Each one of these marketing mistakes at the very least will cost you money as well as time, combine several together and you have a recipe for marketing disaster and yet every single one can be avoided when you know what to look for. This article not only discusses each of the mistakes but provides practical advice on how to address them head first and give yourself the opportunity to not only succeed with your marketing, but also how to turn it into something you can actually enjoy.
By Tor Davies, Co-Kinetic founder
Warning: Some readers may find the following bullet points a little upsetting…
When I talk to people about marketing this is what I hear:
- I know don’t know what to do… Bullsh*t, here’s a strategy that works.
- I’m crap at technology… No excuse these days when just about every piece of software you need to use comes with step-by-step videos that you just follow along with.
- I just don’t have enough time… Total poppycock, that’s because you’re focusing on the wrong things.
- It’s just too hard to find new customers… This has got to be the worst excuse of them all, more about that later.
- Nothing I do ever works…. That’s because you don’t have a plan, and if you do, you don’t follow it through to the finish.
Basically, all the above excuses boil down to:
I don’t like doing it, so I’m just going to make excuses for myself.
Sorry if that offends you, but it’s the truth and those of you who know me, know I’m not one to sit on the fence!
The Parable of the Patient and the Practitioner
You know when a patient comes to you for help? You go through the necessary process to diagnose the problem and you probably figure out quite quickly what needs to happen to help the patient get better. In most cases this probably requires the patient doing some work in between your sessions, so you give them all the information they need to do this successfully, and send them on their way, until the next appointment.
But guess what … despite being in pain all week, they arrive for their next appointment and there’s little or no improvement. You ask whether they managed to do their exercises and they give you some sort of brush off reply like, “sort of”, or “maybe a couple of times, but I was REALLY busy last week”.
We’ve all been there!
So that patient continues to have their life compromised, and they continue to come back to their next appointment and pay hard-earned money, and even though you've given them an almost guaranteed solution – they just won’t do it what needs to be done to achieve that goal.
It seems illogical, right?
Depending on how passionate you are about your job, you may just accept it as part of what you do, or it might make you want to scream with frustration because you know that if they just followed your instructions, their pain would be healed, their quality of life would improve dramatically and they’d be able to start living their dreams.
What's the point of this story?
The point is that once upon a time, I faced this same issue as a physio. But today, I face it as a marketer FOR physios!
Try reading that story again but put yourself as a business owner in the place of the patient, and think about it in terms of your marketing instead.
If you’re prepared to be honest with yourself, probably most of you can find several parallels.
Unless the patient has a genuine desire and commitment to heal their pain, then you as their therapist is more or less powerless to help your patient.
And unless YOU have a genuine desire and commitment to grow and develop your business, I’m more or less powerless to help you.
I KNOW how you can turn your business into something that doesn't keep you awake at night worrying about not having enough patients. I can show you how to grow your business so that you can take on that new therapist or pay someone to do your drudge work.
But I’ll never be able to help you do that unless you are truly driven and committed to achieve that outcome.
You might be able to solve most problems a patient could throw at you, but unless they are truly driven to achieve that goal, your expertise and skills are lost. The same is true for your marketing.
The 10 Biggest Marketing Mistakes That Small Business Owners Make
Here are my top 10 most common marketing ‘injuries’.
1. No Strategy
This is right at the top of my list and it’s a bit like altered biomechanics - it doesn’t stop you walking, running or cycling (or marketing) but it does substantially increase your risk of suffering from a whole bunch of injuries such as:
- spending too much money on one thing, with no strategic approach or any proof that this one thing actually works;
- flurries of marketing activity that very rarely generate much outcome compared with a steady, little-and-often approach that wins every time; and/or
- confusing a tactic with a strategy – for example running ads to collect new prospective email leads is a tactic, but if you don’t have a strategy in place to bring those new leads through the journey, they’re completed wasted.
In fact, a lack of strategy pretty much accounts for every issue on this injury list. See the link to ‘A Crash Course in Marketing for Physical Therapists’ at the end of the article, and make sure this is a mistake you won’t repeat in the future.
Here's the marketing strategy we promote - a 100% education-driven customer journey, focused entirely on adding value to both your existing clients as well as your prospective email contacts.
2. Excessive Focus on One Thing at the Expense of Everything Else
Oh this is one of my biggest bugbears! Two things particularly occur to me here.
Social Media is the Marketing Cure-All
Hmmm you'll be waiting for eternity to arrive if you believe this!
