The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed every one of us to adapt to this new normal and marketing strategies are no exception. In this episode, Nathan Shields interviews his long-time friend, Neil Trickett, who talks about how marketing strategies can be optimized in the post-COVID world. The CEO of Practice Promotions, Neil is a marketing expert who has worked for over 900 PT clinics across the US and Canada. Neil and Nathan take some time to discuss online visibility, SEO, web content, and other elements that PT owners should pay attention to in order to keep their funnels busy. Stick around to the end as he shares his personal new normal strategies and what should owners be really focused on.
Thanks, Nathan. It’s always a pleasure.
It’s been a couple of years since we last spoke and a lot has changed, but I’m glad to bring you back. I’m excited. If people are interested in learning more about Neil’s history. He is a prior PT owner that has transitioned into marketing with Practice Promotions. They do a wide range of things, especially digital marketing, newsletters, websites, you name it. They cover the basics. Now, especially where Neil sits, a lot has changed with marketing compared to pre-COVID-19. I decided to bring you on because you have a real pulse on the industry. You work with hundreds of clinics across the country. You’ve seen how people have had to pivot and change, firsthand and what is working now compared to what was working back then. I’m excited to get your insight. Let’s get into it a little bit right off the bat. What’s it like for PT practices out there now?
Much has changed here and we’re working with over 900 PT clinics across the US and Canada. It’s interesting to have a pulse on what’s happening in different states, in different parts of Canada with lockdowns, partial openings and all this stuff that has been a challenge for many practice owners out there. It’s interesting to see what is working now for practices and how people have evolved and changed their marketing and practice. What’s interesting is a lot of the things that we were doing before that were helping clinic owners to focus on, which is going more direct to the consumer, that has become more of the way of life now. We see practices across the board. They’re getting busier now. As vaccinations are becoming more used, things are starting to relax a little bit.When you open up your clinic, you're no longer a PT, you're an entrepreneur. Click To Tweet
People are starting to reach back for services. We see practices overall get busier, especially in March 2021. Some clients were at max capacity with space restrictions, less staff, things like that, or maybe they had done some layoffs in 2020. They have leaned down their staff. Now, they got this ramping back up and they’re busy, which is a great thing. By survey, we are seeing that more physicians are referring it to clinics, which is great. More past patients are coming back in for care. That’s a great thing that’s working out for practices. Things are starting to get busier and busier.
I know you’re pushing it, so it’s not the case, but do you see some owners who were reliant on physician referrals leaning back towards that and pulling back their marketing away from other aspects because you wouldn’t recommend that? Is that a tendency, whether it’s because that’s what they like to do or because they’re going into a slower season?
I can’t speak for practice owners that are not our clients or not working with us. The ones that are working with us are seeing going that route of going more direct to the consumer and working with their customer list and how valuable that has been. What’s fascinating is that quite a lot of our clients and practice owners that we work with from 2020 had their best year ever, which is shocking to say this was the worst business disaster that we probably have gone through in modern times. What we looked at, what we saw was that the practices were very heavy on physician referrals. Maybe more than 60% of new patients that were coming in were from doctor referrals.
They were very busy, happy and complacent that referrals dried up when that crisis happened. If they didn’t pivot fast enough to go out into their online community, working with their past patients and customer lists, they’ve struggled. There’s a lot of people in our community that need our help and they focused on that online marketing aspect and then also leveraging their customer lists. They had some of their best months ever. We’ve seen them continue on that trend and wanting to do even more and more. They realized that there’s a lot of potentials there. I’ve seen in conversations with prospective clients that they are saying, “We’re busy now. We don’t need to do anything because our physician referrals are taking back up.” They were waiting, but they don’t realize that it puts all your eggs in one basket and that’s not what you want to do from a business perspective.
I had an interview where we talked about the four different buckets of marketing. There are your physician referrals, current patients who could refer family and friends, past patients who can return and/or refer family and friends. Then there’s direct-to-consumer, the community around you. What COVID forced us to do is pull away from that main bucket, which was physician referrals. Ninety percent of the owners out there were focused on those physician referrals. That was their bread butter to the point where they weren’t even looking at the other three buckets, unfortunately. It forced them to look at the other buckets.
