Tom and Melissa Cere Breakthroughs Practice of the Year 2019

Tony & Melissa Cere

Kinetix Physical Therapy
Gainesville, FL

Congratulations to our Breakthrough 2019 Physical Therapy Practice Owner of the Year, Tony & Melissa Cere! You may have seen them at summit riding the bull, or they may have been in your Direct Access Killer Marketing class, OR you’ve seen them ask a question on a Growth X call…

If not, we have a special Q&A with them today! Read the full interview below –

Tony & Melissa Cere Breakthrough POOTY Award Winners 2019

These two are non stop with implementing and they are on their way to open a 2nd clinic! Continue reading to see how they’ve earned the title of “Practice Owner of the Year.

What Breakthrough PT business and marketing systems have you implemented?

“All the KM strategies… green ink letters, 7 Step Killer Exam, Killer Testimonials, Physician Newsletters, etc.”

“We have all new employees go through the Direct Access Killer Marketing course. New hires then pick a couple topics and have to present it to the rest of our team during our meetings.”

“We have 2 workshops a month with Growth X and 1-2 Captured Audience Workshops a month as well.”

“We also have been implementing systems that were taught in Max Value, we outsourced our billing to Bob Kowalick, we outsourced our newsletters and website to Practice Promotions, and we also have two Lightforce Lasers!

“Our sole focus is workshops and community relationships. We’ve started interviewing patients about their experience.. Either written or an in person interview to make sure people are getting the experience we want them to get!”

What results have you gotten?

“ We’ve actually had a lot of headaches in 2019! But, looking at the big picture.. The growth we’ve had.. And the impact we had on the community.. the culture we have developed… We can finally say our team is on board with our vision and mission and that makes it so much better as owners to know we are supporting each other and seeing that change and growth mindset develop with our staff over the last year and a half.”

“We started tracking graduation rate. When we first started, some therapists were around 40-50%. Now we’re hovering around 80%.”

“Our workshops are great. We had 40 people show up to a shoulder workshop recently. We’ve had a lot of new patients which is why we are opening another clinic.”

What did you do to achieve these results?

“ Stick with the program. Meetings – talk about it, brainstorm about it. Meetings are great… if something isn’t working, bring it up and brainstorm.. “What can we do differently?”

“We’ve found that dividing up responsibilities between staff has worked very well. For example, we have 1 person responsible for workshop development, another person responsible for closing, someone responsible for marketing.

Employees with dedicated responsibilities are key.. We have to acknowledge that we can’t implement it all alone.. We can’t monitor it all.. But we need to make sure things are getting done.”

“Promoting morale! We have spirit week and dress down Fridays. Each month we pick a local nonprofit charity that we will donate to…in order to dress down, you have to donate to that local charity. At the end of the month, we match what employees are giving to a local nonprofit.

We also advertise it in the clinic and tell patients, and give them a chance to donate and be apart of something bigger as well.”

Advice for Breakthrough Nation?

“Implement what you’re learning.”

“Talk to other practice owners about how they’ve adapted certain things.. The network and group we have on Facebook has been super helpful in finding out best practices and is extremely encouraging.

It’s so nice to see owners at different stages…. there is just so much wisdom and everyone wants to help each other.”

“We’ve done this multiple times, but bringing our staff to Breakthrough events has really helped get our staff onboard, see what we’re involved in, and why we’re doing it.”

“We are grateful and humbled to be recognized as the POOTY. Our lives are shaped by the people we surround ourselves with and the experiences we have together with them. The people we have met and experiences we have shared since joining Breakthrough have helped to transform us as leaders, and we can’t thank you enough for developing an amazing and energizing community of like-minded practice owners who are on a mission to change our communities and the lives of our patients. Let’s keep working to Flip The Pyramid together!”

Thank You Tony & Melissa for a wonderful interview and Congratulations on being Breakthrough’s Practice Owner of the Year 2019!

Breakthrough PT Summit 2019 Recap

I’m still (almost) speechless at the amazing turnout and takeaways we experienced at the Breakthrough Summit.

This was our biggest event ever, with more than 350 PT’s and professionals joining us, along with a killer list of speakers that shared their strengths and insights to help other PTs grow their practice.

We had a lot of positive feedback from PT owners, and I personally received more text messages and emails from owners about how much their business was growing than in the last eight events combined. It was jam-packed with energy and high-value information, and I can’t wait to see what other PT owners do with what they learned.

It wasn’t all business, either. I’m sure you can find plenty of videos of our mechanical bull riding—more than 100 people tested their skills!

In case you missed it, here’s a quick summary of the event, along with some changes in Breakthrough to look forward to.

Breakthrough PT Summit Guest Speakers

An All-Star Lineup of Speakers

Our speakers covered everything from taxes to teamwork and brought their expertise to the stage. Some of the hot topics included:

  • Judy Cirullo on unifying and motivating your staff
  • Chandler Bolt on what he’s accomplished with self-publishing and how to use a book to establish yourself as an expert in your community
  • Karl Dettmann on wealth management and building wealth legally and ethically
  • John Logar on PT marketing strategies for 2020
  • Chris Reading with U.S. Physical Therapy
  • Kathy, Carl, and Mel from Breakthrough on Product X (now Growth X)

New this year, we hosted round table discussions, which allowed the Breakthrough team to sit down and discuss PT with other owners.

We also took a deep dive into the political landscape of PT and how we’re battling things like declining reimbursements. Chris Reading was an excellent resource and was able to provide specifics on how we’re dealing with shifts in PT.

The Future of Physical Therapy Private Practice

Declining reimbursements and dwindling referrals were a hot topic at this event. With many owners wondering about the future of private practice.

The good news is that there is plenty of opportunity out there – all 50 states now have some form of Direct Access.

But Direct Access is simply a vehicle for patients, and it’s up to each of us to seize this opportunity and start marketing direct to the public.

It won’t be easy, but the future is bright for PTs who are ready to stop thinking like clinicians and start growing their rehab practice like business owners.

Developing New Solutions for Private Practice

If you’ve been with Breakthrough for a while, you’re probably already familiar with most of the names on our team. But soon, you’re going to start seeing some new names, including Summit presenter Kathy Borkoski.

Last September, Kathy joined our team as Head of Product and delivered an exceptional presentation on how we develop solutions for your PT practice.

But what’s more important is that Kathy and her team are working on our suite of Breakthrough products that will improve the end-user experience and allow you to achieve a higher level of growth.

Typically, product development initially takes a “duct tape” approach. We’re looking at the issues our owners face, then piecing together solutions that will help to eliminate those issues. Then, once everything is developed, we circle back to connect and streamline each element.

Now we’re focused on systematizing practice solutions that not only solve today’s challenges but will also help to solve future ones that result from growth as these challenges are introduced.