When people sign up to my marketing system, the first thing they rush to do is to set up their social media campaigns - and sadly many of them just stop there. They’re just itching to get the social media posts that we create as part of the campaigns onto their social network pages.
Why? Well, admittedly they are awesome and they do look sexy, but the main reason is that everyone is obsessed with social media, and think it's the marketing panacea. Worse still, very few people ever apply any strategy to it making it an even more hopeless waste of time (there we go, we’re back to strategy again).
Thankfully our marketing system forces some strategy into the equation, because nearly all of our social media posts that are posted from within it, link back to a high value piece of content (aka. lead magnet) which can only be accessed in exchange for an email address through a landing page, which we create and host for our subscribers. This at least means the social media is being used to build that customer’s email list ready for nurturing towards a paying customer. In other words, it’s part of the bigger picture strategy.
But how many of you reading this article, are spending precious time posting to your social networks in the hope that you’ll pick up a few more page followers or fans, or attract a bit more engagement, with little or no additional strategy to your social media activities? And even worse, if you’re paying to boost these posts, with the same desired outcome, STOP NOW, PLEASE!!! There are SOOOO many better ways to spend your money.
Think about how much time you or one of your team is spending on this. Are you getting a return on your investment? Do you know how to get a return on your investment? Is it feeding into another part of your marketing strategy, if so how?
Social media is not going to change your business. It is certainly a piece of the jigsaw, but that is ALL it is. In isolation it achieves nothing and means nothing, just like a piece of a jigsaw.
Over-Investment in A Website
My second bugbear is that generally people spend too much money and time on their website. Yes, a website is important, it’s an online brochure. It needs to be functional so prospective clients can easily get in contact with you and find maps and directions on getting to their appointment and learn about parking (if relevant).
Your site also should profile you and your team – don’t hide behind a ‘contact us’ form, put a real face to your business.
And while you're at it, you'd be mad to leave out an active blog area. There are SO many benefits to publishing good quality content on your website.
Here are a few:
- Publishing video content boosts your search findability.
- Blog posts can dramatically increase your search engine optimisation and findability.
- Educational content helps you establish authority and reputation.
- Publishing content about your team, your clinic and your services can help a customer get to know you and develop the all-important trust, before they commit to booking an appointment.
- If you use blog posts and value-added content (lead magnets) with lead capture pages it can also become a source of new prospective customer leads.
All that said, there are really only five pages you need on your website:
- Home page – read my article on home page essentials
a. include videos
b. links to new blog posts
c. and/or publish the new posts on your social network and embed a feed from the social networks onto your home page (see EmbedSocial.com)
- About us page – qualifications, credentials, include videos if you can
- Contact us page – with maps, directions, contact details, sign up to newsletter button, etc.
- Services – what you and your team can do/offer; focus on pains and problems you can solve, ie. benefits, not features
- Blog area featuring regular educational, value-added content and particularly videos.
And make sure testimonials feature wherever possible – embed Facebook and Google Reviews on any page of your website using this resource.
Do those 5 pages well and don’t go overboard with loads of extra superfluous stuff. Oh and you absolutely MUST make sure your website is mobile-friendly, ie. it rearranges itself in layout to accommodate mobile phones and tablets.
3. Make Excuses: “Can’t Market, Won’t Market”
This is your classic malingerer! They make excuses and then end up doing nothing, not a scrap of marketing. But boy do they moan about not having enough customers. It’s everyone else’s problem but their own. This is arguably the worst presentation of all of them. They talk themselves into failure without even realising it and it’s arguable that this person shouldn’t even be in business in the first place.
4. Leaky Customer Journeys/Marketing Funnels
This is how you take someone from first coming across you or your business, through to building trust, authority and becoming liked, and then through to converting an individual into a paying customer.
To do this, you NEED a customer journey or ‘funnel’ strategy in place. But then you need to make sure that customer journey is smooth, consistent and watertight, ie. they don’t fall through any cracks or holes.
So once you’ve collected new prospective customer leads, don’t just leave them sitting in your email list while you ponder what to do with them! That’s a waste. You need to strike while the iron’s hot. In practical terms you can do this with regular nurture emails which both offer value-added information, help, advice, support and education but also opportunities to take the next step in a customer journey, such as getting face-to-face with you and attending some sort of conversion event like a mini-assessment, free workshop or presentation.
