If you’re reading this, then the chances are that you’re a physical therapy private practice owner, and you have one burning problem….
You want more ways to market your PT practice.
You want more patients and you want them yesterday.
You want more referrals, more direct access patients, and more business from your past customers.
If that’s the case, then you’re in for a treat.
In this article and the video below you’re going to find out some of the best ideas I’ve found over the years in marketing my practice.
Ideas which grew Madden PT 600% in 30 months.
There are three “target markets” that you can focus your efforts on to get more patients. These are…
This is simple.
You market to members of the general population.
People who’ve never heard of you, who are coming across you “cold”.
And who then become Direct Access patients.
In spite of all the recent trends, we’ve gone from starting out with no Direct Access…to having over 80% of our patients be Direct Access.
This can be a powerful marketing strategy if done right.
If there’s one axiom in business it’s this:
Your best future customers are your past customers.
And in private practice, your best patients are your past patients.
You’ve already built a relationship with them, they already trust you, and they already know the quality of care they’re going to get.
So why not market to them?
Yes, there are industry trends which are pushing referrals down, such as POPTS practices opening up and local hospitals doing all they can to kill referrals.
But that doesn't mean you should ignore marketing to physicians (only that it's unwise to rely on it)..
Back in 2007 we hit a high of 154 physician referrals a month.
More recently we hit a low of 29.
We went from 154 to 29. Which admittedly is not great.
But guess what?
Even though this is a decrease, that’s still about 350 referrals a year.
350 people who were in pain and got help naturally.
And as you and I both know, those referrals can lead to lifetime customers that will never leave your practice.
Okay those are three areas you can target to get more patients. But how do you go about doing this? What can you specifically get started on?
Well here are my #1 strategies for each of those markets.
Workshops are the #1 most powerful tool I’ve found to get Direct Access patients.
Over the years we’ve had patients fly in to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania from Montana, California, Lexington, Kentucky, Atlanta and Georgia to name a few.
You can have the same results by throwing your own workshops.
Well I’ll give you an examples.
We ran a Facebook advertising campaign (not easy, but doable) for a live Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop.
Guess how many signups we got?
Yup. 35 new potential Direct Access patients. All from one workshop.
Fast forwarding to this weekend, we have another one scheduled and we have 43 people registered to attend.
So if you’re looking for a silver bullet to attract new patients from the general public, this is it.
Master the art of throwing workshops and you’ll have a source of new patients for the lifetime of your business.
Your past patient base is your most valuable asset. These are people who’ve been treated by you, who like and trust you, and who are more likely to come to you again.
But how do you tap into this asset? How can you utilize your past patients for future business?
Well…there are two ways your past patients can help your business.
The first is them returning to you for additional care.
For example, maybe they came in for back pain a year ago, and now they’re coming to you for a total knee replacement.
Now this is not really under your control, however what is under your control is providing quality care, as that’s why they’ll come back.
But you’re probably doing that already.
So what can you do to get more referrals from this asset?
Well…the second way they can help is by referring other people to your practice.
Your past patients know and trust you, they benefited from your help, so when they find out a friend or colleague of theirs is in pain, and it’s the easiest thing for them to recommend you.
But you can’t just sit back and wait for that to happen. What can you do to aid this process? H
The best method I’ve found is to use a newsletter. I’ve been doing a newsletter for over 12 years, and have invested over a million dollars in newsletter printing.
This stuff works. When it comes to newsletters I put my money where my mouth is.
Without a newsletter, we’d have never been able to weather the storm of POPTS practices springing up in our area, and 3 local hospitals employing more than 70% of our referral services, making it hard to build a relationship with local physicians.
This would kill most private practices, but because of our newsletter we were able to survive that crisis.
Like I mentioned before, physicians are still a great source for referrals. If you’re not tapping into this source, you’re losing hundreds if not thousands of potential patients.
But what if your local hospital won’t let physicians refer patients to you? What can you do then?
There has been times where I’ve not been even let through the door to talk to physicians I’ve treated.
So how can you get referrals from them?
Well this is by using something we call our Top 3 Program. By using this you can fly under the radar of the hospital, add value to the physicians and their patients, and get referrals.
We surveyed some physicians and asked them
“If I came in for back pain, what would you do for me?”
“Well, we’d hand you an exercise sheet.”
And they handed us this exercise sheet, and I was couldn't believe my eyes.
It was an old ancient pamphlet that was out of date.
Specifically it was a 1977 AMA handout printed on pink paper with 9 lower back exercises on it. Almost every physician in our area had this.
It was out of date, wasn’t visually appealing, and had no form of differential diagnosis.
I know this because I asked the physicians,
“If I had stenosis which exercise would you give me?”
“Uh…well I’d tell you to do all of them.”
And if I was a patient and came in for stenosis I’d have to do all 9 of them?
Talk about overkill.
This was a problem that needed to be solved. The physician didn’t know enough to do a differential diagnosis, and the patient needed specific information that would improve their quality of life.
So we came up with an idea. The conversation with the physicians went like this:
“Hey, what about if I created a brochure that you could hand out to the patient who is older than 50, has pain standing and walking and gets relief from sitting, and they likely have stenosis on an x-ray….would that be beneficial?”
And that’s what we did.
We created 3 different brochures with the top 3 exercises for each problem:
The Top 3 Exercises for Lower Back Pain for Arthritis, Disc Degeneration and Stenosis.
The Top 3 Exercises for Lower Back Pain, Pain Bending Forward, Herniated Disc and Sciatica.
The Top 3 Exercises for Lower Back Pain, Pain with Sitting, Getting In & Out of the Car and Rolling Over in Bed, SI Joint Pain.
But wait…why would we want a physician handing these out? Surely this removes you from the equation?
Well not really.
First off these physicians aren’t referring us as many patients as they could.
Second we’re looking to build a relationship with these patients. We want them to feel like they stumbled upon us more than the fact the physician referred us.
Why? Because in our area making referrals is not really what the physicians are strong in.
They’re unlikely to make a referral, but they are likely to hand out a brochure.
But how does this brochure drive us business?
Well at the bottom of the brochure we have a clear call to action to learn more about their condition. And that opens a whole other conversation.
This method is amazing, because not only is it a value add for the physician AND the patient. It also flies under the hospital radar.
If for example you're in an area where hospitals won’t let you in, doctors can still hand these out and won’t get in trouble. It’s not a referral, it’s a brochure to help their patients.
These are the top 3 methods we’ve used to market our private practice in the three different sources of business.
There are quite a few other ideas you can use to market your practice, such as writing reports and books, which you can find more about in the video and below.
However if you want the best bang for your buck, the three strategies I mentioned will start boosting your private practice:
These ideas have helped our private practice weather many storms, and ensure we have a constant source of revenue, despite local market conditions.
If you're interested in learning more about Direct Access Marketing, be sure to check out this free PT Marketing training:
This training reveals the “Patient Attraction Engine” System that I and over 179 other practice owners are using to attract 50+ patients from the internet every single month.