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Physiotherapists face unique marketing challenges when it comes to growing a thriving practice. And as local physiotherapy clinics continue to proliferate, practice managers need to think smarter to attract new referrals.

Word of mouth is important, but in an increasingly competitive market, health professionals with marketing know-how can supercharge their clinic's referrals and return clients.

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Chris Knights, Managing Director of Zib Media, says SEO, social media and a focus on mobile-optimised marketing will be necessary for physiotherapists who want to grow their clinic in 2020.

"Consumers are more connected to the internet than ever before, which means that in 2020, we expect new marketing trends to emerge alongside ongoing trends that remain effective.

"SEO will remain the top way to attract organic website traffic, but Google is becoming more local, which works in favour of physiotherapy clinics.

"If you have one clinic location — or several locations — you already have a built-in audience that can be reached through a local search engine marketing strategy."

This year consumers will continue to seek information to stay informed, which means physios need to create a stream of constant, engaging content, explained Mr Knights.

Social media is the perfect platform to deliver this type of information.

"Marketing on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are a cost-effective and highly targeted way to increase website traffic, improve local awareness and increase brand loyalty.

"It's also a great tool for promoting the preventative benefits of physiotherapy, in addition to attracting clients seeking injury treatment."

Consumers are spending more time browsing on mobile devices, a trend set to increase in 2020, which means physios need to focus on mobile-optimised marketing content.

"Websites need to provide information to the user in an easy way.

"Clients are more likely to search for services using their mobile devices, and if you have a mobile-optimised website, your website can achieve higher search results through mobile browsers.

Peter Gamgee AM, Founder and principal of Better Business More Money, believes growing a successful physiotherapy clinic in 2020 requires more than word-of-mouth referrals and gaining trust.

But it's not simply online versus offline marketing strategies either. Instead, the medium you use and how you use it will depend on the type of business and clients that physiotherapists want to attract.

"Loyal clients will be attracted to more convenience, and lower prices than other physiotherapists may offer.

"It is also not enough just to be good at what you do - bringing relief to those in pain and building capability and function for those who need it."

The secret to a successful business is a marriage of business knowledge and strategies to dominate the market to obtain and retain ideal clients, said Mr Gamgee.

Tips on marketing your clinic in 2020

Mr Gamgee shares the following strategies to obtain and retain clients this year.

Don't consider it just a marketing challenge. How your business operates, what it has to offer, how it delivers, the types of clients you want, and most of all, the "bottom line" all need to be considered. Make sure you understand the market and the business you want before attempting anything else.

Know your client. Write a description of your ideal client.

If you only want a few clients a week prepared to pay exceptional rates for elite services (e.g. sportsmen and women) then profile those people (what they read, where they go, how they interact with other services, what they may be thinking and the benefits they may be seeking that physiotherapy can provide). 

If you are like most private physiotherapy practices and seek clients from the general population, then understand who makes up the majority of clients.

Did you know that more than 90 per cent of all clients seek out physiotherapists to either address a pain problem they have or a functionality problem? Furthermore, the majority are either female or have a spinal related injury[i].

Know your media. Do you need to advertise via the internet? The answer is probably yes – however, it is not always the case.

Unless you are selling globally – don't be talked in to "you must increase your google rankings" or "SEO" exercise. This could be a waste of money. The media you should use is the media that will get to those potential clients you have profiled.

Take, for example, our elite sportspeople. If they are your target market, do they read Facebook adds or articles? Are they more likely to be led by referrals from other service providers, sports managers, sponsors, family? In this case, direct marketing may be more beneficial than internet marketing.

The general population may be different. They are likely doing online research that would allow them to be identified by targeted marketing.

Have a compelling offer. What sets you aside from others in the business? Have you developed a speciality in repetitive strain injury recovery that no one else has achieved? Are you able to guarantee immediate pain relief for certain conditions? Have you got the in-house diagnostic equipment that means clients do not need to go elsewhere for ultrasounds? Make sure you understand the compelling offer that will differentiate you from others.

Market with information and structure

Obtain your leads by taking people on a "buyers' journey" with compelling offers of information.

You will have dealt with many clients who make an appointment because they have an injury that needs attention. But what about the majority who have ongoing pain or spinal problems (the majority of reasons for visiting a physio)?

What about those who are after preventative care, or at risk of injury? To convert these people to clients, you need to provide them with relevant information that ultimately leads them to select your practice.

Even your "elevator speech" needs to follow this structure. It must get attention, engage, inform, and provide an easy next step or compelling (information) offer. Most physiotherapy practice websites do not follow this structure, and they are missing out on clients as a result.

Follow up. This would have to be one of the biggest failures in physiotherapist practices. Did you know that simply following up with existing clients to check on their progress can result in an estimated 10 per cent increase in client visits?

Health professionals increasingly understand the value in continuing to build marketing strategies both on and offline. A commitment to gaining marketing knowledge as it evolves will help grow a thriving physiotherapy practice.


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Haley Williams

Haley Williams has a Bachelor of Communication in Journalism and over a decade of experience in the media, marketing and communications industries.

She is a widely published journalist with a particular interest in writing magazine features on parenting, health, fitness, nutrition and education.

Before becoming a freelance journalist, Haley worked as a writer for NeoLife (a worldwide nutrition company), News Limited and APN News & Media.

Haley also has extensive experience as an SEO Content Writer and Digital Marketing Strategist.