Branding vs. Direct Response Marketing

Are you frustrated not knowing where your marketing dollars are going?

Have you been afraid to spend money to market your practice because you don’t know if it will work?

Do you think this could be hindering your growth?

Then you are going to love this post… Today, we are going to show you how to fix all those problems with one simple tactic.
It’s called Direct Response Marketing. If you apply it, your income and your life may never be the same…

So what is direct response marketing?

First, which ad would you most likely respond to?

Look at Figure 1, which is a classic branding ad: Logo with contact information underneath it including telephone number, address, website and a statement of support such as Die “Madden PT supports the Central View High Flying Squirrels Badminton Team”. Something like that is the classic sponsorship advertisement that most physical therapy practices and frankly most businesses >Application will run. (I confess, this is typically what we have done for the past 10 years…) It is one that is focused on branding and the false idea that by putting something out there, magically we are going to attract a lot of business because of brand recognition.Figure 2 is a direct response advertisement. No logo. No contact information. No cheery statement of support. You are already paying for the space and the support and the sponsorship. Why not create a lead generation mechanism where people you want to treat, raise their hand and say, “Yes, I have this and I want to know more”? Then in the future, what you can do is market to them by giving them little bits of information, establish your expertise by giving them value, and ultimately earn their business.

So let’s build a direct response ad since you are already paying for the space.

Step 1 – Attention Grabbing Headline

Part One: Decide what you want to treat. Maybe sciatica, maybe pinched nerves, lower back pain, neck pain or maybe hip pain and osteoarthritis. So pick one of those. For the example here, we will pick “hip pain and stiffness.” That is step number one, pick a diagnosis. So we might write there, “Do you suffer with hip pain and stiffness?” and we will leave it at that for now.

Part Two: Choose an exacerbating activity…something that aggravates their pain or brings their pain on again. So we add that in: “Do you suffer with hip pain and stiffness when sitting. for long periods on a bleacher?” If you are doing a football sponsorship ad for field hockey, lacrosse, basketball, soccer or baseball, you are dealing with somebody who is sitting on a bleacher. So why not write the ad directly for them?

Part Three: Add in demographics. Personally in our clinic, based on studies that we have done and our population base, our ideal demographic is a female who is between the ages of 35-55. At a later time we can discuss exactly why that is. They have the best adherence to PT and compliance to our physical therapy program. They are more likely to keep their appointments. They are more likely to have a better result in the end and they are more likely to refer their friends and family. There is a national study that shows 70% of all medical appointments or healthcare appointments are made by mothers or wives. That is our ideal demographic. So, if we add that in it might be “Are you a female who suffers with hip pain and stiffness when sitting for long periods on a bleacher?”

Part Four: Improve our payer mix. If you are a healthcare practitioner in this country, you just got hit with a 20.1% reduction in your Medicare reimbursement for 2014. So is this the time to run a baby boomer ad? Probably not. We are getting to the point now where, especially if you are a small practice, you are probably getting close to the point where you are losing money on a Medicare patient. And by the way, now instead of 3 PQRS items you are going to be completing 9 PQRS items. So triple the paperwork for less money. This is not a game I really want to play a whole lot of. So therefore I want to attract other private insurances such as Blue Cross or Blue Shield. We can add a comment in there about insurance. “Are you a female Blue Cross or Blue Shield subscriber who suffers from hip pain or stiffness when sitting for long periods on a bleacher?

Part Five: Make sure they are family oriented. Why? Would you rather treat a hermit or a socialite? A happy mother or grandmother is likely to refer or better yet, schedule, her husband, kids, parents, or other family members for your PT services. So we have, “Are you a mother or grandmother Blue Cross or Blue Shield subscriber who suffer from hip pain or stiffness when sitting for long periods on a bleacher?”

Part Six: Include age. “Are you a mother or grandmother age 35-55 Capital Blue Cross or Highmark Blue Shield subscriber who suffers from hip pain or stiffness when sitting for long periods on a bleacher?”

