The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Physical Therapy Practice

by Brett Kestenbaum
Sep 19, 2019
25 min read
779 views

Download the guide to get creative marketing ideas for your physical therapy practice. Whether it's the fat stack trick or a killer Google My Business page, there's a lot you can do TODAY to get new patients in the door!

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For physical therapists, practice marketing can be a hassle. For one thing, unless you live in a state with direct access, patient marketing doesn't guarantee clients will come through your door. For another, unlike dentistry or primary care, physical therapy is thought of as a specialty practice that patients only need to access after surgery or an injury (regardless of PTs' ability to provide preventative care).

But don't give up! There are several creative and easy steps you can take to get your practice in front of more potential clients—whether that's primary care physicians who can provide patient referrals or the patients themselves.

Why we created this physical therapy marketing resource

Every doctor knows that patient marketing is important. If you don't let people know what you and your practice offer, they won't know that they can come to you for treatment. But how do you go about getting the word out to your community?

That's what this guide is all about.

In this guide, you'll find:

  • Advice on creating marketing collateral
  • Ideas for going out into your community to spread the word about your practice
  • A detailed walkthrough on setting up your Google My Business page
  • Our guide to creating simple Google Ad campaigns you can start running today
  • Tips on managing reviews of your business
  • The fat stack trick
  • And more!

Brochures and promotional products

When marketing yourself and your practice, you are going to encounter busy people, whether patients or other businesses. Busy people usually want to be left with something to “read later.”

This is why you need marketing collateral. Here are some examples of excellent physical therapy marketing collateral for your healthcare practice.

  1. Branded, tri-fold, brochures about your practice
  2. Branded business cards
  3. Branded promotional products. If you’re an outpatient clinic, this might be stress balls or resistance bands with your logo.

These seem like a costly investment up front, but the $1,000 – $2,000 you spend will pay dividends down the line.

This type of PT practice marketing collateral should follow a few guidelines:

  1. Must be new and relevant, so be picky when choosing your graphic designer!
  2. Must be eye-catching, made by graphic designers who resonate with your patient population.
  3. Must feel high quality. Don’t be cheap!

Your physical therapy marketing collateral will be used to market your practice in the following ways:

  1. When meeting random people interested in getting a consultation.
  2. When asking doctors for referrals.
  3. During lectures, meetups, or at career and wellness events.
  4. To leave at your front desk and exam room for anyone to grab.

Brochures can be given to potential patients in order to provide relevant information about the practice.

Business cards can be used on a more impromptu basis when wanting to make a quick connection or giving to others to share with their families and friends. You can utilize branded merchandise to give to local businesses to introduce yourself as the new doctor in the area.

How do you design brochures, you ask? Here are two ways to get these developed:

  1. Design them yourself in Adobe Photoshop – this is a method I utilized because I had plenty of Adobe Photoshop experience. If that is your background, go for it!
  2. Hire a freelance designer – ask a friend or use a website like upwork.com or 99designs.com, which are very easy to use. Just make sure you give them the full details of what you want your brochure to say. Most designers aren’t healthcare experts, so I would recommend writing the copy for your brochure in a Word document and then providing that to the designer.

I suggest making multiple brochures for the practice I started working at and using each one for a unique marketing scenario.

  1. About the Practice
  2. Treatments in the Practice
  3. Success Stories

Promotional products are best used if you are having an event at your office, or if there is a particular product that speaks to your patients.

You can check out Epromos for more help.

Starting here is a great first step in marketing your healthcare practice!

Meetup.com

Meetup.com is awesome and is most powerful if you live in a big city and is a great tool for physical therapy marketing if you approach it right.

Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. More than 9,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities.

How do you use Meetup.com?

Meetup.com allows you to enter your zip code and find groups that meet on a regular basis for a particular interest. You then go to those Meetups and do whatever it is that you do. It basically connects you to people to form relationships.

There are two ways you can use Meetup. Personally I am all about the 2nd method.

  • You can be a jerk and just go to Meetups to hand out business cards and really just solicit yourself.
  • You can go to Meetups and be a genuine person interested in participating. This way you build genuine connections and genuine leads.

Lead Generation Groups vs. Interest Groups

I have found 2 types of Meetups to be helpful.

