Private practice owners all want to know: what’s the best physical therapy marketing strategy? Digital? Word of mouth? Physician and other healthcare partner referrals? Events and workshops? Should I hop on all the latest marketing trends—or focus on the tried and true tactics?
The truth is, all these strategies can be effective in helping get the word out about who you are and how you help people. They all can boost referrals, strengthen relationships with existing patients, and drive new patients through your doors.
What’s also true? Each one of these marketing strategies can also fail to deliver the results you’re looking for.
Marketing is about more than strategy
Marketing is first about mindset. Before you can identify and implement the right marketing strategies for your physical therapy practice, you need to adopt the right mindset. So many practice owners approach marketing with dread. They worry it will cost a fortune. They worry it won’t be effective. They worry about having to use technology they’re unfamiliar with—knowing just when they get a handle on it, the technology will change.
Lurking beneath these worries is a deeper, much more fundamental fear: a fear that there isn’t enough. Not enough patients, and not enough money to sustain your practice and your life.
That’s what I call the scarcity mindset.
I see this so often in physical therapy private practice owners as they approach marketing. It’s a mindset I used to operate with myself, when I was an overwhelmed PT practice owner, struggling to build a business that was profitable, delivered outstanding care, and allowed me to have a life away from work.
Where does this scarcity mindset come from? Our mindsets are shaped by our experiences throughout our lives. They’re influenced by our relationships, the information we receive from the world around us, and by where we choose to focus our attention.
Our education and training has taught us how to care for people—but it didn’t teach us how to get the people who need what we offer into our clinics. Most of us approach promoting our services without any real idea of how marketing works. We PTs are used to being experts. As novice marketers—with our livelihoods depending on its success—there’s a lot at stake, and it’s easy for fear to take root.
When patients fail to consistently fill our schedules, the fear—and the scarcity–appear to be confirmed.
How do we explain our lack of patients? We blame changes to healthcare laws and insurance regulations. We bemoan the consolidation of healthcare services, and the dwindling pipeline of physician referrals. These are real issues we can’t ignore. But they’re not why marketing strategies fail to bring patients to us.
There are more patients available than we could ever hope to treat
This is a simple truth that’s backed up by the numbers. A 2016 study found 1 in 2 American adults has a musculoskeletal condition—more than 125 million Americans who are suffering with pain, limited mobility, and compromised quality of life.
As physical therapists, we see roughly 8 percent of them. That’s more than one hundred million people across the US with a problem that we can solve, who have yet to come through our doors.
In a scarcity mindset, we can’t see all the potential that’s in front of us. We’re looking down a narrow tunnel, created by stress and fear, seeing only the negatives. A scarcity mindset focuses on all the reasons why marketing won’t work, why patients won’t come your way. This mindset makes us reactive—and apt to make bad decisions that hurt our businesses. When it comes to marketing, that can mean not doing enough—being too afraid to invest in any significant marketing beyond word of mouth. It can also mean jumping on every new marketing trend that comes your way, without thinking through whether it’s right for you and your practice.
Fortunately, mindset is something we can choose—and change.
With so many millions of people in need of our services, our mindset should be one of abundance.
The abundance mindset is exactly the mindset you need when making decisions about marketing. It’s the mindset to adopt before you start devoting money, resources, and time to any marketing strategy.
The abundance mindset recognizes there is no lack of patients available—that it is simply your job to connect with them, to reach out effectively to the patients who are a right-fit for your practice.
The abundance mindset sets aside fear, in favor of focus. It’s the mindset of learning, creativity, thoughtful decision making, and growth-producing change.
Upgrade your mindset like you upgrade your iOS
You regularly update the operating system on your phone, your tablet, your computer. If you didn’t—if you just kept using the same old system—your devices would become riddled with bugs, working ever more slowly and less effectively.
Your mindset isn’t much different. Stuck in a closed loop, we make the same kinds of choices again and again—and receive diminishing returns for our efforts.
I’ve written before about the power of mindset, and how it can transform the way you run your business. Research shows simply your awareness to the idea of mindset (like you’re doing right now, reading this article) can create positive change. Other habits can help too, including:
- Surrounding yourself with other positive, like-minded people
- Learning to ask for help
Before you adopt your next marketing strategy, take the time to adopt a mindset strategy. You’ll save yourself worry, time, and money by not making the wrong marketing choices—and finally put yourself in a position to make the right ones.