So there we have a very good question that is targeted to a highly specific, niched audience and we grab their attention. That whole process of building and grabbing their attention is the first step, creating your headline.

Step 2 – If __________…then ___________.

This example will be “If this is you then you may qualify for”…and there is some sort of free offer, some sort of discounted widget that you can offer. This just isn’t for physical therapy, it works in 10,000 different industries. This is what works in direct response advertising. “You may qualify for a free or discounted DVD or video, could be a book or a report, or even a free exam.” (If you are able to legally and ethically do those in your area…I recommend running this by Paul Welk, attorney at who frequently works with the PPTA, to be sure). In physical therapy, it is hard for us to discount something for an insurance paying customer because of insurance fraud cheap nba jerseys or Stark Rules or other red tape…but we certainly can offer something for a value of less than $10. In this example, let’s do a free video and we will talk more about that later.

Step 3 – Call to Action

This is a “Go To”…Here are 6 possibilities:

1. They could call a toll free number. 1-800-hip-pain is our 1-800 number and there is a prerecorded message on something of value for that reader or for that caller.

2. They could be directed to a squeeze page or a website. If you don’t know what a squeeze page is we will discuss that later on.

3. They could mail your office to request something.

4. They could fax their request. This is probably great with a business to business situation…

5. They could email. Email for your free video.

6. They could send a text.

There are a multitude of different ways that you can ask people to communicate with you. The key being, and this is a nugget, you always want to offer two or more pathways for people to raise their hand and communicate with you. It is scientific and it increases the response rate and return on investment. So, if you are spending $100 for a high school football program ad, why not just have two pathways for people to respond and get a better response rate? Some people like to email, some like to text, some people like to fax, some like to call a phone number. Why not have multiple options for your readership and your viewership? Another personal secret is we use a company called Infusionsoft and they have automated email response marketing. It is kind of like Constant Contact on PEDs. Very robust system, very automated. They have excellent customer service. You can look them up online and watch their testimonials (and be sure to tell them that I referred them to you!)

So just to review, here’s our ad so far:

“Attention mothers or grandmothers age 35-55 Blue Cross or Highmark Blue Shield subscribers who suffer with hip pain and stiffness when sitting on a bleacher for long periods. If this fits you then you may qualify for a free video.”

Step 4 – Headline or Name of the Video that Matches Their Desire

There is a formula in a book called The Boron Letters which was written by the late Gary C. Halbert.The book consists of 25 letters that he wrote to his son, Bond Halbert, while Gary was in prison. Many consider him the greatest copyrighter of all time. By reading any of his materials, you can quickly see that he was a genius in marketing especially direct response marketing. And he has a formula in the book, called “AIDA”. The first A stands for Attention, which we have done. wholesale jerseys We have grabbed the attention of a very specific reader we want to attract. We have even said “Attention mothers or grandmothers age 35-55.”

The next step is Interest. We’ve caught their interest for the specific type of people who we want to respond who may potentially become patients.

In the next step, we are creating Desire. We want to do that in the headline. To save some time here we are going to go with the headline: “3 Steps to Turn Back the Clock on Hip Pain and Arthritis.” That is the name of our video. Where did that come from? That came from surveys of patients and their testimonials and understanding patient language and what they really want. If somebody has hip osteoarthritis, they are looking for a few things. One is probably “I don’t want to need a hip replacement in 5 to 10 years.” What do patients in Central Pennsylvania say (at least where I’m at, in Harrisburg) with our given population? They will say “I want to turn back the clock. I know I’m not going to be 18 again but I want to feel younger. Five years ago I wasn’t having this problem, now I do.” So we are going to call the video: “3 Steps to Turn Back the Clock on Hip Pain and Arthritis”.