I even have a client who, through the pandemic, survived because of Facebook Ads. All his referrals came from Facebook Ads. He grew during the course of the pandemic because of Facebook Ads. Now that he’s sprinkling back in physician referrals, if his Facebook Ads wane for a week or two, he’s getting some physician referrals that are coming back on. If owners can leverage those things, if they can put appropriate money, time, energy into each bucket, they’re going to see the maximum capacity of their clinics.
Physician marketing is an important aspect of your practice, but where many people fall into a trap as they didn’t work as hard on those other buckets. Sometimes it’s outside of your comfort zone. For a lot of practice owners, it’s comfortable. You know how to work in physician relationships and that you need to get referrals from physicians. Even if in your direct access state, it’s pseudo direct access where you still need to get a physician’s referral for an insurance contract. It’s still much better to have that person come in from finding you on Google, coming to the clinic, “We can do a free screen for you. This is going on. Let me coordinate with your doctor. Let me have my front desk reach out and recommend this. You may have to go in for a visit.” You’ve already created that great experience for them. They’re more likely to go ahead with their care at your clinic rather than purely waiting on the doctor.
I did a Facebook Live event in our Facebook group, The Physical Therapy Owners Club, with Vinod Somareddy. He shared the successful actions he’s had with Google Ads and brought on his Google Ad agency to the Facebook Live event. What came to my mind was how a new PT owner approaches a billing meeting. We don’t know the first thing about billing, and we don’t know how to hold them accountable, and we don’t know what the metrics are.
You take an owner like that, then similarly go into a Google Ad meeting, Facebook Ad, or whatever agency is doing those ads for you. It’s the same questions like, “I don’t know what I’m looking at. What are the questions I should ask? How should I hold them accountable? What should I be looking for? Is this successful or not?” They could tell you all kinds of numbers and throw stuff at you. If it doesn’t get to more new patients, then you’re like, “I’m not sure if I’m spending my money correctly.” I like what you said there that they know they need to do it, but they don’t quite know-how and to assess the ROI.
One of the most important hats for a business owner, and let’s face it, when you open up your clinic, you’re no longer a PT. You’re an entrepreneur. Sometimes people don’t realize how much of an entrepreneur they should be. They get comfortable treating patients going, “I have a couple of therapists working with me.” The minute you open that door, you’re a business owner. You have to think that way. For a business owner, especially a CEO, one of your main functions is promotion and marketing, but you’re not doing it all.
You’re making sure it’s coordinating, happening, and you’re getting ROI. As you get bigger, you might have a marketing director or even a marketing team that’s helping you out in the clinic, and you need to have a good pulse for them. What’s the rhythm going on with your marketing. If you do not own that hat as a CEO, as an owner of your practice, that’s when you get into trouble. It’s an important aspect of being a business owner to focus on what is your marketing strategy and actions.
What are some of those tips that you could share? What are some of the new normal marketing strategies? What does that look like? What should owners be focused on?
We’ve put the strategy together called The Ultimate PT Marketing Funnel. We’ve been doing this for years. It’s based on research. This is what was working well before COVID. If you were starting to transition from that model of more reliant on physician roles to more direct-to-consumer and working with your customers, you’re going to be much more successful. In this strategy, the first most important layer is building a large online presence. You have to be discoverable online in your local community. You need to be everywhere there, especially from a Google perspective, from local search, through Facebook and social media. One of the key things there is to make sure that you’re focusing on search engine optimization. There are a lot of things that can be done there and you can work with different groups to help you with that. That makes sure that your clinic is going to get in front of more people when they’re doing searches for help.
You want to have a nice clean website. You want to have one that might not focus so much on how amazing your clinic is but what you provide the patients. It’s not so much about you and the letters behind your name, but more about the patients. That’s what we learned from past marketing interviews we’ve done here on the show. I also remember an interview I did with Angie McGilvrey. She’s been strong with her social media presence.
They’re posting 3 or 4 times a day. They’ve got a video person that comes in a couple of times a week which takes videos and posts all over Instagram. She quoted Gary Vaynerchuk. He said, “If you’re not on Facebook, you simply don’t exist as a business nowadays.” That works for certain demographics. She highlighted that. If you’re talking to anyone above 35 years old, a lot of them are going to be on Facebook. A lot of the decision-makers are on Facebook. If you want to have more connection with the younger crowd, then you’re going to be on Instagram, possibly.
