As a follow up to the guest posts on blogging for your PT practice by Samuel Awosolu and Chris Johnson, I’m going to give specific guidance and tips for those who want to start a blog for their practice (or already have one). I’ll be covering:
- How my clinical blog posts have created new patients for my cash-based practice in Austin
- Tips on how to create content that generates new business
- How to get started – whether it’s creating a new website or adding a blog to your existing one.
Can online content really compel someone to come to my practice on a cash-pay basis?
Do not underestimate how influential your web-based content can be. I never expected there would be so many people willing to forgo using insurance and see me on a cash-pay basis simply by what they saw online.
In fact, I originally felt like a website for a cash-based PT practice was likely just something current patients would use for directions, paperwork downloads, etc., but I have been pleasantly surprised at how wrong I was.
Whether it’s a testimonial written by someone they don’t know, a blog post I’ve written about an injury they have, a before/after treatment video, or a presentation on injury prevention, online content has created a significant amount of new patients for my cash practice.
So how can a blog (specifically) create new patients for my self-pay PT practice?
Though I have not been nearly as consistent with blogging on my clinical website as I’d like, the relatively small amount that I have done has still been quite effective. When a patient finds me via my blog posts, I always ask how they ended up at my website and why they decided to call for an appointment. Interestingly, it has been a somewhat similar process for them all…
Though some found the posts via social media sharing from a friend, most find the blog posts as a search result when they’re searching online about a specific issue/pain they have… ex: “treatment for crick in the neck.” They read the blog post (and watch any imbedded video), which conveys the fact that their issue is not only treatable but that I can successfully do so at my clinic.
Some call at that point, but some need to gather a little more info before calling. They click around the site, read about my treatment philosophy and see my patient testimonials. Most will also check the “Rates and Insurance” page, where they see that I don’t directly bill insurance and I charge $150/session. Even though I don’t bill insurance, my blog post and the other info on my site has convinced the visitor that I can effectively help them with their pain. Moreover, they decide it is worth more out of pocket for the high value one-on-one service and treatment approach.
Of those who find me in this way, I am sure that many people visit my site, get all excited by a blog or video, and then click back to Google when they see what their out-of-pocket cost will be. And that’s completely okay! There is a high-enough percentage of the population that understand the concept of paying more for a higher-value service. (Please note: I’m not saying my PT skills are better than anyone else out there. I’m saying that if all else is equal in skill and effectiveness, I’ll still get people better faster with my one-hour sessions compared to their 20 minute ones.) My market is not someone who freaks out about not using insurance or about spending more than $25 for a PT treatment. I do not want to get time-wasting calls from people with that mindset.
Here are some tips to incorporate into your clinic’s blog:
Utilize video whenever possible
I’m not saying every blog post needs a video, but it certainly helps to increase the impact of a blog post when it seems logical to include video to demonstrate something (like showing the results of a treatment, or demonstrating a stretch, etc).
Don’t be afraid to use “calls to action”
Something along the lines of, “If this post describes a pain you’re dealing with, we are happy to answer any questions you may have specific to your situation. Call us now at _ _ _”.
Keep it professional but don’t write “over the heads” of the general public
The point of this type of blogging is to provide valuable information to patients and prospective patients, so utilizing words that only healthcare professionals will understand (without properly defining and explaining them) will not impress anyone or generate new patients.
On that same note, craft your post titles to use wording a patient might use in their Google searches. For example, do you think they would search for “lateral epicondylitis treatment” or “tennis elbow treatment”? Would they be looking for answers to “cervical facet joint capsule irritation” or a “crick in the neck”? You get the idea.
Add a personal, non-clinical touch – when appropriate
While keeping it professional, don’t be afraid to use a little humor and personality. Feel free to mix in a “human element” that lets them know you’re not just a clinician 24/7. Mentioning family and leisure activities when applicable can be a great way to help the reader relate to you as a human and not just a white-coat professional. That personal touch may even be the final key that compels a call to set up an appointment.
Starting your Blog
Like both Samuel and Chris, I suggest people use the WordPress blogging platform to create their websites. If you already have a website and do not have a blog page, ask your web designer about adding a blog page that you can easily manage and update without further help or ongoing fees. Paying a bunch of money each month to be able to add new content to your site makes no sense when it can be done for free with a WordPress website.
If you don’t have a website and want to create a WordPress blog/website, I would make one of two suggestions:
1) If you’d like to hire the task out and make it look really nice, post the job on upwork.com. If you don’t mind giving the job to someone outside your home country, you can probably get a nice website created for less than $350 (USD). When you post the job description, it is important to be as detailed as possible on exactly what you want. I’ve used Upwork for a number of different projects, and I’ve been really happy with the service.
2) If you’d like to save money and do it yourself, you have a couple choices: you can go to YouTube and use searches like “How to create a WordPress Website” to figure it all out on your own. This can be quite time consuming and often the videos you’ll find will be outdated. However, it’s as cheap as it gets. I’m a fan of having things laid out for me all in one place, so if you’re okay with spending $17, go to wptrainingvideos.com and the videos there will walk you through the process.
Too Busy to Blog?
Unlike some PT referral sources, once you’ve published a blog post, it continues to send you patients regardless of whether or not you brought it lunch that month. With all a blog can do for your practice, there’s really no excuse to not have one. But even with the likelihood of business growth and decreased reliance on physician referrals, many will not blog because they are “too busy.”
Here is one potential solution I’ve come to use myself… I found a good voice recording app for my phone with which I can record and email sound files to my assistant. On my drive to and from the clinic, I can record a 5-10 minute blog post and have her transcribe the post for me. I edit the post and email it back to her to publish on the blog. I have also taught her how to find relevant images, embed videos, and use search engine optimization techniques when publishing each of the posts. She then knows to share the post via all the appropriate social media channels. She is awesome! If you don’t have good assistant or office staff who can do things like this, I highly suggest you find one. She/He will make your life so much easier.
In the new and ever-changing world of online marketing, content will always be king and will continue to drive the decisions of consumers. So put some quality content out there and see what it does for your practice.
If you found any of these blogging and marketing tips useful, please share them with your colleagues by clicking “Like” and/or the little blue bird below.