Step 5 – Tell Them Specifically What to Do

Action is the second A in AIDA BlueStacks from Gary Halbert. We want a call to action. We are going to say, “Go to www.top3 for your free video ‘3 Steps to Turn Back the Clock on Hip Pain and Arthritis”.

So let’s review one last time what our ad looks like:

ATTENTION mothers or grandmothers age 35-55 Blue Cross or Blue Shield subscribers who suffer with hip pain and stiffness when sitting on a bleacher for long periods.

If this fits you then you may qualify for a free video.

Go to for your free video titled “3 Steps to Turn Back the Clock on Hip Pain and Arthritis”.

Application – you can do this for yourself.

I really have a video “3 Steps to Turn Back the Clock on Hip Pain and Arthritis” and it is at You can see how it works for us with Infusionsoft and also how we incorporate, (this is your second nugget here) a concept which is popularized by Dan Kennedy of the Magnetic Marketing System. What Dan says is ideally you want somebody to go offline, which we are doing here in the sponsorship ad, then to go online, which we are doing with the, and then back offline again, which we do through the (There are scientific and specific reasons for this which you can learn from the Magnetic Marketing System). You will see if you actually go to yourself and fill in your name and your email address you will be prompted in the future for a free report. So we are capturing information via our squeeze page and again a squeeze page is a webpage which captures information. So it “squeezes” the information out of the viewer for something else.

The concept, again from Dan Kennedy, is your potential client gets to walk in the foyer of your mansion. She doesn’t get to run around to any room she wants, but if she signs the guest book, then she gets to see a room or at least to stay in the foyer. She gets to walk around the foyer…and as soon as she begins walking around the foyer (which in this case is she gets to watch a free 8 minute video of me talking about 3 items which help her hip). As soon as that happens a butler from the next room opens yet another door, a second door to another room and says, “Hey, by the way, we have a free report all you have to do is sign this.” And this time we are going to squeeze a little more information out of our guest… and this is our step to go offline.

So we went offline in the program ad, online to plus the online video, and now we are going offline again. This has proven to be a very effective marketing technique (Offline – Online – Offline). Now what we are doing is offering a free report and I’ll cover the name and the content of the free report again in a future newsletter.

You should go through that yourself and see what we are doing there. We are doing it for 13 different diagnoses from hip pain to sciatica, stenosis, herniated disc etc.

State of the Union (or the present state of PT)

I want to give an update about what our economic environment is right now because I know the one thing that happens when I’m talking with other private practice owners in physical therapy. They will say, “That’s great that you can do that in your area, that you grew and you must be lucky where you picked in terms of location.” And they will quickly assume my situation is gravy (or easy) and their situation is impossible.

I will tell you right now for our practice, we are in an area in Central Pennsylvania where the two largest hospitals are discussing a merger…and it has made the paper, so they are beyond discussing. They will own about 65% of the referral sources in our area (which they already own but now they will be combined as one). And they will own more than 75% of the market share of our total area. Over the last few years, they have been buying up radiologists and specialists and family physicians and cardiologists and just about anything you can imagine they now own. (Outside of the two largest orthopedic groups in our area which incidentally… own their own physical therapy). And two of the largest corporate physical therapy companies in the whole country have their corporate headquarters within 15 miles of my office here (in addition to 25+ clinical sites in the surrounding area). So I’m not in the best possible environment to be succeeding but yet we are growing fast. We’ve had 600% growth within 30 months and now we are up over 500 visits consistently week after week after week. We are doing it mainly through direct response marketing to our past patient list. In October 2013, we hit our best month ever. It was the first month that we had over 200 new patients come to our clinic. Direct response marketing to a past and present patient base who we make new and compelling offers to is the key to making that happen.

You can waste money in other areas. You can get frustrated about not knowing where your patients are coming from. You can buy ads from whatever sales rep shows up at your door whether it be from the Title local newspaper in terms of a print ad, from the radio and the TV to health fairs, that you are not really cheap jerseys sure what is going on. But if you focus your advertising dollars and your marketing dollars in direct response marketing you are going to see return on your investment. You are going to know exactly where those patients are coming from. You are going to be able to trace it and you are going to be able to be scientific about where you allot your marketing dollars to in the future.

