Thanks to Twitter, I have “met” some really forward thinking, dynamic DPT Students. During a recent conversation on marketing and branding, I was impressed by Melissa Dreger’s comments, and asked her to write a guest post for me. Melissa is a DPT student at University of Pittsburg. I think you will enjoy what she has to say, and I hope that we can stimulate some great conversation again here! Take it away, Melissa:
Let’s face it, as Physical Therapists we’re always talking about becoming “more marketable” or “advertising to our clients,” but how many of us actually know how to accomplish this? How many of us even know where to begin? Well, here’s a simple step-by-step process that can get you started on how to better market yourself.
Number one, we need to figure out our message. In other words, what’s our story? Some typical phrases thrown out there include “movement specialists”, “restorative specialists”, or “movement analysts,” but what do all of these have in common? It’s simple: we are pain managers and ultimately help to restore mobility and to decrease cost to not only our patients but to the healthcare system as a whole (taken from the APTA website at http://www.apta.org/AboutPTs/). There are many ways to twist and turn what Physical Therapists actually do – which leads us to the problem: If one of our goals as a profession is to be autonomous in nature, shouldn’t we have ONE consistent message? It is therefore our responsibility as a physical therapist and as private practice owners to determine what our message is. We can determine this in part by asking our patients directly or through a survey “What is the value of physical therapy?”
Number two, we need to be make our message simple. There’s no need to include complex vocabulary that only the highly educated can understand. In fact, one of our jobs as physical therapists includes keeping things at a lower educational level. Why? So we can reach all levels of education, not just the physicians or surgeons. Besides, we market to not only physicians, but to colleagues, families, businesses, schools, recreational centers, etc. So keep it simple!
Number three, we need to be consistent. This area can be very difficult, especially when opening it up to different physical therapy programs across the nation and different practice settings; however, to market our profession, we need to be able to be counted on by our patients to be consistent. We need to give each patient we market to the best possible care, bottom line.
Number four, we need to be repetitive. Some of you reading this are probably thinking, what does this have to do with anything? Well the fact is that after we decide our message, make it simple, and believe ourselves to be consistent, we cannot just send our message out one time. This means we need to send it out repetitively. Whether that be on social media, flyers, outreach programs, courses, or emails (I suggest all of the above), we need to make sure that we reach the maximum number of people possible. Rome was not built in a day, neither will our profession! So keep at it!
Number five, we need to show our integrity. Now this is not a problem for our profession, at least in my mind, but maybe this can help determine your message. We help people every day while adhering to our practice act and code of ethics – maybe the public needs to be reminded of that too.
Number six, we need to be visible. This can be one of the hardest ways to be marketable, but it can ultimately take our profession to the next level. This does not mean that we take everyone who walks into our clinic and make them our patient; but, there is always someone that a person knows who could benefit from our services. Maybe our problem as a profession is not acceptance by all, but rather being visible to everyone. Are you visible in your community?
Last but certainly not least, number seven, we need to be steady. In other words, we need to ALWAYS keep marketing our profession in mind. There are no vacations in marketing, even on national holidays. It is something that needs to be done every single day, even in small amounts. We need to take ownership of our message and share it with everyone we know.
Melissa Dreger, SPT
University of Pittsburgh
Class of 2015