Sportex Time-saving resources for physical & manual therapists

A "Ready-To-Go" Marketing Strategy for Therapists [Article]

In this article I explain why you’re doomed to failure if you don’t have a marketing strategy, why most marketing efforts fail and why narrowing your focus can give you the much needed advantage as well as helping you to save time and resources. I'll explain how to identify patients who are most likely ‘convert’ to paying customers, and describe in detail a tried and tested strategy that 1000s of practitioners around the world are using to build their businesses right now. If you subscribe to our marketing content, we also provide you with EVERY piece of marketing material you need to run a new campaign, every month, following this same strategy.

Questions we'll be answering in this article include:


By Tor Davies, Co-Kinetic founder

Introduction

As practitioners, most of us hate marketing, particularly marketing ourselves and our own businesses! And because of this, we tend to do as little of it as we have to, to get by.

Unfortunately that doesn't do us justice, doesn't bring us the business we want, and doesn't allow us to really thrive as business owners. If you haven't read my previous article on education-based content marketing (or How to Sell Without being Salesy), I would suggest you do this first, because you should have this in mind, while you read the article below.

The strategy I outline below, works particularly well when used in a content marketing context and it will also help you feel MUCH less uncomfortable about the prospect of marketing as a whole, than you might otherwise feel!

You've got to have a plan (or is it a strategy)

First things first, you need a strategy - I'm at A and I want to move to B. Then you need a plan which details how you are going to move from position A to position B. This article covers both.

John Jantsch, founder of the brilliant Duct Tape Marketing blog and podcast, coined the phrase:

“Marketing without strategy is like noise before failure”.

He adapted this from a Sun Tzu quote, from the book Art of War, which is just as relevant: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

Marketing without strategy

I'll hazard a guess that we've all done it!

Does the following scenario sound at all familiar? Something, somewhere gives us a kick up the back side: it might be a slowing down of appointment bookings; a dip in the cash flow; an increase in business costs; the desire to buy a new car; or the arrival of a new family member; or on the flip side you’ve read a business or motivational book or seen an inspirational talk and you’re suddenly filled with a surge of enthusiasm to give your business and your career an injection of growth.

Driven by this stimulation we get busy on our social media networks, we spend valuable hours writing blog posts, we email all our customers and prospective customers telling them about all the brilliant things we’re doing, we may even run some sort of offer, and persuade the local newspaper to run an article for us, and then we sit back and wait for the bookings to come flooding in.

But to our disappointment nothing much happens. And we collapse with the exhaustion of this frenzied activity, concluding that marketing is just a pointless waste of time.

So we trundle on, as we did before, working long hours, without ever feeling like we’re reaching our business potential.

So what’s the solution?

I’d like to quote directly from Paul Gough, who is not only a very successful physio and multi-clinic owner, but also a ninja marketeer.

Marketing – and business success – is about the slow, rhythmical acquisition of new leads turned into clients – sustained over a period of time.

Like 12 months.

This sentence is key: “the slow, rhythmical acquisition of new leads turned into clients – sustained over a period of time.”

So how do we sustainably, rhythmically acquire new leads (and what are 'leads' anyway)?

Firstly, what is "customer acquisition"?

Very simply, customer acquisition means collecting new leads (ie. people contacts) and turning these into paying customers, and to do this, you must have a strategy. It’s not a one-step activity, it’s a process – which is why sustaining it over time is so important.

A strategy needs a plan of action and that is a the sequence of steps you need to take from gaining new potential customer leads to converting them into paying customers.

The marketing world has developed this concept of a sales funnel, or customer acquisition funnel, which is a more visual example of what a strategy might look like (Fig. 1). I prefer to think of it more as a customer journey where the first step is that people come across your business and ideally ultimately end up becoming a paying client.

As with all journeys people will drop off along the way but your job is to do the best you can, to get as many people onto the journey and across the finish line. Sound familiar?

This journey, or funnel, irrespective of the market, industry or the service being offered, at the most basic level consists of three key stages:

  • Level 1: Collecting new customer leads
  • Level 2: Nurturing those leads to trust you by building relationships with them
  • Level 3: And finally converting them into paying customers.

Figure 1: A basic customer acquisition funnel

There are lots of sub-elements within those three top levels, just as there are lots of different methods you can use within that funnel (if you Google ‘customer acquisition funnel’ you’ll see what I mean), but most models centre first on bringing yourself to the attention of potential new clients > then offering advice and guidance that helps solve the problems of those potential clients > and in turn building trust and then finally > deepening that customer’s engagement with you and your business so they are ready to buy into you and become a paying customer.