We’ve definitely seen that. We worked with all kinds of clinics, from pediatric to geriatric to super sports athletes and recovery clinics. You got to know your audience. Where does your audience mostly reside? For some of our clients, we’ve got some phenomenal clinics that are amazing at promoting themselves. They do a ton of video work. They’re all over Instagram. They’re able to build that up. One thing to realize is that there’s no one media that is king over everything else. You have to realize that there are behaviors of patients when they are going to come to you. First off, you’re mostly an unknown. People don’t know what you’re going to do to help them. If you went to someone on the street and you said, “If you’ve got a back problem, who are you going to go see?”
Are they going to say PT? Most likely going to say chiropractic or maybe their doctor. First off, you got to be able to get in front of them. They’re usually out there searching, not just for, “Physical therapy near me.” Those are people who are looking for that service. You want to be in front of those people, but the majority of people searching for, “How can I help my back pain? I think I tore my knee.” Can you get found in those searches? That can get you in a much wider audience in front of people who are never even thinking of PT as the solution to that problem that they’re having. Now, you have that opportunity. That comes down to the SEO Trinity. SEO is Search Engine Optimization. That means you can get ranked higher better in Google. Also, Bing and Yahoo, still out there. Don’t forget those. A lot of seniors are on Bing because of Microsoft Edge and Explore. That’s the default browser.
They don’t know how to change it.You have to be discoverable online in your local community. You need to be everywhere, especially on Google. Click To Tweet
While Google is still the king of the hill, we can’t forget Bing in all those guys over there. With the SEO Trinity, what that comes down to is to rank better and get your clinic more found. You need to work within your website, and the content and the copy in there that works with the different keywords like physical therapy. Back pain, sciatica and all these things are keywords. The important part there is, “What’s going on with your website? How optimized is that?” The other part of that Trinity is Google My Business. You are a local business. Google My Business is the key to getting your information out there. That’s where Google reviews reside, questions and answers reside, your hours and operation. You can do appointment requests through there.
A lot of people miss the part of putting a lot of great photos in Google My Business. Think about when you look at a restaurant, and you’re looking on Google My Business, you look at the menu and the food. Does the place look nice? That’s a great thing to use for Google My Business. Do you have the same thing happening with your clinic? Have you put a lot of great visuals in Google My Business to get people to go, “That looks like a nice place. They look professional and hands-on with people?” That’s the second aspect.
The third aspect is called listings. Listings are how your business information address, phone number, what you specialize in all these data points. How is that on hundreds of different directories? When you go on Apple Maps, how does Apple Maps know your business information? When you go on Waze, how does it know your business information? How does your car navigation know your business information? All that comes from these online directories. The more your business information is out there on the internet, on these different directories, Google crawls those and finds your information and then ranks you higher. That makes the third aspect of that SEO Trinity.
Do you find that a lot of clinics aren’t doing this?
It takes constant work.
For those owners who say they have an SEO company that’s doing this for them when you look at that, are they covering all three bases?
Usually, not. They might be focusing on one aspect. The thing to realize is that it’s never done. It’s a constant battle for the top. You always have to be working on it. You always have to be tweaking, changing, and optimizing things and looking at what’s working or what’s not working. We’re doing it constantly for our clients’ online work there.
Case in point on that Facebook Live event with Vinod, his agency showed that in February 2021, they made 1,100 changes surrounding Vinod’s website and Google Ads to optimize them. That’s not just one time. That’s ongoing. They said they average 900 changes a month for most companies, which blew my mind. It’s not like a tweak here and there once a week. It’s ongoing.
There are thousands and thousands of directories online. It’s about getting all kinds of information from your clinic on those different directories that link back to your website. That helps build relevance for sure with the way Google looks at your business.
Making sure that your online presence is there, Google Ads and Facebook Ads, what do you see with those?
What I always recommend for people is that what we see statistically is that the person that will take the most action, meaning they’re going to call your clinic or are they going to fill out a request appointment form on your website comes from an organic search. Meaning that you rank naturally in what’s called the 3-Pack, which is that part right under the maps then also the top ten. It comes down to the more spots that you can control on Google and page one, the more authority people think you have.
If you see a business and it has 2 or 3 spots on Google, you think, “That must be the best one. Let me click on that. Let me call that one.” It’s critical that you get your SEO Search Engine Optimization cooking first and then start to spend money on Google Ads because then you can command even more of page one of Google with Google Ads. What’s interesting with Google Ads is that it drives those other behaviors. I know you probably realize this when you do it next time, but when you search for something, and you see their ad pop up, you’re not so likely to click on the ad. You’re more likely to click on the organic underneath.
