Want to Connect with Great Clients? Make Sure They Know You Exist

man holding smartphone
By Liz Plowman, PT, DPT

Each summer growing up, my cousins and I would decorate every square inch of my grandparents’ golf cart with all the patriotic paraphernalia we could find in hopes of winning their town’s Independence Day golf cart parade.

But each year, despite our best decorating efforts, we never won. One summer, I had an epiphany: More decoration was not the answer. Different was the key to winning. That summer, we transformed the golf cart into an “Oregon Trail” themed covered wagon made with broadcloth and hula hoops, dressed in long calico dresses, and even mounted a papier-mâché ox to the front. We won!

In his book, Get Different: Marketing that Can’t Be Ignored!, author Mike Michalowicz asserts that standing out is imperative in good marketing. A business that does not stand out from its competition does not get noticed and, therefore, cannot connect with and serve clients regardless of the amazing service it provides.1

Regardless of what stage of private practice you are in, your marketing should differentiate you from other practices. To connect with great clients, make sure they know you exist! 

Quick Fix Beginner

When starting out in private practice, we are tempted to look around at other physical therapy practices in our area, see how they market, and replicate the process. If it works for them, it should work for me, right? The risk is that your practice looks no different from the other practices in your area. According to Michalowicz, if you are another “gray suit in a crowd of gray suits,”1 how would a prospective client ever know how great your practice is?

  • Find a niche and push it. What do you offer that is different from other practices in your area? Make this a key element in your marketing.
  • Find out where your target clients like to go, and go there! It’s popular to set up a health fair booth, but that has been done. If you want to stand out, go where other clinics have not. If your target market is “soccer moms,” go to the games. If your target market is golfers, set up a “swing clinic” at the next tournament.
  • Do something to get seen. Wear wacky t-shirts that get prospective clients to ask questions. Put a big sticker on your car that says, “Drive without the back pain. Ask me how!” The limit here is your own imagination. If you are not seen, you will not stand out.

Quick Fix Pro

Even if you are running a successful practice and have a solid grip on marketing, it never hurts to take a fresh look and shake up your practices. Your past client list is invaluable. They already know and love you. With nurturing that stands out, this is a solid revenue source that is easier to acquire than a new client.

  • Send a handwritten birthday card, holiday card, or no-reason-at-all card. Include a five-dollar gift card to a local coffee shop.
  • Call past clients periodically simply to see how they are doing. This call is about personal concern, not recruiting. With the personal touch, hopefully the conversation will lead to talking about Ms. Smith’s new neck pain, and she will want to come back in because you took the time to call her to see how she is doing.
  • Keep track of personal information (in a secure manner) that is important to your clients: hobbies, spouse’s name and profession, kids’ names, and even pets. Make it a point to personalize all interactions with clients. The personal touch will make you stand out.


1Michalowicz M. Get Different: Marketing That Can’t Be Ignored! New York, NY: Penguin Random House LLC; 2021.

Liz Plowman, PT, DPT

Liz Plowman, PT, DPT, is a staff writer for PPS based in Tomball, Texas, and the owner of Pain Boss Physical Therapy. She can be reached at Liz@PainBossPT.com.

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

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