The Invisible Marketing Tactics Every Occupational Therapist Needs to Know
Think marketing is all about pushy sales tactics and glossy brochures? Guess again! This video is a game-changer for Occupational Therapists running a private practice. Doug Vestal, Ph.D., a successful private pay OT practice co-owner, and founder of Freedom of Practice, is here to show you the magic of authentic, client-focused marketing.
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Redefining Private Pay Practice Marketing for Occupational Therapists
You ever feel like you’ve walked into a sleazy used car lot when you hear the word "marketing"? Like it’s some grubby game, that’s frankly beneath you? You’re an occupational therapist in a private practice, a healer, not a shark-eyed salesperson, right?
I hear you. You didn’t sign up for OT school dreaming of sales funnels, conversion rates or glossy marketing brochures. You wanted to make a real difference in people’s lives, to be a catalyst in their journey to better health. The mere thought of morphing into a marketing maestro just feels... well, not you.
But what if I told you that marketing isn't about transforming into a hustler? What if it's about authenticity, communication, and showing you care? What if it's not about doing anything different, but just seeing what you're already doing in a new light? Stick around and I'll show you that marketing isn't the monster under the bed you think it is. And the fact that marketing is actually all around you. Let's get started.
Hi, I’m Doug Vestal the owner of Freedom of Practice and I help OTs just like you start and grow thriving Private Pay OT practices. My wife and I started a very successful private pay OT practice in NYC and I make these videos to help you achieve success faster and avoid some of the mistakes we made when we started our practice.
Many OTs think about marketing as a black and white activity. It is something that is done once or on occasion.
And it is true, if you put on a community workshop then that is a piece of marketing. But, there is a more powerful and complete way to view marketing and that is to realize that everything you do is marketing.
The way you show up, the way your practice is ran, the way your practice presents itself is all marketing. And the reason is that your clients are constantly observing, interacting, and forming an opinion about your practice.
So today I want to cover 6 things in your practice you may not be considering as “marketing” but is super powerful when you get right.
Optimizing Your OT Private Practice Location and Facilities: A Key to Successful Marketing
The first overlooked way to market your OT private practice is your facilities and location.
Let me tell you a story that just happened last week. I went to a new Dentist in town and I got there at 8:55 am for my 9am appointment. When I pulled up to the parking lot behind his office all the parking spots were full. What was I supposed to do? Where was I supposed to park? I have no idea so I called their office and guess what? It just rang and rang and then went to voicemail. So I called back and the same thing happened. Even though it was during office hours.
We get one chance to make a first impression so imagine the first impression I had of the office?
So, I want you to picture this: Your dream client pulls up to your practice, but there's no parking. They circle around, growing frustrated, until they finally park blocks away. Huffing and puffing, they navigate a maze of corridors and stairways, only to find your office looking more like a storeroom than a therapy center.
Not the best first impression, eh?
So, let's flip that scenario. Imagine your office is easy to find, with ample parking. Maybe you make a video showing your parking lot and where to park. And you show them how to navigate the interiors and find the front desk. This is a simple video you can film once and send over to your clients when they book the first time with you.
And then when they come they find it's wheelchair-accessible, with clear signage pointing the way. Inside, it's clean and inviting, with comfortable furniture and calming colors. The air smells faintly of lavender, a soothing scent.
Even before their first appointment, your clients feel welcomed and cared for.
That's OT marketing.
Leveraging Staff Interactions for Powerful Private Pay Practice Marketing in OT
Let’s talk about the second overlooked item which is staff interactions in your OT private practice.
And I’ll go back to this same dentist interaction. When I got into the office I was told I had to wait to fill out paperwork because they didn’t have enough tablets.
I looked around the waiting room and there was only 2 people using tablets. So I guess they decided to not buy extra.
But, and I look at this interaction all the time: is the business valuing my time as much as they value the practitioners time?
It may seem trivial, but we all know that appointments can’t start until paperwork is filled out and so as I sat there for 15 minutes waiting for a tablet to become available all I could think about was the fact that now I would be late to my next appointment.
The most powerful thing you can do as an OT private pay practice owner is to look at things from the perspective of your client. What are the interactions like. How easy is your process? Is it simple or overly complicated?
