Your practice website can do wonders for your business—if it conveys the right message.
By Chris Hayhurst, MS
When visiting a well-developed website, you can put yourself in a hypothetical, prospective-client’s shoes, finding everything you need to: a) determine whether this clinic is the right one for you; b) decide whether its professionals are sufficiently qualified; and c) learn about the evidence supporting their work. The content is concise, informative, and patient-centric.
For example, when you visit the website for Body Dynamics, Inc., a physical therapy and wellness practice in Fall Church, Virginia, and hit “location”, you are greeted with a quote: “Wherever you are in your journey, we’ve got a space that meets your needs.” The site explains that the clinic is physically divided into zones. Coming in for a group “bootcamp” fitness session? You’ll be working out in the “red zone.” Recovering from an injury and need one-on-one physical therapy? For that you will go to the private “green zone.” Everything is on the site—from directions to testimonials to a comprehensive list of services. Founder, president and director of clinical services, Jennifer Gamboa, PT, DPT, OCS, MTS, says the key reason her website works is that it feels authentic. She explains the clear and recurring message is that “we’re all in this together, we care, and that we are here to build relationships.”
A Near Miss
It may help to state the obvious: No practice can depend solely upon the marketing power of its website to build its client base. Yet, a well-designed site featuring valuable content tailored to the needs of your prospective clients can do wonders for business—and creating that site does not have to be difficult.
Gamboa says she and her staff create and update the content for their site themselves. They hired a designer to build the site, and a copyeditor to double-check their work, but the writing, the photos, and the forms all come from within the practice.
In 2012, as the clinic prepared for an impending relocation, Gamboa and her colleagues decided it was time to overhaul their site. They had built it themselves years earlier and saw the move as the perfect opportunity for an upgrade. “People were going with these website-design companies that did all the work for you. It was tempting, she recalls, but then she thought again. The template style felt too robotic, too automated for her. That personal connection was the foundation of Gamboa’s business, and she decided to re-launch the website in-house.
A Work in Progress
To ensure that the content they developed was on target, they held a series of focus groups, which included clients. “We invited our patients to help us. Some were specific invitees—long-term clients whom we knew would give us a good perspective and some were more arbitrary. We were trying to overcome our own tendency to think we knew our message,” Gamboa explains. “We wanted to tell our story, to define who we were in a way that everyone could understand— and it had to be meaningful.”
Those focus groups proved invaluable for the team. “Our clients told us, ‘This is what you do, this is what you mean to me, this is why I am coming here versus anyplace else, and that is the message you need to get across.’” The Body Dynamics vision statement grew out of this lesson, she adds. “We meet people where they are, without judgment, and we take them where they need to go, in a place that feels safe.” Now, says Gamboa, every piece of content that appears on their website attempts to convey that message in some way. It takes work, she says. “Writing, photography, working with the designer, feeding the content to their copyeditor and having “three sets of eyes look at everything before it is posted.” It is worth it. “I truly believe you have to distinguish yourself from everybody else. You have to tell your story.” If you don’t, she says, your prospective clients “will have no reason to choose your practice” over the competition. And that, of course, will be it: click, click, gone.
Looking for ways to convey your story? Try:
- Staff profiles in question-and-answer format
- Success stories, featuring real patients (either anonymously or with their permission)
- Interviews with other health care providers, health experts, and researchers
- Blogging (what is new at your practice and comments on the latest evidence.)
- Email newsletters (similar to a blog, but delivered straight to your clients’ inboxes)
Chris Hayhurst, MS, a regular contributor to APTA’s PT in Motion, creates and edits custom content for healthcare professionals, businesses, and organizations. Find him online at www.healthwellwriting.com, or via email: email@example.com.