When I went scuba diving for the first time, I had no idea what I was doing. My dive buddy and I were completely new to diving techniques, breathing exercises and the jargon. But, the thought of going deep underwater, where practically everything was different from what I experienced before, made me overcome my fears.
I’d imagine that creating a marketing plan for your physical therapy clinic should feel the same way. If you are just getting started, this is an equally exciting and staggering experience. You know that you need to create awareness about your clinic, educate the market, generate and nurture leads, attract prospects and turn them into long life customers. You’re also probably trying to build an ecosystem and gear up for “battles” with the Goliaths in your niche.
I’d help to know where to start and what to do.
In this article, you will find an outline of the most important steps you need to take to craft an effective marketing plan. You’ll learn how to set objective, define your audience, nail down the message, and so on. Whether you recently opened your physical therapy clinic or you have an established facility, you’ll feel less overwhelmed by the prospect building a rock-solid plan by the end of this article.
Let’s dive in!
1. Set Your Objectives
A common mistake that a lot of people make when creating a marketing plan is jumping right into it without establishing the basics first. They start thinking about what channels they should use and what tactics they need to employ to attract prospects, but they neglect one of the most important aspects: their objectives.
Ask the big question before you pen down the plan: What do you want to achieve through your marketing plan.
“That’s easy! I want to grow my physical therapy clinic and turn it into a successful business,” I hear you cry.
That’s a great objective, but it is too ambiguous. Instead, try to set S.M.A.R.T. objective (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and trackable.) So, instead of saying that you want to grow your physical therapy clinic, say that you want to get 35% more patients than you currently have by the end of the year.
Try to set realistic goals. Of course, we all dream of a 100% growth rate, but the reality is that growing a physical therapy clinic is a slow process and you need to be patient.
2. Determine Your Message
Another important aspect that you need to spend time thinking, debating and refining is your message. To create a clear, distinctive and coherent message, you need to take into consideration the following:
• Your Target Audience: Who are the primary target users and decision makers for whom you are crafting your services, message, and content? Try to look beyond basic demographic information, such as age, gender, location or income, and build a complex user persona. Do extensive research, interviews, and surveys and try to understand your target audience’s needs, their behavior, and the common characteristics they share. Remember that everything you will do in the future will be about reaching your audience, so understanding their needs and desires and fitting them into your message is the key to growing your physical therapy clinic.
• Positioning Statement: There are probably tens of psychical therapy clinics in your region, offering services similar to yours. How do you stand apart? You need a position statement that tells prospective patients how you can help solve their problems and what differentiates you from the competition.
Here’s a template commonly used by marketers to create a position statement:
For (target audience)
Who (statement of the need or opportunity)
Our (product/services) is a
That Provides (statement of benefits)
“For physical therapy clinics who struggle to grow their practice, our article describes the steps you need to take to build a rock-solid marketing plan.”
• Mission Statement: While the positioning statement is extremely useful and can help you narrow down your focus, it’s primarily an internal document. The mission statement, on the other hand, is destined for public consumption. Try to comprise the essence of your physical therapy clinic into a brief statement that communicates your values and focus.
3. Make Sure You Know Who Your Competition Is
Determine who else in your area provides the same services like yours. Try to think beyond physical therapy clinics as a lot of people today choose wellness and yoga facilities to treat minor injuries. Examine how your competitors market themselves and try to establish if their strategy is successful. Determine how you are better or different than them and emphasise the differentiating factor to attract potential patients.
4. Build a Marketing Machine
Now, that you’ve tackled all the important information above and you know who your audience is and what you want to achieve, it’s time to pen down your plan and determine which tactics will make your physical therapy clinic noticeable.
• Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing is a great way to start, especially if you have a limited budget. This technique will help you get found by potential patients through the following primary elements: content, search engine optimization, and content distribution. Unlike paid traffic that usually disappears when you end the spending, inbound marketing will continue to drive traffic and potential leads to your physical therapy clinic through quality content and a smart social media strategy.
