At the beginning of 2011, less than a year after starting my self-pay Physical Therapy practice, my clinical schedule was booked 1-2 weeks in advance. I had worked extremely hard and used a number of (mostly free) marketing approaches to make this happen. Around that same time I was asked exactly how I had done so, which led to my decision to start this website and answer the question more fully in a cash-practice guidebook. I began to spend a great deal of my evenings, weekends, and free time on the book/website, which left little time to do the things that made my clinic so busy in the first place. I stopped going to networking events, marketing myself online, etc.
Marketing is essential for a young practice
By May 2011, I began to see gaps and unfilled spaces in my schedule, but I was determined to finish the book, so I used the gaps in my schedule to write. By the end of the summer my schedule had significantly slowed down, but I kept pushing and finally finished the book. It turned out great, and I do not regret my choices at all. However, I learned a very important lesson in the process.
I realized that even though I was able to fill my schedule quickly by marketing/networking like crazy, it will be a while before I have a broad enough referral base to cut way back on marketing efforts and still keep a full patient load (especially if I add staff in the future). I imagine the same would apply for most young practices out there, private-pay or not.
So now with the book finished and the website running smoothly with new content every two weeks, I am refocusing my time and energy on building my clinical schedule again. I have decided to devote myself to a number of marketing activities … some that I have used before as well as some that I have not. For your viewing pleasure, I will be documenting all the details of these efforts and analyzing how successful they prove to be.
My marketing plans
- I will schedule and attend at least one networking event every two weeks and diligently follow up with all new and established contacts.
- I will write and release a new blog post on my clinical website at least once every two weeks. The blogs will target keywords such as Physical Therapy and Manual Therapy, but my primary focus will be on the discussion of specific injuries/syndromes. I will do so in order to target internet users in my area searching for answers to those specific problems.
- I will resume marketing efforts to personal trainers and do so in a way that I can multiply and scale up one big effort to reach many personal trainers at once.
- I will utilize video whenever and however possible. This will certainly come into play with #2 and #3 above, but I also plan to create a video library for my patient’s home exercise programs and gather more video testimonials as well.
- I will use Google Adwords advertisements to target internet searchers with specific injuries/syndromes in my area, and see if this advertising method provides a good return on investment for my Private Pay practice.
I am completely confident that it will not be long before I’m fully booked again, and I think it will be interesting to document how the above activities lead to this. In fact, I imagine I will have a full schedule long before I have time to implement some of these marketing techniques. Even so, I want to put things in place (online and in my community) that will continue to produce patients long after I finish working on them.
As I publish this particular post, I’m realizing that this is a really great way to demand accountability and ensure follow through. So now I challenge you, my readers, to do the same … If you’d like to join me on any or all of these marketing commitments, let us know in the comments below and please share your lessons learned along the way.