Here’s what this article isn’t:
I promise not to repeat the same ‘surface level’ suggestions that are everywhere. You know what I’m talking about: “Build a website”, “Write a blog post”, “Create a Marketing Plan” These blanket statements are not helpful, especially since most of them don’t go into the detail that you need.
You Should Read This IF You:
- Work at a private practice and want to take on the role as the go-to marketing person.
- Own a private practice and need some actual PT marketing strategies that don’t cost you $3,000 a month.
- Manage a clinic and need creative marketing ideas to grow your clinic in order to meet the goals you’ve set.
- Are looking for a raise. By setting yourself apart as the marketing person in your clinic, there’s no question in my mind that you will bring more patients into the clinic and should be rewarded for your creativity.
This article is not about academic marketing terms or drawn out opinions on market theory. If I see one more post about creating a SWOT analysis and identifying your unique selling proposition, I might go crazy.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for academic marketing talk. Before becoming a PT, I earned an MBA in market strategy and drew up fancy marketing plans with other fancy marketers.
Should you have a marketing plan? Sure. Heck, I’ll even guide you in creating one.
But not today. Today, we dive head first into Physical Therapy marketing tactics that will grow your practice and pay off both now and in the long run.
11 Physical Therapy Marketing Strategies
1. Grow Your Reviews on Google Maps
When you’re searching for a new restaurant, what do you do? Open the Maps app and search for “restaurant” to see what’s around you, right?
Now, imagine your doctor says you need to see a PT. How many people look for a Physical Therapist in the Maps app too?
The first thing you need to do is to make sure your Google Maps listing is up to date and ‘claimed’ by your business. This is really easy. Log into Google and sign up your clinic with Google My Business.
Why is this important? Google will collect “rich snippets” from your reviews and rating scores from your Google Maps listing and display them on the search results page when relevant searches are made.
By having a strong number of Google reviews, you increase your chances of Google recognizing your business and listing it at the top of the pack when someone searches for “Physical Therapy Clinic.”
Once you’ve taken care of this step, you can implement the Google Maps Review Strategy.
How the Google Maps Review Strategy works:
I designed this Google Review Handout for a client of mine back in 2015. He printed multiple copies of this Google Review Handout to place throughout his clinic.
Within the first week of implementing the Google Maps Review Strategy, the number of reviews for their clinic jumped to 9, positioning them at the top of the search results in Google Maps. I designed the handout on Canva and printed it in color at an office store. I want you to try this strategy, so I’m including the image file of the handout I created.
- Create or download the Google Review Handout for your clinic.
- Place this card on every eStim machine and in every patient room.
- Instruct your PTs or techs to ASK patients to review your clinic while they’re getting ice, heat, eStim, etc. Here’s a simple script: “Hey Mark, would you mind reviewing our clinic on Google? It really helps our clinic when we get high reviews from patients like yourself.”
- Place a Google Review Handout in your lobby.
- Run a friendly competition with your therapists to see how many of their patients will review you on Google.
I’ve never seen any PT website or “marketing expert” share this specific strategy. I put this strategy as #1 because it’s one of the easiest to implement and gives you a huge return on your time and effort.
2. Build Your Facebook Page with THIS Email
If you’re not following up with your new patients via email within the first week of their eval, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to connect with them and build trust. As many of you know, of the best strategies to build practice is by reconnecting with past patients. If you don’t have their email, how can you connect with them?
More on that later.
For now, let’s look at a super simple strategy to grow your Facebook page.
Start by collecting the emails of every new patient. I recommend using a simple email marketing service like Aweber or ConvertKit. With these tools you can automate the following emails in a series.
Within the first week of seeing a new patient, send them a simple thank you email:
I personally want to thank you for choosing _______ Physical Therapy. We know you have the option to choose any clinic, and we are so grateful you decided on ours.
My goal is to provide personalized care with every visit. I hope you experienced this during your initial visits!
Please let me know if we can do anything to make your experience better. We are looking forward to serving you!
Within the second week of their treatment, send this email:
Did you know that our patients use our Facebook page to stay updated with everything going on in our clinic?
We love to use Facebook to share:
- Promotions and Specials
- Patient Testimonials
- Fitness and Health Tips and a lot more!
Can you do me a favor?
I’d love to connect with you on Facebook and the best way to do that is by liking the _________Physical Therapy Facebook page.
There are over 200 members of our ________ Physical Therapy Facebook page, and we’d love for you to be a part of the conversation!
Here’s the link to our Facebook page.
If you have a minute, just click on www.facebook.com/______ and click “like.” It’s as simple as that!
