[Marketing Plan] Get Little-Known Marketing Ideas To Boost Direct Access Referrals At Your PT Clinic….

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If you came looking for Marketing Ideas to boost self-referral at your small town or independent Physical Therapy Clinic, then you’ll find this article helpful.

It’s Physical Therapy Marketing Ideas for beginners who just don’t know where to start, or are somewhat overwhelmed by the constant message they keep hearing that they must better learn to “market your services”.
So I’ll start by introducing you to something I call the “Marketing Triangle”.

Marketing ideas for physical therapists
It’s something which forms the foundation of all good marketing activity in EVERY industry – and that most definitely includes the physical therapy sector.

It’s made up of THREE components and they’re all as important as each other:

  1. Market
  2. Message
  3. Media 

And the first I’ll teach you about is the Market.

Marketing Triangle Part 1 – How To Identify Your Ideal Patient

This is your “WHO” you want to attract to your pt clinic.

(Because you don’t just want to try and attract everyone and anyone, right?)


I often refer to the WHO as an “AVATAR” – and it’s essentially WHO your IDEAL client or patient is.

Someone you love to work with.

Get great results for.

Someone whose hopes, dreams and goals are perfectly aligned with your pt skills and clinics specialist solutions.

Thing is, NOT many pt’s really know WHO their ideal patient is (so it’s almost impossible for them to have ANY success at marketing their services to them).


PT’s will always be able to tell me that they see more people with back or neck pain etc…

…but rarely are they are able to describe to me their IDEAL patient in any more detail than that.

What I mean?

Well, let me tell you about my own “avatar” to help you understand:

“It’s” a lady – and she’s in her mid 50’s (or 60’s).

For a whole bunch of reasons, but in a nut shell…

…simply because my clinics service is focused on helping people maintain independence, mobility and living free from drugs and without the risk of surgery – all of the things that many women value most (MUCH more so than men).

And another reason…

Women are “pre-conditioned” to invest in their body and health.

They’ve been going to hairdressers, beauty salons, spend a heap of money on face creams and care greatly about how their nails look – enough to spend money on it – so I want to tap into that pre-conditioned behaviour pattern rather than try to create one with guys who don’t regularly spend time or money on their health until it’s an urgent or pressing need.

Now back to my “avatar” (Ideal client)…

She is married with children (and now likely to have grandchildren who she adores), is politically “conservative”, pays using Credit card rather than cash and is MORE interested in things like maintaing “self worth”, social independence, mobility and playing with those grandchildren in the park – than she is merely ending “back pain”.

(An end to back or knee pain (or whatever) is hardly EVER the reason a patient will come visit your clinic!)

I even got it down to which newspaper and magazines she likes to read, what TV shows and which radio station she is more likely to be listening too.

What’s more…

I spend so much time thinking about her and talking about her with my star, I felt I had to give her a name – so I did, and it’s “Mary”!

And whenever I’m preparing a marketing piece to attract more “Mary’s” to my clinic, I go so far as to look at a picture of a “best” patient of mine (also called Mary) – one who accurately represents the type of person I love to work with and want to see more of in my clinic.


When I sit down to write these marketing pieces, say for a newspaper advert or write words to attract a patient from Yelp.com etc, I have a clear understanding of what to write that will motivate many more people like “Mary”, to respond to my message.

And that “Message” (another part of the “Marketing Triangle”) has nothing to do with “me”, my services, how reputable I think I am, or how many years I’ve been in business.

I make NO attempt to be “all-inclusive” or to cast the net wide to catch as many “fish” as possible – like most of the marketing guru’s will tell you to do.

Nor do I even give a minutes thought to who I might repel, even offend (usually chiropractors or drug companies!) when I do so, either.

In fact, the more I mention those two in my ads in a negative way, the more calls to my clinic I seem to get from “Mary’s”!

I know my prime target (the “WHO”) – and I design my “Messages” and choose my “Media” accordingly.

And if you want to attract more self-referrals to your clinic, you’ll need to give some tough to YOUR Who, too.

Start “brainstorming” your favourite clients, think through what they have in common, what words they use to describe their pain, what their hopes and goals are. You’ll soon see a lot of commonalities in there and when you know them you’ll have a clear picture of who you want to MARKET your services to.

So now let’s talk about the MESSAGE.

Marketing Triangle Part 2 – The Message

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If you’re looking to grow the number of referrals from Direct Access, but it’s not quite happening for you yet, then one of the things that is getting in your way is the number of people telling you to:

“Market your service”…

I first heard it from a practice management “guru” I watched at a seminar in New Jersey and I’ve continued to hear it ever more from companies “advising” PT’s on how to Market their clinics.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it. Just, “market what you do”. As in, run an advert in the paper, or send out a postcard to people in your town, buy some likes on Facebook (and now pay more to “boost your post”), set up a page on Yelp and just make people more aware or YOU and what YOU do.

And if you do, they will call… And yes, I get the idea behind it and even the theory. I just don’t don’t agree with it. Because it doesn’t work well enough! …

Even less so if you’re an independent or a small town clinic battling against the big hospitals or the POTS. Why? Simple. People don’t care about you. Heck, most don’t even know that what you do is what they need – so they won’t even call your clinic when the offer is an offer of a completely free session.

So if you’re running adverts like this, it’s the MESSAGE that is going wrong and limiting how many people self-refer.

What to do about it?

Well, instead of the “Message” in your Ad being about “you” (and your clinic), why not switch is to saying something about the problems you know how to solve?