One is your Lead Generation Group. These are often the groups like “LeTip” and “Exceptional Entrepreneurs.”

They cut right to the chase and say “we are a group of people who all do business, lets all refer each other business in our small social circle and help each other out.” To be honest, this isn’t my favorite type of Meetup. I don’t think I fit well in the groups being a doctor, but I know that if you dedicate yourself it will work.

The other type of Meetups is interest groups. These are the ones that I like the most. It is basically a group that meets for a particular hobby. You can arrange relevant community workshops with this group as well!

For instance, if you enjoy cycling, it would be a great idea to lead a workshop for this interest group on how to prevent common injuries associated with cycling.

Hosting free workshops on topics you’re passionate about is a great way to both give back to your community and establish yourself as an authority. Think about setting up free workshops on PT-related topics. During the workshop, you can teach people about anatomy, show them some preventative exercises, and answer questions!

Always make sure to hand out your business cards at these workshops. It’s also a good idea to use a sign-in sheet to get attendees’ email addresses—then you’ll be able to send them follow-up emails about other workshops or even marketing emails about your practice.

I make genuine friends and we form a solid friendship. From there it is only logical we support each other’s businesses. Worst comes to worst, we just stay friends.

I would not go to the first meeting with your sales pitch and cry for help to get new patients. You need to go and be genuine, contribute value to the group, invest your time and help out. It is only natural at that point where people will have a desire to use your services.

Volunteering

I like to volunteer and help out in my community. I like giving back and helping out. Do you? If the answer is yes, then this avenue might be your biggest source of patients.

Basically, all you need to do is sign up for an opportunity, arrive and help out. From there, form relationships and build friendships with people. As you show your face you will build trust with the “regulars.” They will understand that you aren’t there for your own personal benefit and genuinely care about helping out and volunteering. The natural progression of the relationship will likely lead to them becoming patients and referring friends and family.

To find volunteer gigs, simply go to VolunteerMatch and enter your zip code to find volunteer gigs that suit your interests.

Remember, you do this to be genuine and help out, not to score patients, so do something you LOVE.

Help out, become a regular, be genuine and you will bring in new patients to your practice. Use your business cards and brochures to leverage your messaging

Google My Business

This is tricky, so pay attention. Get it wrong and you can kiss your goal of having great physical therapy marketing goodbye!

When someone opens Google to search for a keyword, whether on Google search engine, or using Google Maps from their mobile device, you want your business to come up, right? Well, it’s not going to come up, or if it does, it won’t rank very high, if you’re not keeping up to date with your Google account.

  • Google My Business – this is your business page on Google Maps. When I go into Google Maps on my phone and type in my former practice, I come up on Maps so that people can find my practice. Being on Google My Business will help with your organic search results and drive traffic to your practice. If someone searches you or your practice on Google, it’s really important for your practice to actually show up on the first page!

How to get your Google My Business listing

You are going to be in one of two situations.

  1. You have a listing on Google Maps but you have not claimed your listing
  2. You do not have a listing on Google Maps and you need to create one

If you do have a listing already, do the following:

  1. Go to Google.com/maps
  2. Try to find yourself – use your business name, doctor name, whatever it takes
  3. If you find your business, you should be able to click “claim my business”
  4. You will then be asked to verify that it is your business — they can mail a letter, or call with a pin number you will have to enter
  5. Complete that step and then you are now the owner of this business listing

Another way I have seen this done is to simply claim the business directly by following Google’s instructions.

This may be a bit more simple and cuts right to the chase.

If you do not have a listing, do the following:

*Please make sure you do not already have a listing because if you do, you will be creating a duplicate business and that is not good!

  1. Visit this website – https://www.google.com/business/
  2. Click Start Now
  3. Follow the prompts to fill out your business information

Once your page is set up you can now:

  • Add critical information like phone, email, address, and open times
  • Turn on a chat feature so people can message you from Google
  • View analytics that show searches, views, and actions for your business
  • Manage Google reviews
  • Link Google Analytics to your page
  • Create Google ads
  • Manage this all from the Google mobile app

Why go to all this trouble? A regularly updated and accurate Google My Business page can start ranking in Google. This means your clinic could start showing up at the top of search results when people in your area search “physical therapy.” That’s HUGE potential for your business.