There’s a wealth of information regarding the topic of inbound marketing, so I’ll just add a few suggestions:
o Although creating content is relatively easy than building a successful physical therapy clinic, it’s surprising to see that most clinics have at best a well-functioning website, but little to no content. You don’t have to create a comprehensive plan for every tactic. Start publishing content, experiment with it and see what sticks. Just make sure to create content that is relevant to your audience, solves some of their problems, and adds values to their lives. You can find more suggestion here.
o One common question is, what type of content drives the most traffic? To answer this question, think about it this way: people don’t care about your services, they care about their problems. So, try to look beyond case studies and white papers and create content that provides great tips and advice. If you’re still not sure what type of content to use, look at data. According to studies, infographics get three times more shares than other types of content.
o If you create an article, but nobody shared it, did it really happen? Social media is a great distribution channel that can help you put your content (and your physical therapy clinic) in front of potential patients. The only problem is that most people only share their content once or twice on social media and then completely forget about it. According to inbound marketing professionals, you should spend as much time promoting your content as you do writing it.
• Outbound Marketing
Although inbound marketing is an excellent practice that can help you put your physical therapy clinic on the map, it can take time to generate results. In the meantime, you should focus your attention on outbound tactics, such as pay-per-click advertising, email, and direct mail.
o Drive Leads through Email Marketing. In spite of what you’ve heard, email marketing is not dead. According to one survey of 1.000 web-based businesses, email marketing had the highest return on investment (ROI) of any other marketing channel. In fact, according to another study, email was proven to be 40 times more effective at getting new customers than Facebook and Twitter. So, you should devote a fraction of your time to collecting email addresses and building your email list.
o Test Direct Mailing. According to the Direct Mail Association (DMA) Factbook, in 2013, 65% of consumers of all ages have made a purchase as a result of direct mail. According to another report, in 2012, the average response rate for marketing postcards was 4,4% - exceeding all industry expectations and surpassing email response rate, which was just 0.12%. So, while direct mailing might seem like a dead art, in reality, it can help your physical therapy clinic drive potential patients.
o Focus on PPC. Pay-per-click advertising, such as Google AdWords, can be a great way to jumpstart your marketing plan. However, don’t make it the sole focus of your strategy. Although it can help you attract potential patients, in the long term you want to build a marketing machine that will generate leads at zero marginal costs.
5. Know What to Measure
You’ve come a long way since you first realized the need for a comprehensive marketing plan. You’ve defined your goals and your mission. You’ve studied your audience and created complex user personas. You’ve created content and published your first posts, and you’ve even gotten started with paid advertising. The only question that remains is:
Were your efforts worth it?
While every physical therapy clinic is different, there are a few metrics that are universal and can help you paint an accurate picture of your marketing plan’s success:
• Traffic – measure the volume, see where it’s coming from and determine which content is the most popular.
• Leads – determine which tactics drive the most leads
• Conversion – measure the number of people that convert into leads and then into patients. Figure out what determinedthem to make the jump from regular blog readers to subscribers and then patients, for instance.
• Competitors – see how your main competitors perform regarding traffic, reach, sales, and so on.
6. Timeline and Budget
The most difficult part of your marketing plan is establishing a budget and timeline for each strategy. Look at your goals and try to figure out a feasible budget and achievable timeline. As a rule of thumb, instead of a complex 12 months long strategy, try to include simple tasks in your plans that you can complete every week, such as writing an article for your physical therapy clinic’s blog or holding a Q&A on Facebook with your followers.
The foundation of every successful business, regardless of the industry, comes down to a well-conceived marketing plan.
It’s important to set your goals, know your audience and your competitors and figure out what channels and tactics can help you reach and generate leads. Sure, it takes a lot of legwork, but it can be done.
If you need help penning down your marketing plan, consider how PatientSites.com can help you.