How to Banish The Marketing Overwhelm and Sell Without Selling

I am only too aware from the hundred or so conversations I have on Marketing Review calls every year with prospective customers, that the overwhelm most physical therapists feel about their marketing is only too real. They express a range of emotions about the maze seeming deep and inpenetrable and the fog feeling dense!

In the series of blog posts that follow, my aim is to offer some clarity. Each blog post will serve as a clear, practical guide to help you implement a marketing approach that prioritises trust over transactions and helps you to see clearly the marketing activities that will help you move forward (as well as the ones that won’t!).

Each post will also link to a whole range of mostly free resources I’ve produced in my attempts to shine a light through this confusion, from video training to articles, cheatsheets and guides and there’s also a book in the pipeline too.

Stay tuned as we tackle the case of marketing overwhelm head-on, simplifying the complex, and setting a clear course for your clinic’s growth and success.

The Case of Marketing Overwhelm

From SEO, to social media algorithms, paid advertising, customer email campaigns and blogging, not to mention the millions of ‘experts’ who apparently all have the secret to life-changing programmes you can join and solutions you can buy – it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin – including mine at times. Lots of shiny new things always at your fingertips. And I get why this is tempting, because most people HATE doing their own marketing, and as a result are prepared to throw caution to the wind and sign up to these solutions, just for the chance of getting rid of this responsiblity!

The end result being that most people feel like they’re being pulled in a thousand marketing directions without actually moving an inch towards their goal.

Balancing Act: Clinical Duties vs. Marketing Efforts

Throw in the day-to-day hustle of running a clinic, where you are already spinning plates of appointments, patient care, staff management for some and administration for all – adding marketing to the mix I know feels like trying to juggle with one hand tied behind your back.

Lost in the Noise

And then there’s that common dread that your voice (or that of your business) just ends up being a whisper in a storm, drowned out by competitors with louder shouts and flashier tricks (hint: they’ll be paying a lot of money for that, if it’s any consolation?).

Then There’s The Technical Challenges…

I had a call with a prospective customer earlier this summer, and literally shuddered when she started the call with: “Tor, I’ve just spent literally all weekend and I’ve only managed to create 5 posts for Instagram – surely there has to be a better way???”. This is just unsustainable. No business owner, ever, has time for this.

And The Money Concerns

Another customer last week, who is waiting for the go-ahead to sign up to my new platform, asked me if he it was worth him paying for Google Ads? When I asked him what he was getting for his money, he said, “more traffic to my website”. But more traffic to your website won’t translate into new customers unless you have it optimised for lead generation and appointment booking.

The Difference Between Marketing and Sales

The trouble is that marketing is a long game and most people aren’t in it for the long term. The job of marketing is to bring prospective customers to your door ie. to create and nurture an audience. The job of sales, is then converting those prospects into paying clients and this is a distinction that most people fail to understand. That lack of understanding results in unrealistic expectations about what needs to happen at each phase of the prospect-to-customer journey. Another major problem is that most people’s marketing efforts are at best sporadic. And when it comes to marketing, sporadic is probably worse that doing nothing.

The Trust Framework: Uniting Marketing Under One Banner

Now, let’s pivot our perspective. Forget about sales for a moment. Think about the relationships you have with your patients. They come to you because they trust you. Your marketing should extend that same trust to the digital sphere. Everything—from your website content (and blog posts) to your social media presence—should be a testament to your reliability and expertise.

I hate the phrase people only buy from you if they “know, like and trust you” because it’s so over-used, but the reason it’s over-used is because it’s true!

Building a Trustworthy Brand

In the realm of healthcare, trust is without doubt your most valuable currency. It’s what turns a one-time visitor into a lifelong patient, a passerby into a word-of-mouth proponent. Trust is never fostered through flashy sales tactics but through genuine, consistent actions. Your patient-facing content is the handshake, the eye contact of the digital world. So, when you review your website, ask yourself, “Does this reflect my clinic’s integrity and expertise?” It’s not just about being found on Google; what people find when they get there also counts.

