By Lynn Steffes, PT, DPT
Marketing is an incredible opportunity that enables us to share the gift of our profession with our team, our patients, our referral sources, and our communities.
Let’s take a step back from the traditional marketing planning approach and share some of the ways that I have witnessed successful practices engaging their marketing targets through the art of celebration!
In my travels across the country visiting private practices in over 40 states, I have taken particular note of how some practices seems to exude a certain enthusiasm and energy in their work. They have fun and their fun is palpable when you walk in their door! Somehow, they find time to celebrate their work and share their enthusiasm in a manner that attracts others to their practice. As a result of their positive energy, many practice owners report that they not only attract new patients and referral sources but also appeal to energetic new staff through their celebrations!
The Cambridge dictionary defines celebrate as a verb: “to recognize an important occasion by taking part in an activity that makes it special.”
One great reason to celebrate is your practice anniversary! Whether it is your one-year, five-year, or 10-year anniversary, it’s a great opportunity to pause and share the good news with all of your target populations! Let’s explore a strategy for celebrating your practice anniversary and also consider what other celebrations we might host both large and small.
“Celebrating your [practice] anniversary is one of the better ways to communicate your experience and reliability without having to say, ‘look how experienced and reliable we are.’1
Planning is always key to execution and celebration planning is no different. The first step will always have to be determining the focus of your celebration. Will it be focused on your practice, its story, and its accomplishments? Or will it be focused on who helped you get there? I actually believe you can focus a bit on both approaches! Identify key milestones and accomplishments and then acknowledge and show appreciation for those who helped you get there. Outline what you might do both as a leadup to your actual anniversary date and on the big day. You might want to consider celebrating all year.
Who to invite
Make a list of those who were instrumental in your success. Consider your team members, both past and present, your vendors, your referral sources, your patients, and your community! These groups of people will be your targets. Craft your message of gratitude and provide them with information about what they actually contributed and what it helped you achieve!
How can you celebrate internally with your team? Begin by recognizing key employees who have been with your organization over time, but don’t neglect your latest hires. Internal recognition is the foundation to elevating your professionals as well as your support staff—the individuals who make your practice what it is. Do you have someone at your front desk who wears funny hats or knows how to make someone laugh? Sharing their stories through social or traditional media as well as in person builds their credibility. Recognize your team members and make them shine!
How can you celebrate your patients past and present? Do you have patient stories? Written or captured on video? Can you interview patients and allow them to tell your story through describing the impact it has had on their own? Having a “Hall of Fame” both in your practice and shared through social media channels can be powerful! Don’t forget to capture their successes through case studies that can be shared with your referral sources and on your website.
Celebrations with and for patients might also include onsite or community parties for former and current patients. Have an anniversary gift for each attendee: a simple logo T-shirt, golf towel, or coffee mug along with a personalized message of your gratitude!
Your Referral Sources, Vendors, and Community Businesses and Organizations
Vendors, referral sources, and community organizations might be great additions to your celebration invitation list. The rule of thumb is generally to overinvite since the turnout is always less than you might expect. Hosting a party may also give you an opportunity for public relations and media exposure, especially if you use local vendors to provide food or entertainment and/or use the event to raise money or gather donations for a local charity or fundraiser. If it’s an election year, invite candidates for office. Send out a press release two weeks in advance of your event and again two days prior. Press coverage can be an incredible multiplier!
Engage your entire team in the party planning in order to create an event that is engaging and fun—not boring and promotional! One open house event that I was involved with had a local high school string quartet performing at the entrance and scattered small business food vendors throughout the clinic including a local coffee vendor, a baker, and a catering company. The atmosphere was very neighborly and the small business connection was perfect!
Your Social Media
Crafting your social media message is all about content and cadence. Content for your celebration can include photos old and new that capture your story. Perhaps reach out to previous vendors, patients, and referral sources to share their early stories or resurrect ones you may have archived from the past. Provide data that highlights your work: 5 Years, 50 MDs collaborated with, 500 friends and neighbors served, 5,000+ visits provided to Keep Our Community Moving!
Share your story through an Anniversary Page on your website, produce a brief video with your story, along with photos, a blog post, and a press release. Tie your email signature to the link to attract more website traffic!
Apply a cadence of monthly stories about practice milestones and key vendors or referral sources, weekly highlights of patient stories and staff highlights that culminate in your anniversary date and celebration.
Use Facebook or Instagram to host a series of blogs or vlogs that provide useful content and brand them with your anniversary message.
Celebrate your practice and our profession! For more great ideas on hosting a celebration, see these links:
1www.logit.net/learn/business-anniversary. Accessed March 2019.
Lynn Steffes, PT, DPT, is a private practice PT marketing consultant and developer of “On-Boarding Your Marketing Rock Star.” You can find her at every PPS Annual Meeting, APTA-CSM, and online @ www.steffesandassociates.com.