For growing pediatric OT, PT, and SLP practices, being able to see as many patients as possible while continuing to improve outcomes is a necessity for keeping the doors open. However, the highly specialized nature of such practices can make finding patients difficult, especially for clinics who do not have a schedule full of physician referrals.
Many parents might not even know to bring their children to a specialized occupational therapy, physical therapy, or speech-language pathology practice without a recommendation from a general care practitioner.
As a busy practice owner who also helps patients on a daily basis, finding the time to market your clinic can seem nearly impossible. Who has the time (or money) to write, produce, and disseminate a TV or print ad when there is a mountain of paperwork to be done for each of the patients you already have?
However, marketing a pediatric therapy practice doesn’t have to be as difficult or expensive as you might think. Using the internet can make attracting patients to your practice easy.
Why Market Online to Attract Patients?
More and more people are looking for services online—whether they’re shopping for cough medicine, or need a specialist who can help their child cope with a physical, sensory, or cognitive disability. Google alone “processes over 40,000 search queries per second” according to Internet Live Stats.
Many parents like to vet a clinic online before they ever speak to someone on the clinic’s staff. Common sources of information about your practice include your website, social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.), and business/service review sites such as Angie’s List or Yelp!
To make parents want to send their children to your practice above all others, you have to be part of the conversation that’s happening online. Two channels of communication that you can control include:
- Your practice’s website; AND
- Your practice’s Facebook, Twitter, and other social media network accounts.
If you don’t have a website and aren’t on Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media networks, then you will have a hard time being a part of the conversation with your patients’ parents.
Building a Low-Cost Website Is Fast and Easy
If your pediatric practice doesn’t already have a website, it’s very important that you get one up and running as soon as possible. To do this, you’ll need:
- A website domain;
- What is a domain (or domain name)? Well, ours is “fusionwebclinic.com” – Its usually anything that comes after the “@” in a company email address.
- What is a subdomain? Look up at the browser search bar at the top of your screen… See that our subdomain for our blog pages are “blog.fusionwebclinic.com” as opposed to our regular website pages at www.fusionwebclinic.com. You’ll more than likely not have to create more than one subdomain for your website pages, which will be “www.yourclinicname.com.”
- Hosting for your domain; and
- Designs for your different website pages.
- All of the recommendations listed below have built-in webpage templates and allow you to customize the design without having to spend thousands of dollars on hiring someone to custom design your website.
- You can also use tools like Canva that make it simple for you to design certain types of marketing material and website elements without knowing anything about web design. It’s a really cool tool and only costs $12/month.
Thankfully, this is a lot easier now than it used to be. There are many different companies and tools out there to help you get your practice’s website started with very little technical knowledge.
These tools include:
- WordPress.org. WordPress.org offers access to free themes to build your website. Hosting is not included with WordPress.org, so you’ll have to get a different service for your domain and host. ** Although WordPress.org powers 27% of all websites on the internet, you will need intermediate technical knowledge to get it set up properly and to constantly maintain your website. This one can be great, BUT can be very confusing if you don’t know what you’re doing.
- WordPress.com. Not to be confused with WordPress.org, WordPress.com offers free and paid plans for setting up a website. The free plan gives you a WordPress.com subdomain, while the paid plans (starting at $2.99) give you a custom domain name.
- Squarespace. Squarespace.com offers one of the easiest website creation and management experiences on the market. Design tools such as customizable template layouts, built-in mobile websites, image management, and social media integrations make it easier to build a professional website on your own without having to hire an IT expert. Plans range from $12-$18 a month, billed annually. THIS IS OUR TOP PICK!
- Wix. This is a “free” website building tool that has “premium plan” options ranging from $5 to $25/month. The lower-tier $5 plan attaches Wix’s ads to your website and severely limit bandwidth, which can be bad for your website. Higher-tier plans ($14/month and over) have unlimited bandwidth, no ads, and include a website domain.
- Weebly. Weebly website builder is another “free” tool with premium options. The free tool gives you access to a drag & drop website building tool on a weebly.com-owned domain with Weebly ads. Weebly’s $8 monthly plan removes the ads and lets you connect your own website domain.