And at the event we revealed the following changes to the Breakthrough product lineup:

Introducing Breakthrough University

Breakthrough got its start with Killer Marketing, which is a Masters-level class focused on ways to market your practice by going direct to consumer. From there, we progressed to Max Value, All Star, and PT Experts, and a whole heap of other knowledge resources. Now, we’ve brought all of these elements under the same umbrella—introducing Breakthrough University.

Our core focus is and will always be to help owners grow their practice. Breakthrough University is an accumulation of all the data and learning resources we’ve developed over the last five or six years.

Product X Is Now Growth X

When we launched Product X, it was the only end-to-end business growth system with guaranteed results that turns people in your community into patients.

That’s still the case, but Product X has been renamed Growth X.

What’s unique about Growth X is that it specifically addresses the cold traffic problem. This is our solution to converting people in your community who may not know or trust you yet into patients.

We focus on building expertise around your name and, ultimately, practice growth.

Get Familiar with Launchpad

If you’re a Growth X user, you’re already familiar with the software component of the product, referred to as the portal. This is the dashboard that helps you manage going direct to the consumer.

We’ve rebranded the portal to Launchpad, which will continue to serve as the Business Growth Dashboard. It will also be the home of the full workshop process to help you manage and view the results of your workshops.

Breakthrough Summit 2020 Awards Ceremony

Surprise Announcement at the Awards Ceremony

To close out the summit, we hosted an awards ceremony to give everyone one more chance to network. Tony and Melissa Cere of Kinetix Physical Therapy took home the title of Practice Owner of the Year.

We also made a special announcement that we are hosting an event here in Hershey, PA over the summer. The event will be held at the Breakthrough office, so you’ll get an exclusive look at where the magic happens. We announced 12 owners who received a coveted Golden Ticket to the event. More details to come soon.

If you missed us at the Breakthrough Summit, we hope you’ll join us in the future. Sign up for details on our next event or contact a Growth Expert today to discuss how you can grow your Physical Therapy practice.

Breakthrough PT Marketing and Diagnostics for PT

In case you missed it, Diagnostics in PT magazine recently featured Breakthrough on its cover, along with a feature story where we dove deeper into some of the biggest issues threatening the PT industry. 

Alongside Dr. Dimitrios Kostopolous of Hands-On Diagnostics, we pulled back the curtain on four of the most important lessons a private practice PT owner could learn and how these lessons can help to guide you through tough challenges like declining reimbursements, talent shortages, and practice autonomy. 

Here’s a semi-quick summary of our feature story:

A New PT Model Is Long Overdue

New PT Model

Change is inevitable in any industry, whether it’s catering to shifting customer preferences, cutting costs, or making improvements to the way you work. But in the case of private practice Physical Therapy, there’s a growing need for a complete transformation of the revenue model.

Diminishing reimbursements, finding the talent, and remaining competitive among HOPTs and POPTs practices are just a few of the serious threats that are plaguing the PT industry. Many private practice owners already acknowledge that something needs to change, but very few realize the power they have to initiate it.

As a leader of a new PT business model, we’re focused on creating momentum that will lead to greater profits, more control, and increased predictability within the practice—so much so that traditional revenue streams like doctor referrals won’t matter nearly as much when those streams run dry.

Lessons in Leadership

Lessons in PT Leadership

No PT owner gets everything right the first time, and I wholly believe that it’s our mistakes that prime us for a role in leadership. Here are four of the biggest lessons I’ve learned along the way:

1. Failure Makes Perfect (Or Close to It)

In my first ten years of practicing PT, I lost my top referral source four times. I remember the first time this happened was just six months after I opened my practice. It was a scary, sinking feeling that I’ll never forget since this referral source accounted for 25% of my business.

This was the direst situation, but because it happened so early in my career, I think it made me more resilient and in tune with what would later become my objective with Breakthrough: diversified revenue streams.

By comparison, the last time a referral source left my practice, it only accounted for 0.5% of the business. That was a smoother pill to swallow—not because it wasn’t a lot of money, but because I had so many other ways to generate revenue because my earlier failures had shown me it was necessary.

2. Keep a Finger on the Industry’s Pulse

We all know that hindsight is 20/20, but there’s not a single one of us who can predict the future with absolute certainty. However, I’ve found that studying the PT industry’s trends can help me to make mostly accurate predictions and allow me to better prepare myself for what comes next.

Case in point: declining physician referrals. No one had to tell me that this problem wasn’t going to get any better, nor was it going to solve itself. With an influx of HOPTs and POPTs practices and PT failing to capture a large market share compared to other methods of treatment, doing the same thing and expecting the same results wasn’t going to cut it.

After looking at the State of PT report, it was clear that PTs were doing more work for less money. What’s more, private practice is having a tough time competing for talent when hospitals are paying $90,000 or more per year to grads who are eager to start repaying student loans.

This, of course, only presses profit margins thinner. 

The only logical remedy is to keep a healthy stream of revenue that will allow you to afford to be competitive.

3. Disruption Wins

When you can’t “fix” the problem, I’ve discovered it’s best to reframe it. In the case of declining referrals, I decided that instead of trying to save a sinking ship, I would leverage direct-to-consumer access to diversify revenue. 

When I first started going direct, there was no road map, no blueprint, no mechanism for me to do this. That’s why I created Breakthrough in the first place, and as a result, private practice owners are disrupting the PT industry as we know it. And we’re thriving.

4. Acknowledge the PT Model Is Shifting Because We Made It Shift

Advancements like Breakthrough or Dr. Kostopolous’ Hands-On Diagnostics are two of the biggest examples of an industry shift. Both of us decided that change was necessary in private practice, so we took action. 

Other PT owners can also take the lead and force change in the industry. In doing so, we’re sending a message about the value of our service, our passion for our profession, and our desire to help as many people as we can gain the quality of life they deserve.

Diversifying Income Is the Key to Longevity

Diversify your PT revenue streams

I mentioned earlier that our feature cover story was a joint interview with myself and Dr. Kostopolous. We’ve each experienced similar pain points in the industry, particularly the major declines in reimbursements and referrals. That’s why it was easy for us to agree that the unique challenges we face in the industry present a need to reframe problems and focus on better solutions.

The solution: diversifying your income sources. 

This is exactly what we preach and teach here at Breakthrough, and we leverage direct access marketing to go straight to the patients who need your services. Direct access can take many forms, but we mainly focus on workshops for specific problems, such as back or neck pain, along with positioning yourself as the expert in your local market. Our goal is to turn our PT owners into local celebrities so that patients will see them as the obvious choice to treat their pain.

By doing so, you set yourself up for autonomous, resilient success that will not only keep your doors open but also help you maintain the spark that got you into PT in the first place.

