How the Business of Physical Therapy is Just Like Dating

Co Written by: Ffrancesca Famorcan

Take your patient on a journey. No one gets married on the 1st date…

George Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright responsible for Pygmalion, once declared, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Whether or not you agree with this statement, the importance of self and the development of identity remains relevant in this day and age. As young professionals, it is crucial for us to learn the keys to marketing. From applying to a coveted dream job to building a clientele for a new business, we must market our skill sets and knowledge to attract potential employers and patients. Although many people become overwhelmed and shy away from learning marketing strategies, they don’t realize that the basic concepts are analogous to dating. Both dating and marketing can be simplified into 3 steps: creating a marketing plan, effective marketing, and maintenance. With this in mind, all of us striving to triumph over the challenges of the “real world” may do so using our personal and general knowledge of dating.


♦Creating a Marketing Plan♦

Know what kind of “patient” you’re looking for and create a plan to reach them.

To cross the threshold of being single into the dating domain, the first step is to be ready. Once you have acknowledged that fact, self reflection can be accomplished. Recognize what you have to offer–your strengths, experiences, and unique quirks that make you special–and identify your goals. Knowing your capabilities and main focus will then help you determine what you want in a partner. Although having a set of ideals is helpful when dating, remember to keep an open mind; you might meet people that will completely change your ideals.

Similarly, marketing follows the same process. Once you are ready to undertake the responsibilities of a career or your own business, evaluating your interests, values, and qualifications is essential to developing your goals. According to research, self-concordance, or the pursuit of goals that are compatible with one’s underlying interests and values, has a positive correlation to goal progress. In addition to conducting situation analyses and specifying certain objectives, successful businesses also focus on a target audience. A Forbes article states that knowing your target audience is beneficial to knowing your market’s most urgent concern and in focusing your content. In creating your marketing plan, your target audience is key. Kim Garst, the Founder and CEO of Boom! Social, one of the Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencers, and international best-selling author and keynote speaker, advised, “Focus on identifying your target audience, communicating an authentic message that they want and need and project yourself as an ‘expert’ within your niche.”

♦Effective Marketing♦

Find out if your patient is right for your you, just as they are seeking if you are right for them.

Equipped with goals and a list of qualifications of your ideal mate, you may commence with the actual act of dating. In the dating scene, people have created a variety of pick up strategies, but if your goal is a lasting relationship, you may want to steer clear of such gimmicks. In my experience, the success in relationships and in business can be attributed to 3 methods. First, put yourself out there. To meet people, you need to get out of the house and do something. Take a cooking class, learn a new language, or go out dancing! Learning to put yourself in uncomfortable circumstances and breaking the ice when meeting new people is critical in dating. Second, be your best self. A study focused on the humans’ desire for those that match their ideals versus their desire for partners that do not. Although most people tend to desire partners that check off most of the qualifications on their “ideal list”, this does not mean attraction doesn’t exist between so-called incompatible people. Being an ideal partner is more than simply being a set of rigid credentials; it is also about being a good communicator and listener. Take care of your appearance and practice a pleasant personality and your best self might attract someone more than just your ideal partner. Last, manipulate the setting. Romance can be unconsciously triggered, based on research by Capentier, Northup, and Parrott on bias first impressions. This said, plan activities that trigger the feelings you desire your date to have.

Such as in dating, those 3 methods apply to business success as well. As a professional searching for their dream job or building their business, you must put yourself out there. Advertise yourself in the best way possible. Depending on your target audience, an effective marketing tactic is distributing your best advertisements through the media they will most likely encounter. Robert Zajonc’s study exhibited that repeatedly advertising yourself and repeating your message has a positive impact on your audience’s view of your product. Aside from proclaiming your most impressive strengths, also give your potential customers something of value before you get anything in return. A study in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology examined the effects of offering chocolates with the bill on tipping. Results showed that, in general, bigger tips were given by customers that received the chocolate, but that the amounts fluctuated depending on how the treats were given. To get more “tips” from a business perspective, it would pay to invest in happily offering potential customers something of value for free. Some examples would be free content on a blog or referral incentives. Also, simply understanding your business to be the best in your trade or improving the level of service your customers receive would be beneficial. Furthermore, although you may not necessarily want to provoke romantic or sexual feelings when marketing yourself and your product, you do want to evoke excitement and attraction. Do this by being wise about location. For example, if you are a small PT business owner that wants to increase its client base, be effective and efficient by choosing to put up a booth at a marathon or sporting event instead of at a farmers market.



Whatever you did to get them, do the same thing to keep them. Do this to keep a customer for life.

