Is a $100 budget enough to start your cash pay business? We think so…
Most (if not all) independent practitioners wonder about the potential for cash based business. At first, it seems like a giant shift, but actually, if you have patient traffic of any sort, your already “setup” to participate in this growing market segment. Here’s the simplest way to get started with a plan everyone can execute for less than $100:
Step 1 costs $0: Dump the “patient” perspective and shift to a customer-driven philosophy:
First you must adopt the right philosophy and expand your thinking beyond the limits imposed by your health care “system” business habits. For example, the word “patient” is terribly limiting for both you and your customer; that’s a marketing double-whammy. It sets you up to view a customer as someone who disappears after completing a “plan of care,” and sets your customer up to look forward to the day when they no longer call themselves your “patient.”
Thinking about your patients as customers allows you to continue providing the best “care” possible, but also opens new room for you to think about what else they would want to consume from you. Many health care professionals squirm when they hear patients referred to as “customers,” but remember, this is a business philosophy, a mindset. Just to give you an idea, almost 67% of “patients” we survey say they would like their physical therapist to provide other programs and services for them after finishing their therapy. If you think of them as patients, that’s hard to act on, but when you think of them also as customers, you naturally want to fill the need.
Step 2 costs $0: Outline basic cash pay services (and products) you can offer customers.
Think about your typical patient, and the many things they need and want related to what you do. I know this may seem obvious, but for some reason many physical therapists struggle with this. Some of the most common programs include things like a supervised program for transitioning from rehab to regular exercise, weight loss, gym memberships, specialized training like Pilates for Golf, or whatever. Write down all the possibilities, and REMEMBER, it doesn’t matter if you think it will work or not for YOU. What matters is what the CUSTOMER wants. The bigger the variety and selection, the better, but it’s best to start with one new thing at a time. Keep your list handy, and write down new ideas as they come from customers or staff. If you find yourself saying, “that won’t work” to most ideas so they don’t even get on a simple list of possibilities, you might want to download our Innovation Checklist or sign up for a 60 minute strategy session (still $0 cost). Give it a try or let us know if we can help facilitate the process.
Step 3 costs $75-$100: Design and print a cash pay program/services flyer.
If you’ve gotten this far, guess what? You are now in the cash pay business. But that doesn’t mean the cash will just start rolling in. Like any new program, you will need to offer and adjust. A basic flyer to hand out to your customers is a great way to start. Make sure the flyer does more than list services and prices; it must educate them on the potential health benefits of the service. Initially, don’t measure the success of your new program by the sales alone. Instead, measure your success by what you learn about the customer appeal of the program. You will most definitely need to make adjustments that will increase the appeal. Be careful here, as negative input and resistance from staff will abound, and this is where your entrepreneurial instincts will need to kick in. This is also where we can help. (If you have a concept, we would be glad to review it and give you some feedback. Simply upload it here.) With the right support, many of the most common reasons for failure are reduced or eliminated. Request your complimentary customized marketing plan now.
Cash pay anyone?
Thanks for reading,
David Steinberg & Trent Wehrhahn
2 Kinds Of Brand-Building For PTs: One Kind Burns Cash While The Other Delivers A Steady Stream Of New Patients.
Which do you prefer?
The topic of brand-building comes up in almost every conversation we have with prospects and clients. How to do it, how much to spend, and what kind of results to expect. Today’s feature shares our perspective on branding for physical therapists and other health care businesses. Thanks for reading, and let us know what you think.
Brand-Building That Burns Cash
Nothing gets me more frustrated than to sit and listen to an “expert” brand-builder spout off about how to build a healthcare brand with a unique logo, tagline, eye-catching graphic design, and even a cute little jingle. “Give me your tired brochures, your website, your ads, and we’ll be more creative; We’ll build you an effective BRAND. Your practice will grow and thrive, like MAGIC. See, look here at our portfolio of beautiful logos and website home pages. Look at all the raving reviews from our 1 million clients. That can be YOU. Just open your arms for a comforting embrace, empty your wallet, and 6-12 months later SHAZAM, you’ll be rich!”
I know that’s a bit over the top, but I’ve heard many very polished marketing and advertising consultants recommend strategic “branding campaigns” just like that. These “Mad Men” rely on creativity and repetition. For PTs this type of strategic philosophy is a really bad idea, and that’s why most physical therapy providers draw the conclusion that marketing is not for them.