Scroll past the ads, find the first organic one.
If you see RISE PT on an ad, but you see RISE PT below it organic, the tendency is you will click on the organic. It is good to do Google Ads because it drives better SEO behavior of people coming to your website. The bottom line is to make sure you get a good website going, get your SEO in place first, and then start to invest in Google Ads.
Many people focused on that moving to direct-to-consumer during the course of the pandemic. I think a lot of people had a lot of success going back to their past patient lists, which they probably hadn’t cultivated much in the past. Those who are successful are and that’s why WebPT came out with reach and stuff. They focused on getting back to those patients that already know, like and trust them.
It’s your lowest hanging fruit. The most successful businesses in the world cultivate their customer lists. If you think of Starbucks, how many times do you go back to Starbucks in a week? Think about it with yourself. It’s been a fascinating journey of these last many years of building Practice Promotions and talking to thousands of practice owners. I always ask, “What are you doing to market to your past patients?” They giggle because they know they should be doing more like, “I know it should be doing more, but we do some emails. We do an email newsletter or maybe a birthday card.” That’s typically the extent of it but what they don’t realize is that it costs you 4 to 10 times more to get a new patient in the door than just to get a returning patient. Your ROI is the cheapest thing you can do to get a returning patient. They know you and love you. What most patients don’t want to do is come back to PT. You only go back to PT if you need to.
You don’t want to go to PT if you don’t have to.
When I was treating patients, it was, “Mrs. Jones, it’s good to see you again. Your knee pain has flared up. How long has that been going on?” “Six months.” “Why didn’t you come back in sooner?” “I thought it would go away,” or whatever the usual is with that. If you don’t frequently communicate across many media channels to get in front of as many eyeballs as possible, then you can’t capitalize on your list. When you do, you can build your practice up. Where I love to see clinics get to is 50% or more of their current caseload is returning or referred patients. That’s unconditional power.
That was something that we frequently did especially as we went into our “slow seasons” and we were actively working against that mindset and being reasonable with a slow season altogether. One of our successful actions was to callback past patients. Getting providers on the phone, “If a patient canceled, you’ve got a free hour. Let’s look back at patients that came in six months ago or were discharged six months ago. Give them a call and see how they’re doing. Not only see how they’re doing, how are their family and friends doing as well?” Because they could refer family and friends in as well. Surprisingly, a lot of patients would call back, and they’re like, “I’m doing fine. I appreciate that you guys took the time to call me, and I hope you guys are doing well.” They’ll leave notes like that. It was good to build that relationship further more than just a cold email. It was very personal and that was a successful action of ours.
We did that in our practice. What we did is we had our patient list of a few thousand plus people and every quarter we would call them. We broke that down into, “We’ve got to get to a third of that list this month.” We break that down. We’re going to have the techs reach out and they got many calls they need to do a day. It’s like, “Just checking in. How are you doing? Are you doing your home exercise program? Do you need me to resend that to you? How’s your knee feeling?” It’s like, “It’s bothering me again.” “Do you want to have your therapist con connect with you on that?”
“I do a free consult on the phone or come in for fifteen minutes.”
There are many ways to reconnect. One of the things that you need to go into it is that, “I need to cultivate my customer list as best as I can. How can I develop raving fans that send their friends and family who want to come back know that I’m the expert to turn to when something’s happening?” I’d rather have them call me like, “I think I might’ve tweaked my knee. Do you think I should come to and see you again?” I’m like, “Absolutely. Let’s check it out really quick.” That’s the kind of conversation you want to have. To get in front of those people, you have to realize that people are across all kinds of media. Back in the old days, we used to be able to put a TV ad up because you get in front of about 30% of the people. Now, you might get in front of 2% of the people on that channel.
You need to be leveraging newsletters and personalized emails going out. You need to be in social media engaging with that customer list, text messaging, phone calls, callbacks programs and direct mail works well nowadays. Even more so now than it was many years ago. Do you ever see that meme? It’s from AOL. It was back when you, “I’ve got an email.” You get so excited and you’ve gone through your mailbox. You’re like, “I got all this junk mail.” Nowadays, it’s like, “I got a letter. I’m so sick of my email inbox.” Direct mail works much better now than it ever did. The bottom line is with your customer list, you’re trying to get in front of as many people as you can. If you rely on emails, you might get in front of 30%, 40%, maybe 50% of your list consistently. You’re missing over half of the people that you’re trying to reach. How can you reach more people? You’ve got to be on different media to do that.