The Educational Element

Education is your beacon. By providing valuable information, you’re not just selling a service; you’re showcasing your expertise and your genuine investment in patient welfare – we seem to have lost this art in the ‘busy-ness’ of life and yet as therapists, it’s one of our greatest strengths. Whether it’s through informative blog posts, helpful how-to videos, or engaging email newsletters that help rather sell, you’re telling your audience, “I care about your health, not just your custom.”

From Content Into The Clinic

At the heart of your marketing lies a singular goal: to cultivate trust. Google, the world’s foremost traffic director, prioritises trustworthiness when deciding which sites to present to its users. Your blog posts are a direct line to this objective; by offering well-researched, authoritative content, you signal to Google and your readers that you’re a credible source worth their time and click.

Testimonials are your digital endorsements, real-life proof points that tell new visitors, “This clinic is as good as they say.” They’re not just reviews; they’re your earned badges of trust, and for that reason something that Google loves and prioritises.

Your social media should be a reflection of your expertise and reliability. It’s here that consistency is key – regular, knowledgeable posts demonstrate an active, engaged presence, a hallmark of a trustworthy practice. Through these channels, you’re not just broadcasting; you’re opening and maintaining a dialogue that strengthens patient relationships. You also give people opportunities to connect back to your website by linking to blog posts and helpful resources, another signal that Google looks for when deciding where to funnel traffic.

Email communication, then, is more than updates and information; it’s a regular touchpoint with your patients that says, “We understand your needs and are here for you.” Each email is an opportunity to reinforce your experience and understanding, steadily building trust with every send. Connect these back to leaflets and blog posts and you generate even more ‘Google-friendly signals’.

physical therapy marketing and growth

In essence, every piece of your marketing – from SEO to social media, from blog posts to emails – should be executed with the intent to build trust. This isn’t just a strategic move; it’s a genuine approach to show your patients and search engines alike that you’re a reliable, knowledgeable, and consistent figure in the healthcare field.

It’s the cohesive journey from discovering your blog post on managing back pain, to booking an appointment for a consultation, to leaving a glowing review because they felt heard and helped.

This is where the art of marketing in healthcare really lies: not in the act of selling, but in the consistent, earnest effort of building a relationship grounded in trust. Every piece of content, every interaction, is an opportunity to reinforce that trust.

The Role of Paid Advertising and Your Website

While Google Ads (or any other form of paid advertising) can seem like a quick route to increased website traffic, they’re often just a shortcut around the more substantial work of building a lasting online presence. These ads can bring visitors to your door, but what keeps them there, and even more critically, what compels them to return, is the trust that you’ve established through your content, your user experience, and your online reputation. Without these elements, the traffic generated by paid ads is a bit like a gust of wind—momentary and without lasting effect.

Running paid ads can accelerate your clinic’s visibility, but for them to be properly effective, they must be supported by a website primed for conversion. It’s not just about attracting clicks; it’s about what happens after the click. Your website needs to be a hub where visitors are encouraged to take action—whether that’s booking appointments, signing up for educational events or  downloading valuable resources so you can nurture these relationships going forward. Each of these actions represents a step closer to a stronger patient-practitioner relationship and a better return on your investment in advertising.

Before you invest in paid ads, ensure that your website is designed with that user journey in mind. From the moment visitors land on your site, they should be guided smoothly towards opportunities for engagement. Clear calls-to-action, intuitive navigation, and compelling incentives are essential. Without these conversion-focused elements, paid traffic may browse but not commit, and the potential for return on your ads diminishes. In essence, your paid ads should be the enticing invitation, but your website must be the welcoming host that offers multiple avenues for visitors to connect with your clinic and take that next important step.

