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Last week, I had the privilege of presenting a workshop hosted by Podiatry WA on creative marketing strategies. One of the common concerns for marketing that I heard from the participants, and one that I often hear when talking with allied health practitioners about marketing, is money. People are concerned that marketing feels expensive, and this creates a barrier to launching their great marketing plan. Marketing is a process, not a quick fix to "get more clients in 60 days", and it does take time. As we know, time is money, and I believe this is where the main cost of marketing lies. If you have some time, I have some free marketing ideas for you.

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If you have already started a social media page for your allied health practice, you may have at some stage experienced that feeling of having a ‘blank’ when thinking of what to post. This can happen because we are busy, because we have not dedicated time to sit and plan it out or because we have ran out of ideas!

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Sometimes, when it is busy and you have lots of clients booked in, it can be hard to find the time to develop your marketing ideas.  Having some prompts is great for these occasions when your brain needs a boost of ideas.  These are some ideas for topics you could use for a Facebook post, a blog, a tweet or in a newsletter for your practice. 

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I always talk about marketing in allied health because I think ethical marketing is so important for many reasons. Firstly, it can ensure people are finding your service and staying with your service, and secondly, it can lead to greater client outcomes.

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When I was on a short holiday last week I thought to myself, it is definitely harder to manage a business social media presence when you are not in the office! I found it harder to get good images and harder to think of great content. I don’t know if you find this or if you just have days when you need some more inspiration for social media posts? Today, I share with you 4 fantastic apps that will invigorate your social media posting!

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Running a healthcare service without a marketing plan can be a bit like winking at someone in the dark. You know what you are doing, but often nobody else does.  We need people to know how our services run, what we do and how we can help.  Where do you start though?

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I talk to many allied health practitioners often about marketing and branding. One common thing I see is people writing and then printing masses of brochures for their practice, that might look okay at first glance, but that isn't really telling people what you need them to hear.

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Stock images (photo's available for you to legitimately download & re-use) are widely available across many Australian and International stock repository sites. They can be a wonderful inexpensive way to give that professional edge to your business website, blog, social media updates or presentation slides, but there are some really important things for us to remember as allied health professionals:

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Have you ever taken client photos as a record of their progress for their file, or taken a photo of them for marketing purposes…? Maybe for social media or perhaps for a presentation you have coming up? If you have taken any clients photos in the past, or are planning to, we have put together these simple tips for ensuring you are doing this the right way.

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Last week we looked at organic search results and completed a little activity for our own practice websites. Today, we look a little closer at the simple things you can work on, or discuss with your website administrator to boost the performance of your website.

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Having a plan for your marketing is important, it helps you ensure your money is going to good use but the planning process itself helps you learn about the different forces and factors that may affect your success. Writing and researching for your marketing plan gives you the chance to learn about your industry and allows you to work out strategies and set specific goals and timeframes for achieving them.  One of the hardest parts is knowing where to start?!  For those who are not sure where to begin to create a marketing plan, I have developed 7 steps to help you.

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If you practice the art of writing letters back to referral sources, such as GPs, have you ever wondered if they are successful in getting your message across? Are they being read? Recently I engaged in research regarding ‘What GPs Want’ and discovered some food for thought that has definitely changed my approach to marketing to GPs.

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Do you have a website for your practice? How does it perform compared with other sites when clients (or prospective clients) search for it? Have you googled your own practice lately?

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Welcome to our new website for Maida learning. We have been working very hard to provide a new resource for allied health professionals.  

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With allied health services, consumer behaviour can be divided into three main stages. This is important to grasp as it can have implication for the way we communicate to our clients about our products and services. Understanding each stage means we can gain a better understanding of why consumers behave the way they do and allow you to deliver services that result in greater consumer satisfaction.

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I recently read the book Purple Cow by Seth Godin. A great book detailing the marketing changes we need to make to reach our target markets. Seth states for marketing to be successful in today's world, we need to add a purple cow to everything we do or risk becoming invisible. Purple cow?

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This week in our membership we have been exploring the topic of getting more referrals. It is a common thing that I hear from many allied health practice owners – how to get more GP referrals? Over the years we have run various online resources about how to communicate to referrers and build a relationship, but I really believe BEFORE you get to that point you need to go back and start at the beginning…….. and ask yourself these questions.

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I often hear video success stories where people have harnessed the power of video in their practice to showcase their work. My question to you today is: are you also going to become one of them? Are you sceptical of video and its benefits or think it is expensive? Or…. Are you just too busy to think about it? Either way, I think you need to find some time to see how it might fit with your plans this year.

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Providing handouts and information sheets to clients is a great way to compliment your one-on-one sessions. However, great handouts do not just happen! They require some planning, researching and coordinating. 