Breakthrough PT Marketing and Diagnostics for PT

You can read the full issue with Breakthrough’s Chad Madden on Diagnostics for PT here

Or check out the Breakthrough resource center for PT marketing training and tools

sell my physical therapy private practice

I commonly get questions from private practice owners all the time “I’m tossing around the idea of selling my physical therapy practice in the next two to five years. What do I need to consider?”

I know what you’re thinking…

“Why in the world would I sell my PT practice after I’ve put so much work into it?” As is the case with most topics, my interest in this concept started with a conversation; specifically, a conversation about rates. We’re all familiar with rates in real estate or the concept of price per earning for stocks. This is essentially the amount of money you need to invest in order to receive a dollar of a company’s earnings.

Out of personal interest and curiosity from Breakthrough owners, I wanted to learn what the “rate” of selling a physical therapy private practice was. A great book, Built to Sell by John Warrillow, taught me that there is both a beginning AND end to every business. If this is true, shouldn’t you have a plan for HOW it will end and how to receive the HIGHEST rate for the time you’ve invested?

I certainly think so. 

We have recorded a ton of conversations with owners revolving around practice growth, so if you want to pump up valuation before trying to sell, check these out:

I interviewed five industry leading experts on selling a physical therapy private practice to bring the best advice to you all in one place. Each of these experts represents a different level of the transaction involved to sell your private practice. Today we’ll cover advice from three of those experts:

Paul Welk –

  • Physical Therapist
  • An attorney with Tucker/Arensberg
  • Founder of Legal Impact

Greg Wappett and Eric Major –

  •  Director and Senior Associate at Provident Healthcare Partners, LLC

Advice From Paul Welk

Paul Welk is a physical therapist turned attorney, who advises owners going through the process of selling their PT private practices. 

EBITDA

When we asked Paul how to determine the rate for a private PT practice, his reply was as follows:  Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization — AKA EBITDA.

The purchase price for your practice is based on a multiple of EBITDA. In short, the buyer is purchasing your earnings (calculated by EBITDA), and this is the main thing they are focused on when setting up a deal structure. This is a reflection of profitability. It is usually calculated on a trailing 12 months and does not include the salary you are taking for yourself. 

For example: If your company brings in $500,000 in revenue, is profiting $120,000 which you take as salary, you cannot expect to sell your company for 2 million dollars. It just isn’t going to happen. 

It is pivotal that you understand what EBITDA is and how to calculate it, in order to get a realistic value of your practice.

2-Step Process

According to Paul, selling your PT private practice is a two-step process:

  1. Get a reasonable idea of the value of your practice (see above)
  2. Determine where to find potential buyers

When looking for buyers, there are a few options…

  • Consider the local market. These might be friendly competitors interested in purchasing or merging, friends, colleagues, or mutual acquaintances 
  • Sell internally to key staff members
  • Use the open market 

Surviving the Open Market

If you choose to find buyers on the open market, there are some key factors you need to consider. The first thing to decide is if you’re going to hire a broker to help with the process, or if you’re going to do it on your own. 

It’s important to recognize, most private practice owners are only going to make this type of transaction once in their lives. This means if you decide to go it alone, you MUST know your numbers. Putting together this information is a lot of work and with a lack of experience, it will likely be pretty time-consuming. While it can be done, if a deal falls through, you’ll likely be left without any other options.

A broker, on the other hand, deals with this type of transaction all the time, bringing experience and efficiency to the table. They will offer multiple options from the start, so you’ll never be stuck back at square one if a potential deal falls through. According to our expert, Paul, a broker brings good value to the transaction. Typically, broker fees are 6-10%, which, in the grand scheme of things, is a small price to pay to save you a lot of time and headaches.

14 Variables That Affect The Multiple

To pull it together, here is a comprehensive list of variables that will affect the overall value of your practice:

  • EBITDA

We ’ve explained the meaning of EBITDA, but here are some examples of how earnings translate into the multiple values of your clinic (data from 2016).

If based on the trailing 12 months, your company has $250,000 in earnings, you can expect around three times that amount, $750,000, as your practice’s value. Similarly, if you have $1 million in earnings, you can expect a multiple of five times that amount or $5 million in value.

  • Profitability/Revenue Trending
  • Payer Mix
  • Opportunity for growth in your area
  • EMR Platform

This becomes particularly important if merging with a company that has an already established EMR system. Who is going to switch systems?

  • Willingness to remain the owner and for how long
  • Number of locations
  • Desirability of locations
  • Diversified referral sources 
  • High Accounts Receivable
  • Owner Reputation
  • Staff Longevity or high turnover rate
  • Non-competes
  • Number of years in business

Advice From Greg Wappett and Eric Major

Greg Wappett and Eric Major are the Director and Senior associate, respectively, of Provident Healthcare Providers, LLC. 

Factors to Consider First Before Selling

According to these two, before considering selling your physical therapy practice, there are 3 things you need to evaluate:

  1. Size of your operation
  2. Goal of the Shareholder (owner)
  3. Financial statements

If you have a good understanding of these factors, you’ll be far better prepared to begin the process of selling your business.  Let’s discuss preparing your finances first.

Financial Homework

First and foremost, you must have a good sense of your earnings. This goes back to our discussion on EBITDA from above, and how this ultimately determines what your practice will sell for. In order to do this, it’s important to complete monthly, quarterly, and annual financial statements; and more specifically the trailing 12 months. 

A trailing 12 months financial statement is often abbreviated to TTM throughout the merger and acquisition process and is critically important to remember, as it’s the statement used to calculate your EBITDA. As you can see, keeping track of these statements along the way will allow for a more timely transaction when selling your business. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s a lot of labor that goes into this transaction. 

It will be roughly a three to six-month process, so even if you’ve done all your financial homework, you have to have a reasonable timeline in mind. 

Other Factors to Consider

While financial earnings are key, it’s also important to consider other factors that will make your business more attractive to potential buyers.

Some of these factors are:

  • Showing that your business can control growth versus needing to cut staff.

This can be done by opening new locations or hiring new PTs. 

  • Continuing to grow and expand.

Invest in marketing and recruiting. Having marketing systems already in place makes your business an appealing option.

Advice For Selling Smaller Physical Therapy Practices

According to Greg and Eric, smaller PT practices have some additional considerations that need to be made. Their top piece of advice is to focus on cleaning up shop. 

A smaller practice means lower revenue, and this means it will be more difficult to keep up with compliance. More focus needs to be placed on making sure that:

  • Corporate structure is in order
  • Taxes and legal matters are lined up
  • Real estate can legally and ethically be transferred to the buyer

Additionally, payer mix is a consideration for businesses small and large alike. Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done about this, as it is more of a geographical issue. 