The next time you’re in the office, let us know you liked our Facebook page and we’ll put you in the drawing for a $5 Starbucks gift card.
Thanks again for choosing _________ Physical Therapy.
Now isn’t that a better strategy than simply saying “Grow your Facebook page.”
Bonus Tip: Facebook encourages customer reviews just like Google Maps, so use the same idea to grow your Facebook page reviews. I still feel that reviews on Google Maps are more important, but it won’t hurt to build your Facebook page reviews as well.
3. Send A Handwritten Thank You Card
Can you remember the last time you received a handwritten thank you card from someone? You probably remember the person who sent it.
Sending at least one thank you card a month to a new physician is one of the easiest ways to set your clinic apart from the other clinics in town.
Some of you are thinking: “Come on, this is too simple.”
If that’s you, I want you to answer honestly: when was the last time you thanked a physician for sending a referral to you?
It literally costs $0.49 plus $1.00 for a thank you card, and 5 minutes of your time.
Here’s a card I sent to a physician who referred 4 patients to our clinic in 2016. Yes, only 4 patients. Within 2 months of sending the thank you card in 2017, we had 9 new patients from his office. 9. NINE. And I never personally met him.
I just wanted to send a quick note to introduce myself and to say thank you for the referrals this year. I’ve enjoyed treating your patients this year and have seen some really good results, especially in treating your patients who have low back pain and shoulder pain. I primarily see orthopedic injuries and pediatric sports injuries, and always provide one-on-one care for our patients.
Thanks again for the referrals this year. I’m looking forward to working with you and your patients more this year.
______ PT Clinic
It’s short and to the point. Not only does the note relay your gratitude, it quickly relays that you provide one on one care that leads to good results for the patient.
4. Create a Service Card with Canva
Are you still using tri folds? I would venture to say that most clinics that still use trifolds just aren’t sure what else to do.
Consider using a specific service card to promote your clinic. I like service cards because you can use the design in a lot of ways:
- Printed to hand out in workshops (see below)
- Post them on your social media pages
- Use them in your Facebook or Instagram ads
- You can even use them as a mass mailer if you’re still into that kind of thing… If you’re going to mail one out, you’re best off mailing it to your previous patients.
One of the easiest ways to design a fresh service card is through Canva. It’s a free web based design software that is ‘drag and drop’ ready and super easy to use. Think “Photoshop” for the common man.
Here’s a service card I designed in Canva.
There’s nothing wrong with hiring a designer to create branding material for your clinic. But if you’re on a budget and still want to create great looking flyers and service cards, check out Canva.
5. Host a Free Workshop at your Clinic
If you haven’t started to see “Low Back Pain & Sciatica Workshops” pop up in your area, you’re about to.
Hosting a free workshop is a great way to bring in new potential patients to your clinic. Of course, this will take some preparation on your end. Here’s a general outline of creating a PT Clinic Workshop.
Decide on a topic. Here are a few ideas
- Low Back Pain and Sciatica
- Shoulder and Neck Pain
- Hip and Knee Pain
- Building Better Balance
- Moving Better after 65
Design a Flyer in Canva. It doesn’t take long to create a flyer that looks professional. Here’s one that I created in literally 15 minutes.
Craft a 30-45 minute talk. If you’re looking for inspiration or coaching on how to become a better public speaker, I highly recommend reading the book “Talk Like Ted”. It’s basically a manual for delivering a fantastic presentation.
Provide a 1 Page Handout and Call to Action. Give your attendees a way to follow up with you for an initial evaluation. Your handout should clearly spell out the best way for them to contact you to set up an evaluation. Better yet, collect their information on the spot and add them to your calendar – especially for those with direct access.
Did you collect their email? I hope so, because you’ll need it to follow up with those who don’t make the decision to sign up for an eval during your workshop.
How to Promote Your Workshop
- Promote the workshop to your current patients. Ask if they know anyone who would benefit and provide them with a flyer. A simple ask goes a long way.
- Reach out to local gyms, shoe stores, fitness stores, and any place with a cork board and post your flyer there.
- Drop off a flyer at a few physician offices while you’re driving around.
- Mail (or better yet, email) your previous patients about the workshop.
- Post the image on Facebook and run a Sponsored Ad (more on that in a second)
6. Host an Injury Clinic at Your Gym
This is a very similar idea to #5 Free Workshop strategy, but it’s different enough to warrant its own summary.
If you belong to a gym, consider partnering with the owner in hosting an injury prevention workshop. In the same way that you designed the workshop flyer above, create a specific flyer for the gym owner to post and distribute to members. Promoting the workshop on the gym’s Facebook page or allowing for only a certain number of participants may drive more people to sign up.
