Clinic Marketing: You’re Doing It Wrong

Two-thirds of your clinic marketing potential is being left up to chance – Here’s what to do about it

In the world of rehab clinics, we’re often taught that in order to run a successful practice you need referral sources from doctors and other healthcare providers. But what if that isn’t the full picture? What if I told you, you were leaving ⅔ of your clinic marketing potential (and thus your revenue) on the table by limiting your thinking this way?

In this article, I’m going to share the other ⅔ of the marketing plan you should be doing and how this will skyrocket your clinic marketing efforts. These steps will bring more patients than you can handle (good problem to have) and ultimately more money moving through your practice. I will touch on:

  1. Marketing directly to the consumer
  2. How to identify your ideal patient
  3. Getting your current patients marketing for you
  4. How to get your team of rehab specialists to actively participate and build their own patient base

Subscribe to receive email updates from TherapySpark.

The “Way You’ve Always Done It”

In the old world, rehabilitation specialists meet with physicians, drop off their pamphlets, buy their office lunch, and vie for their new referrals. Unfortunately, this archaic way of thinking is STILL going on!

The “way you’ve always done it” is where innovation goes to die. It’s time for some new thinking! There are three major reasons to stop this old practice.

First, those healthcare providers you’re trying to gather referrals from are hit with every other PT practice in town. How many lunches and visits to these offices just to battle for referrals are you willing to make? Is it worth your time?

Second, what if this referral source supplies 30% of your patients and they decide to move? Bye-bye referrals.

Third, what if they decide as a practice, they’re leaving too much money on the table and decide to bring PT in house? I’m seeing this happen across the board. What will you do if any or all three of these circumstances occur? Go beg for referrals from the next source? Rinse and repeat?

Healthy clinic marketing for your practice should be split into thirds: ⅓ coming from health care provider referrals, ⅓ from direct-to-consumer marketing, and ⅓ from word-of-mouth marketing.

Direct-to-Consumer Clinic Marketing

Almost every state in the country has some sort of direct access law. Where I live in FL, patients are allowed to come directly to physical therapy without an Rx for 30 days before law requires an Rx from a physician.

Direct access laws vary by state, so check online for your state’s policies. If you do practice in a direct access state, you have a powerful opportunity. How many people do you know that hate to go to the doctor? Almost everyone!

What if you told people that they could bypass that doctor visit and come straight to rehab for their pain? After all, we all know that’s what they need. The research even tells us that exercise and physical therapy are the best ways to help people get over pain.

You’re thinking, “Well that’s great Tribby, but how the heck do I tell them that and get them in my office?” The answer is not a simple one and it requires some extra work on your part, and that of your team. But isn’t that what we do as business owners? Fix problems and break down barriers so we can help more people!

I don’t think I need to tell you how big social media is. The problem is, many rehab professionals are not talking directly to their ideal patient on social media. Simply putting messages out there and hoping they see it and engage with you, won’t cut it.

Stop talking about yourself as the best rehab provider ever and start talking about your ideal clients’ problem and how you can solve it. When you start talking about their problems, they start listening.

Let’s take a quick look at how this should work.

Finding Your Ideal Patient

Who is your ideal patient? Don’t tell me, “Anyone with pain.” I’m talking about if you could specifically identify your ideal patient. You need to define your ideal patient so you can communicate with them better.

Give them a name. Be super specific and paint a picture of your ideal patient. Start by answering some of these questions to help the persona take shape:

  • Where do they live and work?
  • How much money do they make?
  • What do they like to do for fun?
  • Are they golfers or tennis players?
  • Are they married? Do they have kids?
  • How do they feel about their injury?
  • What do they hate about treatment or training? What do they love about it?

Engage With Potential Patients

After you’ve identified your ideal patient, now go talk to them! Find where you can engage with them online. For example, if you’re looking to work the athletic population, those are younger people and usually hang out on Instagram or you can plug into your local schools or sports groups.

Or do you want the Medicare knee replacement population? They’re on Facebook and at church. By the way, Facebook’s largest growth population are the baby boomers. If you are looking to connect with more corporate types of people, find them on LinkedIn.