But unless you’re the only clinic in town, you’ll never rank very high in Google if you don’t make the effort to get your page to the top of search results.

Here are a few ways to get there:

  • Ask satisfied clients to leave you a Google review (aim for 50+ reviews)
  • Respond to every single review—whether positive or negative
  • Post a few times each week (just like you post on Facebook!); remember that Google posts disappear after seven days, so you need to post regularly
  • Add photos of yourself, your clinic, and your happy customers
  • Add a well-written description (the “From BUSINESS NAME” section) to tell clients what to expect
  • Add an “Appointments” link so people can instantly book time with you

Your end goal is to have your physical therapy clinic on the Google My Business page. During all of this, you may be required to create your first ever Google Account. Often this is regarded as your Gmail account. This account will house all of the things you do on Google and therefore everything I talk about in this section today will be under this account.

Once you have your Google Pages set up, you should nurture it and care for it. Don’t simply set it up and think you are all done.

Google Ads

What are Google Ads? When you go on Google and enter a search, you see two types of results.

  • Organic Results — these are search results based on your search terms. Google’s algorithm simply associates your search terms with the content that is out there on the website and then delivers what they feel is the best match.
  • Google Ads Results — these are results based on your search terms, but they are delivered to you because people pay for them.

How do you use Google Ads?

You begin by logging into ads.google.com. You will see a dashboard that has all sorts of options on it.

To use Google Ads, you start by creating a campaign. Each campaign consists of ad groups and each ad group consists of keywords. The goal is to organize your campaigns into topics, and your ad groups will all be about that particular topic; furthermore, your keywords will be even more specific to that topic. Your ad groups can contain as many ads as you want and the ads rotate among the keywords you have.

For example, I want to do a campaign related to athletes recovering from injuries.

  • My campaign topic might be “Athletes and Injuries”
  • My Ad Groups might be “Cycling / Running”
  • My Keywords might be specific to each ad group: so I might use cycling injuries, running injuries, sports PT San Diego etc. For the runners Ad Group I would use keywords relevant to running.

How do you set up a budget?

Simple — there is a field you will fill out to enter your daily budget. From there, Google Ads will make sure to stay within that daily budget.

Google Ads allows you to bid on clicks for your ad. There are many bidding options and each serve a different purpose. For example, you can set the bids for each click, or you can have Ads set bids to help maximize clicks within your budget. Depending on the volume of advertisers bidding on a specific term, the cost of a click can change from minute to minute.

Location Extensions

There are a few things about Google Ads I really enjoy and help target customers better. First, you can set your ad to only show to people in a certain location

As physical therapy clinics, we really only want to target certain zip codes because that is where our patients come from. This allows you to choose where your ad will appear and even estimates how many people your ad will reach in a given zip code. This feature will optimize your ads to only appear to patients that are within your target market.

The location extensions feature will show your address in your ad. This is useful on Google Maps and mobile devices and will come up if people are searching for you while they are driving or ready to visit your office.

Site links Extensions

This feature allows you to place a link to relevant content that exists on your personal website. For example, if my ad is about surgery co-management, I want that person to visit my page about surgical recovery on my website.

Call Extension

This is my favorite because you can track it! Basically with this, your phone number will appear below your ad. If the user calls from a mobile phone, you can see how many calls were generated from each ad and how long the phone calls lasted. Also, it will generate a fictitious number so that Google can track how long the call lasted, and which ad caused the phone call to happen. They don’t record the phone calls, they just show you how many calls, when and how long they lasted.

Google is VERY helpful.

This stuff is complex, so if you have a question, just click the gear wheel on your Google Ads Dashboard and click HELP – LIVE CHAT. I utilize this monthly and it teaches me about how to do better with my campaigns.

Keep in mind, this is how Google makes their revenue, so they donate a ton of resources to making sure you keep spending money with Ads!

If you're serious about Google Ads, check these out:

A Simple Guide for Setting Up Your First Google Ads Campaign

Google’s Guide to Setting Up an Ads Campaign

Physical therapy lecturing

This is one of my absolute favorite forms of physical therapy marketing when it comes to bringing new patients into my practice.