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We headed to Sydney recently to attend the event "Reinventing the Wheel: how to get your innovation seen and monetised" as part of the 2015 Sydney Vivid Festival. The aim of the event was to learn from great minds what makes an innovation commercially attractive and investor ready. It was also the launchpad to announce the SMART 100 highest ranked innovation for 2015, an annual index presented by Anthill Magazine, of which Maida Learning was a finalist!

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Networking is an important part of working life.  It can be a crucial factor in everything from new clients, new employees, careers, keeping up to date with industry standards, and getting the right information.  But we are not really taught how to network well – it is often assumed if you stick a bunch of people in a room, we will all know what to do. Networking is the art of building and maintaining connections for shared positive outcomes.  Many people, however, feel they are not good at networking.  I propose we change our outlook on the process of networking to make it less daunting.

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I want to share something with you today that is always in the back of my mind as an allied health small business owner. It is the question: Are any of my brand touchpoints letting me down? Let me explain.

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Last week, I shared some specific areas in your allied health business that influence consumer perceptions of your brand. Today, we continue exploring this topic by focusing on brand touchpoints following their appointment.

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A brand is basically your practice name that over time becomes familiar to people.  It is what gets you noticed and builds your business.  Your brand is your business identity's say.  It’s defined by how you and your employees consciously or otherwise portray your practice to others, and how those ‘others’ then interprets this.

If someone mentioned the name of your service or practice – what would your patients and referring sources say? Are these consistent with the image you endeavour to build? If you have employees, have they bought into this image? Why or why not?

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Putting yourself out there and telling the world about your services can be hard – particularly if you are a shy person or are considered an introvert. Don’t let this stop you though, there are still many ways to market your services quietly without the panic and stress of cold calling and trying to schedule meetings with potential referrers.

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Networking. You would be surprised how many people say they dislike it. But why? Bad experiences? Maybe. Let's explore the concept of networking a bit more and find out why it's important.

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Here at Maida Learning, we love learning about new things in the allied health space – including new technology that can innovate and enhance the way we deliver our services and run our businesses.

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We have a lot of things coming up at Maida Learning over the next month – including workshopsthat I will be presenting for fellow allied health practitioners in both Adelaide & Melbourne which brings me to today's topic!

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You open an allied health practice. Hooray! Your caseload is made up of NDIS participants. You don’t really think much about marketing as the clients are coming and you are busy. Sound like you?

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Have you ever thought of blogging for your practice? Blogging is a great way to showcase your expertise in your area, bring people to your website and help educate your audience about how you can solve their problems. Before you launch it, we have written a few points for you to consider. Here are some basic pearls and pitfalls of blogging in private practice.

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Whilst the NDIS is a new concept for many practitioners, remember, it is also a new concept for your current clients. I have had many clients ask me “what is the NDIS thing?” It is important that we work at assisting our current clients to learn how they may benefit from and be involved in the NDIS.

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Last week, I was very excited to have met Mark Bunn.  Mark is our guest speaker for the Healthy Practice Conference in May 2014.  He is a former AFL player and motivational speaker and will address delegates with his wisdom on working smarter, not harder.  Mark is here to remind us the simple things in life are invaluable to your health and happiness.  

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Everyone has heard the word ‘marketing’, but few understand its real meaning, and how it applies to healthcare. Is it synonymous with sales, public relations, branding and advertising? Yes and no. Marketing embraces all of the above, and services as an umbrella to all of these activities. Is it really as applicable in allied health though?

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When you first start out on Facebook, it can take a little time to get your following to occur. If you expect to get on Facebook as a practice and get instant new referrals within a week, I would say your goals are a little over-ambitious. Growing an audience on Facebook takes time and dedication.

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At Maida Learning, we celebrate leadership and innovation in the allied health sector and love to share news with you about great ideas, innovative service delivery and practitioners who are embracing their role and thriving as successful business owners. Welcome to the first case study in our Showcase Series.

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This year, I volunteered to be a judge for the local Wagga Wagga Business Chamber Crow Awards. If you ever get a chance to judge an award, make sure you take up the opportunity. This particular experience was fantastic and reading through the entries became addictive. I also volunteered this year to judge the IFSHT inaugural innovation award which involved participating on an international judging panel. Both experiences were fascinating and I learnt some things that you need to think about!

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If you have followed our blog for the past few years, you will know our passion for marketing in allied health. We love helping you find creative, practical and ethical ways to share your unique service benefits with your target health consumers.

There is, however, one thing that we always recommend to all allied health professionals – and that is to make sure you have some sort of tracking system or base line established so you can measure your results!

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Having a business card made is one of the first things that practice owners work on when they decide to start a business.  And why not? It is certainly something that we need and something that we provide to our clients so they know how to contact us and possibly when their next appointment is.  Here is a question though, have you look at your business card lately?  Does it do the business you need it to do? Here are 5 things to think of when planning out your business card.