There are a lot of pros and cons to each tool—far too many to cover them all in depth here. Most pediatric OT, PT, and SLP practices won’t need a lot of fancy tools, just something basic that lets the parents of your patients learn about your clinic and specialty.
You’ll probably want to use a website builder that’s simple and easy, and maybe ease into using more complex themes and website setups later. Also, while you might not want to spend too much, but you’ll want to make sure that your website domain name reflects your business, and the site itself isn’t clogged with ads for your host.
With this in mind, the $12/mo. Squarespace plan might work the best for most practices. This plan includes automatic mobile optimization for your website. This is a powerful feature when you consider that, according to a Search Engine Land article, “more than 50 percent of search queries globally now come from mobile devices.”
Some Basics for Promoting Your Practice Online
If you already have a website, or if you’ve set one up using one of the tools listed above, here are a few basic tips for marketing a pediatric therapy practice online:
Tip 1: Submit Your Website to Google
Google and other search engines use special artificial intelligence (AI) programs called spiders to “crawl” through the web and index traffic. However, these things can take a long time to find your new website on their own.
You can speed up this process a bit by submitting your site’s URL to Google. Just copy and paste your URL into the box on the page, click the “I’m not a robot” box, and click submit.
It won’t be immediate, but it will be faster than just waiting for it to happen automatically.
Tip 2: Create Valuable Content for Your Website
Take some time to write good content for your website—and not just a homepage and “About Us.” Writing a blog post a week about specific home exercise plans to help demonstrate your expertise to parents.
This, in turn, helps you earn their trust and guide them to your practice.
For example, if you’re an occupational therapist, writing a blog about helping children learn gross motor coordination could be helpful to parents of children who struggle with hand-eye coordination or motor sensory awareness. A speech-language pathologist might write a blog about helping children better understand others or improving memorization skills.
If you have other therapists in your practice, ask them if they can help you out by writing a few blogs for your clinic’s website.
Tip 3: Take a Look at What Other Successful Clinics in Your Field Have Done
Odds are you have an extensive network of connections with other pediatric therapists in your field. Take some time to reach out to them and ask them if they have anything that worked particularly well for them with online marketing.
Alternatively, check out their websites for yourself and see what they’re doing differently. Try to adapt what works best for your own website later.
Tip 4: Research Online Marketing Strategies
Being the best pediatric therapist you can possibly be requires constant effort and education. The same is true of being the best marketer of your practice that you can be.
Take time to research marketing strategies such as inbound marketing, content marketing, and other online marketing strategies. This can help you learn how to better promote your practice.
Some handy resources include:
- Moz.com’s Blog. Moz is a well-established company in the online marketing world. The Moz.com blog is full of handy information and updates for what the best practices are for online marketing.
- HubSpot’s Marketing Blog. HubSpot is a marketing platform provider that specializes in inbound marketing. Their blog frequently features tips for getting found on Google and converting website visitors into customers (i.e. patients).
- MailChimp’s Blog. MailChimp is a leading provider of professional email services for businesses of all kinds. Their blog and website contain a lot of useful information about how to use emails to promote your practice over the internet—including what not to do.
Just reading one or two blogs a week can help you wrap your head around the challenges of getting your practice found online.
Be sure to read up on important terms like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) when you have the time.
Tip 5: Be Active On Facebook!
While not directly related to your website, keeping up a Facebook page for your practice can be an important way of reaching out to potential patients and their families.
If you don’t already have one, create a Facebook profile for your pediatric therapy clinic and start creating posts. Potential topics for your posts include:
- Upcoming events at your practice, including charity/community events, new additions to your practice, and holiday hours.
- Links to new blogs that you’ve recently created.
- Advice for dealing with certain speech, developmental, and physical disabilities in children.
- Answers to common patient/parent questions.
- Treatment success stories (with express written consent from patients and their parents/legal guardians).
As long as this post is, we’ve only really just scratched the surface of how to market your pediatric therapy practice online to attract more patients.
There may be more in-depth posts about this topic in the future, where we’ll cover more of the specific steps of setting up a website and other marketing-focused challenges to help you continue to grow your practice without losing focus on what’s important, your kiddos.
Have something you want us to cover or have something valuable to share? Leave your suggestions and questions in the comments section below, so we can continue to help with things that matter most to you.