Since most of what we all see and recognize as marketing and advertising is the product of creative brand-builder campaigns like the Aflac Duck, Budweiser Frogs, the Geico Gekko, and the E-Trade Baby, we all draw the conclusion that this must be the best way to build an effective brand. But there is a more effective and MUCH cheaper way to go.. PT Brand Building That Produces
A Steady Stream Of Patients
Effective and affordable health care marketing is very different from creative brand-building. Health care marketing should build your brand by educating people about diagnosis, treatment, and how to choose the best provider. While your prospects are being educated, they also get to know your brand.
For example, if you are a physical therapist with special experience and expertise for helping people with a certain condition, do you think your brand is made stronger by offering educational content that includes appealing offers for helpful tools and support, OR placing ads with your picture, logo, and a menu board of services? The menu board approach is certainly easier (and that’s why ad reps and agencies recommend them), but it’s not the best way to build the brand. It takes more work to prepare educational content.
Good healthcare marketing looks very different from what we all recognize as ad agency brand-building. There is only one strategy for good healthcare marketing that is affordable and efficient, and we like to call it the “Cliffs Notes” strategy.
In the Cliffs Notes strategy, you take your specialized knowledge and create content that summarizes how you do what you do to provide an expected result, like restoring function and reducing pain, AND offer ways to learn more without actually booking an appointment.
If you’re good at what you do, the Cliffs Notes strategy will build your brand systematically, within your budget. Instead of throwing cash at a “creative” branding problem, you’ll do better to develop engaging educational content which includes a variety of ways to learn more or take the next step in your sales process.
It was sometime in 2004 when I met an entrepreneur/physical therapist named Jeff Hathaway in Liverpool, NY. Jeff was my first PT client, and he told me he wanted to market something called neuropathy care for a clinic in Cortland, NY, a town of about 20,000 people. I didn’t know what neuropathy was, so Jeff explained, and I immediately grew very skeptical.
No way will this work, I thought. Why? As a marketer, one of the first things I do is think about the potential audience size. So who in Cortland would care about diagnosis and treatment of neuropathy? We are talking about mostly seniors, with diabetes and neuropathy symptoms, (a slice-of-a-slice-of-a-slice target market). In a small town of 20,000 with 13% seniors 65 years or older, and 19% of those with diabetes, and maybe 25% of those symptomatic, we were talking about a potential audience of 125 people.
“Jeff, are you crazy?”
We didn’t have those numbers at the time, but we had a pretty good idea that the target audience was pretty small. We produced a radio ad and a basic 24 spot test schedule that cost $850, and to our surprise we had 11 people call.
Think about that.
If you are one of those PTs who say they don’t like neuropathy patients, so who cares, you miss the point entirely. The point is what we learned – 11 patient calls out of a total market potential of an estimated 125, from one burst of radio on a single station! Is that luck or real strategic marketing success?
Here’s the case for strategic success, not luck.
- People with neuropathy suffer greatly. They describe the symptoms as almost torturous. This creates a high level of motivation to chase down and learn more about any solution option presented.
- Treatment options are limited and physicians usually prescribe expensive drug therapy that isn’t effective and has negative side effects.
- No one is offering (marketing) a specific solution option for neuropathy care that uses a low risk offer for more educational information about treatment options for relieving the symptoms.
The underlined phrases in the points above are the essential ingredients for strategic marketing of any PT treatment program that can dominate. If you can identify similar opportunities and execute the marketing efficiently, you can literally dominate your competition and create a patient-generating machine. Some examples of “ailment” strategies include post-surgical rehab, sports injuries, balance and dizziness, fall risk assessment and prevention planning, chronic pain, back pain, and pretty much any ailment you can think of. You just need to understand how to create and execute the strategy.
Sign up for a free 60 minute PT Marketing Strategy Session.
If this is possible in such a small community like Cortland, imagine the potential in most markets. Any “ailment” or physical problem can be powerfully marketed with the right strategic system. It does require experience and expertise to pull this off on your own, and your chances for success will be greatly increased if you engage a marketing services provider who understands PT marketing and how to implement a complete strategic system, quickly and affordably.
Read the 3 Critical Requirements To Actually Execute Good Marketing
PT Referral Machine is a complete resource for planning and executing Fortune 500-Style marketing systems on a small business budget.
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Looking for a complete turnkey marketing solution for neuropathy care or other special ailment treatment program? Call David directly at 774-255-1125 to learn more about a special opportunity for an exclusive in your market.
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For those clients who are looking for new ways to use their patient education guides, we have created a new letter series with targeted promotional offers. The letters are sent out as cover note with the Guides, and the promotional offer cards are included. You personalize and print the letters on demand, insert the Guides with promo cards. PTRM subscribers have access to these new concepts now. For more information, send an email to info@PTreferralMachine.com.