It’s Not the Soup

Bowl of soup
By Ben Montgomery*

Without going into too much detail (as my old journalism professor would say, “Consider the audience, kid!”), it takes a lot of work to become a physical therapist.

To follow this journey to completion takes not just successful schooling and clinical experience, but a passion and commitment to a lifetime of learning.

And with the education you may accrue professional credentials that can best be described as a bowl of alphabet soup. What starts with PT will often follow with such character combos as CAFS, COMT, PCS, MTC, MCS, SCS, OCS, FAAOMPT, and so on.

While these acronyms offer meaning and perhaps even tell a story to those within the physical therapy profession, such alphabetical arrangements can leave the consumer indifferent and unimpressed.

Which is why from a marketing (aka storytelling) standpoint, it helps very little to serve alphabet soup to a consumer who’s in the mood for something with a little more meat.

Sure, as a physical therapist, you strive every day to build trust and establish credibility with consumers. And often, for the sake of simplicity and brevity, you might tend to use clinical terms and phrases that have strong context for you as a health care professional.

But “Consider the audience, kid!” The same credentials that have meaning to you can, if used in excess, drive a wedge between you and a potential client who’s looking for answers—not more questions.

The solution?

Build trust and credibility more effectively by relating to the health care consumer on her or his level. Educate, inform, and tell stories based on the meaning of your certifications, but only as they relate to the lives of your optimal clients.

When you talk of injuries, of treatments, of prevention and of success, always do so through the eyes of the consumer, as well as in their language—less jargon, more communication.

“Show, don’t tell,” my old journalism prof would have said. Such an approach ensures better understanding, stronger connections, and a sure-fired way to get more people through your clinic door hungry for solutions.

Ben Montgomery

Ben Montgomery is a former journalist who applies years of copywriting and message development experience toward serving physical therapists through www., the marketing services arm of Vantage Clinical Solutions, which serves private practice clinicians with content marketing and web development solutions. He can be reached at

*The author has a vested interest in the subject of this article.

Copyright © 2018, Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.

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