from reminding them of appointments to distributing newsletters. For the past decade, the focus has been on developing the “perfect template.”
Using the same template over and over diminishes its impact and it won’t take opt-ins long to realize that no thought or personalization has gone into the effort. It’s almost a certainty that at some point, the template will cross between audiences, further diluting its usefulness.
It can be rewritten in numerous ways to obtain the same results and the more personalized the approach, the more receptive opt-ins will be. A more effective solution is an integrated software system such as the In Touch EMR™ that provides customizable templates, the ability to track and monitor multiple campaigns, and offers multiple distribution channels.
A physical therapy business should always seek to stand out with content, services and diversification instead of trying to copy the tactics and techniques of other practices. Everyone wants to be “the first” and that includes patients. They want to be the first to experience new treatments, programs and services.
Dozens of factors and components affect why a particular tactic works spectacularly at one clinic and spells failure for another. Effective physical therapy marketing encompasses utilizing the right tactics for the individual clinic and providing content, products and services that provide value for patients.
For more information about In Touch EMR™ or to schedule a free demo, call (800)-421-8442.