I talked about the four buckets and making sure you have time, money, and energy, and all four. It takes so much more energy now for owners. It was so much easier to drop something off of the physician and expect the referrals to come in. To stay afloat and survive in the way things are with economies, and competition around you, if you’re not doing it, the large corporate brands are, and the physician-owned PT practices are. If you’re going to stay above water, you need to focus on spreading yourself out across these different buckets and make sure you have the money and energy to do so.
I always have a stat on this, but from up until 2012, there were about 25% of physicians who worked for a hospital network and that, in 2018, skyrocketed to 45% of physicians who worked for networks. I can’t even imagine what that is now. Here’s the deal moving forward. It is a different ball game. If you’ve been in PT for as many years as I have, it’s different than when you first started. You have to be in that mentality of a business owner. You cannot treat full-time if you’re beyond yourself in the clinic. If you have additional therapists that are working for you, you have to have time in your day to be a business owner and function that way.
Marketing is one of those critical components that you need to be on every single week looking at because acquisitions have skyrocketed. There’s a lot of buying out of clinics. There are bigger groups coming into your area where they will be coming into your area. Hospital networks are gobbling up places around them too. There are lot more challenges coming up. There are also a lot more opportunities. If you know what you need to do and you know that you need to learn about that a little bit more, you can take those opportunities and grow your business with your goal is to be as profitable as you can with the clinic that you have, or if you have aspirations of additional locations, knowing how to market is going to help me get there.
I’d like to say that your business’ love language is quality time. Your business needs quality time. That’s not like in between patients, after hours or on weekends. It needs quality, consistent blocks of your energy and time to be successful and achieve the goals that you want to achieve. Otherwise, it’s going to lead to your burnout and lack of fulfillment. I’m sure you probably still stumped a lot of owners when you say, “What’s your budget for this?” Is that like, “Deer in the headlights, I don’t know,” still?
I like the State of PT that WebPT does every year because they survey quite a few thousand practices. You get some good information out of that. It’s always fascinating to me when they ask, “What’s your marketing budget? What are you spending on a marketing budget?” Across the board, up until probably a multimillion-dollar or a $5 million practice, the average was less than 1.5% of what you made that you spend out on marketing. The small business association average across all industries is 11%. In total healthcare, it’s about 8%. When you say, “What’s my budget going to be for this?” You have to look at, “What’s my gross income? What are my goals? Where do I need to be in my clinic to maximize the space? If I hired more therapists, could I maximize and be as profitable as you can be?”
You work backward from that. “What is the number of patient visits I need to be doing? How many new patients do I need to generate on a weekly basis or monthly basis for making that all happen? What’s my revenue going to be?” If you’ve been spending 1% or 2%, try to go to 5%, what happens? If you’re spending it right, if you have a good strategy, you’re going to get tenfold on your money. It’s fascinating that in PT, we spent very little in terms of marketing compared to many other industries.
Especially if you don’t have the time and also if you don’t have the know-how, you’re going to spend that money and not know how to track it. I’m sure you would recommend if someone’s going to have a marketing strategy or alter a marketing strategy or want to assess their current marketing strategy, they need to, know what track, what statistics they’re tracking and then see what that impact is when they spend extra dollars in different buckets.
Sometimes you go into it thinking, “This is going to be so complicated.” You can go down that rabbit hole if you want to. The reality is you need to be tracking, “What’s my general marketing expenditure here. What’s my number of new patients? What’s my number of returning patients coming in here? Let me look at when my marketing is arriving, doing things, and try to correlate that with your increase in new patients?” You can see what’s working and what’s not. It doesn’t have to be super complicated. As you grow, you will need to get more complex in your marketing statistics, but to start off with, or if you’ve been not putting a pedal to the metal with that, you don’t have to go crazy with trying to analyze a whole bunch of stats.
What I’ve seen is owners get a little bit gun shy with Google and Facebook Ads because the expense is greater than what they’re used to or extraordinary is what they think. That’s because they’ve spent $100 to $200 for a doctor’s lunch here and there. That’s about the extent of it. Now, they’re looking at spending $1,000, $2,000, $3,000 a month on digital ads. Talk us through that because a lot of owners aren’t seeing immediate results from that. The general idea is that it’s going to take 2 to 3 months to gain some traction.