So What does a customer acquisition strategy look like in real terms?

Level 1 – Collecting new leads

One of the most effective ways of collecting new leads, is to create a highly desirable piece of content which you can promote to to people and which they can only access in exchange for giving you their contact details (it's nothing like as devious as it sounds as long as you make sure that the information fulfils what you promise. Remember, this content must solve problems for people. Genuine problems. And the content must deliver on your promise. Do not try and dupe people by offering something that sounds really amazing, and then delivering something rubbish! That will just annoy them!

There's lots of ways of collecting people's contact details (just think of any ways you can encourage people to share their business cards with you), but in reality one of the most un-creepy and un-salsey methods is to offer something valuable in exchange and the internet is well designed to do this. The other benefit is that the internet is awake 24/7 so if you publish things that send people to lead collection forms, it's working all day, every day on your behalf.

The lead magnet

The lead magnet has to be something really desirable, helpful, valuable and useful that solves peoples' problems in such a way that they are prepared to part with their contact details to obtain it (this is usually an email address but sometimes a telephone number). The more valuable the ‘lead magnet’ the more effective a lead generator it is (ie. the more email addresses you'll collect).

The lead collection page

This ‘lead magnet’ sits behind a ‘landing page’ or lead collection page. When the interested person arrives at the lead collection, they will be asked to enter the required contact details in exchange for the ‘lead magnet’. Here's an example of one of the lead collection pages we include in our subscription. If you fill out your details, you can access the lead magnets behind it (which is even cooler - this is one of our best campaigns yet).

Telling people about your lead magnet

There's LOADS of ways of doing this. Just make sure that everything you circulate includes a link to the lead collection page (in the Co-Kinetic platform that's your Personal Campaign URL for each marketing campaign). Otherwise you never get off the starting block.

Here are some ideas:

  • Publish a blog post on your website about the topic of the lead magnet (which tells people about the lead magnet as an added info option)
  • Publish social media posts on your social networks related to the topic which lead back to the lead magnet
  • Videos on your website or other social networks (again linked back to the lead magnet)
  • Printed material like postcards which you can circulate locally or through partner businesses who offer complementary services
  • Articles in the local press or local newsletters - this could be your blog post which mentions the added value lead magnet and sends people to the lead capture page
  • Guest blog posts on other people's websites
  • Run some Facebook ads or boost posts on related topics that point to your lead magnet
  • Get involved in discussions on relevant social media groups and mention your blog post > leads to lead magnet (but don't spam anyone)

This has the added benefit of:

  1. Making your social network pages more exciting and engaging
  2. Adding authority to your website and boosting your search engine optimisation (SEO) (if you publish the blog posts)
  3. Facebook allows you to get very targeted both geographically and in terms of interest areas and is a great way to generate new leads
  4. Building relationships with local businesses - that strengthens you both
  5. You can do them all from a computer!

Just make sure that everything that goes out, ALWAYS has a ‘call to action’ on, sending people either to the article on your website (which has links to the landing page/lead magnet), or directly to your lead capture page itself.

By the way create the content for everything I've outlined above - more info here. The only thing we can't do for you is develop your local business contacts! If we could, we would!

This is what the full strategy looks like...

Level 2 – Nurturing those leads through the customer journey

While level 1 is about collecting new contact details (as well as building your brand and authority), level 2 is all about nurturing those leads you've collected on the journey towards becoming a paying customer.

And don't forget, this should also include the people you have existing contact details for such as your past and current customers and anyone else that's had contact with your business.

Figure 3: The Email Nurture Cycle

The goal of Level 2 is to build trust and develop relationships with your contacts, by delivering regular value-added information that again helps them solve their problems.

Email is a great way of doing this. There's a whole article committed to it at this link. At the very basic level it realistically only requires one email a month (we write one for you in our kits) to keep you at the forefront of your clients’ minds. One good quality, high-value email is better than lots of low-quality, low-value emails.

If you use Mailchimp, we even design a ready-made template for you. You simply click on the link on our site, and that template is automatically imported into your Mailchimp account, ready for you to add your signature and send it (it takes literally 2 minutes although that depends on how much you choose to edit it ;-)). (Our marketing platform also integrates with Mailchimp so every new lead you collect through the Co-Kinetic landing pages, is passed directly through to your Mailchimp account. It’s all automated.)

