NITIN CHHODA: I have had the pleasure of interviewing an expert in physical therapy marketing, Dr. Kareem Samhouri PT from Global Fitness LLC. Kareem is a physical therapist and fitness professional. He has integrated amazing systems in his own practice, and was recently featured on NBC Philadelphia. Kareem’s ideas on physical therapy marketing are way ahead of the curve. He is abreast with the industry’s cutting edge technology, a people person and a mentor to many who are looking to market their physical therapy business.
KAREEM: It is a pleasure to be here and I am just glad to help out other like-minded physical therapists, improve their network and grow in businesses, at the same time develop a stronger ability to take care of our patients in a greater way in liaison with the medical community.
NITIN CHHODA: How would you advise physical therapists to brand themselves and be remembered with physicians and patients? How does a physical therapist in a private practice set himself/herself apart from larger corporate clinics & stronger competitors?
KAREEM: I think that is a great question and that definitely deserves the argument, when you brand yourself, you brand a company. If you brand your company then what you are doing is allowing people to request your company, not you. When you are soliciting referrals, what you are saying is my company can achieve this for your patient. And in doing so, not limiting yourself to hiring other practitioners in the future which is the key to being able to leverage your time and not work for your business all the time. You want to control your practice, and it has to be its own entity and stand on its own feet, even without you. I believe you should first develop the brand of the company, with an immediate ability to bring yourself on top of the company.
Remember, brand marketing is the hardest kind of marketing to do, you are in competition with McDonalds, Coca Cola and people with unlimited advertising budget, so the only way to effectively do it is to make sure that you are in front of them on a regular basis. And the best way you can follow somebody and not be a typical advertisement is by creating a system that stands out. Whether you send personal cards to people or whether you produce a video demonstration on your site for patients, do something to stand out, give yourself the edge in physical therapy marketing. Do something that catches somebody’s intention. If I created a short video that was two and half minutes, put it on a CD or on Youtube and send it out to doctors saying “Hi my name is John Doe PT and the big difference between between having me as your physical therapist versus someone else is ………. and demonstrate a skill that is unique to you.”
NITIN CHHODA: Yes, now this is where it gets very interesting and this is where I think the number one thing that we physical therapists need to gather and learn from you is leveraging time. Let me give you an example if I am a physical therapist and I go talk to a physician, nothing wrong with that. But here’s the tough part with physical therapy marketing. You generally spend two minutes with the doctor, but 20 minutes or more waiting for the doctor. All your time is spent on one physician, and there is plenty of wasted, non-productive time. Instead, if we are to take a short video and send it off to 20 physicians, you are essentially leveraging yourself and duplicating yourself and if you do a public speaking gig you essentially duplicate yourself by speaking to several patients at one time. You do any of the things you mentioned and you are leveraging yourself. Would you agree it is all about leveraging your time in physical therapy marketing?
KAREEM: I would, and I would actually go so far as to say that this is the number one way to position yourself. However, with all said I believe that public speaking without a follow up system can be a waste of time. A deliberate follow up system is smart because that elicits the process of reciprocity. Because you offered something, and followed up, people are now going to want to offer something in return, whether it is a personal meeting with you, whether it is promoting you to their network of patients / friends.
I just think that it usually takes a lot more effort than people give it credit for and when it comes to leveraging time correctly. The best message is to have an automated way of following up with individuals, even physicians.
NITIN CHHODA: Can you suggest 4 to 5 strategies on how a therapist can leverage his time and reach a lot more people? What is the art of physical therapy marketing?
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NITIN CHHODA: I see there are many local networks of businesses like the chamber of commerce, and there are networks like LETIP international that only allow one expert in each category and refer a lot of clients to you, in your local area. Once you find the best lead generation source, you may find that 80% of your leads come from 20% of your top referral sources.
KAREEM: I would rather send people a personal greeting card, hand addressed. I would also want to maintain email contact or use an auto-responder every time I meet somebody with business card exchange, I take those business cards, gather everybody into one subgroup in my email auto responder, so each contact becomes a potential public speaking prospect. And they would get email from me the day after they need me, they get an email from me a week afterwards, a month afterwards and then every month after that. That actually puts me in front of them, now my way of doing this you know you can’t just keeping selling yourself. What you really need is to deliver value so in a sense you are already on stage. You are just on stage blindly without seeing them, without you seeing them even though they are looking at you and so you start the same sort of information you get public speaking because the best way to be able to do this is by offering themselves.
Ideally that comes down a 4 step process:
Step 1 – is shock and awe. Talk about statistics that nobody knows or even if they do know about it, sounds familiar and but it still sort of shocking.
Step 2 – is like a personal story tell people how it seems to be. Let them in a little bit on who you are.
Step 3 – is to provide proof so what you want to do now is you want to be able to send a few testimonials of people who either had you as a public speaker or have had you as patient and client and you want to be able to let them know the success you had.
Step 4 – is the discussion about the presentation you have in mind.
NITIN CHHODA: These are the building blocks for marketing physical therapy at the local level. You broke it down and really made it easy.
KAREEM: We are just providing value and the best way to do that is a 4 step process.
Step 1 – is Shock and Awe (providing something different and better)
Step 2 – is being to tell your story
Step 3 – is providing proof that you know that you are doing
Step 4 – is an actual sample, perhaps a public speaking sample or a patient testimonial on your website.
If you targeting public speaking, you want to get the public speaking sample.
NITIN: This is like meeting strangers, converting them into prospects, taking prospects and converting them to clients. Then, taking clients and converting them to referral sources. Essentially what you are talking is gradually moving people up the relationship and the affinity chain, to put it that way…………
KAREEM: That is exactly correct, and you apply this to all referral sources. Attention span from referral sources is short and you should not take it for granted. What you want to do is create a sales force for you. This is the art of physical therapy marketing. When you are working with referral sources, you have to take them through this exact same process.
You have to understand the psychology of each medical professional and the objections that exist before you get there. Referring out to other professions, when it helps the patients is not a big deal even if you have a disagreement in the way things are done.