Blog 5 Cost Effective Ways to Market Your Practice in 2017 By Jenna Coe, OTR, MOT, C/NDT, 11.21.16 FacebookTwitterLinkedin I remember when we first opened our practice, my business partner and I would nervously check our emails multiple times throughout the day waiting for referrals and celebrating each one that came in. Two years later, we don’t anxiously await every referral-we typically average between 40-50 referrals in any given month. We are, however, still a relatively small and new practice, so we don’t operate with a large marketing budget to get those referrals rolling in the door. We’ve noticed this time of year can bring a slow down in referrals, so as we move into 2017, let’s discuss some low budget ways to market your practice. 1. Visit your referral sources When we first opened, everyone told us to meet with local doctors to build our referral sources. When we called ahead, most of the offices wanted us to schedule an appointment and required us to bring breakfast or lunch. The visits ended up costing us a lot of time and a lot of money. On top of that, in most cases, we were lucky if we got to talk to the doctors for a few minutes- if at all. We knew moving forward we needed to make some changes. These days, we don’t call ahead. Now we stop by the office, ask to speak to the referral nurse (they’re the ones you really need to get to know!), and simply tell them thank you for any recent referrals we received or remind them that we are in the area. We also drop off a small gift, preferably something with our name and logo on it that will stay around after we leave. In the past we have provided cookie plates, a homemade tea bouquet, small gift baskets, and similar items. One of our most successful gifts has been children’s books for the office lobbies. We bought a large stack of books at Goodwill and placed a “This book was provided by All Care” sticker with our logo along with a small explanation of who we are and what we do on the inside. It was incredibly easy and inexpensive and now several times throughout each day, individuals see our logo for free! Did you know that on average each referral for your clinic is worth $1000? Watch our on-demand webinar to get practical strategies on how you can maximize the value of your referrals.View Webinar I know in this day and age, social media marketing is the way of the future, but in Texas, physical and occupational therapists still don’t have direct access. Some third party payers also still require a physician referral as a condition of reimbursement. Whether we like it or not, to some extent, we still depend on our referral sources to help us get patients in the door. We use our monthly visits to referral sources to maintain these relationships and ensure the referrals keep coming. 2. Use social media I meant what I said previously, I truly believe social media marketing direct to the consumer is the way of the future for private practice owners. If you aren’t in the social media arena- you need to get there, and fast! You also need to have purpose behind what you are doing. I cringe sometimes when I see other practice owners post things that do nothing for their business- or even worse, create a business page and then post nothing at all. People now use social media to learn about your business- if they go to your Facebook page and you haven’t posted in months- what message does that send about your business? Social media serves two purposes: first, to help you build relationships with others and second,to increase your SEO (search engine optimization). SEO sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. Basically, the more people share your site and its content, the cooler Google thinks you are, which moves your position upwards on the results list when individuals search for therapy in your area. You want to be number one! I could write another whole blog on social media marketing, but I think other, wiser individuals have done a much better job of this than I could. A great place to start is this free introductory course to social media marketing here. There are tons of great resources online to help. 3. Recruit your team If you are a new or small practice owner, you now have to treat patients, manage your employees, pay your bills, interact with insurance companies, manage small day to day details, still find time for a personal life, AND market your practice? How does it all get done? This is the problem we were having this year, so we recently rolled out a competition amongst our staff. Each trimester, our staff is awarded points for different marketing objectives-getting patients to complete reviews, visiting doctor’s offices, generating social media content, and everything in between. Individuals with the most points get rewards and we play too! It creates a healthy, fun competition amongst staff to build relationships and helps us get the marketing job done. It’s in its early stages, but so far we’ve had good reviews. 4. Involve your patients We currently have patients who drive an hour or more to our clinic to receive treatment-most passing other clinics on their way to get here. Why? First, because we offer excellent treatment and a great customer experience, but second, because we get our patients to tell others about us. Word of mouth is one the greatest referral sources, and we let our patients know this on a consistent basis. We also reward our patients for their involvement in our marketing. If you fill out a review, complete a survey, or refer a friend, we enter you into our monthly drawing for a free massage at our clinic. Quick, easy, and our patients are always excited to find out who wins. 5. Monitor your progress How do you know what’s working if you aren’t tracking? This is one of our big goals for 2017. We’ve done a decent job of this in the past, but moving into 2017, we want to know where every referral is coming from so we can focus on the areas that work. We recently updated our intake form so that patients are required to be more specific when letting us know how they heard about us. We also check Google Analytics on a weekly basis (this is another great free resource for social media marketing!). As we move into the new year, we want to see our practice continue to have healthy growth. I’m sure that’s what every private practice owner wants. Just because we want to grow, doesn’t mean we have to break the bank to do so. Hopefully, this has helped jog your brain for some fresh new ideas for marketing as we move into the new year. If you have any great ones-I’d love to hear them!