In addition to Level 2 being about nurturing your leads, it’s also about activating them to move into the next funnel level, Level 3 which is the next stage in the customer journey/funnel.

Level 3 – Create face to face opportunities and convert!

So you levels 1 and 2 in the customer journey/funnel can be extremely very time efficient (especially if you use the resources we provide). It takes our clients on average 1-2 hours a month to add the blog post to their website, edit the pre-written nurture email and send it out and post the social media content to their social networks.

Level 3 requires a bit more of an investment in time but the good thing is, you only have to do as much as you need in terms of your business.

It could involve offering them the chance to attend a free workshop you’re running (yes, guess what, we even create that for you too in the form of a ready-to-go PowerPoint presentation) or you could offer them the opportunity to attend for some free (or very low-cost) assessment like a gait assessment or a postural assessment or perhaps a muscle balance test, or bike check - anything related to the topic you've been sharing information with them on. You could invite another professional in such as a specialist bike fitter who can then reciprocate by offering sessions to his/her customers where you can offer your advice.

The session has to focus on offering value, but you should also have a clear idea of some things you can make available for sales, off the back of the session.

If someone has a genuine issue which you would treat under normal circumstances, that's an obvious opportunity, however there are plenty of other things you might offer, if they don't require a treatment intervention

For example this might include:

  • Exercise packages - get fit for skiing, get fit for running, health programmes for certain medical conditions
  • Pre or post massage appointments (or packages) - particularly around times of key local events such as marathons, triathlons etc.
  • A full bike fitting service (as opposed to just the advice session you might be giving for free)
  • A full gait assessment package
  • A package of products around a theme such as theraband, a Pilates ball and a home exercise plan

By all means get creative. Think about the problem you're solving and then find a service, or ideally a package of services you can deliver to satisfy those needs.

And if you can't sell them something, then at the very least, ask them to review you or your session on Facebook or Google. If people have enjoyed their experience with you, regardless of whether they pay for something or not, think of other ways they may be able to help you, that doesn't cost anything.

This is a long-term strategy. You certainly don't want to be shoving 'sales' down them throats but give them opportunities to buy things if they want to. Have a leaflet that you hand out or put on seats with your session specific offers, however small or large, they might be.

As health care practitioners we have a slightly different scenario than many industries. People often need to be at something I call a "clinical tipping point" before they'll book an appointment.

Most of the time people won’t make the leap and see a therapist until they are worried enough about the consequences of not getting help, or the issue has become too difficult to manage without help.

Reasons might include:

  1. Experiencing a specific injury such as a car accident, sports injury, accident etc.
  2. Noticeable or visible physical changes to limbs or soft tissues
  3. The pain becomes so bad that other treatments and medications are no longer enough
  4. It becomes too difficult to do things that are important to them, ie. work, lifting, playing with grandchildren, or other activities of daily living
  5. Concern about long-term implications
  6. Pre- or more commonly post-operatively
  7. A chronic condition or neurological disease.

But it doesn't have to be this way. You can be proactive, and not just re-active. Anticipate their needs. Ask yourself questions about what people want at any given time in the season, locality, demographic etc.

If lots of people are training for a specific event, like a marathon, can you offer a gait assessment just at the time when people are ramping up their training to get more miles in before the big event? Or pre- and post-massage offers?

There's lots of opportunities out there, it's just a question of thinking a bit more laterally. And picking your niches.

Conclusion

This article outlines a patient acquisition strategy which any physical or manual therapist can adopt to generate new email leads and nurture these and existing leads through a customer journey, or sales funnel, with the ultimate goal of converting them to a paying customer. The process may seem intimidating, but it's actually very simple if you use the resources we provide through Co-Kinetic. We’ve designed them specifically to achieve your patient acquisition goals, if you follow the strategy I've outlined above.

These items include:

  1. A lead magnet (the highly desirable download)
  2. A lead collection page (to collect emails)
  3. Social media material (which point to the landing page/lead magnet)
  4. A blog post/article (which again points to the lead magnet)
  5. A follow-up nurture email

(In our kits we also include a pre-designed newsletter you can send to your local press for publication, or you can have printed out and distributed locally, and the PowerPoint presentation if you want to offer an education session outlined in Level 3).

With those items, you have a great marketing strategy:

  • you will be generating new leads on your email list
  • keeping your website fresh with new content and therefore SEO-optimised
  • your social networks will be engaging
  • you'll be keeping in touch with, and offering useful, helpful content to help all your existing

With this strategy, you'll be doing more than 95% of your competitors!

What's Next?

You have a few options