The emails we write as part of our marketing content follow up with additional information based on the topic of the campaign that prompted you to give your email address in exchange for some value-added content. So, if for example someone signed up because they wanted to access the advice leaflets on the 8 most common cycling injuries, the follow-up email we’d write for that campaign, would offer additional value on that same topic. In our case for the cycling campaign, it was a professionally designed newsletter we’d produced as part of the kit covering cycling injuries and accompanied by a cheat sheet on some tips you can do to prevent common cycling injuries.
We then suggest conversion opportunities that you can run to take that customer to the next level and provide you with all the information you need to promote these events.
If they don’t convert, that’s fine. But next month, you’ll send them a new email with value-added information on that month’s topic, along with details of your next freebie session (if you’ve decided to run one).
If you do this each month, each person on your email list is receiving regular value-added information that they’ve very unlikely to unsubscribe from, and which keeps you at the forefront of their minds. And they may well forward your email to someone they know who might also be interested (especially if you ask them to, which we always do in our email templates we write for you – you’d be surprised how a simple call to action can generate responses).
Email nurture is a hugely powerful marketing tactic that practitioners could do really well and without it eating up a huge amount of your time (especially if you use our content). This to me is one of the leakiest (if not non-existent) parts of most marketing funnels, and the one that presents with the most opportunity to make a difference to therapy businesses.
5. Using the Wrong Channels
Before you commit time and money to promoting your business in a particular channel, MAKE SURE YOUR TARGET CUSTOMER IS ON THERE!!!
I’ve had so many people ask me about running Instagram stories or using Snapchat to market their businesses and my answer is always the same – if your target client is under 35 and female, then Snapchat could work for you. If that’s not your target audience, there are other platforms that you should be focusing on.
Moral of the story? Do your research before taking action.
6. Not Addressing Your Client’s Pain
You’ve probably heard the saying “focus on benefits, not features”. We’re all at fault of doing this and me as much as anyone. I love what my marketing campaigns consist of, because there’s so much value packed into one little campaign. So when I create my marketing material, I leap straight into:
“Every kit contains: 25 social media posts; 6 videos; pre-built lead collection pages, posters, leaflets, adverts, email templates, blah, blah, blah.” Well, every kit DOES contain all those things but so what? They’re features, not benefits. They don’t solve any problems for you.
So I have another crack at it! Each campaign helps you to:
- collect new prospective customer email leads
- increase awareness of your business
- nurture these leads towards becoming a paying customer
- build trust and engagement
- convert those leads into paying customers
- become more findable on Google.
Better, but still it takes a bit of a stretch for the reader to really drill down to what it’s going to do to change their lives or help them achieve their dreams. Again I say, so what and have another go at it. How about:
- never again worry about not having enough customers
- build the business you’ve always dreamt of
- have access to a never-ending supply tap of clients that you can turn on and off when you want to
- be able to hire admin help or bring more team members on board
- move into your own clinic premises
- take your family on their dream holiday, etc.
These are more powerful benefits that speak to anyone who aspires to achieve those goals.
As Andy Byrne talks about in his brilliant presentation “Grow Your Business By Making Your Patient’s WANT to Come Back” (which you can access at this link) – you’ve got to get right down the nitty gritty, and understand how your client’s pain is affecting their life and what they will be able to do once you’ve fixed the current problem, that they’re unable to do now. It could be things like “being able to play with my grandkids when they come round”, or “being able to walk up Kilimanjaro”, or “getting a great night’s sleep and waking up feeling awesome, because my back pain didn’t wake me up at an ungodly hour”.
As a business owner, what are your pains? They’re probably more likely to be things like:
- tossing and turning at night worrying about not having enough money coming in or enough patients on your books;
- a new competitor who’s moved into your area and is nabbing all your patients;
- feeling pressure to market yourself, but not knowing how to; or
- worrying you don’t have the skills that you need to keep your business afloat, let alone help it thrive.
Those are the problems I’m looking to solve for you. So, think about the problems that your clients need solving and market your services in those terms.
7. Spending Too Much Time on Creating Content and Not Enough Time on Promoting It
OK, I totally get this one, even though it’s my job to promote my content! How often have you spent ages writing a blog post that you then publish on your website, and promptly forget to tell anyone about it?
It’s like you’ve ticked off the task, and now you can move on. Old is boring! But every marketing expert will tell you, you need to spend 20% of the time creating content and 80% of the time promoting it. I’m SO guilty on this count.