It comes back to this whole strategy. There’s a lot of shiny objects out there. “We’ll do your Facebook Ads and you’ll be getting guaranteed 30 new patients a month.” That’s for some. For most, what happens is if you don’t have a very good website or a good organic SEO, it comes back to people’s behaviors. They might see you on Facebook. They might see the ad and be interested, but they’re going to go check out your online reviews first. They’re going to look at your website, second. They’re going to might call. They then might fill out a form. They might see that ad again on Facebook and then do something with it. First and foremost, before you go spending a boatload of money on Facebook Ads or Google Ads, you have to have other core things in place.
That’s the best place to start with your money is. “What are you doing to your customer list? What is your SEO presence? What is your online brand presence? Can you make improvements there?” You will then start to see results from that and then, “I’ve got to get a good solid foundation, let me tack on some of the more technical things like Google Ads or Facebook ads.” Those things will work even better than if you went at it without looking at those fundamental things in place.
I love that recommendation as a step-by-step program because that is the trend or the shiny object is to jump in on Google Ads and Facebook Ads. Whether you’re struggling or whether you’re feeling rather comfortable and want to make more progress than you are right now, let’s maximize what you’re doing with current patients, past patients and physician referrals. If you’re getting 60%, 70% are returning patients and friends and family referrals, and then the last few are physician referrals, that’s great. Maybe that’s when you can start capitalizing on a Google Ad.
Look at that customer list first, see what you’re doing there and invest your time there first. For the current patients, you can ask for referrals and free screening offers workshops that might invite friends and family to their online reviews like, “Here’s a statistic for you, 89% of people consider a review that’s three months or older irrelevant.” If you haven’t a Google review in 3 or 6 months, that’s hurting how people perceive you online. The most important thing to be doing with your online reviews is not necessarily leaving it to an automated system to do. That’s important to have as a backup, but you should be training your team internally, your therapist, and the front desk to be asking for online reviews because that is the best time.
It’s all about timing. You want that person who’s having an amazing transformation. Their pain is almost gone and they were happy. That’s the time to ask for a review, and then you have the mechanisms for them to be able to leave that review. Ultimately, it comes back to ask that patient, “What can you do before and what can you do now?” They’re going to leave this amazing transformational review that will convince others. It’s a simple action but often overlooked and a great place to start.
I like that you said that it has to be recent as well. People are going to disregard those. Especially a year old. I didn’t know three months was too old, but if you’re looking at past reviews that aren’t recent, you’re like, “Maybe they were back in the day. Maybe they’re not so good now.” That’s my first thought.
If you went to a restaurant and the last review was 6 or 9 months ago, you’d be like, “Are they still in business? Did something happen? Are they not good anymore?”
“Is the chef still there? I don’t know.” Those are good questions to ask. Asking that routinely and I love that you share those things because those are all bang for your buck. You get so much return. To make a phone call costs time. Whereas the Google Ads and Facebook Ads spend is going to be money out of your pocket. Why don’t you maximize what’s cheapest first? Once you know that you’ve maximized that, then move on.
Our most successful clients are the ones that have a good pulse on their marketing internally because they will be taking a lot of videos, pictures and asking for those reviews. They know that they need to market to their past patients and then we’re coming in with the technical aspects. We know how to craft the website, SEO, digital marketing, digital newsletters, email campaigns and all that to support that. We can then work closely with them and get the absolute best results because you have to customize it to your brand, “What was your clinic all about? What are you portraying out there?”
It’s almost like plugging a few holes in your bucket before you start adding more water into it.
The worst thing that we get sometimes is a practice that comes on board and it’s like, “I’m paying you. You guys do everything.” That is the wrong mentality. It’s like, “How can you leverage consultants and professionals around you to enhance what you’re doing?” That’s a better mentality to have.
Do you see that as you’re taking off the items, going to your current and past patient list, doing Google reviews, better SEO on your websites and direct-to-consumers? That’s what people are doing now to be successful. It’s going to get more and more so going forward, I assume.
It’s going to accelerate more and more as we go forward into the future. People expect it now. If you’re not everywhere online, if you’re not super active in social media, if you’re not pumping out tons of video and pictures, then they’re going to look at the practice that is.
Even if the doctor says, “I want you to go to so-and-so physical therapy practice.” What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you sit in the car? You’re going to look them up. You’re going to see what their website looks like and what their presence is like.