Connecting the Dots

Each component of your digital marketing strategy works in concert to create a cohesive patient journey, with trust as the underlying theme. Here’s how they connect and interact:

Patient Resources: Advice leaflets serve as the foundation of your content marketing strategy and are invaluable assets in your marketing toolkit. They offer tangible help and showcase your commitment to patient education. By incorporating these into your website, sharing them through social media, embedding them in blog posts, and distributing via email, you provide consistent value to your patients. This reinforces your role as a trusted advisor but also encourages sharing, further extending your reach and impact.

Blog Posts: Your blog posts demonstrate your expertise, address common patient concerns, and improve your SEO, drawing visitors to your website. By linking to more detailed patient resources, this increases engagement and interaction on your website and can be used to help you build your email list by offering some resources through email lead collection pages.

Social Media: Social media channels are your engagement amplifiers. They take the helpful content from your blog and patient leaflets and spread it further, engaging current and potential patients in conversation and linking back to your website increasing traffic and boosting SEO.

Testimonials: Testimonials act as trust signals to both Google as well as prospective patients. When featured on your website and shared on social media, they provide social proof, giving potential patients confidence in your clinic’s ability to deliver quality care and encouraging Google to share more of that all-important organic website traffic with you.

Website: Your website is the hub of your digital presence. It capitalises on the interest generated by your blog and social media content, showcases your testimonials, and provides clear paths to conversion, whether that’s booking an appointment, signing up for a webinar, or downloading helpful resources. In other words, your website should be primed for converting the traffic you’re generating through your other marketing efforts.

Customer Nurture Emails: Once a visitor takes an action on your website, nurture emails come into play. They are firmly rooted in providing value (you must leave the salesy stuff out), and keep the conversation going, provide additional value, and encourage repeat visits to your website, further strengthening the relationship and building trust over time.

Educational Events: These are the engagement deepeners in your marketing funnel. After establishing a connection through informative content and nurturing relationships via email, events such as webinars, workshops, presentations or Q&A sessions provide a live platform for potential and existing patients to interact with you and your clinic in real-time. They offer a dynamic way to showcase your expertise, answer direct questions and further solidify trust. These events, promoted through your website, social media and in collaboration with other local partnerships, not only educate but also humanise your brand, making your clinic’s presence more tangible and relatable. The opportunity for direct engagement and the value provided through these events can significantly enhance the patient’s journey towards choosing your services.

In this interconnected marketing ecosystem, each piece reinforces the others, ensuring that patients receive a consistent message and experience at every touchpoint. This integrated approach not only builds trust but also guides potential patients through each stage of the marketing funnel, from awareness to consideration, and ultimately to the decision to choose your clinic for their care.

In Conclusion: The Essence of Your Marketing Strategy

Your marketing strategy is a composite of various efforts, each serving its distinct purpose, yet all converging towards the same end: building a lasting relationship with your patients. It’s not about who shouts the loudest or who appears the most, but about creating a genuine connection that fosters trust. The goal is to consistently demonstrate that you understand and care for your patients’ well-being, which in turn forms a bond of trust that persists. Remember, it’s often the subtle, sincere exchanges and the reliable presence that make the deepest impact on your patients and stay with them in the long term.

What Next?

  • If you’re interested in delving deeper into the practical ‘How Tos’ of building trust through marketing, I have two resources that can help. The first is a guide entitled, “Sales is Not About Selling: It’s About Building Trust” and the second is a guide on “How To Use Content to Build Trust“.
  • If you’re questioning your current strategy, wondering if your budget could be working harder, or simply need a sanity check on your marketing approach, I’m here to chat. No strings attached, just honest advice tailored to your clinic. And if you’re curious about the marketing solutions I offer, we can cover that too. You can book a chat with me here.


Blog Author

Tor Davies

Co-Kinetic Founder

I’m a physio-turned publisher with a passion for technology and a ‘verging on OCD-like’ obsession with efficiency and effectiveness! I spend way too much time coming up with new ways of using technology to help practitioners develop their businesses, a topic that I also speak on regularly at global conferences. I’m mad about dogs and love pubs too 🙂