The details on partnering with a gym owner will be different depending on your relationship with them. Some PTs have carved a niche by subleasing space in a gym and performing PT on site. This would likely cost upwards of $500+ per month to rent space at a facility, but could lead to thousands of dollars in revenue.
7. Start Using Facebook Lead Ads
First things first: install the Facebook pixel on your website. This small amount of code allows Facebook to track the visitors to your website so that you can promote directly to them later with Facebook advertising. In other words, instead of blindly spending money on ads to reach the masses, the Facebook pixel will give you the ability to reach the people who have visited your website, a strategy called remarketing.
The Facebook Ads manager allows you to create multiple kinds of ads. One of the ad types I’ve found to be very effective for Physical Therapy clinics is the Facebook Lead Ad. The Lead Ad generates an actual lead that you can physically contact via email or phone.
This is the snippet from Facebook describing Lead Ads:
“With lead ads, you can:
- Customize the form to capture just the info that’s important to your business.
- Grow inbound inquiries, email subscriptions, sign ups, applications, registrations, pre-orders and more.
- Capture lead information from people who have expressed intent.
- And contact info can be used to create Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences, so you can remarket to customers, or find new ones who share traits with the people who fill out your form.”
To get started with Lead Ads, visit the Facebook Business Page and set up your Facebook Ads Manager account.
Here’s an example of a lead ad that converted 3 leads with $100 spent on Facebook. Think about the return on that! Three new patients for $100 spent on Facebook Ads. That certainly is not a guarantee, but for this particular ad segment, it generated 3 patients in a month. Over the course of the 4 month promotional trial using Facebook Leads, 12 new patients were evaluated at the clinic.
8. Host a Webinar or Facebook Live Event
Before you randomly log into your Facebook page and click the “Go Live” option, give your followers a heads up on your upcoming Facebook Live event.
Facebook suggests that you write a compelling title or post to tell your viewers what you’re going to be talking about. If your topic is “3 Exercises For Crushing Low Back Pain” share this in the description to draw viewers to join your Facebook Live Event.
Here are 5 Unique Facebook Live Topics to Consider:
3 Low Back Stretches to Relieve Back Pain
Pain in the Neck: How to Improve Neck Mobility
Mini Shoulder Seminar: Safe Ways to Strengthen Your Rotator Cuff
3 Running Tips For Those With Knee Pain
Workplace Posture Check: 3 Things Your Desk Needs
When you’re coming up with a topic, consider a list of tips or strategies. Numbered lists are more attractive and get your viewers wondering what the “3 Tips” are. Of course, it also allows you to prepare beforehand. Just don’t read your notes or a prepared speech – keep it live!
9. Create a Valuable eBook or Product
As a PT, we give suggestions to people every day to reduce pain through posture, movements, exercise and modalities such as heat or ice. I think you would agree there are some generally safe parameters for using ice, heat, stretching, and even postural awareness that you could summarize in a page or two. So go for it! 🙂 Creating a small eBook doesn’t have to be super narrow in focus. Your patients will get value from an ebook on “4 Tips to Reduce Pain at Home or Work. Place the item on its own page and link to it from your home page and resources page. If you don’t have these pages on your website, check out number 11 below.
One of the first ebook I designed for a client was a very simple 2 page guide called “3 Exercises for Low Back Pain”. The purpose of the guide was to grow opt ins for his patient email list.
10. Start Growing Your Email List
If your clinic doesn’t already collect emails if patients, START! You already know that it’s much easier to market to an existing patient than it is to get new patients. Stay in front of your patients with a simple chain of emails that can be designed to act as a resource for them while they’re in PT. If you are on a really tight budget and need a free resource, check out MailChimp. If you have $29 and want the ability to control the most important aspects of your email list, look at ConvertKit. That’s what we use here at PTProgress and love it.
Quick Tip: in most email services you have the option to send an email at a later date. I recommend all my PT clinics to send a 6 month follow up email that asks how they’ve been doing. Structuring this email as a preemptive PT screen can capture existing patients who may be struggling from a different problem.
11. Get Familiar with Google Analytics
At the heart of marketing is data. You should have an idea of who you’re reaching, right? Google Analytics makes this easy, for your web traffic at least.
If you haven’t already install Google Analytics on your website, you should add it as soon as possible. It’s really easy to do:
- Go to Analytics.Google.com and sign up for an account.
- If you already have a Google account, click Access Google Analytics and “sign up”
- Complete your account by adding an account name, website name, website URL, category or industry, and time zone.