Intangibles 

The following is a list of questions buyers will want to know, therefore preparing for them in advance will be of great benefit.

  • What does the corporate infrastructure look like?
  • What’s the company strategy?
  • What’s the platform?
  • What’s the brand, name recognition, and awareness of the company?
  • What’s the referral base look like?
  • Is there an intangible benefit that passes the test of being real?

An example of this might be a sports team connection where you have ATCs from your locations who are contracted to local high schools, introducing a stable source of new patients.

Nuggets on Finding the Right Buyer

When you’re looking to sell, remember there are many different types of buyers. For example, over the past five years, people buying businesses with private equity dollars have increased substantially. There are now one to two-dozen groups who are private equity backed, so consider this as a legitimate option on the market.

For smaller Physical Therapy practices and clinics, it will be difficult to find relative comparable practices in your area. This means you may have to think outside logical buyers. This could include a friendly transaction with a competitor or even a partial sale where you still have a little skin in the game with a buyout over a few years. If you own between 1-10 clinics, you may want to consider a tuck-in or platform acquisition. An example of this might be a company in your area who owns 10 clinics. This company may buy your one clinic as a tuck-in, expanding their market share and filling a geographical gap.

Benefits of an Advisor

The last bit of advice from Greg and Eric is that there are several benefits to using an advisor during this process. Using an advisor one to two years out from actually completing this transaction allows you time to select a buyer and the ability to explore options you might otherwise be unfamiliar with.

Another benefit of using an advisor is that they can help connect you to an extensive network of buyers and merger partners whom they’ve acquired through past transactions. Additionally, they can introduce you to other business owners who have sold their businesses, which can offer valuable insight into the process. An advisor will know which groups are actively buying and what the current pulse of the market looks like. This means they will be able to help you lay out the groundwork for an optimal deal structure based on the current market.

Finally, due to their experience working with many different practices, an advisor will be able to help tease out what sets you apart from your competitors and use it in the market to your benefit. 

Wrapping up

In today’s post, we’ve discussed understanding the value of your practice, and how planning for the end of your business is in your best interest. We’ve gotten great advice on the topic from industry leading experts, Paul Welk, Greg Wappett, and Eric Major that should have you feeling more at ease about when and how to sell your PT practice. Check back soon for the second part in this series, where we’ll have tips from three more experts to help you round out your plans for selling your physical therapy private practice.

In the meantime, check out some other free PT resources on our website. Here is the continuation of this selling guide!

It wasn’t that long ago that marketing automation was something that only hospitals and large PT practices could afford, leaving small and mid-sized practices to do things the old-fashioned way. Luckily, that’s no longer the case, yet many practices are still doing most or all of their marketing manually – by hand.

The whole concept of automation is built on processes and systems. In marketing, this can take a number of forms, depending on the type of marketing you’re doing and the tools you’re using to manage these systems. 

Let’s look at what these tools and processes look like in action and how they impact the level of care you provide (and ultimately, your practice’s overall profitability):

Myth: Automation Means Hands-Free

Hands On Marketing

Before we dive into specifics, there’s a big misconception about marketing automation that needs to be cleared up: automation is, in fact, NOT synonymous with hands-off.

You’ve probably heard phrases like “turn-key marketing” or maybe someone told you that automation saves time because you can set it up once and simply ride the escalator to the top with zero extra effort involved.

These ideas are first and foremost inaccurate, but they also force practice owners to set unrealistic expectations about what automation can and should be doing for you.

What is marketing automation in a PT space?

In reality it is a tool that removes much of the manual labor so you can focus on higher-level tasks in your business and clinic, but there is still some level of involvement from you.

Here’s an example of what marketing automation really looks like in a physical therapy practice:

We recently did a rotator cuff workshop with 110 people in attendance: 55 people came from online marketing automation, and 55 came from offline advertising. When I mention this workshop to the average practice owner, they’re under the belief that those 110 people raised their hand saying they have rotator cuff issues, walked into the workshop, and signed up for an appointment.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

We had to call every one of those patients once they registered—we had about 98 conversations with people who signed up. These weren’t just conversations about the event, either. We spoke with them about their shoulders and asked what they were experiencing as well as what they were hoping to get from the workshop.

Of those in attendance, 47 people scheduled a full plan of care. Automation helped bring the leads in, but we had to pick up where the automation left off to ignite the conversation and get them to move forward with treatment. 

Automation is by no means a hands-off approach to getting new clients, but it can serve as an extra set of hands for lead generation and keeping your sales funnel full of qualified patients who are likely to need what you can provide.

Now, let’s look at some of the ways PT practice owners are using marketing automation to maximize their resources and increase their leads:

Email Marketing Automation

PT Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing. Some sources pinpoint the average ROI at around $39 for every dollar spent, while others say it’s closer to $44 per dollar spent. In either case, PT practices of any size can leverage it for less than pennies per email.

To start, you’ll need to build your email list. We’ll talk about some other automation techniques for lead generation, which will help you build up your list. But you can also add your current patients to the mix. They already know you and may end up buying products, starting a new care plan, or even recommending you to their friends or family if you can stay top-of-mind. 

You don’t want to be too promotional with your email marketing—instead, you should focus on delivering value to your audience, especially those who have not come into the office for care. You can use email marketing to share helpful information or blog posts, build your image, and invite people to join a webinar or other event that will get them through the door. 

I’ve also seen a lot of PT practices use email as a communication tool for new patients. On-boarding emails, at-home exercises, setting patient expectations, appointment reminders—anything that creates conversation and engagement to integrate your patient into your practice culture.

Live Chat

Live chat used to be “just nice to have,” but today, it’s becoming more of a necessity if you’re getting a lot of inquiries or visitors to your website.

Live chat is like instant messaging for your website. PT practices can use it to communicate with leads in real-time. Your front office staff will receive a notification when someone starts a conversation. Then, they can reply with information, answers, or even an invitation to an appointment.

Research shows that nearly a third of website users expect this feature, and this number is even higher for mobile device users. People want a quick, easy way to reach out to you without having to call your office.

You might be wondering, “Where’s the automation in live chat?”

There are a couple of things you can do here. First, some patients need a little nudge to get the conversation going. Automation can initiate the conversation based on user behaviors on your website, bring your user’s attention to the live chat feature, and even send a transcript of the conversation to the patient via email.  

Plus, it’s an easy way to add credibility to your website and practice. 

Lead Generation

Web forms and landing pages are digital gold for generating leads, and they don’t cost much to create or implement. 

Here’s the breakdown:

You create a web form or landing page that offers free content in exchange for contact details. This could be a blog post, checklist, e-book, webinar—anything of value that people will want. 

