An Apple a Day

Apple2

Take the pain out of your rehabilitation marketing.

By Brandon Moser

If you have a chance, look at some health industry advertisements. Do you see a difference in their visual marketing? It should come as no surprise that they are similar—a lot of toothy grins from 30-somethings; slightly graying yet attractive women gardening; guys on bikes; and dream teams of confident health care professionals standing together (including a guy with his arms folded, wearing scrubs, and a lady wearing glasses and in a lab coat while carrying a clipboard). Oh, and do not forget the apples. Apples always mean a healthy lifestyle.

Before I entered the marketing and advertising world 20 years ago, I was a physical therapy practitioner. I had some great patients that took their home exercises seriously. I also had patients who constantly complained their rehabilitation was not happening quickly enough. When the patient was pushed for details, it was evident they were not doing the necessary effort outside of the clinic to recover as fast as they hoped. There are similarities in marketing.

Health care providers often take shortcuts in their marketing and promotion. Then they are unsatisfied with the results. There are no shortcuts in rehabilitation—and there are no shortcuts in creating effective, revenue-producing marketing.

Cheap can be very expensive
I wish I had a nickel for every time we had a new customer come to us with a story about how they were disappointed by someone who had designed a terrible marketing piece for them. After further questioning, I usually found it was a result of the customer giving the business to the lowest-possible bidder.

The growth of your business, and your livelihood, depends on successful, effective marketing. And yet cost is always one of the biggest drivers in marketing decisions. Do not be cheap here. Be smart, because “You get what you pay for.” It is true. You also get what you do not pay for—such as stress, inferior quality, and dealing with more daily pain than a torn triceps surae muscle. Because if they are charging next to nothing, it means that they have next to nothing to offer. It does not mean spend indiscriminately. You do not need Don Draper to write your jingle. Just spend intelligently. And sometimes a little more than you may be comfortable with.

The truth is that solid, evidence-based marketing from industry experts will usually pay for itself and then some. If you choose the right marketing partner, with the right skill set, cost should never be an issue. You will be concentrating on bottom-line revenue potential rather than short-term costs. Being cheap with marketing dollars is an ailment for which there is no cure.

If you do not stand out, you do not stand a chance
The health industry has traditionally been very conservative in their marketing efforts. Whether it is due to past regulatory intimidation or just becoming creatively lazy due to the conservative nature of the health care industry, it provides an enormous opportunity for those who want to stand out from the crowd.

If you ever wonder why the response rates are low for your advertising, take a good hard look at your creative. Take a look at the images you are using. Are they different from the competition? Or are you walking along the same beaches, frolicking in the same parks, and gardening with the same slightly graying, attractive ladies? Are you overemphasizing the importance of representing all ethnicities to your audience at the expense of decreasing the emotional pull it may have with your audience?

Instead of using emotionally stirring imagery that truly tells the story of the organization’s brand, the pictures are spiritless and overused stock images that have no association with the copy, but do represent 80 percent of the ethnicities on earth because someone told them to represent all ethnicities in their marketing materials. This belief that organizations have to visually represent all cultures in their target market is just not true. I have yet to see valid evidence and peer-reviewed research that shows using models representative of the target demographic substantially increases conversion. However, if you go and really examine the health care space and all of the marketing, you will see an abundance of these, “We are the world” stock photos. Do not market yourself like everyone else. Break the mold and make your brand get noticed.

It is about results
Do not go through the motions with your marketing efforts. Remember the end goal—results and a healthy marketing return on investment for your organization. A patient cannot just walk into a rehab clinic and demand electrical knee stimulation. Before any therapies are recommended, there is a solid medical strategy put in place by a trained professional. Organizations cannot assume that a print ad or a web banner will cure their marketing pains—they also need a strategy in place before any modalities are recommended. Just like with physical rehabilitation, the more attention and effort it receives, the healthier you will ultimately be.

