One thing that private PT practices have in common is that they thrive on consistently filled schedules. You know you have a lot to offer your patients, but first, you’ve got to get them through your door.
That’s where marketing comes in. This is your chance to spread the word about your practice and services and how you can help others get back to normal naturally. Using a marketing calendar to guide your efforts can help you plan out activities and ensure your schedule stays full. Here’s how:
Simply put, a marketing calendar is a written plan of your marketing activities for a given time period. You could create a calendar for the next month or even for a whole year at a time.
Your marketing calendar should include all three of your target markets:
Much like any type of calendar, a marketing calendar allows you to work a few steps ahead and avoid having gaps in your PTs’ schedule—and, ultimately, your practice’s revenue. It also allows you to maximize the space you’re in to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth. Why pay for a 3,000-square-foot space when you only have 50 patient visits per week?
More patients = more revenue, which helps transform your liabilities (e.g., personnel, equipment, space) into assets. You’re already paying for these, so it makes sense to generate as much revenue as possible to help cover the costs.
In addition, having a planned out marketing calendar ensures you’re not overlooking any of your three core target markets. For example, if you have a past patient list but file it away and let it collect dust, there’s really no value in keeping it. You might not give it a second thought for months or years. But having past patients on your marketing radar (and the calendar) can help you maximize its value and give you more opportunities to grow or maintain your practice.
Using a marketing calendar to target your three markets also allows you to divert your dependence on physician referrals. There’s no doubt that physician referrals aren’t what they used to be to a typical private practice. Designing marketing activities around other markets allows you to capitalize on more revenue opportunities.
Most importantly, once you create a marketing calendar, you can use it as a template for your entire marketing department and stop reinventing the wheel. This is part of creating a marketing system that will give you more time freedom, less guesswork, and better financial stability in the short and long term.
When creating your calendar, it’s best practice to work backward. Ask yourself: What do I need to do to fill my schedule, as well as the overall space?
To do this, you can use your space’s capacity and availability to figure out how many patients you need to see in a given time period (e.g., the number of patients per day, week, month, etc.). This number should help to guide your marketing activity planning to ensure you’re meeting your space’s goals.
Once you know your goals, you can start planning activities that will help you achieve them. Here’s a quick breakdown:
The best place to start is to look at the following month and start planning. Look for any holidays that could reduce appointment availability when calculating how many slots you have to fill.
If you have a quarterly or annual calendar, you’ll want to review these pieces to ensure your monthly activities align with your greater goals. Annual and quarterly planning is usually more general, while weekly and monthly focus on more specific goals.
Pick one of your three target markets to focus on for that month. Most practices aren’t investing a lot of time, money, or resources in marketing to physicians, so this will likely be your past patients or the general public.
Think about what marketing activities have worked well for you in the past—and which ones haven’t. What media did you use (e.g., Facebook ads, direct mailers)? What was the message that worked?
There’s a lot that needs to happen to set your campaign into motion. Your goal is to break down those steps and figure out what you need to do to launch. For example, if you’re running a newspaper ad, you probably have to meet specific deadlines to get published in a specific run.
If you have the time, budget, and resources, repeat steps 3-5 for another market. Maybe you’re doing a workshop for the general public but also want to do a reactivation event for past patients. Once you start planning your marketing activities, you’ll have a better idea of how much time you realistically have to connect with prospects and bring them into your practice.
Marketing activities are organized by campaign, with each campaign having its own steps to execution. Some of the ones we’ve found to be the most impactful are:
We’ve also tested other types of campaigns, like the recent in-house book signing we did for current patients. It’s best practice to review what’s worked and hasn’t worked in the past and double down on what you know will bring results.