Updated: Dec 21, 2022
If you missed it, we had a live Q&A: Part 1 in our DPT to CEO Facebook group where we went through some of the questions from everyone who came out for the mini course Marketing Rescue a couple of weeks ago. I'm excited to continue talking about this and emphasize how important a strong marketing strategy is for your physical therapy private practice business plan.
**A little disclaimer: While I am super passionate about business development and marketing, I have my own experiences and ways that I have gone about growing my own practice and helping other therapists grow their practices. Just because I say something doesn't mean that is the one, true way to do things. There are tons of super helpful people in marketing and tons of different Facebook groups that can help. If you’re looking for something specific, let me know and I can help point you in the right direction.
I will be answering all these questions based on my experience and based on what I have learned in the various different marketing courses that I have taken. I did get certified as a digital marketing strategist this year and I have a few different specialties that I'm particular to.**
Where Do I Even Begin?
This is one of the questions that quite a few people have. I think this is a really common question of course for everybody who doesn't have a lot of experience with marketing. Probably, most of us here have more experience with sales than marketing because if you can get a patient to come back to you for therapy, then you have sold them. I ask myself this basically any time that I want to do something new (like a new offer or service, etc).
1) What you need to figure out before you can market:
I really try to make this as structured as possible. I go through a step-by-step process of doing this rather than trying ALL the different marketing things inefficiently. What I recommend with my clients, before we even talk about different tactics, is to figure out what you want. This was a big part of our Marketing Rescue course. Figuring out:
What it is that you do
What it is that you offer
How you sell it
And of course, pricing
How you sell has to be very clear and I always make sure to emphasize that. I was terrible in the beginning about being very clear on what the offer/prices were because I was so worried about what people would think. Before you can market, if you don’t have that you cannot market something. As solo business owners/private practice owners, it is very difficult to market ourselves as therapists unless you are already deeply ingrained in your community. For those of us that are new to the area or profession, we need to be clear about what you offer. It's not you offering "physical therapy" or yourself as a therapist, but a solution to a problem. I talk more about this in Top 3 Mistakes New Practice Owners Make (And How To Avoid Them).
2) Status Update: figuring out where you are and where you want to be
So figuring out what you need to do for marketing… it depends (I hate that phrase), on things like:
How many patients do you have?
How many appointments do you have every week or month?
What's your energy and your time like?
How happy are you?
Are you mentally physically okay to continue to push forward in your business?
3) What has worked already?
If you were just starting out, you might not have that information just yet, but instead of asking yourself that question, I would think about:
Where are my people/niche/audience?
How can I talk to them?
For example, I work with Crossfit athletes. Where do I go? I go and work out at the gym and I talk to the people there. This has worked for me a couple of times so far where I have ended up with paying clients. That is because I put myself in the community that I want to be a part of, I develop relationships, and I put it out there that I'm available. This doesn't have to be just in person. I have clients that have done this online as well. Show up and introduce yourself and share the fact that you have a business.
How Long Do You Continue to Try One Area of Marketing Before Moving on to Trying Something New?
It depends on the tactic:
Slow Burning Tactic
Fast Burning Tactic
High (ex. writing blogs, recording video)
Low to High (think IG stories vs cold outreach)
Low (mainly free)
Depends, can be paid like ads
Examples: Being at the gym I got patients after about six months. If you were brand new to a community, like myself, I would expect it to take at least six months for you to start seeing results from that. It could be a gym, a networking group, Facebook groups, ect. I would expect you to have to consistently go to those for at least six months before you start to see any results from that. So, your expectations with that are going to be different from doing something like putting up Facebook ads for consultations for a therapy practice. You should see leads within a week (maybe even 2 or 3 days). They may not be high quality but you will get leads.
Should You Have Both Quick and Long-Term Marketing Going on At the Same Time?
I would suggest trying 2-3 types of marketing, (I say this very broadly because more is not always better). If you opened your practice today, pick at least one local type of marketing (in person or online), and one thing online (non-local). Both things have to be consistent and whichever one you feel more comfortable with, add a second one.
An example for myself might look like consistently going to CrossFit (1 local), and then also doing a regular blog (#1 online) and social media posting (#2 online). I would say that blogging is a slow burn kind of marketing that is highly valuable from what I have seen. Whereas, social media is very immediate (fast burning). You might catch someone’s attention within the week, however, it’s easy to lose if you don’t keep up with posting. The post that you put up on social media this week is going to be very difficult to find a year from now. A blog is a lot easier to access faster.
How Many Hours of Marketing Per Week is Needed to be Successful?
It’s going to vary. A rule of thumb that I typically tell people is if you have more time than clients in an average work week, that extra time should be dedicated to marketing. If you have 30 hours a week blocked off for your business and zero clients. Those 30 hours should be used for marketing.
