A Comprehensive Guide To Marketing Your Physical Therapy Practice

Whether you’re just starting up a new practice or have been in operation for years, marketing is a key component of your private practice’s financial success. This guide will give you marketing basics and more.

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Updated for 2022!

Marketing is the Lifeblood of Any Private Practice

Whether you’re just opening the doors of a new practice or have been in operation for years, marketing is essential to your private practice’s financial success. However, it’s no secret that traditional and online marketing can be the bane of a practitioner’s existence.

In between compliance concerns and constant documentation, marketing tasks are often one of the most dreaded that a rehab professional must do. The good news is it has never been easier to consistently get your brand out there. Notice we said consistently — because that is key.

Marketing is not a “one and done” activity. Like treating a patient for L1 back pain, your marketing activities must be constant to optimize for the best possible performance. Today’s blog will look at the best (and worst) physical therapy marketing ideas to put to work in your practice.

What is a Physical Therapy Marketing Plan?

A physical therapy marketing plan is an organized report that outlines the advertising and outreach strategies a physical therapy practice will use to target a specific market. Physical therapy marketing strategies are established over a set time period: yearly, quarterly, or monthly.

Of course, there’s a difference between a marketing plan for a physical therapy clinic and a physical therapist. A practice marketing plan approaches the clinic as an entity and embellishes on the shared values and experience of the practitioners. A marketing plan for a single physical therapist focuses on an individual and embellishes personal accolades and achievements.

Regardless of the focus — physical therapy entity or individual — a physical therapy marketing plan must contain a few core elements to be effective. In particular, marketing for physical therapy requires elements like:

  The state of current marketing efforts

  An overview of current marketing and advertising goals

  A description of your business’s target market and patient needs

  A timeline of when marketing tasks will be completed

  The key performance indicators (KPIs) to be tracked over time

But before you can even begin with any physical therapy marketing ideas, you’ll need to establish the key pillars of your marketing campaign — your brand and your target audience. Here’s a bit more on why those two elements of a PT marketing plan are so important and why other physical therapy marketing strategies require these details before getting started.

What Is Your Brand?

Your brand is everything about your practice. It’s what people think about when you say the name of your practice. When you think about Nike or Apple, you don’t need a list of things they have or sell. You just know what they are. This is crucial because the business with the most robust brand awareness will get customers just because they know the quality and content of the services.

Trust is inherent in a strong brand. People know what they are getting when they buy that brand and the value of that service or product. Developing your marketing plan and promoting your brand in a way that builds and holds the customer’s trust is paramount for success. Whether you’re a practice owner or lone therapist, decide how you want customers to view you.

Who Are Your Consumers?

You must know to whom you are directing your message. That matters because your messaging should be tailored to each different consumer. Most say that patients are your primary consumer because you can go directly to your potential patients with direct access today.

However, these other consumers are equally (if not more, depending on how you get patients) essential to consider:

  Physicians/APRNs or PAs


  Insurance companies

  Other providers like PTs, OTs, or Home Health Agencies

These entities are consumers of your services because they are a source of potential customers. All the above groups often need rehab services for the people who use their services. Don’t neglect them as critical consumers; they can direct patients to your services.

How Can I Market My Physical Therapy Practice?

With the individual components of effective marketing strategies for physical therapy in hand, it’s time to get to work on the actual strategies themselves. PT marketing strategies are often segmented between internal marketing and external marketing efforts. Let’s set a foundation with internal marketing, then move on to external efforts, which tend to be a bit more costly.

Internal Marketing to Your Current Patient Base

The first place to initiate your marketing efforts starts right within your practice. You can promote your practice in-house at no cost, and it can be enormously influential. The most powerful way to drive your brand is by providing an excellent patient experience.

Over time, many of us have come to realize that patients really value two things above all else.

  They want to know they matter to their therapist. In other words, does their therapist demonstrate that they really care about them?

  They also want to get the sense that the care being provided is of value – meaning is it well directed towards their problem and will it have a reasonable chance of helping them get better without costing them too much.

The first point is really about the patient experience and their sense of whether everyone they encounter in your practice cares about their welfare. The patient experience is an entire topic all by itself.

The second point is about the quality of the care being provided by the therapist. The patient needs to feel that the specific interventions and interactions with their therapist are helping them. With high deductibles, copays, and coinsurance payments coming from the patient’s pockets, they need to know that their time and money are being spent effectively.

This is a compelling part of the patient experience.

Patient Experience Self-Assessment Questions

For your first marketing activity, you should do a gut check and see if your past patients can say their experience is wonderful using these assessment questions:

  Is the phone answered by a live person every time it rings? No one likes talking to a machine.

  Can they get information, access scheduling, get forms, or contact you via your website? More on this later, but today’s customer experience is all about web-based access.