Brandon Moser is the president and chief executive officer of HowlandMoser Advertising. He can be reached at HowlandMoser.com.

Change Is in the Air!

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By Don Levine, PT, DPT, FAFS

This statement above could certainly be the mantra of anyone working in the health care industry. As we approach our annual conference, the Marketing and Public Relations (PR) Committee is looking forward to learning more about the changes that will affect private practice physical therapy and we will also be making a change in our committee chair. As chair for the past 4 years, I have had the privilege of working with an outstanding group of individuals who have volunteered many hours to provide members with marketing and PR tools, build a media corp, and further the message to the general public that private practice physical therapy, is the best first choice. The committee is excited to further provide both educational opportunities and deliverables needed by our members in order to achieve success in their marketing and PR programs. As Michelle Collie, PT, DPT, MS, OCS, takes the reins of the committee, she has both of these goals in mind.

Entrepreneur vs. “Anti-preneur”

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Which one are you?

By Michael Vacon, PT

The word entrepreneur comes from the 13th century French verb entreprendre, meaning “to do something” or “to undertake.” By the 16th century, the noun entrepreneur had emerged to refer to someone who undertakes a business venture. Today, the word is used more to define individuals willing to take risk for financial gain.

If you have ventured into owning your own private practice, then you have most likely had your “entrepreneurial” moment. Despite a number of other practices or hospitals in your area, you decided that you could do it differently and carve your own place in the market.

After the thrill of opening and starting up a business, growing through the lean times, and then having some success, there is sometimes a lull. Do you grow? Do you open a second location? Do you move to a bigger space? As we are currently buffeted with change in rules and regulations, changes (usually decreases) in payment and growing competition from larger hospitals, many people will start to circle the wagons and try to just hold on to what they have. Others will stare into the abyss and try to continue to grow.

Time to Educate!

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By Don Levine, PT

Welcome to the August 2015 edition of the Marketing and Public Relations (PR) Committee’s Impact update. We hope you are enjoying a summer filled with your family and your favorite activities! However, do not forget that success takes planning and your marketing and public relations department does not like too much rest and relaxation! There are a lot of definitions for public relations, but I found one recently that hit home. Public Relations is the management of information flow between a business or organization and the public, conducted in a way that benefits both parties.1 Looking ahead to September, let us look at some ways that physical therapy (PT) can benefit our communities and make sure that information is flowing effectively!

The rush for back to school brings a variety of ailments through our doors and physical therapists are on the front line for providing pain relief from 60-pound backpacks, early season sports injuries, and hours of poor studying postures. We can spread the message of our expertise in the area of treatment of these common problems while at the same time providing our target audience with tips and information on prevention. When we educate our community and deliver useful tips to improve their health then we are seen as the experts in our community on these issues, whether it is in the areas of prevention or treatment. A win-win for everyone!

The topics listed above are only suggestions that are relevant to this time of year. It is important to remember to match the topic and information presented with both the needs of the community and your practice’s strengths. Do not make the mistake of choosing a topic because it is popular. Stay with your strengths and you will be much more successful.

John D. Rockefeller said, “Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is letting people know you are doing the right thing.” Managing the information flow may take more expertise than is in your wheelhouse. As people come to us for our strengths and abilities in health and wellness, do not be afraid to seek out experts in the areas of marketing, PR, and social media. Long gone are the days when physical therapy practices only market to their referring physicians. Comprehensive plans need to encompass the consumer. Lisa Stockman, president of global public relations states, “The trend of consumers taking charge of their health care is going to accelerate.”2 We should welcome this change! Take your strengths straight to the consumer, provide them with useful information, and educate them in the benefits of PT. Let us make our community members advocates for our businesses and our profession! Stay relevant and stay real! 

References

1. http://www.contentfac.com/damn-i-wish-id-said-that-50-ofour-favorite-pr-quotes/ Accessed June 2015.

2. http://www.holmesreport.com/long-reads/article/2015-prtrend-forecast-healthcare. Accessed June 2015.

