Summertime Marketing Tips
Michelle Collie, PT, DPT, MS
On June 19, 2019, summer officially begins!
Can you believe that for just three short months we will be amid vacations, holidays, increased daylight hours, sunshine, unique events, leisure, sport, recreational activities, and the excitement that comes with it all? Although a fun and exciting time, it’s also important to note that these warm and sunny months always result in different behaviors in our community members. Marketing endeavors should pay attention to these behaviors and seasonal opportunities and respond with creative and strategic marketing schemes.
1. Content-based marketing involves creating and distributing valuable and relevant content that will attract your target patients. During the summer, consider the content that will be of value and interest to your potential patients. Then deliver this content through your marketing strategies, such as e-newsletters, blogs, and your preferred social media platforms. For example, if a clinic is trying to attract runners, provide content that appeals to that population. In the summer months, they will want more information on the importance of proper hydration, the effect of heat, outdoor cross-training, and even ideas on local running routes of various distances. This content can come in the form of an eye-catching photo with an engaging quote, or even a three-page blog that lays out an entire cross-training exercise. Either way, the content will be there for the patients to use.
Summer brings opportunities to provide content to our communities on swimming and other water sports, biking, beach volleyball, golf, kayaking, and rock climbing, just to name a few. This simple marketing technique will catch the attention of readers who want to learn more about the seasonal activities they love, and the content will help them see physical therapists as experts in musculoskeletal health. Always gear the content toward what readers want—that is, to get better or faster—and help them stay in their respective activities all season long. Consider putting out content on optimizing performance, treating and managing common injuries or aches and pain, and preventing future injuries, all of which educate the consumer and increase their understanding of the role physical therapists play in health care.
2. Word-of-mouth marketing can be triggered by creating a unique patient experience, giving people a reason to talk about your practice. The summer brings many unique holidays (https://nationaltoday.com/) that can be acknowledged and celebrated in the clinic. For example, encourage staff and patients to wear red, white, and blue around Independence Day; celebrate National Dance Day on July 27 by playing dance music; and on August 17’s National I LOVE My Feet Day! provide education to all patients on simple stretches for aching feet. By choosing themes and activities that align with your clinic, and sharing images, videos, and other informational yet fun content on social media, you will further strengthen your company’s culture and reputation in the community.
3. Community engagement brings feelings of goodwill and trust in a community. August is National Back to School Month, and with this comes a host of opportunities to engage, support, and educate the community, especially our youth. Start off the month by promoting backpack safety. Offer free backpack screens at the clinic or at a local school and provide educational content on the right backpack and wearing it correctly (available at https://www.moveforwardpt.com/). Hold a Back to School drive and encourage both patients and staff to work together and provide supplies for a local elementary school or organization in need. Conversations about our children and their backpack safety will soon evolve into discussions on back pain. They even give physical therapists the opportunity to recommend students’ activity levels, ways to avoid obesity, and proper diet and posture, further building trusted community relationships. For many of the older students, back to school means pre-season for fall sports. In today’s competitive environment, the start of a new sports season means countless opportunities for clinics to educate coaches and students, and ensure they are equipped with the knowledge needed to optimize performance and minimize the risk of injury.
4. Everyone loves something free and having a summer-themed giveaway will help drive brand awareness. Branded water bottles, packets of sunblock, drawstring backpacks, T-shirts, and caps can all be used at events in exchange for contact information and signing people up for your e-newsletter or given to patients when they successfully meet a clinical goal or complete an episode of care. Remember, staff also love giveaways, meaning they can also be your biggest brand ambassadors in the community.
5. With the age of social media taking over, everyone will be using this time to post pictures, especially when on vacation. Whether it’s just a day at the beach or a trip cross-country, people will be documenting every moment. And if these people are your patients or staff, encourage them to post pictures that support your practice! Start a photo competition, #evenonvacation, where patients post images exercising or doing their physical therapist–recommended exercises while enjoying the sunshine, and even sitting poolside. Or have patients post a photo wearing your company’s branded T-shirt or cap.
Although summer is the perfect time to take a trip, it is not the season to take a vacation from marketing but rather a unique opportunity to be creative, strategic, and build relationships as well as your reputation in the community as the trusted expert in musculoskeletal and neuromuscular health.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.