Once the visitor signs up, their email address and contact information are automatically added to your email list so you can nurture your leads until they’re ready to move forward.

Think about it: when someone visits your website, you know absolutely nothing about them. You don’t know why they came, what they’re looking for, who they are, or how you can help them. You also have no way of reaching back out to them (unless you’re using remarketing or retargeting, which we’ll talk about next).

Opt-in forms are priceless in this regard. They help you capitalize on website visitors to give you a chance to continue the conversation without any extra effort on your part.

Remarketing / Retargeting

If you’ve ever visited a website and looked at a product without purchasing, then later saw advertisements for that website and product while browsing other sites, you’ve experienced remarketing. 

Remarketing (or retargeting) is an easy way to remain top-of-mind with website visitors. Maybe they landed on your web page and didn’t reach out. Or maybe they started to schedule an appointment online but didn’t complete the process. Whatever the reason they bounced, retargeting helps you remain connected to them.

This not only creates top-of-mind awareness but also encourages repeat visits to your website.

*Remarketing is a paid advertising service done through one of the major ad delivering networks such as Google AdWords, Facebook or a private ad network.

Social Media

Social Media Marketing for PT Practices

If you’re doing any form of content marketing (e.g., blog posts, webinars, e-books), then social media is a natural part of the ecosystem. It’s a place for you to publish, post, and advertise to build brand awareness, connect with prospects, grow your following, and attract new patients to your practice.

While you’ll need to be the eyes and hands behind the content itself, you can use automation tools to schedule posts ahead of time. Here’s what this might look like:

You write ten blog posts and publish them to your website. You use automation tools to front load all ten blog posts and share them one by one on designated days at the time of your choice.

Content marketing is one of the easiest things to quit. You’re creating all this helpful content to share with your audience, but then something happens, and it gets knocked down on your priority list until it’s not even on the list anymore. But content marketing is arguably the single most powerful tool in your marketing arsenal, and you can’t afford for it to fall through the cracks. 

Automation steps in to ensure that even when you take an “off” day on your content strategy, you still have content working for you on social media.

Wrap-Up

Marketing automation is a growing practice, and it’s not just for big-budget hospitals anymore. It’s not uncommon to find freemium products that can help you get your feet wet until you get a feel for automation and how you want to use it in your practice. 

One more thing you need to walk away with today is that automation is never a replacement for human connections. Rather, your digital automation should support the person-to-person interactions you have with your patients and prospects. No matter the type of automation you choose, when you prioritize value, the benefits will easily outweigh the costs.

To learn more about PT marketing, automation and Physical Therapy advertising, please visit our resource center.

Is it possible to grow your practice and increase the number of patients you see after losing physician referrals?

Faced with declining referrals, this is a common and valid question among private practice physical therapy clinic owners. 

PTs across the country are seeing a decline in physician referrals. The Journal of General Internal Medicine reported a 54.5% decrease in physician referrals to PT from 2003 to 2014. For those of us that lean heavily on referrals from physicians for business, this essentially means that more than half of our new patients have vanished.

To worsen matters, many physicians have opened up their own PT practices and now refer in-house. HOPTs and POPTs practices like these are making it hard for private practice PTs to keep their doors open. Unless we seek additional ways to bring patients into the clinic, current declining trends leave very little hope for the future of private practice. 

Going Beyond Physician Referrals for Private Practice Growth

Grow Your PT Practice

Physician referrals are just one of three ways a private practice owner can get new patients. And since referrals are going down, we have to put more effort and focus into the other two ways, which are past patients and going straight to the public.

Every patient you treat has the potential to help you grow your practice, either by reactivating as a patient because of a new injury or by referring other patients to you. This is true regardless of the status of direct access marketing in your state. You don’t need legal permission or special requirements to market to existing or previous patients, which makes this option even more attractive to practice owners. 

The other way is marketing directly to the public. All 50 states now have some form of direct access that allows you to market to the general public without a physician referral. And in the face of declining referrals, it’s becoming more important than ever to elevate these other two options for growing your practice. 

The Challenge of Growing Without Physician Referrals Is All in Your Head

Overcome a drop in referrals

So what’s stopping us? For most private PT owners, the answer is twofold—and completely in your head: skepticism and lack of know-how.

If we look at PT as an industry, historically, we’ve followed a linear referral model. As far back as the 1910s, when PTs were reconstruction aids during WWI, we were interwoven with physicians and relied on their referrals. Now that those referrals are going away, most PTs are unsure of how to replace them. 

Physician referrals were handicap for us. We didn’t have to go to our past patient list and learn how to ask for referrals or reactivations. We didn’t have to go direct to consumer because physicians kept us flush with patients. This was truly a luxury that almost no other type of service professional has, and now, we’re forced to figure out how to survive on our own.

What Can You Accomplish with Direct Access Marketing?

Interestingly, as physician referrals started declining, the rise of direct access started rising. This availability of going direct couldn’t have come at a better time as more PTs started thinking about how they would fill the void of losing physician referrals. 

I’ve seen first-hand how direct access marketing can not only save a declining practice but also grow it significantly. In November 2008, I received about 154 physician referrals at my single location practice. No one physician represented more than six of those referrals—we were a very diversified clinic and had over 100 referring partners. At that time, three hospital systems were buying up about 90% of referral sources—including most my referrers. We had five POPTs practices within a three-mile radius, and the competition just kept coming. 

Fast forward to last year, where physician referrals accounted for just 11% of our patient volume. 

What happened?

The short version is this: We grew from 300 visits a week to 600 visits a week and went from three full-time teams to 5.5 full-time teams. Plus, we opened two additional clinics. Our clinical director in our third clinic outgrew the space within three months. Now, one year later, he’s hired two full-time PTs, a full-time PTA, and is preparing to hire a marketing director. He’s been profitable every month since his second month—and did all of this with no prior patient list (on account of being a new clinic) and very few physician referrals. He had to go direct to consumer across the board and gained fast, effective results. 

We’re not alone in this. Breakthrough has worked with over 800 practice owners in all 50 states (1,200 owners internationally) going direct to the consumer using Facebook and Google ads, workshops, and other outlets to produce results like the ones we experienced at Madden PT.

The Benefits of Going Direct to the Patient

Going directly to the consumer comes with benefits that go beyond keeping your schedule full. Consider the following: 

  • Influence payer mix. Go to the companies that have the best insurance and show a willingness to work with those companies.
  • Build Authority, Celebrity, and Expertise. Earn respect in your community and become the local expert for physical therapy. 
  • Take control of clinic growth. Physicians don’t control your practice’s profits—you do! Going direct means getting patients when you need them and helps you better control your business’s future.
  • Higher graduation rates. You can work with patients who want to be there versus patients whose doctor told them to come.
  • More value in your practice. Higher graduation rates and more visits contribute to a better image and healthier bottom line.

