In fact, you’ll hear me and other PT owners talk about how it’s the #1 most valuable asset in our business.
According to the Journal of General Internal Medicine, physician referrals to Physical Therapy dropped 54.5% from 2003 to 2014. The lesson here is that Private Practice owners have to diversify where they’re getting their new patients from.
If physicians are on the decline, then owners must learn how to get new patients from their past patient list and from the public.
Because of this, the patient list becomes paramount.
Outside the realm of Physical Therapy, there are plenty of stories of Silicon Valley online businesses being bought for millions or even billions of dollars (think Diapers.com being bought by Amazon.com for $540,000,000).
In those deals, what are the buyers interested in? They’re buying the customer list.
The list of buyers – PLUS all the consumer behavior data.
Here’s why these stories apply to private practice owners:
How many people are within 10 miles of your clinic? 10,000? 100,000? 1 million? For the sake of this exercise, let’s say it’s 10,000 people.
Out of those 10,000 people, who are the people most likely to buy from you, consume your PT products and services, call your office, schedule an appointment – TOMORROW?
It’s the people who’ve already consumed your Physical Therapy services in the past. Those people who’ve you treated, who’ve met their goals, and graduated from your services. They’re back to normal because of you and your team.
These people are on your list.
You own this list.
It’s an asset. And if you ever sell your PT practice, it’s an asset that potential buyers will be very interested in.
But the caveat is that they will want to see that this list is engaged.
Which brings me to a mistake many physical therapists (and other small business owners make every day).
We all want our list to grow and be as big as possible, right?
The Diapers.com list was valuable to Amazon because it was an active list of buyers, a warm list of consumers – mainly mothers – who were consuming diapers.
That’s all Amazon was buying.
They didn’t need their inventory.
They didn’t care about their relationships with suppliers.
Amazon already had those things. They could have started out as a competitor in the niche instead of buying the competition out.
And Amazon likely would have won by going in that direction, too. But they would have been starting at a disadvantage since they did not have the expansive list of buyers.
You should look at your list the same way.
A larger but less engaged list of all diaper buyers ever – that list has no value.
A smaller list of people who’ve bought diapers in the past 30 days…there’s value there. Lots of it.
You don’t want to spam your list with offer after offer but you want to communicate with them regularly. More on that later.
For now, just remember that the income and value of a business is directly proportional to:
1-The amount of goodwill delivered to the list.
2 -The number of offers to the list.
The list that has no goodwill, that hasn’t heard from you in the past 30 days (or sometimes has NEVER heard from you) – that list?
It’s worth nothing to you and your PT practice.
Nor is it worth anything to a prospective buyer.
On the flip side, a list that is warm (through regular and consistent online AND offline communication)…a list that produces repeat patients and word-of-mouth referrals…that list? A cultivated list of past patients who accept and receive your communication and act on it?
Lots of value.
Now that we’ve set the stage for WHY you should communicate with your list, let’s talk about HOW to do it.
Consistency is key with email marketing.
You don’t have to email your list every day or even every week, but you should decide on a schedule you can stick with long-term.
Not only will this help keep you accountable, it’s a better experience for the patients on your list and will help with engagement and unsubscribes.
Research has shown that Tuesday is the “best” day of the week to send emails if you want to improve the chances of getting your email opened. The next best days are Thursday and Wednesday.
Every email or piece of content you share with your list doesn’t have to be a 10,000 word epic.
In fact, one of the highest-performing emails we send is only a single question.
Consistency is important with your email schedule, but you want some variety in your email content.
Meaning, you don’t want all your emails to be offers/pitches for PT services. You can also share news about your practice (like anniversary announcements, new hires) and educational content (“Top 5 Exercises for Shoulder Pain”).
And you can mix and match. Send an email with an exercise for shoulder pain that also includes an invitation to your next shoulder workshop.
Sometimes a funny joke or picture can work as a good intro for your offer while putting a smile on the reader’s face.
Hopefully that’s enough info to get you started. Email is a great way to engage your list and ensure that it remains as a valuable asset at your practice.
If you’re looking for an overview of a complete PT marketing system that combines online and offline marketing to your list, make sure you attend my next online Physical Therapy workshop.