According to marketing analysis data, a sale is made or lost within the first 3-4 seconds of a television commercial, and 75% of the buying decision is made at the headline of a print ad.
As a private practice owner, you need to understand the importance of marketing. As you develop your marketing strategy, you need to know two important facts: knowing and understanding who your customers are, and knowing what their expectations are. We have two distinctly different customers in the physical therapy world: referral sources and patients.
So as you develop this strategy, ask yourself these two marketing questions:
1. What must our practice be like in the minds of our two types of customers?
2. What would make them choose us above anyone else?
Once you determine the answers to those questions, your whole practice needs to be on board with who you market to, their perceived need, and how your practice fills that need based on the public’s expectations.
Similarly, your whole company should be involved in marketing from lead generation to lead conversion to client fulfillment.
I know what you’re thinking after having just read the last sentence filled with marketing lingo: “I didn’t go to physical therapy school to be in sales” right? Well, the reality is at any given moment in time someone is selling to you or you are selling to someone.
Whether that be your services, products or ideas; the world we live in is made up of constant exchanges going on between people. The better trained you are at understanding this process the more successful your private practice will be at attracting more attention from your customers.
Why Market Your Practice
If you are a high quality practice then you know that more than 45% of all new patients are return business. With this in mind, you should also know there are some basics that every successful marketing program must have to be successful. Pieces such as a budget, a plan, and a well trained team of marketing personnel. You want to ensure that marketing efforts are going to drive new patients to your practice and build those relationships with your customers.
Seven Must-Haves for an Effective Marketing Plan
- An annual marketing program based off the targets set forth in your business strategic plan.
- An annual marketing budget that is 3-5% of last year’s total gross income.
- Hired and professionally trained staff who can wear the hat of the Patient Care Rep (PCR) and Marketing Coordinator (MC).
- A patient referral program with rotating rewards to further boost where the majority of your patients are coming from to begin with.
- A marketing tracking sheet at the front desk recording where your NP’s are coming from so that you know whats working and what isn’t.
- An intro/tour video that’s on the front page of your website telling your story and connecting with your public.
- A social media campaign that systematically runs each quarter and is integrated between your website, Facebook, Google, Youtube, Instagram and emails out with consistency.
Speaking of Social Media…
Your social media marketing efforts will be the most cost effective form of marketing that you do to attract more new patients. However, it should not replace other traditional forms of advertising such as print ads, TV commercials, and community events. Social media, while a cost effective form of marketing, should be in addition to, not at the expense of other forms of marketing.
To get started, even if you have profiles set-up, its helpful to understand some best practices and how they fit in to the overall strategy. Here are six best practices when it comes to utilizing social media for your private practice:
- Be consistent. No matter what you do – video, other content, consistency is key.
- Don’t try to be everywhere. Find out where your audience is most active and stick to that platform to be most effective (Again, consistency is key)
- Be Authentic. Your public does not want dry, corporate-style social media. Let your brand show through, show off your staff, and find a tone that truly represents you and what you stand for.
- Encourage engagement. Remember the product of marketing in general is to stimulate a response. So be open and personable in your media content so that your public really connects with who you are and wants to engage with you.
- Utilize video more now than ever. Introduce yourself, raise a question and intend to solve a problem for them along with benefits, and drive them to your website or testimonial page where you can show credibility.
- Remain positive. Even if someone is frustrating you, be positive and offer solutions. This shows your personal integrity is above the fray.
Social media can make or break many businesses who don’t use it effectively or to strategically connect with their public. However it is one piece of your overall marketing strategy, to be effective or successful, all pieces need to be in place.
For more information on how to attract new patients to your practice, download our Private Practice Management Guide for Owners for more information.