  Does the administrative staff do all it can to help patients with scheduling issues, insurance, or authorization issues? Health care is challenging, and patients often need help navigating the hurdles.

  Do the therapists listen to patients, give them a sense they understand their problems, and seek to work collaboratively to solve the issues? If you don’t get the importance of this, you are in the wrong business.

You want people to go out to their friends and relatives and relay how incredible their experience was at your practice. Be sure you’re making that happen. Don’t underestimate the importance of solid EMR/practice management software to help you improve your patient experience.

A big part of offering a top-notch patient experience is having software and tools in place that make it possible for your staff to deliver a superior service. Staff need information at their fingertips for maximum efficiency.

Improving the Patient Experience in Your Private Practice

Now that you’ve completed a self-assessment regarding patient experience at your practice try your hand with a patient experience questionnaire. You can leverage this self-reported patient data to identify any operation flaws you were unaware of and keep your finger on the pulse of patient satisfaction.

Examples of questions to include on a patient experience questionnaire are:

  Based on your experience at our physical therapy practice, how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?

  How would you rate the professionalism of our physical therapy staff?

  Did you have any issues arranging a physical therapy appointment?

  How was the physical therapy care you received, and how well were evaluation and treatment options explained?

  How would you rate the level of efficiency of the billing process?

Collecting this patient satisfaction data is one of the most straightforward ways of identifying operational concerns that can impact brand opinion and awareness. Quickly addressing such concerns ensures that both existing and incoming new patients encounter an improved experience with your practice, overall aiding in ongoing increased patient satisfaction.

By ensuring a positive patient experience with your practice, you generally increase the chance of successful word-of-mouth marketing. When a past patient encounters a friend or family member who requires physical therapy services, their ongoing positive experience will push them to recommend your practice, possibly earning you a new patient referral.

To further maintain strong patient relations with both past and prospective patients, consider also tying in the use of SMS and email marketing. This physical therapy marketing strategy is a great way to maintain current patient relationships by informing them of recent practice news, scheduling reminders, or even thanking them for their support over time.

Some Other Examples of Internal Marketing

Other activities you should do every day that can be considered marketing:

  Education of a patient about their problem or another problem that you may not be treating them for, but they ask you about.

  Discussion with a patient about a relative or friend who may need care.

  Discussions with a referral source about a patient.

  Discussion with a case manager about your care of a patient.

  Flyers or “advertisements” posted in the clinic about niche services offered.

Taking an active approach to marketing inside your practice is enormously successful. In fact, one practice used to tell patients at discharge, half-jokingly, “OK now that you are done you need to find someone else to take your place!”

External Marketing to Potential Patients

There are many traditional marketing techniques that rehab practices have historically employed. These include:

  Personal Selling: Meeting with referral sources or the public to “sell” your services.

  Advertising: Placing ads in local papers or magazines.

  Promotions: Gift certificates or free screenings.

  Publicity: Appearing as a guest on media or making a presentation.

  Direct Marketing: Mailers to local residents with your advertising message.

  Digital Advertising: Advertising on Google or Facebook ads.

  Sponsoring Events: Think of road races or setting up a tent at a local marathon.

Many of these work to a degree depending on the recipient. For example, targeting individuals with a piece of direct mail may not be overly effective because unless the person is in need of physical therapy services. With that said, there are also intangibles with marketing such as name recognition. That person might not currently be in the market, but when they are in the market for PT services they might see your name, recognize it, and decide to give your practice a try.

You really have to strategize your marketing budget, thinking not only about the cost of advertising but also your willingness to commit to it long enough to reap the branding benefits.

Your referral base is a different story. Physicians you work with may regularly send you patients and continuing a steady stream of marketing materials may be helpful. You just need to be careful not to overdo it and annoy your referral partners. Referral partners may also be more interested in a different message than patients. They may want to know, for example, if you have new equipment or treatment methods that are unique to your practice.

It can be difficult to know where to spend your marketing dollars and you need enough data to make decisions. If you’ve never really spent on marketing – start by building a plan that will cover a strategy for 6 months. Then, reassess and take it from there.

When External Marketing Works Best

External marketing works best when people need what you offer. In light of that your website and social media are the absolute way to go.

Your website is the first place you better invest your time and money. Like you, anyone and everyone is starting there when searching for anything, including rehab services.

Your website must be powerful…meaning not just pretty but great with content, user experience, and searchability. The one thing you absolutely need to do on your website is tell stories. People trust stories and you need to develop their trust in your brand. Patient testimonials work fabulously as a marketing tool. Just be careful to think about HIPAA when it comes to stories and images. Make sure you have permission from patients if you are going to post about them (preferably in writing).

Here’s a blog post that we wrote about physical therapy website basics: It’s key that you have the basics covered on your website before getting into more of the marketing aspect. If the basics aren’t covered, visitors won’t stay long enough to read your content, no matter how good it may be.