The practice now in physicians is, “I want you to go to PT. Here’s a list. You do your own research on who you want to choose.” There are doctors that say, “You have to go to my clinic,” and we know that. For the ones that do refer out, they are giving them a list because they don’t want to be like, “I do recommend these places. They get amazing results, but I have to give you this list.” The patient’s going to do their due diligence.
Anything else you want to share? You shared a ton already. I love what you’ve talked about so far and showing up what’s happening within your practices and then moving on to the digital space. What more can you add?
We covered so much here. My purpose is to help practices succeed in improving more people’s lives. That’s what we’re about at Practice Promotions. We have great advocates there at the APTA level, the government level. It comes down as individual practices. If we work better to educate the public in how we can help them solve musculoskeletal neurological problems and empower each one of those clinics to be more successful at reaching the community, that’s going to raise the ship. That’s a huge focus for us.
I would come back again. The thing that we try to portray to our clients and help practice owners understand is that you can definitely be in charge of your marketing. You can be empowered in your marketing, learn more about marketing. It’s a critical hat as a practice owner. You have to look when you’re working with different consultants out there, “Are they going to help you build the right strategy? Do they have the right systems processes to help you get there? Do they have the specialists that are going to be able to advise you and help you get the results that you need?” That’s a critical focus for us.
It’s cool that you systematize things so well and you’re not just some guy working on his own, “Let’s try this, that, and the other thing, and see what works for you guys.” You are coming from a physical therapy background yourself, knowing and talk to hundreds of thousands of owners over the years. You know what can work best for physical therapists.
It’s been a fun journey for me being a PT, working in lots of different types of facilities and outpatient. I had a real passion for manual therapy. I went for a while to the Canadian College of Osteopathy that was a passion of mine there. I did teach CEUs and did some teaching at a university for PTAs. I got into my practicing and learning how to then be a business owner. Lots of training around that, getting better practice and then going through the process of selling your clinic.Focus on SEO but just make sure that your clinic is going to be in front of people when they're doing searches for help. Click To Tweet
That was quite an experience, then starting Practice Promotions many years ago, which is my wife, Amy and I. Now, we’ve been able to build that up to 75 employees and learning about being a business leader at that level. We always continue to grow and marketing at this level, marketing Practice Promotions to clients and learning a lot as we do that too. You can never stop learning. That’s an important part of your skillset as being a practice owner.
It’s cool to know your story and where you come from, but it’s equally cool to see how you, over the past many years, have changed your marketing company. You have gone into the digital. You’ve had to learn so much yourself to be in charge of that but to hire people that are even smarter than you to do some of those things. It’s not just the newsletter here or there anymore. It’s a lot more than that. You have it all.
Many years ago, we started off with print and direct mail and newsletters. Now, we send out over five million newsletters for practices over the year. We have a big impact there in their communities. Many years ago, we started to do websites. We wanted to do them a particular way. One thing that’s always been a guiding light for us is focusing on the results. It’s not just putting something together that looks fancy. It’s always looking at what’s converting better. Now we have lots of great data to look through and continue to focus and improve with that. The digital marketing that helps you rank better in Google, Google Ads, and all these things comes back to like a full all in one marketing solution for clinics.
If people wanted to reach you, how would they do that?
We’ve got tons of resources and free information for you, and video training. Go to PracticePromotions.net. You can learn a lot there, tips and strategies to help your practice. You can also get in touch with us there to scheduling a consult, a great way to get introduced to our strategy and our systems and talk about our specialists. We have different plans to help all kinds of clinics. We help everybody from small start-up clinics all the way through 80-plus location clinics.
If they have some questions, then you schedule a consult?
Yes. Get right on a consult call with one of our specialists.
Thank you so much for taking the time.
It was great to be on, Nathan. It’s a pleasure as always.
Have a great day.
Neil is a physical therapist, former private practice owner of 8 years, and CEO of Practice Promotions, the leader in marketing strategy, digital marketing, websites, and print marketing for the PT industry. With 20 years of real-world experience, Neil has helped over a thousand PT clinic locations across the US and Canada, implement the right marketing strategies and systems to exponentially grow their new patient numbers.
Neil and his wife, Amy co-owned their successful physical therapy practice in Boynton Beach, FL for 8 years, developing marketing strategies and systems along the way. He has dedicated his career to helping elevate the profession of physical therapy in the public, by empowering rehabilitation practices to successfully market themselves to their local communities.
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