Whether you’ve just managed to get your PT practice off the ground or are a seasoned “hall of famer,” keeping a steady stream of patients can be more challenging than just providing good patient care. If your patient numbers are dwindling or your profits have taken a hit, you might be making some common PT marketing mistakes.
Through years of firsthand experience, we’ve determined the most common marketing mistakes for each level of private practice ownership, and we’re here to help you avoid them.
There are key steps to creating a successful marketing scheme for your private practice, but believe it or not, it all begins with the right mindset. Today, we will cover that mindset in detail. Over the next several posts, we’ll discuss each of the following steps and ways you can implement them to create your own marketing success. Topics will include:
- The Transition Curve
- Background for Marketing
- Test, Test, Testing for What Works and What Doesn’t
- Common Pitfalls
- Mistakes and Resources at Each Level of Ownership
Since it’s always best to start at the beginning, today’s post will discuss the transition curve; what it is, how it applies to you, and how you can use it to gain control over the direction of your practice.
Understanding the Transition Curve
Do you have THAT friend?
You know, the chronic job-hopper who’s always coming up with the Next Big Thing…
But never acts on their ideas.
The dabbler who quits as soon as things get tough…
But constantly bemoans the fact that they haven’t found true success.
If you go backwards in time, you might find a child who was praised for starting but never held accountable for finishing.
The end result – an adult who’s stuck endlessly navigating the Transition Curve without completion.
As a private PT practice owner, understanding the transition curve is necessary in allowing you to accept new ideas and grow your practice without getting discouraged or losing focus. The chart below shows what a typical transition curve looks like, with the height of the curve representing your emotional state throughout the process.
The transition curve can be defined as your mental process throughout the growth and implementation of a new idea. While the above graph contains five steps, I prefer to think of it as four phases with two different outcomes depending on the path you choose to take. Knowing you have a choice in the outcome is a nice reminder that ultimately, you are in control of what happens. The flowchart below outlines how the third phase can move in two different directions based on the choices you make.
Let’s break each of these categories down to help you figure out which phase you might be in.
Uninformed Optimism (AKA Bright New Shiny Syndrome)
You have a PERFECT new idea. It is bright, and shiny, and new, and dripping with enthusiasm. You’re going to be able to help more people who are in pain, spend more time with family, AND you’re going to do it without the help of big hospitals who only refer to huge corporate companies. You are going to change the game.
This is the rosy glow we all get when we cook up a new idea. We can take on the world, move mountains, change everything. It’s the phase of the transition curve in which you’re able to see all the potential of your new venture – but none of the challenges. With regard to starting a PT private practice, this is when you decide you want to be your own boss, and share your vision of what a company should be with the public.
Reality strikes. Here you realize you’ve got a lot to learn about running a private practice. Where you may have initially believed your high-quality patient care would be enough to build and create a thriving physical therapy business, you now realize it’s much more complex than that. You may not yet understand marketing, hiring, financing, or business planning, and that can be overwhelming.
Crisis of Meaning
Welcome to rock bottom. You may end up here after your pessimistic revelation of all the things you do not yet know. This is the phase where you’ll find yourself asking, “Why am I even doing this?” or “How can I possibly make this work?” This is where the real work begins. From here, you have two options: accept defeat and give up, or dig in and figure out how to make it work.
Crash and Burn (Optional and Highly Discouraged)
In this outcome, you allow self-limiting beliefs to dictate your choice. This is often the easier option, though it leads to an unsatisfying end to your journey. Here you decide the mountain of knowledge you have yet to obtain is too large, the financial burden is too substantial, or the time investment needed is too great. This is the option where you hang up your cleats and jersey, and go home.
We have all felt like giving up and going home at some point, but this is when you need to start asking yourself better questions. Instead of asking, “How will I ever get this done?” start asking, “What do I need to do to get started?”
If you’ve made it this far, I don’t think the crash and burn option concerns you. The time you’ve already dedicated to learning shows that you’ve chosen the path of the informed optimist. Informed optimism is when you recognize the obstacles ahead of you and embrace the challenges you will face to overcome them. You’re able to take all the items on your to-do list and look at them as opportunities for personal and professional growth.
You remember that bright, shiny idea you had? It’s going to take a little elbow grease, but here’s your chance to shine it back up. This is where you figure out HOW to help more people in pain, HOW to get more direct access referrals, HOW to create a better work life balance. You really can change the game, but first you have to know the rules.
Understanding that each of these phases is a normal part of the transition curve takes the fear and guesswork out of new business or marketing decisions.
You already know it’s going to be hard, you know you will have to put in the time, but you also know that you will be one step closer to your ultimate goal by choosing to seek out new obstacles and figuring out how to hurdle them.
Informed optimism is the ultimate way to gain control over your private practice because you will start to seek growth opportunities instead of searching for the path of least resistance.
Now that you understand the mindset needed to create success in your private practice, it’s time to delve a little deeper into the specifics of private practice physical therapy marketing mistakes and how to fix them.
Stay tuned for our next post that will discuss what it takes to become a successful marketer!