Say, or better yet, “offer”, (like bait), something that can help someone solve a problem or pain in their life and at least let them know there is a solution out there and tell them exactly how and where to get it – i.e. by calling your clinic.

Think of it this way:

To the person who is sat at home on his or her couch and starting to get frustrated with gradual and ever increasing intensity of their back pain (or knee pain etc)…

…who really doesn’t want to have to go through the hassle of contacting their network and doesn’t even want to contemplate having to sift between all of the PT’s on Yelp.com or popping up on Google, and choose between the self labelled “best in town”…

…is he or she more likely to be motivated to call YOUR clinic, if they see an advert with a Message which offers something like a “free tips report” on the best ways to end back pain? Or one who offers a free telephone consultation with a PT BEFORE going any further and signing the forms – just to help them make sure they’ve made the right decision? Probably.

So your “MESSAGE” – it’s not about you or even PT, it has to be something that is compelling enough to spark a response. Preferably, one which is going to solve their particular problem, in the easiest and fastest possible way – that THEY See it. (Which, at this stage, is NOT attending for 10 session of pt treatment).

Here’s where it gets profitable:

When they do call your clinic (to request the free “DIY tips report”), THEN you or your reception staff can begin a conversation which talks about their real pain points i,e, the thing that concerns them most about their back pain – such as loosing their ability to work, walk, or play time with grandchildren.

And when you know that… THEN you can begin to educate the person about how what you do, as in your PT skills, really is the best option to solve that specific problem. And you do that while on the phone and you’ve got all the time you need – not in Ad which which costs $100’s dollars per inch to place!

Most clinic owners get poor results from their advertising and marketing because they give no compelling reason to respond. (Free sessions and “call now” aren’t enough…) …they offer no “bait” like a free report to self help, or they put out the wrong bait for the right people they want to attract.

If you’re not giving people compelling reasons to respond in your advertising messages, then you’re doing something called brand advertising – which is what the corporate hospitals love to waste money on – and I urge you NOT to copy cat.

Your marketing Message should be “direct response” style. It should have a deadline, a reason to respond TODAY, and even include some “scarcity” too. (No body wants to miss out).

Marketing Triangle Part Three – Where To Place Your Advertising (Media)

So now you know about the “message”, and your “market”. Next, let’s chat about “Media”…

Because you need to know precisely which MEDIA you’re going to use to locate your WHO. Or, in reverse, you’ve got to know which media your “WHO” is tapped into – so that you can serve them highly specific messages to trigger response to your clinic. Remember…

…the goal of why we’re using *direct response marketing* is to get your prospective patients – with, say, back pain – to take action BEFORE they ordinarily would have (had they not seen your Ad) and most definitely before they call their insurance or a chiropractor.

Sounds a little “cerebral”, right? Well, it kinda’ is! But it’s fun. And hugely profitable. And means for less worrying about getting referrals from doctors and more time thinking about achieving the main goals of your having your clinic in the first place.

So, “Media” is  where you choose to run your ads and the list is long – often so long that it can feel overwhelming and stop you in your tracks before you’ve even got going. The Media includes but is not limited too:

* Facebook

* Google

* Newspapers

* Magazines

* Yelp

* Coupons

* TV

* Radio

* Etc, Etc…

The question is, which is best?

And the answer. “There isn’t one”.

It varies a lot by “WHO” YOU want to reach. An example: If you’re trying to reach a 65 year old gentlemen who loves to play golf and take cruises with his wife (because that’s “WHO” you have decided you want to work with), then is he likely to be looking on Google? Perhaps.

But maybe you’d have more chance of finding more gentlemen aged 65 with back pain, by running an ad in a golf magazine, appearing on a website for a cruise company or sending out a postcard to a list of highly targeted individuals who fit this description – and offering them a free “tips” report titled:

“Golfers – How To Swing Without Back Pain Even In Your 60’s”

And of course…

One of the “tips” that is going to be included in that report is YOUR PT service. And the first goal of running the advert is to get the Gentlemen’s contact details when he calls to get his free report – so that you can have a nice chat with him to find out precisely what his problems are, what he wants and needs and politely make him aware that physical therapy is something that will help him, get there faster.

Remember, the process that I’ve just described there, that’s called “direct response” advertising. And my advice is that whatever Media you’re going to choose – it must allow for you to deliver a “direct response” message – or skip it. With that said, your goal as captain of your ship should be to use as many different MEDIA as possible to seek out your preferred “WHO”. Most clinic owners become very lazy at this…

…choosing to be dependent on only physician referrals which could be stopped at any time…

Or on only one, two or three means of getting new patients, leaving them very vulnerable to sudden disruptions in business and never really feeling as though they can move from, say, seeing 30 patients per week, to seeing something like 100 (and employing others to do the work for them) – not to mention the threat from competition opening up in the market place.

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Hope this helps.

Paul Gough

Author, Clinic Owner, Founder at PTProfitAcademy.com

P.S If you want more marketing tips like this to boost self-referrals from direct access at your pt clinic, please click the link below:

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About Paul Gough

PAUL GOUGH is one of the top Marketing and Business Coaches in the physical therapy industry and his Systems are helping clinic owners all across America run more profitable clinics. He is a published Author, Newspaper Columnist and before his stunning success in business was hired by top professional soccer teams. HIS SUCCESS STORY is one that inspires many pt's around the world - at the age of 26 Paul QUIT a high profile job in professional soccer to begin his own clinic. He had NO money, NO business or marketing skills and NO experience - and yet now owns and runs 4 pt clinics and has a proven track record of growing a physical therapy business from 0 - $2m in record time.
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