Learn with Breakthrough

You don’t need a marketing degree to successfully go direct to the consumer. There are tons of resources available online to help you learn how to connect with prospective patients and grow your practice. If you want to learn more about marketing a PT practice, check out a few of the resources available on our site.

Direct access laws in texas

Want to learn exactly what the changes in Direct Access laws mean for your practice?

Keep reading to learn how these laws are changing the landscape of PT marketing in Texas and tips for making the switch to direct access marketing.

New Laws vs. the Old

Prior to September 1, 2019, physical therapists were only permitted to evaluate potential patients but, PTs could not treat or advise them without a referral from a doctor. 

The new Texas Direct Access bill (HB 29) grants patients direct access to physical therapy without the need for a doctor’s note. This bill was signed by Governor Greg Abbott and put into effect at the beginning of September 2019.

Texas is now the 49th state to pass direct access legislation. 

This new law is revolutionary for both patients and therapists. Direct access means reduced wait times and access to immediate care and treatment. It also eliminates the need for costly and unnecessary visits to a physician prior to seeking physical therapy services.

Texas Direct Access Law Loopholes

What new medical bill would be complete without a few stipulations and loopholes? While patients no longer need referrals to seek out PT care, therapists need to keep a few things in mind:

  • Patients can receive treatment without a referral for up to 10 consecutive business days. These visits are permitted for therapists with a doctoral degree or those with required education and training. 
  • Physical therapists with a doctoral degree in PT and additional residency or fellowship training can treat patients for up to 15 consecutive business days.
  • All physical therapists treating patients without a referral must be licensed to practice for a minimum of one year and have liability insurance.
  • Referrals from a qualified medical professional are still required for treatment beyond the approved number of consecutive visits.

But, the new direct access law isn’t just changing the landscape of healthcare. It also means big changes for physical therapists in Texas and the way they currently do business.

Direct Access Marketing for Physical Therapists

Practicing physical therapists have to stay informed and up-to-date on the rules and regulations surrounding patient treatment. This guarantees you’re practicing within the parameters of Texas law.

But beyond that, therapists must now completely rethink their marketing efforts. 

Previously, PT marketing relied on referrals from doctor’s offices and other medical professionals.

Now, marketing efforts can include going direct to the consumer. After all, the power has shifted to the hands of the patient. It’s up to them to choose what kind of care is best for their needs. 

So how can you give your marketing plan a makeover and make the shift to Direct Access Marketing? Let’s take a look!

Get to Know the Specific Needs of Your Patients

In order to successfully market to individual patients, you need to understand (and appeal to) their specific needs. 

Are you dealing with sports-related injuries, car accident victims, or elderly patients in need of rehabilitation? Once you determine the type of clientele you want to attract, you can formulate a marketing plan to fit their needs.

Questions to consider about your Physical Therapy patients?
  • What type of physical therapy service do they need?
    How long will treatment take?
  • Where are they seeking out information about physical therapy?
  • How and where do they spend most of their time?

Answering these questions will help paint a picture of your target audience, including how and where to direct your marketing efforts.

Create an Online Presence

It’s no big surprise that in today’s internet-dependent world that your practice needs a website and an online presence to succeed. If you don’t already have one, your number one task is to create a user-friendly site to promote yourself.

A few things to keep in mind when designing your pages include:

  • Easy navigation
  • Fast loading pages
  • Clear, easy to find contact information
  • SEO (search engine optimization)

These are just a handful of the elements any successful website needs to rank on Google. In fact, most people use a basic internet search when looking for medical care. 

While having a website is a great first step in creating an online presence, it’s not the only one.

Your practice should also be visible on social media (including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). With over 3.2 billion people using one or more of these social media platforms, this is one piece of the marketing pie you can’t afford to miss.Manage Your Reputation

With the creation of an online presence also comes reputation management. Before long, you’ll find your website on countless review sites including Yelp, Zocdoc, and Healthgrades, just to name a few.

And while this exposure is good, it also means managing these review sites to keep your reputation intact. Chances are, you’ll receive at least a few negative reviews from time to time… 

Don’t panic. This is completely normal. What’s more important is how you react to negative comments.

First things first – don’t ignore them! It may be tempting to simply scroll past a former patient’s rant about your practice, especially if what they’re saying isn’t true…

Unfortunately, you need to respond to each and every comment – good or bad. Responding to less-than-stellar reviews shows a level of professionalism and accountability. This is appealing to prospective clients.

It may even convince former, disgruntled patients to give your practice another chance. 

Ideally, you also want to be proactive about receiving positive reviews from patients who experience good outcomes from working with you. 

Asking for a written testimonial when a patient graduates can quickly add up to dozens or even hundreds of glowing reviews for your practice. 

Get to Know Your Competition 

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Sizing up your competition can help you to better focus your own marketing efforts. 

Do some research to learn what your competitors are doing right and what they’re doing wrong. What types of services do they offer? Are they similar to your own? How are they marketing their services to potential patients?

Take this information and use it to your benefit. Perhaps it’s time you offer additional services or revamp your current system. Sometimes, you have to look outward before you can look internally to make positive changes. 

It’s also a good idea to look at examples of effective marketing outside the PT industry to come up with ideas you can adapt to your practice. 

Mistakes to Avoid

Using direct access marketing isn’t just about knowing what to do – it’s also important to understand what pitfalls to avoid. Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating your marketing plan.

Don’t Cut Corners

There’s no “get rich quick” scheme when it comes to marketing your practice. Creating a successful marketing plan takes time, money, and attention to detail.

Start by choosing a reasonable budget. The good news is, once you identify your target market you can focus your advertising efforts accordingly. 

Consider these other factors when creating your budget:

  • What is your current financial situation?
  • How much are you willing to spend?
  • How will you monitor your ROI?
  • Where will you divide your funds?

Avoid putting all of your eggs into one basket, so to speak. Don’t spend all of your funds in one place.

Spread out your marketing efforts between a few different outlets including email, social media, and traditional mailers

Above all else, don’t assume when it comes to tracking results from marketing. You want to keep track of every dollar you spend and the ROI each of your campaigns delivers. 

Don’t Overwhelm Patients with Advertisements

One major mistake practices make when trying to drum up business is bombarding patients with advertisements. No one likes to be hounded.

This is especially true if you’re advertising to current patients. You’ve already convinced them to use your services, you don’t need to beat them over the head with paid ads. 

Advertisement overload most commonly occurs on social media. Avoid filling your feeds with advertisements. Instead, share helpful and informative posts about trending topics. 

Keep this in mind when it comes to your email marketing campaign as well. Nothing will earn you an “unsubscribe” faster than spamming someone’s account. 

