People, this is not a drill. April is almost here and with the first signs of tulips comes occupational therapy month!
***Note, it’s OT month in the United States. Sorry international readers, but you can still use these tips for the month or week where you celebrate the profession of occupational therapy.
When I was working as a therapist in a clinic, occupational therapy month was frequently an afterthought. With me going, Oh crap, it’s here. I need to do something. Let me quickly look at my schedule. And then… oh dear, it’s already full. And I’m generally a plan-ahead kind of person – and OT month still sneaks up on me. Except for this year, I put “OT Month prep” as a reminder in my calendar a month early specifically so I could help you with some advanced OT Month marketing ideas.
Because it’s a big mistake to wait until the month of April to plan out your ideas. With a little bit of time and maybe some advanced scheduling, your marketing for OT Month will be much more enjoyable and successful.
After all, it’s such a great reason to not only promote the profession but also market your business or practice. And just celebrate the awesome work of OT!
Goals for Marketing OT Month
It’s always good to get clear on goals when you start any project, even something simple like OT month. I encourage you to give some thought to what you’re hoping to promote this month.
- Are you looking to celebrate the OTs in your life?
- Are you looking to be an advocate for the OT profession so more people know and love what it is?
- Or, are you looking to build connections for your specific practice or business?
And really, it can be all three things. At the end of the day, OT month is a good reminder, maybe even an excuse, to get out there and spread the word. OT Month itself provides the purpose, giving you a springboard to start a conversation or show up with business cards in hand.
And this year especially, think about digital marketing. Digital marketing is time-efficient and helps conquer some of the challenges of ongoing social distancing restrictions.
So go ahead and block some time out of your schedule. Prioritize prepping for OT Month in these last few weeks of March or the first week of April. And get specific with what you want to accomplish in those time blocks.
Otherwise, you’ll be sitting at your desk thinking — What am I going to do for OT month? – over and over for the hour.
To help you get started, I compiled a list of OT Month Marketing ideas. Take one of my suggestions and run with it or just read the list to inspire your own ideas.
Spread Some OT Love and Appreciation
First, I encourage you to think about how to celebrate other OTs. It’s a great profession made up of amazing and giving people. Don’t get so caught up on outreach that you forget to have a little fun.
Celebrate with your staff.
Maybe it’s a special lunch or a message on a whiteboard. Personal thank you notes can also be meaningful.
You can even highlight your staff as a part of your social media marketing. Feature your OT staff members (or yourself) on social media. This not only celebrates your staff members but gives the community a reason to connect with them as well.
Celebrate The OTs Who Use Your Products or Services
If your services target OTs, you have a huge opportunity. Think about special promotions for the month or ways to highlight the profession.
A great option is to develop engaging social media conversations around occupational therapy.
Some prompts might include:
- Why did you get into occupational therapy?
- What do you like about occupational therapy?
- What is one thing you did as an OT this year that makes you smile ear to ear?
Reach out to other occupational therapists in your community.
We’re better when we work together. Other OTs can be great referral sources when they know you and how you want to help others. When I worked in rural health, I used OT month as a reason to drop off some chocolates and business cards at hand therapy centers where patients might start their care and then want to transfer their services closer to home.
I bet there are some OTs in your community that would love a fun treat and a card recognizing them for OT month.
Marketing OT Outside of the Profession
Most occupational therapy practitioners have felt frustrated by the ongoing lack of general public knowledge around occupational therapy.
And that’s a big reason for promoting OT month. We all win as more people know and understand what OT is and has to offer.
Keep in mind, I view promoting the profession a little bit different than marketing your specific business. When it comes to marketing your business, it’s all about highlighting the problems you solve and what you specifically offer.
When it comes to promoting the profession, it’s more about building general awareness about OT as a whole. This type of promotion frequently centers around the idea that joins us all: meaningful occupation.
Social Media for those Who Know Nothing of OT
Brainstorm topics for social media posts to help new readers better understand the world of occupational therapy.
- Explain occupation and have people share their favorite occupation (that isn’t their job)
- Talk about why you love the profession
- Ask people to share their experiences working with an OT
You could even just start a social media thread inviting any questions people might have about OT or your services. Not only is asking questions and getting engagement good for algorithms, it’s also great market research.
At the end of the day, the goal is to reach people who don’t currently understand what OT is or does. So keep content light-hearted and written to a broad audience with the assumption you need to explain concepts in basic and simple terms.
Write For a Local Publication
Writing to a new audience is a great way to get your name and the work of occupational therapy out to your community. Good thing you’re thinking ahead so you have time to identify and ask to write! Maybe you could write for a community newsletter, hospital publication, or the local newspaper.
As far as topics, the simpler the better. Maybe talk about your role as an OT and pick an easy topic related to your work where you can provide 3 basic tips. Think about a common question you get asked by a lot of your clients and use that as a starting point. For instance, in my work as an outpatient therapist, I constantly got asked about when to use ice or when to use heat. So that maybe would be a great topic to write about.
Reach Out to Other Providers in Your Area
Other service providers in the community can be one of the best and most effective ways to reach people who need your services.
If you’re a service-based professional, strengthening relationships with referral sources could be a big part of your marketing strategy. Depending on your type of work, you might find yourself sharing clients with a range of other people including physicians, counselors, teachers, play therapists, chiropractors, or case managers.
There are a number of effective ways to leverage or reach new community partners during OT month, even if things look different this year with ongoing social distancing requirements.
Collaborate to Reach Shared Clients
Share that it’s OT Month with people in your network with who you’ve already built relationships who appreciate your work.
It could be as easy as saying, ”Hey, April is OT month and I’m really trying to get the word out. Can I guest post on your blog or put some flyers in your lobby so people can better understand what I offer?”
Or, request that they share one of your OT Month posts to their social media. It can feel awkward at first to ask for help spreading the word, but building some reciprocity is a good thing.
Connecting with Providers Themselves
Instead of doing your regular office drops, consider recording a personalized video and sending it via email. Maybe even including a small token of appreciation like a digital Starbucks gift card. Then they can see your smiling face at a time that works for their schedule.
You can accomplish this with a short but personalized Loom video. It could be about occupational therapy, your elevator pitch, or a specific content idea.
And if you don’t have emails for local providers, this is a great excuse to get contact info for when you need it in the future. Either call and request email addresses yourself or assign the task to a VA or your admin assistant.
Looks Like You’re Ready to Rock Your Way into Marketing OT This April!
So hopefully this gave you some concrete ideas on where to start with your marketing this year. It’s easy to feel a little bit lost about where to start. However, marketing doesn’t have to feel completely awkward or overwhelming when you start with goals and a plan that fits your strengths and needs.
Share in the comments below or on social media about what you’re doing to promote OT during the month of April. I love the idea of working together to build thriving businesses and raise the awareness of the amazing work of occupational therapy.