Here is how I define lecturing:

Lecturing — involves holding a seminar, at a public venue, on a specific topic, with the purpose of delivering value to your crowd in hopes of converting them into patients of your physical therapy practice.

Where can you lecture?

  • Schools
  • Businesses
  • Gyms
  • Yoga Studios
  • Invite people to your practice waiting room
  • Pharmacies
  • Holistic Shops
  • YMCA
  • Churches, synagogues, temples, religious headquarters
  • Wellness fairs
  • Food Establishments

You would be surprised how many people would welcome a doctor willing to share knowledge. Many people who I have spoken with are very much willing to have me come in to lecture.

Supplies to bring:

  • Business cards
  • Brochures
  • Models
  • Posters
  • Starbucks gift cards
  • Amazon gift cards
  • Vouchers for free items at your practice
  • Samples of products you are talking about

You might only get a few extra patients in your practice from each event, but a couple of patients here and there who then go on to refer their friends and family to you will add up exponentially over time.

Co-management with other physicians

If you don’t have a relationship with a primary care doctor you are really missing out on new patients.

Think about it. These individuals do exactly what you do: see patients. They are the perfect source for getting new business.

Let me ask you this — how many times have patients told you their other health problems during your case history? This same thing happens to other doctors!

You need to begin to tap into the healthcare system. It’s easier than you think.

How to build your relationships with local physicians:

  1. Begin by going to “doctor locator” for each medical insurance you take.
  2. Do a search for doctors who also take the insurance you take. This is important to let the doctor know there won’t be any insurance problems and that you both accept the same plans.
  3. Limit your search to a very strict radius. Location is absolutely key — too far and other doctors won’t bother with referrals. Plus, it’s a really easy sell when you tell them, “I’m right up the road from you, neighbor!”
  4. Make a list of everyone you want to meet with.
  5. Contact each doctor ahead of time to see if there is a convenient time for them. Keep your pitch in their favor. It is ok to say things like, “I have a ton of patients with x, y, z condition and I need someone to send them to, can we meet?”
  6. Drive over to their practice, keep it short and sweet, but go equipped with business cards, brochures, and marketing materials.
  7. Be very friendly to the staff — they are sometimes the individuals who refer the most! Make sure they know you by first name.
  8. After a successful relationship, feel free to send them holiday and thank you gifts.

Other things to remember:

  • You are doing this to help your patients
  • You are doing this to help your community
  • You are doing this because you want to build personal relationships with other great doctors

Other Tricks:

  • Find doctors with unique practices. For example, naturopathic/holistic practices, concierge practices, etc. This worked out really well for me.
  • Find doctors with some common interests as you! Sharing things in common is great to build the relationship.
  • This will be hard, so don’t get discouraged. I went to about two dozen offices before I found one PCP willing to co-manage.
  • Avoid group practices – they are extremely hard to sway their decisions. Maybe save these for later?
  • Avoid HMOs, for obvious reasons….
  • Avoid doctors in medical buildings with a PT present — they likely already work together.
  • Believe in yourself! There is always room for someone new!
  • Seek small, independent, privately owned practices.

The fat stack of business cards trick

If I put a big red brick, the ones they build chimneys with, in your front right pocket and told you to walk around with it all day, how long would it take for you to get rid of that brick?

It would take me about 0.2 seconds.

What I want you to do is put a FAT STACK of your business cards in your front right pocket, enough to really annoy you. I want it to be so big that hurts to sit down, drive a car and make any physical movement. Then, throughout the day, your challenge will be to make yourself more and more comfortable by removing that annoying brick in your pocket.

Give one business card to each person you have an interaction with. Strike up a conversation with them, be friendly and enjoy your pocket becoming more and more comfortable.

The idea here is that we all carry around business cards, but we seldom give them out to people. First off, it is socially awkward and secondly you feel like a salesman! That is really the worst feeling and I don’t blame you.

Yet at the same time, for every 20 or so business cards I give out, I get about 1 patient. That’s really not too bad!

Of course you will need to make a creative pitch. Make it genuine and authentic, and of course don’t be a creep.

