On a recent trip to a conference, I noticed that the flight was only half full, and a number of passengers were bumped up to first class. It was instructive that the airline afforded the 'privilege' of a wider seat in business class (they were also blessed with some mixed nuts to chew on) to 'elite' level passengers (frequent flyers) during a 90 minute flight from Newark to Chicago.
It got me wondering - as private practice owners, the last thing we want is a 'half empty' patient schedule, and while we never want to treat some clients 'better' than others (like the airlines do), we need multiple physical therapy management systems in place to minimize 'gaps' in our patient schedule.
Physical therapy marketing is all about multiple methods working simultaneously. Here are 10 systems you can use to grow your practice and get more patients.
* Free Reports / Consumer Guides / Patient Giveaways. This is way for you to get the attention of individuals who may not have an immediate need for physical therapy, but are likely to need your services at some point in time.
* Free recorded messages / hotlines (Patients call a toll free number to listen to a prerecorded message about the benefits of physical therapy and any specific benefits of working with your clinic. This gives them a quick, non invasive way of evaluating your service without having to speak with someone.
* A regular patient newsletter that goes to patients twice a month and conditions them to recognize your expertise and refer their friends and family back to you. Don't restrict yourself to an email only newsletter. Make sure you use a printed version and also fax the newsletter to doctors.
* Referral program (guidelines, reminders and recommendations for patients to refer family and friends). Tell patients that the best way they can thank you for the results you got them is for them to refer their friends and family.
* Conditioning scripts (words, phrases, gestures that condition patients to refer). Your front desk staff and aids should know what to say, when to say it and how to say it to maximize compliance and reduce patient cancellations.
* Client anniversary / birthday reminder greetings / major holidays are an opportunity for you to connect with patients for legitimate reasons. These are ideal 'bonding' opportunities with patients.
* Email marketing - email reminders and autoresponders (automatic sequences of emails to patients). For example, a new patient can get an email saying "Welcome to our clinic" on day one, "How was our service" on day seven and "Tell your friends about us" on day 14, all automated.
* Mobile marketing - using text messages for appointment reminders. This boost patient arrival rates, increases referrals and boosts engagement with patients. More and more people are checking their cellphones these days much more than voice messages.
* Voice broadcasting - the automated calls you get during election time - remember those? You can do the same to reach out to your patients and remind them about the importance of referring to you, or just saying you are checking in to make sure they are satisfied with your service.
* Social media marketing - reaching patients through Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. Your potential patients are using social media sites everyday to converse with their friends. If you can engage them in a non-commercial environment like Facebook, you are becoming the patient's 'trusted expert' just by virtue of using a different channel of communication. The same message may not work as well if it is sent with a brochure / flyer.
In a nutshell, you need to have multiple poles in the water. A variety of marketing methods should be used to maximize the effectiveness of a marketing campaign.
Nitin Chhoda is a physical therapy business consultant and his FREE Referral Generation System can be downloaded at www.referralignition2.com