Don’t Overlook Your Current Clientele

In an effort to attract new patients, some therapists overlook their current client base. Don’t let this be you.

Tap into your loyal customers and ask for help. This can come in the form of personal referrals or positive online reviews. 

Another important thing to remember is that Google takes positive online reviews into account when producing SERPs (search engine results page). The more positive reviews you have, the better your chances for ranking at the top.

Why Direct Access Marketing Works

Check out a few more ways that direct access care is benefiting both patients and therapists…

Fast, Effective Treatment

One of the biggest complaints about the healthcare system among patients is its inefficiency and wait times. The introduction of direct access care means patients receive the treatment they need, when they need it.

Immediate care also makes your job as a therapist that much easier. All too often patients wait weeks, or even months, to see their primary physician for a referral. 

Direct access allows patients to choose their own therapist and book an appointment right away.

This means more patient flow into your office and less time wasted fixing a problem that’s gone unaddressed for too long. 

Satisfied Patients

While direct access doesn’t change the type of care patients receive, it does alter their perception of care. The ability to make their own choice and book appointments freely puts patients in the driver’s seat.

Imagine you have two potential patients waiting for you in two different exam rooms in your practice. Patient A is a referral from a physician. Patient B has come to you via direct access.

When you ask Patient A why they came to your clinic, their only response is that their doctor told them to come.

When you ask Patient B the same question, they mention seeing an ad for your practice online and then reading a few reviews from your past patients before deciding that you were someone who could help them. 

Now…if you could press a button and instantly have more of one type of patient at your practice would you choose A or B?

Or to put it another way, between Patient A and Patient B, who do you think is more likely to complete their plan of care? Who’s more likely to walk away from working with you as a satisfied patient?

Satisfied patients are more likely to refer friends and family to your practice. They’ll also be willing to leave you a positive review or comment online, boosting traffic to your website and your office.

Cost-Effective Care 

Direct access care is cost-effective for both patients and therapists. Patients save money through bypassing an unnecessary doctor’s visit simply to get a referral.

When patients get immediate care, they’re less likely to need medications, X-rays, injections, or prolonged treatment. This means fewer visits and quicker recovery, creating a positive experience for all those involved.

Breakthrough Marketing for All Your Marketing Needs

In the age of direct access care, you can’t afford to leave your new patient numbers up to chance. It’s your job to take control of your success and implement a few of these direct access marketing tips. 

Are you looking to collaborate with other physical therapy marketing professionals in your field and learn even more about the evolving Texas healthcare system?

Attend our PT Marketing Summit or contact Breakthrough Marketing today to take control of your future.You can also check out our resource center. This is another great spot for online workshops and training geared toward professionals like you!

 

PTs are afraid of sounding too “salesy” when educating prospects and presenting a plan of care. But there’s a big difference between being salesy and being the expert. A salesperson is concerned with making sales, but an expert provides all the information the patient needs to make their own decisions. 

You didn’t get into physical therapy to become a salesman, that much is true. But at the same time, there has to be some form of money exchange to keep your doors open, so sales is just a natural part of doing business. 

If you’re convinced that you sound more like a used car salesman than a professional PT, there’s an underlying reason that’s preventing you from being the expert.

Where Does This Idea Come From?

When most PTs think of being salesy, what they mean is: “I don’t like to pressure people into doing things they don’t want to do.”

What this comes down to is how we personally perceive sales. Maybe you’ve been pressured by a salesperson in the past, or maybe you’ve felt resistance from a past patient that led to a bad experience. Or perhaps one of your patients has had some sort of objection, and when trying to overcome it, you lost sight of the value aspect and focused more on getting a “Yes” from the patient.

As a PT, your goal is to help as many patients as possible. You’re not trying to sell them a service—you’re trying to help them get out of pain or solve another problem. You’re not selling products—you’re helping them visualize the results of what you offer. And if you don’t think you’ll be able to help them, you certainly don’t want them to go through with a program they don’t need. 

If you do your homework upfront, from building value in your PT marketing to understanding the patient’s problem and approaching it the right way the first time, you won’t have to push the patient. They’ll already see what you can do for them and will have all the information they need to make an informed decision—no hard selling required.

Common Pitfalls That Make You Sound Pushy

Common PT Pitfalls

There’s a lot that needs to happen leading up to presenting your patient with a plan of care. If you’ve done a good job of marketing yourself, helping people get familiar with your practice, and individualizing the experience, you should be able to present the plan of care as an offering; not a sales pitch. 

The trust and credibility you need are already there, and patients can make an informed decision without feeling like you’re pushing them into it.

However, there are a few common stumbling blocks that can derail this entire theory, and tripping over any of them can make you seem pushy:

Marketing and Sales

There’s a strong relationship between marketing and sales, but many PT owners neglect the marketing aspect and focus solely on the sales part (no wonder you think you sound salesy!).

One way to think about marketing is positioning. PT is positioned in the healthcare industry as a natural, non-invasive, less expensive treatment option. There’s no medication, injection, or surgery, and PT has very few side effects. You need to build celebrity status in your local market to boost your image of expertise.

This doesn’t happen by itself. Neglecting how you position yourself means you have to be more salesy to get your point across when facing patients. If your marketing isn’t building trust and credibility with your prospects, these elements will be lacking when you go to present a plan of care, and without those elements, it’s hard not to sound salesy.

Most healthcare providers associate sales with knowing the right things to say to people. A better way to think of sales is simply asking the right questions and focusing on the patient. Sales speak often develops when we’re focused on ourselves rather than the patient’s needs, and this does nothing to build their confidence in how we can help them.

Good marketing takes a lot of pressure off the sales aspect. Marketing comes first in any sales cycle, and if you’ve done a thorough job in positioning your practice, your image, and your services, then sales becomes a lot less stressful.

Indoctrination

Become a PT Celebrity in your community

When you walk into an PT examining room, do your prospects already know you? If not, you probably have to do a lot more work in the sales process. No PT wants to do more selling than they have to, which is why we put a heavy emphasis on content. 

Videos, workshops, free reports, blog posts, and other content can help you build authority and celebrity status in your area. People get to know you through your content, and when the content is helpful, well-presented, and well-researched, they’ll also start to trust you.

Bad History

We touched on this earlier, but our own experiences with sales can often lead us to make bad decisions in our own sales process. Maybe you felt pressured into buying something and later felt duped. You didn’t have enough information to make a good buying decision and regretted it later. 

This is because the product or service was bad or didn’t live up to expectations. 

As a PT, you aren’t doing the same thing because you are offering something of value. There’s no comparison to your previous experiences, so you should step out of your own shoes and approach sales from a patient’s perspective. 

