Today we’re going to answer a very important question, a common question that many physical therapy business owners have: How do I market myself as a physical therapist? I have been marketing myself and my business for over a decade now. I run a private cash pay business in the United Kingdom that is competing daily against a free health care system.
I managed to scale my private practice to four locations, to twenty staff, to a very profitable, six-figure practice that is continuing to run without me. We do not rely upon doctors, we do not rely upon insurance companies, and to this day, my business, the Paul Gough Physio Rooms, does not even rely upon me.
I speak to you from Orlando, I run multiple businesses now. One of those is helping other physical therapists like you to be able to market your practice. So, to think about your business, and marketing and becoming successful is the bedrock of your business. You have got to start thinking about your marketing plan and how you are going to attract more customers, but one of the things you’ve got to shift away from is actually thinking about marketing yourself as a physical therapist.
Bear with me as I explain, there is a paradox here. A lot of people set out when they build or start out their physical therapy practice, and thinking that because they are a physical therapist, then they must market as a physical therapist. That strictly isn’t true. In fact, if you want your marketing strategy to be unsuccessful, then market yourself as a physical therapist.
Much of what I am about to teach you comes from my book, The New Patient Accelerator Method. It is a book I wrote for you and thousands of physical therapists all over the world and it teaches you how to market your practice. I’m going to give you a little insight into it in this article.
The idea is that if you market yourself as a physical therapist, then you are one of many. Many people are selling up against you, many people are already marketing their practice that you’re going to have to compete with. To separate yourself, what we need to do is move you away from being a physical therapist to something better than a physical therapist, and that is a specialist.
Your competition right now is marketing themselves as physical therapists; I’m going to encourage you to market yourself as a specialist.
99 percent of people with problems that you could solve are not actively looking for a physical therapist, they are looking for somebody who is a specialist in their problems. What does that mean?
It means that if you looked on the internet today, or if you were a typical person with back pain today, you would not, in all probability, search for a physical therapist. What you would search for is someone who can help you with back pain. You would search for somebody who could provide answers to questions about your back pain, your knee pain, your pelvic floor pain; the reason you can’t go to the gym. You would be looking for a specialist.
I think that I’ve watched and made the mistake myself that the biggest mistake when it comes to marketing yourself is thinking that you have to market yourself as a physical therapist.
In the beginning, to get traction, to get success, you must market yourself to a specific pocket of people and promise them that you can solve a specific problem that they’ve got. Now that could be back pain for a guy, or a girl aged 55. So, when it comes to running Facebook ads, Facebook would allow you to go to their platform, and run an ad talking specifically to one type of person. If you were wanting to target females for example, which I do with my practice.
I target 55-year-old females, and I can go to Facebook and I can run an ad that talks to a 55-year-old lady, and I show her an ad that says, “have you got back pain? If you’ve got back pain and you’ve suffered for 3 months or more, I’m a guy who could help you.” Because the message is specific to her, in that lady’s eyes, she views me as a specialist.
Another physiotherapy clinic could come along and market their physiotherapy services. Great, but most people with back pain are looking for somebody who, in their eyes, is a specialist.
So, the answer to how do I market myself as a physical therapist starts with you stopping thinking like a physical therapist. It is one of the very first things that you must do now that you’ve started a business. You have to stop thinking like a physical therapist and start thinking like a marketer of your business. Start thinking about who your perfect patient is.
Key Fundamental Aspects of Marketing Your PT Business
There are two things that you’re going to need to have to understand in order to market your business:
- Who your perfect patient is. – The most important decision in any business’s life is in deciding who is the perfect patient because that affects the second most important thing.
- The customer lifetime value.
If, for example, you choose a patient who only wants a quick fix, that wants two or three sessions with you to get them from pain, then your customer lifetime value will be, for example, maybe two or three hundred dollars.
But if I choose a 55-year-old lady, and she has a problem called chronic low back pain, and she wants to come to visit me ten to twelve times to fix that problem, so that she could be more independent, so that she can walk further, so that she can be active and healthy with her friends and family, then she’s going to spend more money with me. Because of that, her lifetime value could be in the thousands.
So, if you choose a patient, the who, who only spends a few hundred dollars with you, and I choose a patient who spends two thousand dollars with me, then you are going to need a hell of a lot more patients, you’ll have to work a hell of a lot harder than I am to attract a customer that ultimately allows me to run a profitable business.