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While advertising and marketing communications help build brands and position programs, it is doctor recommendations that still have a large influence on referrals. Great practices are built around systems that foster client retention, build expert status and generate referrals. From an allied health perspective, we have two levels of ‘customers’ – our clients, and our referrers. How can we effectively manage these?

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Whilst we need to take an individual approach to how we market our own services and also how our local general practitioners might prefer our marketing materials, I thought I would share with you some ideas on how you might engage with your current referrers, or start to form relationships with potential referrers to your practice. These ideas are based on my own experience, but also on the recent research I have engaged in, that looks into how allied health practitioners market themselves and communicate to GPs.

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Traditionally, one of the common ways to market an allied health practice was to send a letter to your referrers introducing yourself, sending your business cards, and printing brochures to drop off to referrers.  Although there are lots of mention in health care marketing literature that brochures are a good way to market, there is minimal actual evidence that tells us which ones work and what the return of investment is.

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It is no secret that the life of a practice owner or that of a therapist can be at times a roller coaster ride. Pressured to learn at lightning speed, make decisions on a daily basis, often regarding the health and goal attainment of others as well as our own. Working hours can be long and sometimes we just yearn for a more rounded work-life balance.

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Last week, I organised for a photographer to visit my practice to take some new pictures of staff to use on our websites and social media sites. We also have photos of our team on the wall of the waiting room. Here are some of my tips for preparing for new photos to be taken in your business:

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If you have a blog as a marketing tool for your practice, you might know that feeling that comes with wondering what you will write next? What else can you share to your readers and what knowledge do you have to impart. You might also know that feeling when you self-sabotage and tell yourself you have run out of things to say or that people don’t want to read what you have to say..

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Last month, we headed to the Speech Pathology Australia National Conference in Perth and I had an opportunity to visit the Hicaps stand in the exhibition hall (they were also conveniently located near the scones, jam & cream). Do you know about the great free resources Hicaps offer you as a provider? Here are some ideas on how you can harness these resources for your practice marketing.

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Last week, I shared some of the benefits of creating videos for your practice.  Today, I want to help you make the first step to making them possible, or… if you have already used videos before, I am hoping to share some fresh ideas for future videos.  After reading this, I want you to take 5 minutes, that’s all, to write down some ideas of content you could share with a video of your practice.

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Do you know how your practice or service is different from your competitors? Do you think you communicate this difference well to your clients and referrers?

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Recently, I was invited to present to the local business chamber Networking for Knowledge (Marketing) group. This is a wonderful group that meets throughout the year to learn about other businesses, their challenges, and ideas towards marketing.

My talk started with a tour of our clinical rooms and discussion about the areas of treatment that we offer in our practice. The rest of my presentation was themed around the importance of ongoing learning in business and how we must continue to push our knowledge and understanding of all the aspects that help make us successful in our missions, including marketing. 

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Social media platforms like Facebook are an ever-growing platform for business nowadays. In my experience, Facebook is a really great way to reinforce your practice or personal brand to your target audience and to develop engagement to and from followers. The main reason I see many Facebook business pages not working well is when their administrators forget that it is a social media platform. Remember, people expect you to be social on Facebook!

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I know therapists who thought that if they set up practice, opened the doors, people would just come.  I also know others that feel in the public system, marketing is not relevant to them.  Marketing in health care is important, and whether you want to or not, the minute you open the door, you are marketing! So, for those who didn't think they were marketing... now you have found out you are 'accidentally' doing it, are you doing it well?

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When I started working in private practice 11 years ago, clients were referred, they were seen, they were written about, they were billed, they were compliant with rebooking, and they had good outcomes. Like many, I assumed their good outcome in my opinion means they had a great experience. But did they? – No, most likely not always!

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Being on Facebook is a great marketing tool for allied health practices. According to Sensis, in Australia last year, 55% of the population were on the internet more than 5 times a day. Of those who accessed the internet, 26% used social media sites more than 5 times a day and 63% of people in Australia use their social media accounts after work or in the evenings.

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Have you ever used a graphic designer and ended up with a result that wasn’t what you had in mind? Or maybe you haven’t used a graphic designer before and are not sure how to even start that process? Here at Maida Learning, we have used graphic designers many times, and we asked our friends at JAM Media to give some insights into the things you can do as an allied health business owner to get a great outcome with graphic design.

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By now, there may be many of you already harnessing the power of online marketing with Facebook for your practice and that is fantastic. One of the things I commonly recommend to people is once you are on there, make it work for you and ensure it matches your brand and engages your target audience. Are you doing that? Not sure? Here is my handy checklist to audit your Facebook page.

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