The conversation only starts because the patient needs your help. They’re in pain or have some sort of pain point that has pushed them to seek your help. If they’re in your office, they already think you’re the authority who can help them.

Build Value, and Selling Becomes Natural

Eliminating those common pitfalls is more work, but it results in more patients—specifically more patients who value what you do and will complete their plan of care. Plus, it reduces the amount of “selling” you need to do to get a “Yes” decision.

We have tons of free PT marketing resources available to help you improve your marketing—start learning and growing today at LearnWithBreakthrough.com.

Breakthrough Physical Therapy Marketing Inc 5000

Breakthrough PT Marketing has been named the No. 579 fastest-growing company on the Inc. 5000 list.

Each year, Inc. magazine calculates the fastest-growing private companies in the United States to create its Inc. 5000 list. Each company on the list is ranked according to recorded revenue growth over a three-year period. 

This award marks Breakthrough as the #1 fastest-growing private company in the PT industry with three-year revenue growth of 765%.

The entire team is honored to receive this level of national recognition, and we are grateful not only to Inc. but to the community of Private Practice owners we get to work with every day.

As a PT marketing company, the quality of the products and services you promote directly affects your ability to succeed. We’re very fortunate to work exclusively with PTs who deliver the highest-quality care to their patients. 

Breakthrough Physical Therapy Marketing Team

Our Commitment to Private Practice

Private practice PT has changed dramatically over the years. According to PT in Motion, there was a 54.5% decrease in physical referrals to Physical Therapy between 2003 and 2014. 

As more and more corporations and hospital systems are working to take away the traditional sources of new PT patients, it’s clear that PTs need companies in their corner who are committed to using their expertise to benefit PT as an industry.

And just as Private Practice PTs have established themselves as the “Experts of Choice” for patients with musculoskeletal injuries, Breakthrough is able to stand out from the competition by providing a proven and guaranteed way for PTs to drive patients directly from the public.

The current hospital system tries to steer people in pain towards medications, injections, and surgery before considering physical therapy. 

At Breakthrough, we work with private practice physical therapy owners to promote conservative care options first because we understand that’s the best way to provide better outcomes. 

Our company doesn’t grow if we aren’t able to produce real results for our clients, which is why it’s so exciting to see our growth featured on the Inc. 5000 list.


What is the biggest mistake you’ve ever made in marketing your private practice?

I asked this same question in a recent survey of more than 300 physical therapy private practice owners in the US and Canada. Here are some of the 37+ unique responses I got regarding marketing ideas that don’t work:

Newsletters
T-shirts or other types of branded swag
Billboards
TV commercials
Radio ads
Facebook
SEO
Yelp!
Print ads
Direct mail

Are you surprised by their responses? Perhaps you’ve tried a few of these yourself (or all of them, it’s okay to admit it), or maybe you’ve considered some of these in your own marketing. Our survey respondents say they tried the above methods, plus others, and they didn’t work. 

When we reviewed their responses, we realized that every single one of them was somehow media-related. Granted, media is an important component in marketing, but it’s just one leg of a three-legged tripod that isn’t going to support the full initiative on its own.

Being a fan of Dan Kennedy and his “No BS approach” to direct response marketing, I fully believe this is what we as private practice physical therapy owners should be doing when going direct to the patient. Dan teaches the three key components that every effective marketing strategy should include, called the Market Message Media Triangle.

Interestingly, when we were talking with our survey group about the mistakes they’ve made in their marketing, no one came back and said that they didn’t do a great job in targeting their market. No one said they didn’t take the time to craft a strong message that resonated in the minds of their audience.

But anytime you have a campaign or marketing piece that works, it’s because these three things align. Let’s explore.

Market

PT Marketing Piece that Works

When it comes to marketing, how specific are you about whom you want to reach? How specific do you really need to be? 

There are lots of different types of people who could benefit from PT. Too often, private practice owners take this concept to the extreme and start trying to market to all of them. This, of course, doesn’t usually work well because there’s nothing unique about their message. You end up with a very generic marketing campaign that tries to be something for everyone but ends up connecting with no one.

You don’t market to a 53-year old grandmother with back pain in the same way you market to a 15-year old gymnast with back pain. There’s a different conversation going on in their head, different concerns, and ultimately—different options for care. 

We need to be clear about who we’re targeting and use that audience to create our next point: the message.

Message

The Right PT Message

I remember early in the days of Physical Therapy marketing I would play a sort of marketing roulette, where a sales rep from a local media company would come by and ask if I wanted to advertise with them. I’m busy treating patients, so I would usually sign up for a low-priced ad to test and see how it works. Not surprisingly, I’d forget about it until the deadline for the copy was due.

Guess who ends up writing the copy for the ad?

That’s right—not me. 

I usually ask them to do it simply because I’m too busy. Naturally, when the ad goes live, we don’t get any results from it. And then, as I’m trying to decide whether to do this again, it’s hard for me to honestly say that ads don’t work. What if I’d written my own copy, designed a better graphic, or even taken the time to know which publication I was investing in to see if it fit my target market?

If I was too busy to handle the ad appropriately, then arguably, I was too busy to handle any results that came from the ad. Lesson learned.

Learning how to write a compelling message takes time. One of the biggest mistakes I see in private practice is that PTs want to speak to their patients and prospective patients like PTs. There’s a huge gap in translation here that is preventing many practice owners from connecting with their targets. 

What is significantly better is speaking with patients on a fifth-grade reading level so that we’re not using words like rotator cuff tendinopathy that will go over their heads. PT talk doesn’t resonate with what’s going on in the minds of our patients. What is going on is the idea of getting back to normal, stopping the pain, and living life like they used to. 

Therefore, a good definition to know here is that the message is what you’re saying in your marketing and how it sounds to your target audience.

Media

PT Marketing Content

Putting market and message together, we now have a better idea of how to choose the right media that our prospective patients are consuming. The 53-year old grandmother will probably be on Facebook and interested in direct mail, while the 15-year old gymnast may be more responsive through other social media or at her local gym. 

Media is often one of the first priorities in a marketing campaign for PTs, so it’s not surprising that we had so many respondents say that media has failed them. Your Market and Message should guide your media selection if you want to see the best results.

Finding Successful 3M Alignment

If you’ve tried everything you can think of to market your private practice physical therapy, that could very well be your problem. You’re trying to come up with all these ideas, the most obvious of which are media-related, and nothing is working because you aren’t combining your media with your target market and tailored message. 

The truth is that direct mail, SEO, and Facebook ads CAN work, but only if your target market is using these forms of media to learn and make decisions AND you’re communicating a message that speaks directly to them. 

To learn more about how to forge market, message, and media alignment, I invite you to join me on for free PT Marketing training that you can use to start noticeably improving your direct access marketing.