Every December, my husband and I treat ourselves to a date in the middle of the day to got see the new Star Wars movie…while the kids are in school (don’t tell my kids!) We just love Star Wars. Growing up both my husband and I were total Star Wars junkies.
When the movie comes out, we're all excited. We’re debating what’s going to happen…is Luke going to train Rey? Is she going to turn to the dark side? We're avoiding being online because we don’t want to see any spoilers…
Imagine if we showed up to the theater and instead of seeing the movie, all we see are the actors on screen talking about acting….they talked about the type of acting techniques they use in each scene, they get all excited about how good the performance was…What would you be thinking?!
Can you imagine how baffled you'd feel? You were expecting to be taken on a journey, and find out the outcome - whether Rae becomes a Jedi, what happens to Leia now that the actor who portrayed her has passed away - not just to listen to the actors talk about themselves and how amazing they are…that's ridiculous.
Well, guess what? 99% of you your patients feel the same way when they land on your PT website. Let me explain…
When was the last time you had a patient come into your clinic, who really understood what physical therapy was? And not just because they’ve been to PT before, but really understood what physical therapy does as a profession. I'm just going to take a bet and guess that doesn't happen very often.
Once when I was working in the acute care setting, I had a doctor like glanced at my name badge, and he goes, "Well, that's funny." And I asked, "What? What's so funny?" He goes, "Well, you're a physical therapist…” And I responded, “Yes…yes, I am. Why is that funny?" He goes, "Well, your last name is Walker?" With confusion I affirmed, “Yes…it is…” And he goes, “Well, your last name is Walker and your job is to walk people!” And he smiled victoriously like he had discovered a new disease. I looked at him incredulously and asked, "Is that really what you think I do? All you think I do is just walk people?"
So, if doctors and other healthcare professionals have no idea what we do, how can we expect the public to know what we do, right? I remember a podcast episode on Therapy Insiders (they’ve got a great podcast) and a few years ago when they were at a conference and they went out on the street and asked all these random people on the street, what they thought physical therapy was…and literally every single person gave a completely different answer.
So, we know we have a branding issue as physical therapists, and that's a totally another topic that I'll let other people debate…but if we know we have this huge branding issue, WHY are we trying to sell physical therapy online? Why are we trying to sell something that nobody has any idea what it is?
I'll give it to you sometimes there is intrigue in a mystery. My daughter is obsessed with those mystery toy surprises where you don't know what you're going to get until you open it up. But those cost less than $5 making it an easy decision for parents to occasionally indulge their children…but that's NOT the case for PT…
Can you imagine somebody saying, "Sure, I think I'm going to go spend, you know, 150-200 bucks, and an hour of my time, to go see this physical therapist person but I have no idea what they're going to do for me? On their website they use all these crazy terms that I don't even understand, like manual therapy, and therapeutic exercise, whatever those mean. But I'll go pay him $150, 200 bucks just to see to what happens."
Ummm…NO! And you wouldn't spend your money on a $200-session that you had no idea what you were going to get either.
Let's take this a step further…if the public has no idea was PT is…do you think they have any clue what "manual therapy" or therapeutic exercise or neuromuscular re-education means?! They probably think you're speaking another language all together.
So why are you marketing PT on your website?
Successful online marketing helps people find solutions to their problems. It's that simple. When I want a new chicken recipe for dinner because I'm sick of all the stuff I usually make, I search for best chicken recipe and boom the internet will give me some options. When I search for information about my son's selective immune deficiency, same thing, the most informative and valuable articles pop up.
Any idea how many people are searching for physical therapy on the internet? Not many…there are a few but that's because they have either been told they need it or have been before. Because remember we've already established that no one has any idea what PT is.
So what are people searching on the internet for? Things like back pain relief, or what to do about chronic neck pain, or why does my ankle hurt when tumbling - remember I'm a gymnastics PT so I think a lot about gym…
If you want to show up in the search results, if you want people to find your clinic and realize that you're an expert in back pain, then you need to talk about BACK PAIN, NOT physical therapy.
I remember the days when Wikipedia wasn't considered a valid source of information because they allowed anyone to edit their content and there was a lot of false information on their site. Now, they've made changes to become a more reputable source of information…and that's exactly what you need to do on your clinic's website.
You need to provide so much information, so many freebies, so many blog posts, that people realize you really know what you're talking about…and then they'll be interested in what "physical therapy" can do for them…whatever the heck that is anyway….
Does that make sense?
I want you to understand the enormity of this statement: if you try to sell physical therapy online you will lose. The way to win is by selling solutions to the PROBLEMS people have…the vehicle you use to solve their problem just happens to be called physical therapy.
If I have a tooth ache, I don't care what the procedure is called that the dentist does to get my tooth to feel better. I just want a dentist that looks at me and says "yup - I've seen this plenty of times - I can fix this for you".
And the same goes for our patients. They don't care if you are the best manual therapist (whatever that is…) out there…or perform this fancy named technique they can't even spell…what they care about is the outcome. Can you fix their back, neck, knee pain? Can you get them back to the activities they love?
So when you're designing your website you HAVE to keep this mindset…it's NOT about physical therapy…it's all about the problems physical therapy can solve.