Improve Your Practice’s Online Presence with These Digital Marketing Strategies

With a general understanding of the vast approaches surrounding external physical therapy marketing, we nailed down a set of four practices you should consider focusing your efforts on in order to improve your practice’s online presence.

1. Social Media Marketing

In addition to your website, having a social media presence is the other half of this style of external marketing. This should include LinkedIn, Instagram, and even Facebook. Yes, there are people still on Facebook who are in the demographics of clients that you need to reach. Plus, you are not limited by word count and smartphone evolution has extremely enhanced overall accessibility.

With a bit of research, you can post relevant industry updates — such as healthcare law and trending healthcare topics — to position yourself as an expert in the field. As an expert, you can also demonstrate your knowledge on LinkedIn and relevant Facebook groups. These social media hubs commonly attract both patients seeking physical therapy services as well as practitioners and practice owners seeking new referral sources to establish professional relationships.

However, the major caveat for social media is you must be posting all the time… as in 3 to 4 times a week. Social media is a commitment and one that you must analyze before taking on. Consistency is important. With all of this in mind, it’s important to sit down and think about whether you have the time and desire to participate in social media.

If you do, it’s important to think about who in your practice should be responsible for building and maintaining your social media. This not only includes routinely posting content, but also includes updating practice information such as phone numbers and hours of operation, consistently responding to patient messages, and monitoring and replying to patient reviews

2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization, also known as SEO, is the process of enhancing your physical therapy website to improve search visibility for patients seeking PT services on search engines like Google. For example, if your practice operates out of Miami, Florida and a local user searches for “best physical therapist in Miami,” solid SEO practices would help display your practice as a top result.

When implementing the use of SEO into your physical therapy marketing campaign, keywords are essential. For a physical therapy practice, keywords are the search queries that a potential patient will input to (hopefully) find your practice — like “physical therapy services” or “physical therapist for back pain.” Once you identify the search terms that drive traffic to your business, website optimization is key.

There are a variety of best practices to consider to effectively optimize your physical therapy website:

  Routinely publish content such as blogs, ebooks, and webinars that use relevant physical therapy industry keywords in the title and throughout the copy.

  Optimize metadata for all web content by including relevant keywords to communicate the topic of your copy to search engines and appear in relevant search results.

  Conduct relevant link-building to demonstrate credibility and signal to search engines that your website is a treasure trove of industry insight.

  Input alt-text (alternative text) or short written descriptions of each image on your website to increase accessibility and boost SEO.  

Bear in mind, SEO is not an overnight success — like a patient plan of care, it will require quite the commitment. If you are interested in the benefits of SEO but don’t know if you can commit to the work, consider the use of local marketing services that can navigate this process for you.

3. Google My Business

As you can see from the above details on SEO, search engines like Google are a vital marketing tool for every business. To piggyback on the benefits of general SEO, a Google My Business listing (GMB) is a coveted form of local SEO that helps potential patients find your PT practice. Tons of patients will search for “physical therapy near me,” rather than an actual location name, and search engines like Google will use GMB listings to provide those patients with the closest physical therapy practices.

Similar to Yelp, a Google My Business listing provides patients with the ability to leave your practice online reviews. This insight often proves helpful to both practice owners and other patients seeking a practitioner. Likewise, the more positive reviews you collect on GMB, the higher your visibility will become when users conduct a relevant search.

In addition to offering a review platform, your Google My Business listing also provides users with several business details, including contact information, Google Maps address location, hours of operation, and even COVID-19 policies. However, this is not an automated process, so be sure you set up and maintain your Google My Business listing to avoid any customer hiccups or confusion.

4. Email Marketing

With patient contact information readily accessible, consider the use of email marketing to establish and support long-term patient relationships. This fairly inexpensive physical therapy marketing opportunity is a great way to conduct mass outreach to patients both current or inactive. The purpose of this outreach could be as simple as scheduling reminders or welcome emails.

Likewise, consider implementing a fuss-free monthly newsletter. Across the healthcare industry, many professionals will use monthly newsletters as part of their email marketing campaign. A physical therapy newsletter should contain relevant industry news, practice updates, and a call to action that pushes the reader to reach out.

Like social media, it’s important to note that consistency is key when it comes to email marketing. While 3 to 4 emails per week is likely excessive, still establish a cadence with your email newsletters so readers know when they can anticipate new content. As always, be mindful of HIPAA guidelines when crafting email marketing content.

The Bottom Line

Marketing your services has never been more important in today’s health care economy, regardless of whether you’re a new or established PT practice. To make your business soar, you must show the world what you can do for them. Fortunately, it’s never been easier to look online than with these physical therapy marketing strategies.

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