What Physical Therapy Clinic Owners Can Learn From Chiropractors When It Comes To Direct Marketing To Find New Patients

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Story time:

So there I was at the weekend (minding my own) in the corner of Starbucks on Gerard Ave (La Jolla) – grande, extra hot, no-foam latte in one hand – a copy of Sundays, “LA TIMES”, in the other.

Now, reading the newspapers is something that I love to do.

But truth be told, I have NO interest what so ever in the stories that are being printed by the journalists.

No, I’m hunting for the Adverts!

Looking for ideas that I might be able to extract to give me (and my clients) the edge over our rival competitors.

And I’m looking across EVERY industry.

Not just the medical field.

(And certainly not just the Physical Therapy ads).

But the thing is, there’s RARELY any PT clinic ads in ANY newspaper I look in.

(Except for if you happen upon reading the papers while visiting the towns of some of my coaching clients of place like Rochester Hills (MI), Raleigh (NC), Foothill Ranch (Ca), Scottsdale (AZ), Narberth (PA)!)…

So, how come not many PT’s are doing it”?…

Is it because it’s easy to think “newspapers… no one reads them any more, so what’s the point in advertising in them”?

Or, is it because some owners have “tried newspaper ads, but they didn’t work for me”!

Either way, I flat out disagree.


See, newspapers are STILL, perhaps now more than ever, one of the most profitable and reliable sources of NP’s for small and medium sized practice owners.

Do you think that “chiropractors”, “doctors”, “dentists” and “orthotists” would CONTINUALLY (I’m talking week after week), be advertising in the LA TIMES (not cheap!) if they weren’t making a profit from doing so?


Any how, let’s take a look at a couple of the ads I spotted in Sundays paper and see what you can learn from each one:

Marketing ideas for physical therapists

This one was placed by a medical centre and is asking people with “neuropathy” to attend a free dinner.

It’s a HUGE ad.

Half the page (pricey!) and although it’s a form of lead Generation because they’re not asking for the immediate sale and instead are looking for prospects – it’s still a little “risky” and I wouldn’t advise a small business to do it because it takes a LOT of effort on the part of the reader (to show up and attend) which limits response.

Besides, I think people are these days aware that when they do arrive at this free “dinner”, they’re going to be sold too and pressured into buying some product when in the room.

Again, this limits the likely response.

I’m sure this ad works for these people – I just wouldn’t run something like this being a small to medium sized clinic unless I had a very HIGH END (high value) product to recoup my costs (a lot more than the $1200 typical patient value for a PT owner).


This one is advertising “insoles”… fairly pricey ones too:

marketing ideas for physical therapists

This is a classic “sales” model style ad and appeals to a very limited number of people… those who are ready to buy now!

The ad claims that the “insoles” are “only” $200 … now that’s hardly an impulse buy and so this advert will be losing a lot of people who MIGHT be interested in that offer, but want some more proof that they work – or information on how they work and why etc, before they get the credit card out.

Again, I’m sure this will work for the people placing it… I just think it could be more profitable if they did something like this next advert placed by a chiropractor using the “lead generation” model of advertising:

marketing ideas for physical therapists

In my humble opinion, it’s the smartest one, and the one you should “copy”.

(The strategy, that is!)

It’s also the smallest Ad…

And the chiropractor is no doubt riding along the back of having seen the first advert (the invitation to the neuropathy dinner) week after week.

And when you take a closer look at the advert…

…you’ll see he’s NOT even asking for the readers to call and make an appointment at his clinic.


He’s using something called the “Lead Generation” model of advertising which works stunningly well for small businesses like you and I.

See, for every 10 people who see that Advert – it’s likely that only 1 is “ready to buy now”.

So if all this chiropractor did was make a pitch to “book an appointment” at his clinic… he’d be missing out on a lot more than he would be making.

This chiropractor very cleverly asks for people to get in touch by requesting a free DVD, likely to be loaded with simple tips and hints on ways to ease “neuropathy” or information to better help people understand the condition.

(You could do the same for “chronic low back pain” or whatever you treat!)

But, what’s he’s really doing is “relationship building”.

(and catching all the people who want the information promised by the hospitals free dinner event, but who just don’t want to get off their “butts” to then be sold too…)

He’s also positioning him self as the “trusted source” of advice.

Not being pushy.

Not asking for “the sale” right up top…

And certainly NOT before he begins to earn the trust of these “leads” (readers interested enough to respond).

He’s playing a long game and giving people a low barrier to entry to get to know him and what he does to help people with “neuropathy”

This strategy is a hugely profitable one and something that I would encourage you to do the same.

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Ideally… find a newspaper that the big hospital systems are chiropractors are already advertising in and do what this smart chiropractor is doing… picking off all the great many more people who are not ready to buy just yet — but who soon will be once some trust is established.

Advertising in the newspapers is something that is often over looked by PT owners because they think that “no-one reads the newspapers” and find them selves saying things “that wont work for me” or “everyone is on Facebook” these days.

And yes…

Some are.

But many people over the age of “50” ARE reading newspapers every day.

Have done for 30 years and will do for another 30 years no matter how big Facebook or Google gets.

It’s a life long, daily habit.

And when you show up in those newspapers offering to HELP before you ask for any money – like this clever chiropractor does week after week – you’ll gain the trust of those readers who will eventually come to their own conclusion that your OFFER (the free DVD or tips report), is worth making a call for.

What do you do after that?


Build some more trust by offering to help in some other ways.

More information perhaps?

A “free evaluation”…

Anything that builds confidence (and trust) in you and what you do so that the person who responds to your advert feels compelled to want to do business with you, at some point soon.

You know as well as I do that their “chronic low back pain” isn’t going anywhere.

So it’s just a case of showing up until THEY decide to try you out.

And in that respect, these types of patients are a LOT better (and much more profitable!) than getting a referral from a doctor…

How so, you ask?

How many times have you been referred a patient who is only coming to you “because the doctor” told them too?…

(A few times this week already, I bet!)

If they have no idea why they are coming for PT … or more to the point, what you’re going to do for them that they should part with their time and money – then is it any wonder that these doctor referrals are only showing up for “4” or “5” visits?…

(A common problem I’m hearing about!)

It’s because there’s NO trust there…

No understanding of what we do (imagine the doctor trying to explain what a PT does!)… and besides, if the doctor FORCES the patient to come to you, you’re already fighting a losing battle when it comes to compliance and hitting your average patient visit numbers (12) is hard!…

Wouldn’t you agree it’s much better to find a way of creating your patients – nurturing them all the way to the first appointment?…

All you have to do is “hang in” for how ever long it takes and provide some more information to help these people – often nervous, skeptical and unsure – to make a BETTER decision.

Do that, and you’ll never have to chase doctors for referrals OR worry about what the big hospital systems are doing around you or which clinics they’re buying up!

(Another problem I’m hearing all about!)

Make no mistake — there’s “Gold” waiting at the end for the PT owners who adopt this approach across ALL of their marketing.

That’s called having a marketing “strategy” and is something that no clinic owner can be without.

Hope this helps.

Paul Gough.

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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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