- Click “Get Tracking ID” It usually looks like “UA-000000-3.
- Read and agree to terms and service for Google Analytics
- Copy the Tracking ID and add it to your website. If you’re using WordPress, this is really easy with the help of a Google Analytics Plugin. Some themes will also have an area to add your Google Analytics ID.
Once you have Google Analytics installed, you can start to really identify who is visiting your website and how they’re interacting with it.
Why is this important for your physical therapy marketing efforts?
Let’s say most people are landing on your home-page and immediate click on the services tab of your website. Wouldn’t you expect that the person reads through all of your services and then makes the decision to click through to the “Contact Page” – that’d be nice right?
Except, in your Google Analytics report, you notice that most people leave your website at the services page. In fact, you barely get anyone to click on the “Contact Us” page.
Knowing that most people are going to your services page, you decide to update the page with specific calls to action located within each page. Now, instead of leaving after reading your Services page, they’re directed to contact the office or to fill out the form on the Contact Us page.
This is just one example of how you can market smarter with the data you get with Google Analytics.
12. Overhaul Your Clinic Website
Your Physical Therapy website design matters. The front door to your clinic is the website.
You might have the best staff and most talented physical therapists. But if your website looks outdated and cheap, your first impression isn’t starting off so strong.
Converting Traffic into Actual Patients
It doesn’t matter how much traffic you get to your website if you aren’t converting those visitors into paying clients. Your physical therapy website should be designed with the patient in mind.
My recommendation is to create a website using WordPress and a theme that is modern and responsive, meaning that it is mobile friendly. Some of the best designs can be found on ThemeForest.net. My recommendation is to spend some time exploring the theme options on ThemeForest and to click on the “Live Preview” to interact with the example websites. When you’re ready to upgrade your site, you’ll have a few themes in mind.
Physical therapy marketing needs to come out of the dark ages. As a marketer, I hope you are inspired by these ideas and take action to turn your clinic marketing around this year.
Download the Google Review Template Here. ProTip: Add this image to Canva.com and you can position your logo or other text over it!
13. Create High Quality Blog Content
When it comes to writing content for your clinic blog, consider creating pillar content with topic clusters. Gone are the days of general advice that barely touches the surface of an issue. You are better off creating a long article (1,000 – 2,000+ words) on a topic that acts as a resource for your readers. Not only is this better for your readers, your search engine ranking should benefit as well.
Let’s consider this idea for a pillar article: “How to Improve Balance After Age 50”
Aim to create a top notch resource that patients can reference for tools and tips to improve balance. There isn’t a magic number of words that you should write – but if you’re covering the topic in depth, you could expect to write a pillar article of 2,000+ words.
Next, write smaller articles that are related to the pillar post, yet cover a more specific aspect of the pillar content topic. These are called topic cluster posts and will make your blog even more of an authority. You don’t need to write another pillar article of 2,000+ words. By creating smaller, relevant articles around the same topic (your pillar article’s topic was “Improving Balance”) you have the opportunity to dig deep into a smaller subset of questions and suggestions.
Here are a few smaller topic cluster article ideas to craft that support your pillar article on Improving Balance:
- “How to Choose a Physical Therapy Clinic for Improving Balance”
- “Exercises for Balance Training”
- “Best Yoga Positions for Balance”
This content strategy a lot more effective and helpful for your patients compared to the sporadic articles and blog posts that don’t provide value.
14. Improving the Patient Experience
One of the most common marketing goals I hear from clinics is that of “improving the patient experience”. This is a noble thought, but what are you really going for here?
I want to challenge you to think about ways to demonstrate authenticity with your patients through face to face engagements and storytelling opportunities.
Let’s look at improving face to face engagements.
When was the last time you stood back and observed the interaction between your staff and the patients as soon as they entered your clinic. What about with new patients? Any difference with recurring patients? If you don’t establish an inviting and friendly atmosphere, you can’t expect it to appear out of nowhere. This one should be easy: re-establish a sense of welcoming in your clinic, starting now.
Storytelling opportunities can be found all throughout your clinic! Give people the opportunity to share their victories and ask if they will allow you to use them in your promotions. Share their stories in emails, clinic workshops, and when sharing victories with physicians.
15. Read the Book: This is Marketing
If you resonate with all these ideas, I’d encourage you to read one book this year on marketing. It’s simply called: This is Marketing and is written by Seth Godin. I think you’ll really find it valuable and insightful as you look to improve your physical therapy marketing this year.
- Hardcover Book
- Godin, Seth (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
Good luck and stay tuned for more practical tips you can use for your marketing efforts.