Basically, if you spend an hour writing an advice leaflet or an article on back pain, you should spend 5 hours promoting the existence of that content. (If you use my content, however, you don’t have to spend any time creating it, but you can spend the hour that you would have spent creating it, promoting it!)
8. Viewing Marketing as Sales Instead of Building Relationships
If we reframe our heads and instead of thinking about marketing as a function of our business and sales, think of it more as a process of meeting more people (online or offline) and building relationships with them, then it takes a completely different direction.
We’re ‘people people’. This stuff is second nature to most of us, which means we should excel at it. The problem is that historically our ‘marketing’ has been orientated around ‘pushing’ our businesses instead of trying to build on relationships and help support our communities. When you look reframe it like this, everything else will fall into place.
9. Not Being Focused About Your Target Customer
I have a slide that I use frequently in my marketing presentations.
The Perfect Prospect is: someone with the highest probability that they’ll require your services and soon, the motivation to seek your services and the means to pay for them.
Probability, motivation and means.
Think carefully about who those people are, and focus your efforts specifically on that group, you can always add additional target groups as you get going.
10. Hiring People to do Your Marketing, Who Don’t Know Your Business or Industry
This is one of the biggest war cries I hear from people who join up to our marketing platform. Often, they’ve paid someone else to do their social media and write blog posts for them, but because those people are usually marketing experts rather than practitioners, the content has either not been up to scratch, but on occasions has actually even been clinically inaccurate, which (as every one of us can appreciate) in our industry in particular looks pretty bad.
So make sure the source of your marketing material, particularly if you’re using a content-marketing approach, is technically correct and accurate.
I would add another caveat here around hiring people to do your marketing for you. Only do this when you have some understanding of what needs to be done. There’s nothing more destructive to a business relationship, than people offloading responsibility for something when they don’t understand it, and therefore have unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved. It doesn’t matter if it’s your Facebook advertising, or your lead collection processes or the impact blog posts will have on your search engine optimisation.
Take a bit of time to do a bit of research and get some sort of understanding at the very least of what can be achieved. It’s all too easy to watch all these Facebook ads making huge claims and then expecting the same to happen overnight for you. It just doesn’t work like that, whatever promises those presenters make!
On a Final Note
At the end of the day, everyone is selling something. Yes, I’m selling content and a marketing platform, but test things out, read up on stuff, do your research, talk to people, read reviews and whatever you do DON’T LOOK FOR A MAGIC BULLET, BECAUSE IT DOESN’T EXIST!
You’re not going to increase your return on investment by 300% overnight, you have to be prepared to put the work in. Marketing does take time and it does take effort and you might think that you don’t like it because you’re thinking about it in terms of sales. Switch that to building relationships, offering value, giving advice and suddenly everything takes a very different and much happier direction.
Here are some related resources you might like A heads up: some of the resources may require you to enter your email address to access them, this is just so I can ensure I’m GDPR compliant when I send you the info.
- Five Go on a Patient Journey
This is a brilliant video series with loads of strategies for building your business and delivering an amazing customer experience. It’s based on five presentations that I and another four practitioners did at COPA 2018 (don’t worry we re-recorded them in the quiet of our own houses).
- A Crash Course in Marketing for Physical and Manual Therapists: The Quickest Way to Get Business-Changing Marketing Results for the Least Amount of Effort
It literally does what it says on the tin – it consists of 3 videos of 45 mins in total.
- Social media is not your marketing panacea.
- Paid advertising on Facebook can be a phenomenally powerful tool in your marketing tool kit, but only if based on a good strategy.
- A lack of a sound strategy is the biggest single reason for marketing failure.
- Marketing is like a treatment plan, you have to complete all the components to give you the best chance of a successful outcome.
- Social media (for marketing purposes) is only one part of the jigsaw. In isolation it’s meaningless, it only becomes effective when it’s part of a bigger picture.
- Successful marketing is a ‘little-and-often’ process, not a ‘shit-or-bust’ process.
- Just as patients can’t delegate responsibility for their rehabilitation to you, you can’t delegate responsibility of your marketing to someone else.
- Decide on your perfect patient prospect and then get focused about your marketing.
- Make sure your marketing content focuses on aspirations and life goals. Think benefits, not features.
- Stop thinking about marketing as part of a sales process. Marketing is all about building relationships, offering value with no strings attached, and developing trust.
“Marketing activities only become effective when based on a coherent strategy”
“Social media is not a marketing cure-all”
“Not doing your marketing is like your patients not doing their prescribed exercises”