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07/13/2015

Inbound Marketing for Physical Therapists: Part 3

Inbound Marketing Basics
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INBOUND MARKETING BASICS

One of the best parts about discovering inbound marketing is realizing that, as a consumer, you've been exposed to it all along without even knowing it. That's why it's so powerful.

Have you ever found an interesting article online, then gave the web page on which you found it your name and email address in order to download that content? Have you ever read a blog post where someone linked to even more content within their own site? Have you ever clicked on a tile on a website that promised "Five workout tips everyone should know" or "Ten super-foods to power you through the day" or other, easily digestible written fare?

Congratulations! You've been living in the world of inbound marketing all along! Here's the first (and only) commandment of inbound marketing: make them interested in what you have to say and they're far more likely to become interested in what you do. In fact, some research shows that inbound leads are as much as ten times more likely to become customers than leads generated through traditional, outbound methods.4

Think of it in terms of fishing. The ocean is almost indescribably vast. There is enough fish for everyone. But some succeed at catching boatloads of fish, others are less successful, and still others don't even try (then wonder why they're so hungry all the time). Every piece of content you write is another line in the water. Every time you post a link to your content on social media? Another line in the water. Every time someone links to one of your pieces of content from their website? Another line in the water. Every time you're re-tweeted? More lines. And on and on it goes, just like compound interest.

What do we mean when we say content?



This is important. All content is not created equal in this context. A brochure about you and your business? Not going to work. That's still intrusive, outbound marketing. A clever tweet or posting a link on Facebook to an interesting physical therapy-related news item? Closer, but still not quite it.

The foundation of your content marketing (a common synonym for "inbound marketing") is content that would be of interest to your potential clients that's not specifically about you or your business. This sounds complicated, but it's really pretty simple.

First, visualize your potential patients. Who are they? I think we can agree that they're people with some level of physical challenge or concern. But dig a little deeper; search the internet and it's easy to get further information about your target audience. According to the American Physical Therapy Association, 750,000 people see a physical therapist every day.5 The APTA, in their downloadable marketing tutorial, notes that a key target demographic is women between the ages of 35 and 54, "because they are frequently the health care decision makers for their children, their parents, and themselves."

What might that person be interested in, when thinking about physical activity and physical therapy? The health and safety of their kids (perhaps they're involved in youth or school sports and they're worried about concussions and other injuries), their aging parents and the physical challenges they might have, or even their own nagging aches and pains. With this in mind, what kind of content might be of interest to them that you'd feel comfortable writing about? How about:

  • Fall prevention for older adults
  • Tips for dealing with a youth sports concussion
  • Winning the battle against your aching joints
  • From shoveling snow to skiing the slopes: avoiding injury this winter
  • Common youth sports injuries and how to treat them

Look at that...we already have the makings of an editorial calendar. But let's take things one more step forward. I bet we can make those articles sound more appealing without too much effort. How about:

  • 10 Fall Prevention Tips That Could Save Your (or Your Loved One's) Life
  • Key Steps in Protecting Your Kids from Concussions
  • Easing Joint Pain in Just 8 Minutes a Day
  • Shovel Snow Without Pain (and More Tips for a Safe Winter)

Even without reading beyond the headlines, can you see how those subjects are appealing to someone who's looking for information on the internet? The titles alone appeal to the typical web browser, who is looking for concise, easily digestible information. Have you noticed that so much of what's posted on the web is list oriented ("5 tips for....," "10 steps to a better....," etc.)? It's because the reader knows, just from the title, that the content is something that will be easy to scan and absorb. Does that mean everything you write in your new inbound marketing strategy has to be dumbed down? No, but it doesn't hurt to make your content as appealing as possible to the typical web surfer who, let's face it, probably has a limited attention span (as we all do).

There's another reason for this, though. When you write your magnum opus, "10 Fall Prevention Tips That Could Save Your (or Your Loved One's) Life," you're not going to just post this on your website and wait for the phone to ring. You're going to leverage every ounce out of that document that you can. You're going to break it up into chunks and post it, piece by piece, on your blog, on your social media pages, and, after some legwork, on other blogs throughout the web.

In breaking up the document and posting it in multiple locations at multiple times, in multiple formats....let's just say you will have gone from having one fishing line in the ocean to a fleet of fishing trawlers. That's where the fun begins.

But you might be asking yourself, "Why am I writing articles and how is this promoting my business?" Good question. As we discussed earlier, traditional outbound marketing efforts are becoming less effective every day. They're also expensive. To that end, we introduced you to the concept of inbound marketing (aka content marketing). With inbound marketing, the content you write is what promotes your business. It doesn't promote your business in the traditional way—you're not going to write about why your physical therapy business is the best in town which, as we discussed, does not work.

Instead, you're going to establish yourself as a "thought leader" in the physical therapy space. Instead of putting your time, effort, and money into designing a promotion, printing it, mailing it, and praying for responses, you're going to give something of value to the community. And, while the content you write will not be explicitly about your business, it will touch on subjects that those who would patronize your business care about.

You spend a few hours, maybe a half-hour a day for a week, writing "10 Fall Prevention Tips That Could Save Your (or Your Loved One's) Life." Once you post it on your site and utilize some other techniques to get your work "out there," (more on that later), you've created something that is going to accomplish two goals:

  1. You will have delivered traffic to your website and, if you have the right infrastructure in place, you will have created a business lead-generating tool
  2. You will have taken a step toward becoming a physical therapy "thought leader" in your community

As we said, this does not happen quickly. You're not going to write a 10-page document about fall prevention and, suddenly, become the McDonald's of physical therapy. But if you stick to it, if you continue to churn out relevant, informative content to your audience, if you nurture the leads that result, and if you keep a consistent content generation schedule, your inbound strategy can become more effective, and more cost efficient, than any other marketing strategy you could have employed.







4 Gillian Singletary, “Understanding Inbound Marketing,” http://www.manobyte.com, (April 19, 2013).
5 “Marketing to Consumers," APTA, www. apta.org, (April 3, 2014)

Inbound Marketing for Physical Therapists
Inbound Marketing for Physical Therapists
A primer on marketing techniques anyone can use to build a physical therapy practice


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