So What’s the Point? The Flashlight Principle

In life, we can choose to shine our attention and flashlight on others, or we can choose to shine it on ourselves.

Recently, I went on a field trip with my oldest son, Jackson, a 10 year old. He just started at a new school. I noticed in his social interactions when he was trying to fit in with the other kids, he would essentially say, “Look at me! Look at me!”

Although that thought process is common…it is not successful…in making friendships, in fitting in, or in business.

Later on when we had some time, Jackson and I talked about this. He noticed that the “Look at me!” technique doesn’t really work well. I wanted him to discover the solution for himself, so we used the Flashlight Principle…

Me: “So what you focus on is like a flashlight. If you talk about yourself and say, ‘Look at me!’…where are you shining the flashlight?”

Jackson: “On me…”

Me: “And how does that work?”

Jackson: “Not good…”

Me: “So where should you shine the flashlight, if you want to make friends?”

Jackson: “On other people.”

Right on.

It’s the same concept here. You can choose in your PT business to shine your flashlight, your hard earned marketing dollars, or your attention on yourself with a Branding Marketing message that essentially tells your public…”Look at me! Look how great we are!”

Oddly enough, this is what we private PT owners commonly buy and pay for in our newsletter content…(I know I have!)

Or you can focus on what is in it for your prospect, your customer, your patient, your member.

Direct Response Marketing focuses the flashlight on the people who are going to pay you.

It is the way to better patient attraction, retention and profits. It is the cheap jerseys way to create other pathways for patients to get to you when their family physician can no longer refer to you because they are now employed by the hospital. And it is the way to know exactly where your New Patients are coming from and what your Marketing Dollars are producing.

What I’m Reading
The Boron Letters by Gary C. Halbert

Many consider Gary Halbert the best copyrighter in history and it is where I got the idea for the Attention Interest Desire Action. It is a wonderful read if you are training a marketing person or you are CEO of your private practice and you are looking to increase your knowledge of marketing.

Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins

This was written in 1923 and it has been confirmed as Public Domain by the US Copyright office. So that means you can read it for free. If you email me,, cheap nfl jerseys I will send you a free pdf download of Scientific Advertising. That is in pdf form. You can also order it. There is absolutely excellent information in it from Claude Hopkins who was a very successful advertising person…in the 1920s he was earning upwards of $180,000 a year in advertising. I’ll just read you one sample from Chapter 6: “in the same way it is found that an offer limited to a certain class of people is far more effective than a general offer. For instance an offer limited to veterans of the war. Or to members of a lodge or sect. Or to executives. Those who are entitled to any seeming advantage will go a long way not to lose that advantage.”

And that is exactly what we did back in our direct response ad. If you are looking for a short quick effective read, Scientific Advertising is the way to go. If you are reading this you likely have a masters or bachelors degree in science and you are a scientist. So if you are going to be scientific in the clinic why not be scientific in your marketing and public relations and your advertising and the promotion of your clinic?

On Deck For Next Month

“If you had to double your PT private practice (New Patients, Visits and Income) in the next 12 months, what would you do?”

If you have done this in the past, I would be honored to hear from you…you can email me at

Next month, I will share my experience in doing this in back to back years…400% growth in 24 months and 600% in 30 months.


  • The % of income I used in our Marketing and How I allotted that money.
  • The 3 Target Markets I focused on.
  • The Single best use of my marketing dollars.
  • The biggest barrier to growth and how I solved it.
  • The Specific Campaigns I used then, that I still use today.
  • What I eliminated from our Marketing altogether.

Have a Marketing Question?

You can email me directly at

Dedicated to Your Success in Private Practice,

Chad Madden