Levine,-Don

Don Levine, PT, DPT, FAFS, is chair of the marketing and PR committee and co-owner of Olympic Physical Therapy with five locations in Rhode Island. He can be reached at dlevine@olympicpt-ri.com.

Practice Makes Perfect

Make consistency a habit.

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By Don Levine, PT, DPT, FAFS

As practitioners, owners, and managers, we all understand that honing our skills makes us better able to assist our patients toward their desired outcomes. So, how does that apply to our efforts toward marketing and public relations (PR)? It is exactly the same. Practice makes perfect!

Flex Your Muscles

As Kimberly McCall points out in her article in Inc. Magazine, marketing is a lot like exercise, and consistency is the key.1 How often do we tell our patients, it is vital that they perform their home exercise program regularly to improve. That same concept holds true with regard to implementing a successful marketing or PR program. Hit or miss programs will not provide positive outcomes. Steady, consistent messaging is required to stir your market to action.

Several other marketing experts utilize the analogy of exercise in their discussion of developing effective campaigns. Don Beehler, a PR consultant in Nashville, states, “A start and stop PR effort is a little bit like start and stop exercise—it’s better than none at all, but not nearly as effective as a consistent effort.”2 He goes on to point out that without consistency, top of mind awareness can diminish over time. Much like our patients who, once better, stop doing the things that might keep them healthy, they fail just as we would with our occasional marketing and PR endeavors. Regular marketing and PR, just like regular exercise, is crucial to success.

Stick to It!

Brand consistency is another integral component required for reaching your marketing and PR goals. In her blog, “3 Reasons Why Brand Consistency Is Important,” Ally Scott points out that many business owners are too relaxed with their messaging efforts and notes that consistency:

  1. Differentiates you from competitors,
  2. Increases customer recognition, and
  3. Reinforces your identity.3

Regular use of your logo and your mission statement—even your colors and your font—will help increase awareness of your practice.

Flexibility, strengthening, proprioception, balance, endurance…

There are many components to a treatment plan just as there are to a successful marketing or PR campaign. In designing a plan for a patient, a physical therapist assists in developing goals and, with those in mind, implements a treatment plan to reach those objectives. While the patient may need work in many different areas, the treatment techniques are consistent with the overall functional aims. In this same light, our marketing and PR plans should resonate with consistency. A campaign will have many avenues to reach current and potential clients: websites, social media, e-newsletters, direct mail, print advertising, etc., and the message needs to be consistent across all elements.

Developing Trust

To be effective physical therapists, we must develop a sense of trust with our patients. Successful marketing and PR campaigns require the establishment of trust and credibility with your target market. Eric Holtzclaw outlines the five rules on power of consistency in business, stating that consistency:

  1. Allows for measurement,
  2. Creates accountability,
  3. Establishes your reputation,
  4. Makes you relevant, and
  5. Maintains your message.4

Do not confuse and lose your potential clients with inconsistent messaging and branding.

With all of the areas of your practice calling for your attention, it is easy to let your marketing and PR plan take a backseat. Just like a successful exercise program, your marketing and PR campaigns must be well planned and regularly followed to provide the desired outcomes of increasing consumer awareness and driving business through your doors.

Be reputable. Be relevant. Be consistent.

Be successful!

Resources

1. Website: www.inc.com/articles/2000/03/17909.html. Accessed May 2015.

2. Website: http://donbeehler.com/tag/pr-consistency. Accessed May 2015.

3. Website: www.pulsemarketingagency.com/Branding/3-reasons-why-brand-consistency-is-important. Accessed May 2015.

4. Website: www.inc.com/eric-v-holtzclaw/consistency-power-success-rules.html. Accessed May 2015.

Levine,-Don

Don Levine, PT, DPT, FAFS, is chair of the marketing and PR committee and co-owner of Olympic Physical Therapy with five locations in Rhode Island. He can be reached at dlevine@olympicpt-ri.com.

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