PTPN Insights

Are you pulling new patients into your clinic, or pushing them away without realizing it?

February 24th, 2014 |

Are you pulling new patients into your clinic, or pushing them away without realizing it?What worked in marketing five years ago, or even two or three, would most likely not work for most consumers today. What’s the difference?

How people gather information. While old stand-bys like direct mail might still bring new people into your clinic, most people get their information on new businesses by searching online and, increasingly, on their smartphone or tablet. To get the attention of new clients, you’ll have to go where they’ll be looking.

Consider these stats from Joy Scott, of Scott Public Relations:

  • Three million online searches are conducted per minute.
  • Women make 80% of family healthcare decisions and often use the internet before making a purchase.
  • Women account for 58% of all total online spending, and they pass along information they find to others — which means word of mouth is still important, even if their initial research is done online.
  • Seniors aged 74+ are the fastest growing demographic that are opting into social media.
  • A growing percentage of seniors now own a cell phone — 69% of adults over the age of 65 now own a mobile phone, up 57% since 2010.
  • 70% of the sales process occurs before there is any contact with the selling company.

The old-school process of marketing was to “push” information to the public, via press releases, articles in publications, webinars and speaking events, and finally through the website. Now, Joy describes the process as “pull” marketing, where consumers find the information themselves, reading articles and press releases online, signing up for webinars or watching videos to learn more about companies they are researching, and looking through the website to get background on those companies.

Joy says that the average sale process takes seven steps from discovery to purchase. How would this look for a physical therapist? Here’s her example:

The average sale process takes seven steps from discovery to purchase.

Pull marketing is all about making sure you — and your business — are there when people are searching for information. How can you be sure of this?

  1. Search for yourself online.

Do a Google search from time to time, both for your name and the name of the practice, as well as keywords that would relate to your clinic, like “physical therapy Boston.” Do searches for your competitors as well, to compare to your own results. If your clinic’s website is not coming up on that first page of search results, you might need to consider hiring someone to do some search engine optimization — that is, some work on your website to make sure that your site has the right content that will help you place higher in search results.

Why is this so important? After searching for a healthcare specialist online, more than half of those people make an appointment within a week. And when people do such searches online, most users don’t scroll beyond that first page of results, making it key that your business appears on that first page.

  1. Make sure that your website is mobile-friendly.

Talk to your website designer to see what you can do to make your site easier to navigate on a smartphone or tablet. 61% of the people that own cell phones now have smartphones, which are often used to look up local businesses. When discussing marketing trends for 2014 with Forbes magazine, Bart Gibby, (the VP of SEO for fast-growing Utah firm Boostability) asserted, “You can’t afford not to have a mobile friendly website in 2014.” He went on to explain that without a mobile-friendly website, or having one that is poorly implemented, could hurt your site’s performance in Google searches. (See number one above.)

  1. Add a blog to your website.

Yes, this can be daunting. You may wonder how to develop enough content to keep this going. (PTPN members can get ideas from our Content Generation Guide in our Social Media Toolkit. Simply log in at and look for it in the Provider Tools section. PTPN members can also use re-use content from PTPN’s blogs.) Numbers show that blogging even just once a month is enough to gain new customers and improve your search results. (See number one above — sensing a trend yet?)

You might even consider creating videos to use in your blog. While using stick drawings is an easy and quick way to illustrate a home exercise program, having a video that demonstrates proper exercise techniques (or perhaps what someone shouldn’t do) is very helpful for current patients. And videos that demonstrate common exercises to relieve back pain, or how to stretch the IT band, also show prospective patients your clinical and musculoskeletal knowledge.

Another benefit of blogging? Blogs and videos are a great way to have new content that can be re-used for posts on social media like Facebook and Twitter, which are ways to both find new customers and increase your search results. And sites like YouTube and Vimeo make posting video content relatively easy (and, again, searchable).

Want to learn more from our experts about marketing your practice in 2014? Our 2-part seminar, Practice Marketing Secrets Revealed: 10 Steps to Engage Customers and Increase Revenue, is available to purchase from the PTPN Online Learning Center. PTPN members get a special rate — almost 50% off!

Joy Scott

A special thanks to our contributor:

Joy Scott is the president and CEO of Scott Public Relations, a PR firm specializing in healthcare, insurance and technology for the past 25 years. A graduate of UCLA’s prestigious executive M.B.A. program, Joy combines her marketing skills with expertise in business and management to provide a strategic approach to programs that directly impact a company’s bottom line.

Printable version.

For further reading:

Edwards, Victoria. SEO basics: 8 essentials when optimizing your site. Search Engine Watch, December 31, 2013.

Conner, Cheryl. The 5 top SEO and online marketing trends for 2014. Forbes, December 21, 2013.

General facts on women and job-based health. U.S. Department of Labor, December 2013.


Smith, Aaron. Smartphone ownership 2013. Pew Research, June 5, 2013.

Moran, Katie. The overlooked: Social media marketing for senior citizens. Forbes, May 20, 2013.

Shuen, Sookie. 5 essential ingredients for truly effective pull marketing. Search Engine Journal, December 4, 2012.

Zickuhr, Kathryn and Mary Madden. Older adults and internet use. Pew Research, June 6, 2012.