Strategic Marketing Partnerships
A partnership can save money and increase access to patients, but most importantly, result in better service and care to our patients.
By Michelle Collie, PT, DPT, MS
It’s well understood that no matter how amazing a product or service, marketing is essential for a business to be successful.
Of course, marketing is a term that encompasses many different actions for a physical therapy practice, from developing relationships with referral sources and encouraging word of mouth to paid advertising. However, all marketing uses valuable resources, both time and money. Marketing partnerships can provide an opportunity to share these resources.
A marketing partnership provides an opportunity for two companies to work together and share resources including knowledge, staff, money, and time to reach common goals. Being strategic with such partners provides not only savings in resources but also the opportunity to expand access to clients. For a physical therapy practice, forming a strategic marketing partnership lets you expand your pool of potential patients/clients that you may not have had access to without the partnership.
Know Your Own Goals
Before choosing a partner, you should be very clear about your objectives. Consider creating “personas”1 of the patients you want to reach and establish SMART goals (goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, results oriented, and time-bound). For example: (1) Develop a marketing campaign to attract pregnant women with musculoskeletal pain that results in 5 new patients per month, within 3 months. (2) Within 6 months, increase by 10 percent the number of new patients with a running-related injury.
Partnerships to consider while embarking on a marketing campaign will include any business that wants to attract clients with the same “persona,” one that shares similar goals and offers services that are complementary to physical therapy. Examples include running stores, fitness studios and gyms, physicians, and local clubs. As you consider potential partners, ask yourself why you would want to partner with them, why they would want to partner with you, and other questions such as: What benefits are created for those you serve? Do you trust and respect the potential partner? Would you recommend them?
Take Your Time
Choosing marketing partners may take some time as it’s important to establish a relationship. If you’re already familiar with your chosen professional or business, you can begin the conversation right away. If you’re not, take the time to invest in the relationship, ensuring they align with your goals and values. The reputations of both parties are in play here, so do not take this step lightly.
Pitch Your Plan
There are many approaches that one can take when pitching to a potential partner. Obviously, professionalism, integrity, and clarity in your goals are essential to ensure success and a positive, long-term relationship. Once it’s established, the business is willing to move forward, meaning it’s time to consider the opportunities! The financial burden of solo marketing can be eased with co-branded advertising in print, online, radio, TV, or sharing an exhibit table or sponsorship at an event. Create co-branded marketing materials, brochures, or posters that can be displayed and distributed at each business and in the community. Share and engage in social media posts or co-host an event, presentation, or workshop in the community or at your business. All are examples of ways each party can gain access to desired patients or clients. Don’t forget about your staff. Facilitate the opportunities for your team to develop their own relationship and get to know the partner. By understanding the value of their services and the people involved, physical therapists will be more likely to recommend a partner to their patients. For example: A physical therapist treating a patient who wants to try yoga is more likely to recommend a yoga studio when they know and trust the instructors.
With values and goals aligned, a strategic marketing partnership between two businesses can create additional value for clients and patients. The physical therapist treating an injured runner can now communicate with staff at their partner running store, recommending the type of shoe their patient needs. The Pilates instructor can facilitate a same-day appointment with the physical therapist they have partnered with, who specializes in postpartum low back pain. The physical therapist and personal trainer can communicate and collaborate about a patient to optimize the patient’s ability to reach their goals.
Choosing strategic marketing partners must be done carefully, to ensure your goals and values align. This collaborative strategy to marketing should align with the intention of continuing the development of a true relationship that will add value to your patients’ experience.
A strategic marketing partnership can save money and increase access to patients, but most importantly, result in better service and care to our patients.
1Collie M. 5 simple steps in creating a marketing persona. Impact. March 2019.
Michelle Collie, PT, DPT, MS, is the chair of the PPS PR and Marketing Committee and chief executive officer of Performance Physical Therapy in Rhode Island. She can be reached at email@example.com.