What’s Marketing Anyway?
Ask ten marketing professionals what marketing is and you’ll get ten different answers. For our purposes, marketing is the practice of systematically establishing and maintaining relationships with patients and potential patients – the people who we actually serve as physical therapists. Our methodology is built around these relationships as our primary purpose for marketing activity.
Historically, PT’s have depended on physician referrals as the primary source of new business. Though physician relationships may be one means to that end, they are not our primary focus for two important reasons. Referral relationships have always been challenging and are becoming more so. Many physicians are exchanging autonomy for security, joining larger organizations which almost always results in a change in their referral patterns, regardless of what they may personally think of us. More important, focusing exclusively on physician referrals as a source of new business dramatically decreases the number of potential patients we can effectively reach and creates needless confusion about who we are serving.
Because of technology and resulting changes in market behavior, it is now easier and more cost effective than ever to create relationships directly with patients. What do I mean by that? Like you, your potential patients use technology including mobile phones, search engines and social media to solve their problems and answer questions that were, only recently, very difficult to answer. Which local physical therapist has the best reputation? Is there someone near my office who can help me with my back? It used to be that a prospective patient could only ask their doctor or perhaps a friend. And the information they’d get would be based on limited experience at best. Now all they have to do is a quick Google search – more and more often on their mobile phone.
Of course, while this makes connecting directly with your potential patients more possible, it also makes it more complicated. Do you need a website? A Facebook business page? A twitter account? Maybe. Probably, even. But ultimately, these are “means” questions that can only be answered once the “ends” have been established and clearly articulated.
That’s why Evidence Based Marketing is a strategic process, not unlike the practice of physical therapy. Just as you don’t give everyone who walks through your door a biceps strengthening program, we don’t recommend the same marketing tactics for every PT practice. Instead we help you discover the group of people you wish to serve (your market), then help you develop and implement a plan to effectively establish and maintain relationships with them (your marketing strategy).
Who benefits from Evidence Based Marketing?
The short answer is – Both you and your patients. Your business grows as you consistently connect directly with more people who are a great fit for your practice. (Typically, you’ll find that the better the fit, the healthier your margins will be, too.) Your patients benefit because their outcomes are better and they are more likely to meet their ultimate goals through a long-term relationship with you than the ad hoc relationships most patients experienced with PT’s in the past.
Why Physical Therapy Marketing Lab?
OK. Here’s our shameless self-promotion. Unlike many marketing consultants, both inside PT and out, we aren’t trying to sell you on any specific marketing tactic (website, newsletter, social media, SEO, whatever). We realize that technology is changing so fast that tactics age and need to be retired. So, instead, we focus on developing an effective strategy for growth that serves you and your patients. Then we recommend and help you implement tactics that are currently effective at meeting your objectives. That’s it.
So, if you’re ready to grow and have better margins while serving your patients at a deeper level, we should get to know each other. If not, we’re probably not a good fit.
We’ve developed this site to serve you as a physical therapist in private practice. If you’re ready to find out more about Evidence Based Marketing, we’ve a got a bunch more information for you. You can read more on this page, or sign up to attend one of our events.
If you’re looking for a great source of web based information that can help your practice, check out our blog – The Business of Physical Therapy. You’ll notice that it’s not a bunch of self-promotion; in fact we almost never talk about ourselves there. Instead, I search the web for news, trends, opinion and ideas that I think are useful to PT’s in business for themselves and share them there, usually with some opinion of my own. I know that you’re busy, so let me know if you find something really helpful, so I can connect you with more information like that.
Take Good Care.
Do Great Work.
Have a Wonderful Day!
Melissa Gerdes, MPT
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