Some trends are going to change the way we do business in 2016. As we get ready for the new year, practice that embraces new trends will see an instant surge in income, recognition and influence amongst patients and referral sources.
Every private practice has hidden assets, untapped income opportunities and overlooked possibilities that can transform the practice. As we look at the road ahead toward 2016, some emerging trends will shape the future of physical therapy and private practice.
There is a whole new world of opportunity in physical therapy marketing, and the ‘early adopters’ of new technology will see the biggest benefits in terms of visits per week and revenue per patient. Small increases in volume and income per patient can lead to big changes in annual income for your practice.
A practice that can creatively present, market and launch traditional physical therapy programs will raise awareness and curiosity from consumers and referral sources.
Think of this as ‘old wine in a new bottle’. With declining reimbursements from providers and long delays in payments, a practice that functions independently and offers an exclusive brand of physical therapy with innovative names and headlines will set itself apart.
Give your program a catchy title like ‘Low back protocol training’, ‘Pain termination project’, ‘Instant motion method’, ‘Active superstretch therapy’ and so on. Build the ‘buzz’ for your program by announcing the name and releasing information in bits and pieces to raise curiosity.
A practice that integrates ‘social connections’ with employees and patients will stand out compared to a ‘financially driven’ practice
In an increasingly fast paced world, every person is looking for the ‘it’ factor – the personal connection.
A traditional practice serves patients with high quality physical therapy, but falls short of establishing that ‘personal’ connection with patients. Phone call and postcard reminders on birthdays, anniversaries, holidays help to achieve this. Lasting value and friendships are built on social connections (enriching conversations, empathy, gratitude). Exchanging gifts with a patient and demonstrating reciprocity is another way to integrate ‘social norms’ into the physical therapist – patient relationship.
Closely linked to trends 1 and 2 mentioned above, a practice that uses the right message and marketing with the right market transforms a stranger through the various stages of prospect, patients, referral source and raving fan. Every element of your practice – personality of your staff, quality of physical therapy, documentation, receptionist interaction should move patients up in the ascension ladder.
Practices that collect email addresses of patients will save time, money and resources on marketing.
Since email is fast, free and simple, collecting email addresses from patients on your intake form should be standard protocol. If you don’t have it set up like this, there is a simple way to contact past and present patients and obtain their email, but this has to be done in the right manner. Don’t ask for the email without offering something in return. Instead, offer a free report / booklet / downloadable ebook and confirm contact information, asking for their email to update your records.
Engaging in joint promotions with local businesses will skyrocket awareness and increase public perception.
Obtain a list of non competing local businesses from the local chamber of commerce or the local library. Besides physicians, examples include hair salons, gyms, health clubs, attorneys, accountants and even bank managers. Approach these businesses, telling them you can help their business by promoting them to your existing list of patients. Ask them to send out a letter (which you provide) to their clients telling them about your services, and offer to do the same for them. You can even do a joint advertising campaign to their clients and split the cost of the advertising or mailing. The big advantage of local promotions (as opposed to traditional advertising) is that you are leveraging the reputation of the business with its existing customers. Remember, the business has invested its own time, money and resources to cultivate its own clients list, and to have access to this list with a plug from the business is like taking an elevator to the top of the remote Himalaya mountains.
The FREE OFFER – instant patient acquisition in 2010 with attention grabbing marketing
Provide patients with an irresistible offer to get them to walk in. Examples include a free CD of DVD on injury prevention, a free booklet on low back pain or an audio CD on pain relief at home. These resources can be created at a nominal cost, usually under $5 each, and then announced in newspaper, magazine of radio ads in your geographical area. This will allow potential patients to raise their hand and identify themselves, and will attract the right kind of people to your practice. Your cost to acquire a new patient can range anywhere from $4 to $8 for this type of marketing and the results are immediate, as long as the message, market and marketing is a good match.
These are the key trends for 2016. Some additional trends that I see emerging include:
- The use of proven, tested marketing scripts for phone call follow ups with patients
- The implementation of a systematic system of follow up, including postcards and emails to encourage referral generation from patients
- The use of one-page, single message, targeted physical therapy websites with precise headlines and a call to action – designed to crush traditional, outdated websites with tons of navigation tabs, links and confusing messages
- Dirt cheap, effective lead generation advertising – the incorporation of headlines, benefits, scarcity, urgency and call to action designed to promote curiosity and get the patient to call you for more information
- Instant, free publicity for your practice with local media with well timed, well written press releases, signaling the end of expensive advertising and traditional referral generation.
Don’t wait, be the first to apply some of these emerging trends in your area. Some or a combination of all of these strategies will transform your marketing in 2016.