There are two things that you must think about when it comes to the question of how do I market myself as a physical therapist.
- Stop thinking of yourself as a physical therapist and start thinking more of a specialist provider of solutions.
- Think about who it is that you want to help because the customer lifetime value will ultimately dictate all of the problems that you get or dodge as you look to grow your business.
As I look around, if you’re just starting your practice today, if I could tell myself one thing, if I could go back to when I was 26 years old, starting my practice thirteen years ago, I would tell myself those two things.
Get very clear on who your perfect patient because ultimately you will get significantly more profitability in your practice if you get clear on somebody and track somebody that you want to work with and that wants to work with you over the long haul, that somebody who, for example, might just want a few treatments for some sports injury that they picked up over the weekend, and getting clear on what the problems are that those people have is the next step.
Once you’ve got clear on the idea that actually to market yourself as a physical therapist, you have to stop thinking like a physical therapist. Then you must consider who it is that you want to target. Is it a male? Is it a female? Is it a cross-fit athlete? Is it a female with pelvic floor problems? Is it a lady in her sixties who’s got independence or mobility problems?
Then we think about the customer lifetime value because that allows you to grow the business. You will get more revenue, you’ll have more profitability, you will recruit better staff because of that. You will be able to afford better premises.
Crucially, you’ll have more money for investing in marketing and because of that, it means you will be able to go to the market (Facebook, Google, newspapers, leaflets, social media, YouTube, etc.) to be able to get your message to that person that you identified as having a problem that you want to be able to help.
Connecting With Your Perfect Patients
The message is the next component that you must think about. Because we’re not a physical therapist anymore, we’re not thinking like a physical therapist; we’re thinking like a specialist. What we can say now is, “I know that my perfect patient, age 55, has a problem called chronic low back pain”, and her real issue is that the doctor doesn’t know how to fix it.
She’s tried taking pills, she’s tried exercises, she’s been on YouTube, she’s been to classes, but nothing changed. Her back pain persists. So, my marketing message might be, “Are you age 55, and are you struggling to shake off the back pain that you’ve had for months that is now starting to get in the way of you being able to enjoy life?”
Because somebody age 55 and 60 are starting to really appreciate their days, they want to live their life, they want to enjoy life. Whereas somebody in their 20s and 30s is highly active, very busy, they’ve got many things going on. That maybe isn’t the same marketing message to send to somebody age 25 or 30, as it needs to be for somebody age 55 to 60.
So, if I understand who my perfect patient is and I’ve chosen the right person who is likely to have high lifetime value, then ultimately, I can craft my message. With that message, then I can go to something like Facebook, Google, newspapers, postcards, e-mails, social media.
My Facebook Live videos take on a completely different direction. I want to know who my person is, I position myself as a specialist, I’ve considered the customer lifetime value because ultimately that is one of the most important things in my business that very few business owners in any industry ever think about.
Because of that, I’m significantly more likely to write a message that is clearly able to resonate and connect with my perfect patient. That is ultimately the foundational level of what it takes to ultimately market yourself as a physical therapist.
The mistake that people make is that they go straight to social media, and they start talking about exercises for back pain. Great, but we haven’t considered the steps before it, which is who the perfect patient is, and whether or not that perfect patient is going to provide you, the business owner, with a business that is actually worthwhile having.
There are many business owners that have businesses, but they’re not running them, the business is running them. They come out of PT school with zero business skills, and they’re thinking that ultimately if I become the best practitioner, then I’ll have the best practice. Very rarely is that the case.
I’m sure if you’ve been in business for any length of time right now, you will be able to resonate with me when I say business skills are very different from clinical skills. Marketing is the first nut that you absolutely must crack.
If you want more information, I wrote a book on ultimately everything that I learned when scaling my practice to where it is today, and it continues to grow and run without me. I am a business owner. Paul Gough Physio Rooms is my business and it is one of the most successful private, cash pay businesses anywhere in the world.
If you’re looking for more help on ways to market your practice, and now you know to market yourself as a specialist and consider the customer lifetime value which is going to make being in business a lot more enjoyable, and a lot more pleasurable, then check out my book. It’s called The New Patient Accelerator Method, it is available on Amazon, or you can get it from me at PaulGoughBooks.com.
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