With relationships initiated and a dialogue established, the important thing is to continue the conversation. Dating is like a lake. A lake’s health in indicated by the presence of life, such as plants and fish, and fresh water. A healthy relationship can also be described as one that is fresh and full of life. Prevent your love life from becoming stagnant by being a part of a community, keeping things fresh, and by exercising perpetual communication and reliability. As a couple, it is easy to limit your world to your significant other, but by being a part of a community both of you can have shared experiences while being able to learn new things about each other. It is also important to prevent being stuck in a rut. Yes, it is good to have a routine, but try new things! Celebrate each other’s small victories and accomplishments or try new restaurants and activities. Lastly, continual effective communication and being reliable is a must. Just like how a lake maintains fresh water by having  input and output rivers and streams, dating is also about giving and taking. Communicate with your partner and be true to your word.

In business, community is also vital to a company’s survival. Companies strive to build the culture surrounding their product and to make it a household name. No matter what your position is in the company, rapport with your customers is key. According to an article on the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, rapport establishment is directly correlated to patient loyalty and even positive case management outcomes. To keep the relationship fresh with your customers, you can try a rewards and incentives program. Jecker and Landy conducted a study on how a person’s actions towards others influences his feelings towards them. Their findings showed humans’ need to justify their actions–by giving favors, the giver’s fondness for the recipient increased. Therefore, don’t hesitate to ask for favors from your customers. Request for referrals, content sharing, and for their opinions through surveys. Perhaps most importantly, communicate with your audience. In a journal article, researchers studied the friendships of neighbors based on their proximity to each other. Their findings displayed that closer friendships were more likely between immediate neighbors and were less likely the greater distance is between the neighbors. In marketing yourself or your business, distance really does matter. For success, you want open communication with your customers at all times. Be credible, provide amazing customer service, and be a constant presence through social media and mail. Send out appointment reminder cards and thank you notes and give your customers the feeling that you are always available when they need you. Successfully doing all of these will not only yield customer satisfaction, but also customer loyalty.


People do business with the people they like.

By viewing marketing as analogous to dating, it becomes a much easier pill to swallow. Here is the breakdown of how marketing yourself as a PT or marketing your PT business is like dating: (Cure vs .Care)

→ Creating a Marketing Plan

▪ Be ready for the responsibilities
▪ Conduct a situation analysis
▪ Distinguish specific goals
▪ Identify your target audience

→ Effective Marketing

▪ Advertise and open opportunities for exposure
▪ Be the best & offer valuable product/services
▪Be wise about location & manipulate the setting to your advantage

→ Maintenance

▪ Create a community & build rapport
▪ Keep things fresh by giving your customers an active role
▪ Communicate and be reliable

Thank you for your attention.

I owe a great deal of my success to Smart Success PT. The course relaunches in June but  Pre-registration for Smart Success PT  is open now! If you’re frustrated with PT school, your new job, or struggling to grow your business, Sign up and be the first to know how to Change your career!. It’s more than you expect.

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Edited: Ffrancesca Famorcan

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To learn how Physical Therapy can serve you, see  GetPT1st ,  Greg Todd , Renewal Rehab Paul Gough Physio RoomsFunctional Patterns  ,  Aaron LeBauer , Kelly Starrett,  The Movement Fix, Anatomy Trains,  The Prehab Guys,  Modern Manual Therapy,   Dr. Ben Fung & Updoc Media ,  Andrews University Physical Therapy
Barkley, P. S. Building Rapport with your Patient: Positive Case Management Outcomes. Retrieved from
Carpentier, F. R. D., Parrott, M. S. & Northup, C. T. (2014). When first comes love (or Lust): How romantic and sexual cues bias first impressions in online social networking. The Journal of Social Psychology, 154, 425-440.
Demers, J. (2014, September 3). Why Knowing Your Audience Is The Key To Success. Retrieved from
Eastwick, P. W., Luchies, L. B., Finkel, E. J., & Hunt, L. L. (2014). The predictive validity of ideal partner preferences: A review and meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin140, 623-665.
Fishers, R., Lynn, M., Rind, B., & Strohmetz, D.B. (2002). Sweetening the Till: The Use of Candy to Increase Restaurant Tipping. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 32, 300-309.
Jecker, J., & Landy, D. (1969). Liking a Person as a Function of Doing Him a Favour. Human Relations, 22(4), 371-378.
Koestner, R., Lekes, N., Powers, T. A., & Chicoine, E. (2002). Attaining personal goals: Self-concordance plus implementation intentions equals success. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(1), 231-244. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.83.1.231
Latané, B., Liu, J. H., Nowak, A., Bonevento, M., & Zheng, L. (1995). Distance Matters: Physical Space and Social Impact. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21(8), 795-805. doi: 10.1177/0146167295218002
Zajonc, R. (1968). Attitudinal Effects of Mere Exposure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Monograph Supplement, 9(2), 1-27.

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