Opportunities to hand out business cards

  • Restaurant waiter / waitress
  • Gym front desk person
  • Personal trainer at the gym
  • Grocery store clerk
  • Taxi drivers
  • Sales reps at clothing stores
  • People in your apartment complex
  • Your local gas station

The options are limitless! Just keep in mind, you need to start making personal connections and that annoying stack of business cards will force you to do it!

Email / Facebook message your friends

This isn’t about a social media strategy — that is another topic entirely. Instead this is simply drawing attention to Facebook and email and utilizing them as a referral source.

Hop on your email or Facebook and send a mass message to every single person you know. This will be sure to help drive some business! (If you want some suggestions on how to phrase this message, download the ebook to get my template!)

Physical therapy marketing wellness events / Lunch & Learn

If you aren’t talking to local businesses about setting up wellness events at their companies, you’re really missing out. In the year 2019, almost every large company hosts events that promote company wellness.

Why?

Well, it’s because companies pay for healthcare benefits for their employees and get monthly reports on how many employees are actually using these benefits. Most companies have low utilization rates and that means an unhealthy company, missed days of work and lower productivity.

Imagine spending millions of dollars on health benefits only to find that you threw away 50% of that money for employees who didn’t care about going for their yearly checkups?

Trust me this happens. I have talked with HR executives that claim a utilization rate of below 30%.

That is unacceptable.

Therefore companies will do anything to get their employees in the door of doctors — bingo! That is where you, DPT, come into the picture!

Step 1 – Get in the door.

Don’t just go into any local business chosen at random. A strategic way to go about this is to pick local businesses whose employee health benefits include insurance plans you accept. Sometimes a simple Google search regarding employee health benefits will bring up the information for you. Also, you can look at your practice management system for this information.

If you can’t find the information this way, call a few local businesses and reach out to their HR team. Be transparent when you talk to them and let them know that you are a new healthcare provider who is interested in supporting local businesses.

Get the contact information, ask to speak with them immediately, ask if wellness events are common, and mention that you do wellness events.

Step 2 – Make a connection.

When I speak with a HR representative I have a typical gig that I run through. Feel free to use my email structure (which you’ll find in the ebook), or use it over the phone.

Step 3 – Follow up.

HR peeps are busy! Don’t let their busy schedule be your opportunity loss. Be persistent, but don’t be needy.

Lunch & Learn events are a great way to get your name out there and are easy to execute.

Social media

Facebook is a great avenue for physical therapy marketing and does not have to be time intensive. You should seek to post 2 to 3 times a week and focus on engagement and less on “likes.”

Posting on what you are passionate about is always a great strategy. People and patients want to connect with a real person who share similar interests. Show them that you are more than just someone who treats patients all day!

The anatomy of a great Facebook post conveys an emotion. What you are posting should connect with your audience. Oftentimes, a picture can incite a great response from your audience. If a post doesn’t have an image, your readers will likely scroll right past it. Try using real pictures of your practice: that is what people want to see!

A voice is important. Sometimes people feel like they need to develop a persona. If you allow your personality to come through, you can give your patients an opportunity to connect with who you are.

Picking your platforms:

The general consensus is that Facebook and Instagram are key. These two platforms command a large audience and will allow you to connect with a large population of patients who make buying decisions.

While you can stick to posting regular content on Facebook, their Advertising Platform allows you to set up ads targeted to potential patients in your area. Make sure to be extremely specific when you choose your ad settings so that people who will engage with your posts are the ones who see your advertisements!

Next steps

There are many other methods and means of marketing your physical therapy practice. If you're looking for even more, check out our webinar on setting up Facebook ads for your physical therapy practice and how to go about improving your local reputation as an authority. We also recommend doing a bit of research on your patient demographic to help you determine which marketing strategies will work best for your practice!

Check out our guide on crafting a marketing strategy for your clinic!

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About Brett Kestenbaum

As a physical therapist myself, I understand the general struggles of life after graduation, and the importance of focused attention on our patients. As Chief Operating Officer at CovalentCareers, I am afforded the opportunity to connect with thousands of physical therapists around the country. My goal is to improve the accessibility of information and careers for healthcare practitioners. Feel free to message me at any time! Always happy to connect.