Developing Mini-Marketers During Onboarding


By Michelle Collie, PT, DPT, MS, OCS

Whether for a physical therapist or administrative staff member, the onboarding or orientation process is an important time for any new employee in any practice. Employees acquire the knowledge, skills, and behaviors to complete their job duties while discovering the culture of the practice. So often there is a need to have a new employee seeing patients or answering phones, functioning in their new role as soon as possible. But this eagerness to fulfill daily responsibilities may be at the expense of taking the time to develop an employee into an advocate and spokesperson for your practice, someone who could play a valuable role in marketing and promoting your practice.

Marketing2020,1 a comprehensive marketing leadership study, found successful companies incorporated marketing throughout their firms. Marketing was integrated through engagement with employees on the brand’s purpose, as well as providing new staff with targeted marketing language.

The onboarding period in a physical therapy practice provides an opportunity to teach, provide the language and tools, time and expectations such that every new employee can actually be a driver of new patients and business opportunities. Essentially, every employee is a “mini-marketer.” Designing the specifics of the marketing and messages to be delivered during the onboarding process are practice specific but will obviously align with the vision, purpose, and current processes of marketing.

Consumers are turning to the web more and more to make choices about their health care. In addition to ensuring the clinical profiles are up to date on your company website, provide new employees with your logo and a written description of the practice to use, ensuring a consistent message is delivered online. Provide training on creating professional profiles for social media platforms such as LinkedIn and the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) platform. Find a physical therapist (PT) and set the expectation that it is one’s professional responsibility to keep one’s profiles up to date.

During the onboarding, provide education on the social media platforms your practice is active on. Educate staff on the behaviors you support, such as “liking” or “sharing” content that has been posted. Consider how one Twitter or Facebook post can organically be shared to an unlimited number of people, further spreading awareness of your brand. The education on social media is just the beginning. Ongoing education to further develop mini-marketers may include subjects such as blogging or posting to promote patient engagement.

Many practices provide referral reward programs. By including education on this during the onboarding, new employees will truly understand and value their role in driving new patients and new business. Highlighting staff that have referred patients during meetings or in staff newsletters will encourage this ongoing practice.

Onboarding is a time when employees can be provided the education to fully understand the purpose of the practice. By reviewing the practice’s vision, purpose, core values, and goals, a new employee will gain a deeper understanding of the practice, resulting in a more consistent message being delivered to patients, as well as the community. Educate staff to ensure they can talk and deliver a message that aligns with your practice. Consider discussions and role playing to confirm new employees know how to answer questions such as: What is physical therapy? Is a referral needed? How much will it cost?

Finally, assess the effectiveness of the inclusion of these marketing elements into your onboarding program. Employee surveys and feedback, as well as measuring where new patients are coming from, can demonstrate the value of this time spent during onboarding, both from a human resources (HR) and engagement perspective as well as a marketing and new business viewpoint. Creating mini-marketers during onboarding is a win-win and demonstrates the value of HR and marketing integration.


1. Arons, MdeS, van den Driest, F, Weed, K. The ultimate marketing machine. Harvard Business Review. July/Aug 2014. Accessed June 2016.


Michelle Collie, PT, DPT, MS, OCS, 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 mcollie@performanceptri.com.