So you’ve started a pediatric therapy practice, and you have a few loyal customers. Or maybe you've been around for a while, but you're ready to grow. Either way, the best way to grow your practice (especially if you're on a budget) is through word-of-mouth advertising and referrals.
But where do you begin?
I talked to Kris Dickinson, M.S., OTR/L, of TheraPlay Spot to get her advice. Kris started her clinic six years ago, and has grown from two patients and one therapist to 200 patients and 11 therapists!
In addition to being an OT with 20 years' of experience, she's also a public speaker on entrepreneurship. So she seemed like the perfect person to talk to about pediatric therapy clinic marketing.
Kris has been able to use her natural gift for marketing to grow her clinic without a big marketing budget. Here's some of her best advice on increasing referrals.
Define your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
The first key to a successful marketing campaign starts with defining your USP. This is a short statement about what makes your business valuable to your target market.
TheraPlay Spot has carved out a niche treating sensory processing disorders, and Kris has used this niche to guide her marketing strategy.
What's Your USP?
Who are you trying to reach? Determine your target audience. Be as specific as possible.
What problem are you trying to solve? Try to arrive at this from your target patient’s perspective. What might be a pain point in their life that your practice can uniquely solve for them?
Why should your target audience choose you? What makes you better than other therapists in the area? Is it convenience, is it highly trained specialists, etc.?
Use the answers to these questions to arrive at your unique selling proposition in a simple, succinct way that illustrates your promise to your patient.
Target Audience: At TheraPlay Spot, Kris wants to reach the caregivers of children with sensory processing disorders.
Problem Solved: Kris works with children who struggling with what seem to be behavioral issues, but are actually sensory processing disorders.
Why You? TheraPlay Spot's specialization and experience in treating sensory processing disorders sets them apart from other therapists.
Once you know your target audience and the unique value your clinic offers, you can begin crafting your marketing strategy.
Referrals from Patients
According to a Nielsen study, 83% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. Are you using that to your advantage?
One easy way to get more patients is to encourage your existing patients to bring in new ones through referrals. Make it easy to refer people by providing brochures or other information patients can share with friends and family.
These referrals are a big part of how Kris has grown her practice:
I focus on training my therapists about our brand, what we do, and how they can be the best they can be. We are truly making a quality of life difference not just for the kids, but for the whole family. That naturally leads to referrals.
Since her clinic is known to specialize in sensory processing disorders, and her therapists reinforce that brand message during therapy, caregivers think of TheraPlay Spot first when they're talking to friends or family members.
Referrals from Medical Professionals
Most pediatric therapy clinics seek referrals from pediatricians, but Kris took it a step further.
Since sensory processing disorders are commonly misdiagnosed as behavioral issues, Kris began reaching out to behavioral therapists and pediatric mental health therapists. Kris told them what to look for so that they could determine whether their patient had a behavioral issue or a sensory processing disorder.
She goes from clinic to clinic, giving them free information on what sensory issues look like. These information sessions last about 45 minutes to an hour, and referrals begin to come in within a few days.
Referrals from Schools
In Kris' state, therapists can't go into public schools, but there was nothing stopping her from going to private schools.
So Kris offers to speak at teacher meetings, and tells them the signs of sensory issues. She also offers free screenings and will treat patients at school if they're not able to get to the clinic.
Now when students at these schools have sensory issues, the school can refer them to Kris!
How You Can Get More Referrals Like Kris
Kris' strategy relies on education. She says "it's all about education. Not marketing. The marketing is the result, not the action."
So determine who can benefit from your services, think about where you might find them, and figure out the best way to educate everyone there so that they can make good referrals.