However, if you have more patients than you do extra time, I would highly suggest taking some kind of marketing strategy that you can keep up with even in those times when you're really busy. It may look like Facebook ads because you want to invest money so that you can save time. It may look like blogging you're really in it for the long haul and you feel like investing an hour a week to make a YouTube video and write a blog. Maybe you spend those few hours reaching out to different gyms, recreation areas, businesses, providers, other people who have access to your target audience. You can use reaching out to those people to create a connection and build relationships to start offering workshops and seminars, or build referral partnerships.
Focus on a Single Platform or as Many as Possible?
Not as many as possible but 2- 3 at most. Blanket advice is to pick 2- 3 things and use them for maybe a month or two, and figure out what kind of results you're getting. Then, keep the things that are getting you the results that you want, and the things that are not working or you don't enjoy; put them on the back burner and choose something else.
How Do You Determine How to Market to Your Target Audience?
We touched on this in point #3 of Where Do I Even Begin? Find out where they’re going to be and go there and talk to them.
Is There a Certain Percent of Your Budget You Should be Spending on Marketing?
The last recommendation that I saw was to spend about 5% of your gross revenue per month on marketing. When I think of that, marketing spend would either be used to pay for advertising or pay for a marketing expert to help you get where you want to go. I would say that is more of an estimate on how much to spend on paid advertising. If you hire a person to do your marketing it's going to be more of a financial investment up front, but is also saving you time. There are hours that go into teaching yourself marketing skills that are 100% valuable, but not everyone wants to do that and that’s fine.
If you are going to be learning and implementing paid advertising yourself, I would suggest 2 or 3 months consecutively diving into Facebook ads. Keep in mind, if you’re going to be doing any advertising (Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, whatever), you need to have a discretionary ad spend budget. So, if you were to spend $500 on ads this month and none of them work; you need to be alright with burning that $500. New offers can take time to develop. If you’re spending $500/month for 4 months, that’s $2,000 that may be spent without the tactic working.
If you are wanting to hire somebody to create and implement your paid advertising, (like me!) you’re probably going to want to hit the $5,000+ a month mark. While hiring somebody to do your marketing at that point is going to be more money up front, (it can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars a month to hire somebody), it will save you time in the long run. It's an investment to help you get there faster than you doing it on your own.
Social Media and Internet Specific: Things About Digital Marketing
Things with social media have been wonky compared to a while ago. This is why I've been learning a lot more about blogging, SEO, YouTube, and podcasts. Those types of digital marketing have a longer shelf life compared to social media. Social media can expire quickly from what I have seen. I feel like the organic social media stuff, which is when you are posting on social media and not doing advertising, takes a lot of consistency. You have to be all in on one or two platforms (or hire help) because it can be so time-consuming.
Social Media: Is it Worth It? How Effective is It?
With social media you have to be consistent and I think that you also have to manufacture a lot of your own engagement. You need to comment on lots of different things, tag people, interact with people specifically in order to boost your posts. It requires a lot. Is it effective? Of course! Every single marketing tool is effective. It's just what is going to work for you, resonate with your audience, and what are you going to do on a regular basis.
When I first started my business, the ability to reach people organically was easier than it is now, and I could probably say the same thing about social media 5 years ago vs 2 years ago. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get organic reach on regular posts compared to a while ago on big platforms. It’s much easier to reach people with advertising obviously because you pay for it. Things like Instagram and TikTok have become a lot more popular in the last couple of years so there’s still much more organic reach there, but there are a lot of social media experts that are sharing how it’s continuing to decrease over time which is standard with social media. I still post on social media, but it’s not my main driver. I would say currently I have mixed feelings on how effective social media is. I have gotten a lot of clients from it (business coaching , some physical therapy patients, etc).
One way you can use a bigger platform locally: On Instagram is to follow and interact with posts of local community accounts (via your business Instagram account). Then, more people who follow that community account will see your username and can look into you (may end up following you too).
SEO and Getting People to Your Website:
The first thing that you need to know about SEO, it takes time to build. However, there are things that you can do quickly to give yourself an edge.
1) Get your website everywhere: I would say this is the quickest way to build SEO and build traffic. If your website is not on your social media profiles, it needs to be. That's something that you have so much control over. I discussed this further in Why No One Is Calling Your Practice: 60 Second Marketing Tip 80% of New Practice Owners Forget.
2) Do a keyword research and make sure that you have keywords and descriptions on your website in the header and meta tags.
3) Regularly update your website: I've been doing this through blogs. I typically try to put up a blog once a week. Some research suggests that for best results that you do 11 blog posts a month (that’s a lot of writing). If writing isn’t your thing, at least once a week over 8 - 12 weeks where you should see improvements.
How to Direct Message Your Target Audience:
Personally, I think that there are several things that go into direct messaging strategy. There are some places where you have to be careful about direct messaging because there are different rules and you want to make sure that you're putting your best foot forward. It is so dependent on how you want to be portrayed, how you want to talk to people, who your audience is, what platform you're using.
If you have more questions about any of these topics feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listen to this episode on my podcast!