Everything you need to know to market your practice to attract new patients, increase referrals and grow your business...
At its core, marketing is building connections. It requires understanding consumer’s needs and presenting relevant solutions. To market successfully, you must evaluate your current marketing performance, set effective marketing goals, allocate resources toward your goals, define your target audience, choose appropriate messaging, select the methods of marketing best suited for you, and pull your plan together into a marketing calendar for execution. By the end of this guide, you will have the knowledge to attract new patients, increase referrals, and grow your business!
Evaluate Your Current Marketing Performance
Create a list of the sources for your new patients and their current performance. Your list should include;
- Medical referrals (grouped by doctor and practice)
- Social media
- Word of Mouth/Patient Referral
- All other sources unique to your practice
This exercise will give you a solid understanding of what is currently driving your new patient volume and help you identify important trends. Measure the percentage of your new business that comes from each source and keep in mind important benchmarks. For example, if any doctor represents greater than 5% of your referrals, your business is over-reliant on that physician. When a business represents over 15% of referrals, you are too reliant on that business. Heavy reliance on a referral source makes your practice vulnerable to changes that may occur in the relationship. This could include scenarios such as a physician’s retirement, the business bringing therapy in house, or acquisition of the business by a hospital system.
Use Your Evaluation to Set Effective Marketing Goals
Determine the specific goals for your marketing program. If you are too dependent on a single referral source, one goal could be diversifying your new patient sources and increasing the performance of the others.
Additional goals may include:
- Increase referrals from medical sources in general.
- Market current service offerings to new audiences.
- Market new services to existing relationships.
- Increase participation from current patients.
- Give your discharged patients a reason to return.
You’ll want to determine what type of performance you would consider a success. How many new patients equate to a return on your investment? Be specific when creating your goals so you can identify the resources available to help you achieve them.
Identify and Allocate Resources Within Your Practice
When identifying available resources, consider people, time, and budget. Create a list of people in your practice that can assist with your marketing tasks. Consider all team-members, but make sure that their skill sets match your needs. Evaluate if the people on your list have the time to assist without vacating their current responsibilities. This will help you determine how much you can do with your current team and if you need additional assistance.
Finally, determine your available budget. The budget plays a key role in selecting the appropriate style and frequency of marketing for you.
Define the Target Audience to Market Your Physical Therapy Private Practice
To market effectively, you must be able to identify your target audience. As a physical therapy practice, you will market to two major client segments – referring physicians and consumers (patients or non-medical influencers). These are your target audiences. Within each audience exist three sub-segments; existing physicians & consumers, new physicians and consumers, and past physicians and consumers.
Your messaging - the words and images you use, should be tailored to the audience segment you wish to reach. As an example, with a new patient or new referring physician, messaging should introduce who you are, what you offer, and why it’s beneficial to them. For an existing consumer or referral physician, messaging should reflect new development or additional services that provide them reasons to continue participation. Keep your messaging specific to the particular audience you are trying to reach to increase effectiveness.
Select the Methods of Marketing Best Suited For Your Practice
All Methods of Marketing fall into three primary categories:
OWNED, EARNED, and PAID.
OWNED MEDIA is any marketing you have direct control over or own responsibility for, including:
- Patient and referral email lists
- Social media pages
- Branding and materials inside your clinic
- Google My Business listing (and other online listings)
- Website and the content within
Pros: Minimal or no monetary investment. 100% under your control.
Cons: Requires time investment and content creation to achieve success.
EARNED MEDIA is the awareness that you receive rather than broadcast yourself, such as public relations and third-party validation. Examples include;
- Conferences & speaking engagements
- Editorial pieces & patient stories
- Press releases and announcements
- Newspaper articles
- Magazine features
- Online mentions and features
- Live Segments from local news sources
Pros: Lowest monetary investment, often free!
Cons: Requires time, relationships, and generally something “unique” to activate.
PAID MEDIA is marketing that you pay to activate and includes both traditional and digital media. Examples of paid media are;
- Mailed & printed advertisements
- Outdoor – billboards & public spaces
- Google ads
- Event Sponsorships
- Paid Social Ads (Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
Pros: Wide audience reach and less time-intensive.
Cons: More expensive than other forms of marketing and requires content creation.
Focus on maximizing your owned media first. Optimization in this category looks like:
- Using a robust website designed and optimized for SEO (search engine optimization).
- Regular email marketing efforts that target each consumer segment.
- Social Media Marketing (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc)
- Community Events (sponsoring local sporting teams, raffles, health fairs, etc.)
- ‘Thank You’ messages to referring physicians.
Make it Executable: Create a Marketing Calendar
You have determined messaging for each marketing channel and the methods you will use to get those messages to your consumer segments. The next step is to create a schedule for when you will execute this marketing strategy. The best method is a marketing calendar. A calendar can be as simple as an excel worksheet or more robust, such as a complete wall calendar. You can find free templates for these online.
A Marketing Calendar should include:
A MONTHLY FOCUS:
“I use these messages with these forms of marketing to reach this audience”
A MONTHLY BUDGET:
What amount is allocated to each form of marketing for the month?
A LIST OF NECESSARY CONTENT:
These items must be created to execute the marketing plan for the month. This may include videos, printed materials, emails, images, etc. Be sure to plan time for content creation.
Execute Your Plan and Evaluate Your Outcomes
Marketing your practice doesn’t end at executing the marketing plan. Monitor your marketing efforts and make adjustments, execute again, and evaluate those results. Marketing requires continuous adjustment to receive maximum return on investment.
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