Consider the interaction your client will have when they walk in for their first appointment.
Does your receptionist barely look up from their screen and points vaguely at a stack of forms? If so, your client feels like an inconvenience rather than a valued guest.
Now imagine a different scenario: Your receptionist looks up, smiles warmly, and greets your client by name. They explain the forms clearly and offer a comfortable place to complete them. Your client feels seen, respected, and reassured.
And guess what? That's OT marketing.
Service Delivery: The OT's Unseen Tool for Private Practice Marketing Success
Now let’s talk service delivery in your occupational therapy private pay practice.
You're an OT, so you're already focused on delivering the best possible care to your clients. But did you know that how you deliver that care is a form of marketing?
Consider the punctuality of appointments. If a client is left waiting past their scheduled time, they might feel their time isn't valued. But if you're consistently on time, they'll feel respected.
And how about personalization? If you deliver cookie-cutter treatments, clients may feel like just another number. But if you take the time to tailor treatments to each client's needs and preferences, they'll feel truly cared for.
If you follow up individually in-between appointments they will feel cared for.
If you offer them triple filtered water, organic coffee, or their choice of soothing music during a session they will feel cared for.
If you send them personalized thank you notes they will feel cared for.
All the ways you can make them feel special and like the unique individual they are will make them feel that you truly care. And that’s OT marketing.
Harnessing Digital Presence for Robust OT Private Pay Practice Marketing
Now let’s talk about your digital presence, a key factor in marketing your private pay OT practice.
Think about the last time you visited a confusing, outdated website. You know, one where perhaps the information isn’t clear. Or perhaps you are looking at it on your mobile phone and it is clear the website hasn’t been built to be used on mobile.
It’s frustrating, right? Now, what if that was a potential client's first interaction with your practice?
Your website is often the first point of contact for potential clients. If it's easy to navigate and informative, it can draw people in. If it's confusing or lacks necessary information, it can turn people away.
Social media is another touchpoint. Are your posts engaging and informative? Or do they feel more like a sales pitch? Remember, social media is a chance to connect with your audience, not just sell to them.
Community Involvement: A Hidden OT Private Practice Marketing Strategy
I talk a lot about community involvement for building your OT private pay practice.
But, have you ever thought of your community involvement as marketing? Well, it is. When you sponsor a local event or offer free workshops, you're not just demonstrating that you care about your community; you're also spreading the word about your practice.
Let's say you sponsor the local high school volleyball team. Their families see your practice's name every time they watch a game, and they associate you with the positive experiences they have there. That's a marketing win.
Or imagine you host a free workshop on handwriting for kids. Participants get to know you and see your expertise first hand. They're more likely to choose your practice when they need occupational therapy, and they're likely to tell their friends and family about the amazing workshop they attended. And just like that, you're marketing.
Building Trust: The Core of Effective OT Private Pay Practice Marketing
The final overlooked aspect of OT private practice marketing is something super important.
Trust. It's a crucial element in any therapist-client relationship. But have you ever considered that building trust is also a form of marketing?
For example, how do you handle mistakes? If a client's appointment is accidentally double-booked, do you brush it off or do you acknowledge the error, apologize sincerely, and find a way to make it right?
By owning up to mistakes and handling them with grace, you demonstrate to your clients that you're not just trustworthy, but also human.
Or consider your billing practices. Are they transparent and fair? Or are they confusing and filled with small print? Transparent, fair billing practices show your clients that you respect them and their finances, which builds trust.
The Future of Occupational Therapy: Embracing Hidden Marketing Strategies in Your Private Pay Practice
So, marketing isn't this game of smoke and mirrors, a dark art to be feared or loathed. It's about creating an experience, building a relationship, and communicating effectively in your occupational therapy private pay practice.
It's about showing up authentically, being transparent, and demonstrating that you genuinely care about your clients and their wellbeing.
The best part? You're already doing it. Every interaction with a client, every decision about your practice, every moment of connection - it's all marketing.
You're not a sleazy salesperson; you're an occupational therapist who knows how to create a welcoming, healing, and trusting environment in your private pay practice.
So let's redefine marketing. Let's embrace it as a tool for connection, communication, and care - a tool that's already in your hands, waiting to be used to its full potential.