Take the time to find out where these people spend time both online and around your town and go talk to them. Here are some ways to think about accomplishing that:

  • Talk to them on social media about their struggles and how you can help
  • Educate them on direct access and why coming to you first is a better option
  • Send flyers out in the mail
  • Set up a day to talk to your local CrossFit gyms and offer free workshops on shoulder pain
  • Invite people to your facility for an evening event to talk about back and neck pain
  • Go to the local golf club or tennis club and offer free workshops for sports injuries
  • Find some pregnancy / new mom groups and offer education about pelvic health

Time to “Sell” Your Services

I hear way too many healthcare providers tell me they don’t want to come off as “salesy.” This is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. If you have a product or service that can help someone get well, it is your duty to sell them that service.

When you are nervous or cautious about selling your services, it tells the patient that you lack confidence in what you offer. As a result, they won’t have confidence in you to help them with their problem. I truly believe that if you have a service or a product that will help your patients get better, it is unethical for you not to sell it to them.

Getting Your Current Patients to Advocate for You

Many practice owners are not doing their due diligence to capture wins and testimonials from your current patients. These are the people that already know, like and trust you; therefore, they are the best source of social proof.

If a patient is in your office talking about how much better they feel or how they are able to complete a task they once weren’t able to, get them to write that down before they leave for the day. Hand them a piece of paper you already have on hand and get them to write it down. Then put that in a binder in the lobby of your office for other patients to read (or if you prefer the tacky route, put it up on the wall).

Give them a copy and ask them to post it to Google as a review. You could even ask if they would do a video testimonial for you that you can use in your email marketing or social media. Better yet, have a QR code that people can scan in your office that directs them right to the Google review page and ask them to do it right there in your office before they leave.

We shouldn’t be shy about asking patients who have had great experiences to give us a review or send us more people they know who could benefit from our services.

Getting Your Team To Participate

Most PT schools and other rehab specialty schools are gassing new grads up and giving them the idea that when they graduate, they can show up to work and demand six-figure salaries.

As business owners and people who have been in this field for a long time, you and I know that expectation isn’t realistic. If you want to make six figures, you’re going to have to treat a ridiculous number of patients daily and use multiple techs or assistants to make that happen. Then you still probably won’t achieve that because you have to pay the techs and assistants!

It’s time to put some of the growth of your practice into the hands of those you employ!

I know many of you are probably thinking (‘cuz I’ve heard it said to me many times) well I’m a rehab specialist, I’m NOT a marketer. *Insert eye roll* Look, I get it. I had this mindset once upon a time as well; however, after I paid someone to do the clinic marketing for me and had lackluster results, I realized that the only person who could talk about how I help people get better, was me. You should have the same mindset.

Cash is King

Since the money expectation is already high, I motivated my team by offering them an opportunity to make more money! After all, risk should equal reward. I found that the best way to do that was to allow each therapist to become their own entrepreneur. They could be directly responsible for how much money they make.

Here’s how it worked for my team. They got a regular base salary that covered a certain amount of patient treatment hours, required meetings, lunch breaks, etc. For every hour their schedule was full outside of that, they earn extra cash.

This system works magically for those who are motivated to do more and make more money. For those who aren’t motivated, well… it’s up to you to decide how you want to handle them. But I can tell you that if you have a clinic full of hustlers, that attitude is contagious.

When it comes to hosting outside events in the evenings or weekends, there is no shortage of volunteers when extra cash is involved. This also puts the onus on your team to create their schedule and rely less on your direct clinic marketing efforts to fill their schedule.

The conversation now becomes, “How can I help you fill your schedule?” rather than “What do I need to do fill your schedule for you?” This also encourages the team to ask for more referrals and be more engaged in their patient care.

Your Turn To Give It a Try

In closing, it’s time for us as healthcare professionals to change the way we offer our services. It’s time for some ingenuity and innovation when it comes to reaching more of our ideal patients. Remember, “the way we used to do it” is where innovation goes to die.

I’m asking each of you reading this to start looking for the opportunities to truly build your dream practice with your dream team so you can affect the world in a positive way.

If you’re interested in learning more about my services for PT clinic marketing, please go to to find a wealth of information to help you build your dream practice in less time, with less errors, and ultimately make you more money!


Daniel Tribby, ATC, CEAS, ITAT, CNP
Author: “Unf*cking Private Healthcare”
Owner: Regenerative Sport, Spine, & Spa
Co-Host: The Edgy Entrepreneur Podcast