Word-of-mouth referrals from your patients are essential to building your business. Another large source of nonphysician referrals comes from establishing a presence in a niche market where people are serious about performance. This is another one of those areas in which my advice applies to all types of practices, not just cash-based ones like mine.

This is only a list of the first three niche markets that came to mind, but the list of possible markets is seemingly endless. If you are creative and consistent over time, there are more patients in niche markets than you could possibly have the time to accommodate in your practice.

Youth sports

Choose a local youth sport in which a lot of kids are involved, and aggressively build your (or your clinic's) name as the expert in treating that sport's most common injuries. Then repeat the process with other sports. How?

Offering free seminars and presentations is a great way to "get in" with just about any athletic or parent group. Some examples of this might be to offer "Ankle sprain prevention in youth soccer — what every coach should know" or "ACL tear prevention in female soccer players — what every coach and parent should know."

Again, to go into details on all the different seminars you could create is beyond the scope of this post, but you get the idea — be creative.

I would also suggest targeting the parents directly. Create an informative brochure that you offer to the sport's club/association as something that all parents receive at the beginning of the season.

In my experience, many parents will pay cash for their kids' treatment far faster than they will for themselves. I have patients whose parents are in all kinds of pain and won't go out-of-network for their own treatment. But as soon as little Johnny hurts his knee, they're willing to pay $200 for an after-hours visit rather than wait until next week to see me.

Running community

Simply put: Runners are nuts. I say that in the nicest possible way, but those of you reading this who treat runners, or may be an avid runner yourself, know exactly what I mean. They will push through nearly any pain to continue running, and if they have an injury that sidelines them, they will pay massive amounts of money to get back to it.

Rather than describe more free seminar ideas (which you should do as well), here's another possibility. Join a local running group, if your body is up for it. You'll get in shape and surround yourself with potential patients.

Running not your thing? Create a brochure titled something like, "Are you set up for success or injury?" and provide it to all running shoe/equipment stores, running groups and running or triathlete coaches.

Go through the common injuries of running, the primary predisposing factors and info on how to self-determine if they have these issues. If they find that they do, and want to get professional help in addressing them, who do you think they'll call?


Need I say more? It's an expensive hobby about which many of its participants are just as fanatical as hardcore runners. Take some golf-specific continuing ed courses or something similar, and start marketing to the local golf and country clubs.

Offer free seminars to every country club and golf equipment store (or general sporting goods store) in your city. Use catchy titles and teach participants to identify tightnesses or weaknesses in their own body that keep them from having an optimal swing.

Then take them through the stretches and exercises to address all the main issues they identified in the first half of the course. You'll be viewed as the "expert PT for golfers" by the participants, and many of them with more than minor issues will figure, "Well, I'll just have him/her fix me."

Offer to do these seminars on the weekends so many can attend. Don't want to work on the weekend? Long term, neither do I, but you'll have to put in some serious and consistent effort to really grab a healthy percentage of any niche market.

If you are going to pursue this marketing approach, commit to doing events, presentations, coach/parent-group visits consistently over the course of at least six months. If you do one presentation and don't see any immediate new patients from that group, that's OK.

It often takes a number of "touches" of any prospective business before you acquire that business. Go in with a plan to work that market over the long term, and you will see results.