Because they see you here, there, and everywhere

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By Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA

Consumers are a funny breed.

Their attention span is short—miniscule even—only about 8 seconds according to a 2015 study by Microsoft.1

Consumers are also distracted, focusing their short attention span across a variety of communication channels in a given day (or even in a given minute).

Those of us wearing a physical therapy marketing hat need to reach our audience where they are. And this is where a good multichannel approach comes in. To properly reach your physical therapy audience, you need a solid multichannel approach that doesn’t allow your message to miss your desired audience. To reach an audience that is everywhere, you need to have coverage everywhere.

Here are 5 tips for creating a multichannel physical therapy marketing plan that will work for your clinic. Be in these 5 areas consistently, and your presence won’t be missed.

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1. The email inbox
Your patients have email, and they use it regularly. It’s normal, expected, and actually appreciated to get valuable content delivered into one’s inbox. And for those of us who despise the salesy, value-stripped content that can also flood an inbox—don’t worry about that. It’s not what you’re going to do. Your content is going to be of high quality. It’s going to stand out.

Email tip: Focus on your subject line and article headers. Your content will be good, too, of course, but remember—your goal is to be here, there, and everywhere. So you need clicks. And good subject lines and titles get attention.

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2. Your blog
Blogs are the crowdsourced newswire, op-ed, and education channel of today. They contain some of the most relevant and beautiful content available in today’s era of blurred lines between trustworthy and sketchy traditional media reporting. Consumers prefer local, trusted resources about topics they care about, like health care and physical therapy.

Blog tip: Optimize your blog posts using search strings your consumers will use. For example, if you’re looking to reach consumers who have had an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, and that’s the phrase (“ACL reconstruction”) your patients are using when they discuss their injury, make sure the phrase is used multiple times in your post so Google knows you’re the expert on the matter.

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3. Social media
Gone are the days when your website was the center of the physical therapy universe. Today’s internet is dominated by social interactions between consumers, and between consumers and their beloved brands. Consumers want to consume videos, pictures, and posts that meet their needs and make them feel better about themselves. Your brand, your ideas, and your images need to be part of their feed in order to be noticed.

Social media tip: I’m often approached by practice owners who “don’t know what to post about.” If this is the case for you, my best recommendation is to start off as a pundit. Find articles, links, and posts that are relevant to your audience, and throw in your two cents. It’s quick, easy, and superhelpful to consumers who are otherwise likely consuming the same content on their feeds without your expert opinion. Help them out. It’s low-hanging fruit.

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4. The local media
Despite the competition for mindshare in the physical therapy space these days, the local media continues to be a largely untapped channel for sharing your expertise and your brand. The reason? Most physical therapists still misunderstand how easy and achievable it is to get local coverage of topics that are second nature to us as physical therapists. Form relationships with your local media, stick to a simple but consistent strategy of sharing content that is of value to their audience, and you’re in.

Local media tip: Think of your local media just as you think of your top referral source. Because they can be. You can’t neglect your referral source, and you have to focus on a relationship with them. Form relationships with writers and editors, and establish yourself as a trusted and valuable resource. If you’d like a whitepaper on how to engage your local press, email me at tannus@vantageclinicalsolutions.com.

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5. Paper and print
Despite our focus on digital channels for the marketing of our physical therapy services, believe it or not your consumers will still pick up a piece of paper. Flyers, newsletters, rack cards, and brochures. Whether in your waiting room or in their mailbox, don’t neglect paper marketing. While a more expensive and less trackable option, if you’re looking to be here, there, and everywhere, a tree or two can still do you some good.

Paper tip: Printing can get expensive, so it’s best to keep your costs in check here. Repurpose content from your blog, email, and press releases to keep your copy development expenses under control. And use existing resources where available to produce and distribute print materials. An in-house digital printer may be less expensive at small quantities than your local print shop, so start small before racking up major print expenses.

Face it. Physical therapy marketing done right takes a commitment. You have to be a little bit everywhere to catch these flighty creatures we affectionately call our consumers.

We love our consumers. We deliver to them a tried-and-true and cost-effective health care solution that will help them live better lives. So let’s get their attention and do them some good.

Are you already a bit here, there, and everywhere in your local market? I’d love to hear about it. Ping me with ideas, examples, and questions at @tannusquatre or by email!

Reference

1. https://advertise.bingads.microsoft.com/en-us/insights/all-insights. Accessed March 2017.

vantage_TannusQuatre Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA lives at the intersection of physical therapy and entrepreneurship, spending his time helping physical therapists build and operate successful practices through his company, Vantage Clinical Solutions. He specializes in marketing, finance, and business planning, and authors and speaks regularly for the APTA and PPS. He can be reached at tannus@vantageclinicalsolutions.com.

Copyright © 2017, Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.

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