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How to Create Local Partnerships for Your Clinic

Creating local partnerships can be a game-changing organic strategy for your clinic. It will boost your reputation and word-of-mouth referrals, directly bring new patients into your clinic, and rank you higher on Google. We’ve found this to be so useful that it’s now a cornerstone of our marketing packages. In this article, I explain how we do it.

What is a local partnership?

A local partnership is when your clinic partners with another local organisation in a way that provides mutual benefit. A typical example is partnering with a sports club. You may offer their members a discount on their first appointment, and in return you may get a link from their website and promotion on their social media and mailing list.

That’s just one example. Depending on your specialism, you might also look to chronic pain or age-related groups, offices, or even tradespeople and building companies. It’s up to you. Once you’ve targeted one sector you can always target another, there is no limit to how many partnerships you can build up.

In this post, I’ll use an MSK physio targeting sports clubs as an example.

Finding who to target

We start by making a hitlist of 40-50 organisations we want to reach out to. You can research your local area on Google and list all organisations you think might be useful. For sports clubs, you can simply search [‘sports clubs’ + your area] or [‘pitchero’ + your area].

Record them all along with name of the organisation, website address, contact details if any are provided, and any notes. We use a board, but you can just as easily use a spreadsheet.

When looking for groups to partner with, the key is finding the right size that you can both offer each other something of value. Sometimes we speak to groups who have less than 10 members and no website, who really have very little to offer our client. On the other hand, you’re not going to contact Manchester Utd and offer them 10% off physio treatment – larger clubs or groups will already have a physio, and will expect money in return for any sponsored promotion. There’s a goldilocks point at which the club is large enough to be able to offer you something useful in terms of promotion, but small enough that they can benefit from what you have to offer in return.

Man watching football at stadium
Groups that are too large won’t be interested, whilst groups that are too small have nothing to offer

What to offer and what to ask for in return

As we’ll see in the next section, the key here is going to be negotiation and having different things you can offer and ask for to make the deal work for everyone. Come up with various different things you can offer and a rough idea of what you would want in return for them, rather than going in with one fixed offer for everyone.

Be careful about giving away anything at a loss, and be extremely careful about giving anything away for free. Free often equals no value, and people will take you up on it without any intention of booking more in the future. Try to ensure your costs are covered, or if you do offer a loss-leader, monitor it and ensure the proportion of patients who rebook more than covers the initial loss.

Some things you might want to offer

  • % discount on treatment (10% – 20%)
  • % discount on initial appointment / assessment (typically 50% knowing there will be repeat bookings)
  • % discount on block bookings (10% – 20%)
  • Above discounts but limited to off-peak times or to certain practitioner(s) (e.g. to get a junior associate busy or to ensure discounted initial appointments are only with yourself and at no cost to you)
  • Periodic in-person talks / clinics / presentations / QAs at their training or social events
  • Newsletter / blog articles or ‘ask the physio’ section
  • Free or priority emergency treatment for injuries sustained during a match
Woman doing business accounts
Make sure that anything you offer works within your business model and avoid making a loss

Some things you might want to ask for in return

  • Notifying their members of the partnership (kind of pointless if they’re not going to do this)
  • Inbound links from their website (relevant local links are SEO gold)
    • A permanent link or page as ‘preferred physio partner’
    • A blog post about the partnership
    • A regular guest post on their blog about something relevant to their members
  • Promotion on their social media (either regular or one-off)
  • Mailout to their mailing list (regular or one-off)

Remember that you will already be getting the extra patient flow as a result of the partnership, but remember also that nearly all these things you might ask for in return cost the club nothing.

Inbound links to your site are key here as they will boost your SEO. As a digital agency that’s the reason we started trying to broker these partnerships in the first place, but found it so useful to clients that the partnerships were worth pursuing in their own right, and the SEO benefit is a bonus. Try to ensure that any links to your site are dofollow.

Making contact

Start by emailing. Send two emails spaced 2-3 weeks apart before starting to follow up by phone 2-3 weeks later. Often you won’t get a big response to your emails, but when you come to follow up by phone you will be taken much more seriously if you say you’re following up on your last 2 emails.

What we’re looking for here is to start a conversation. We don’t give away all the details of our offer as we will negotiate this on a per-case basis. We structure the email with the classic cold email structure of intro – value proposition – call to action. Something like this:

Hi. I’m contacting you on behalf of Prime Physio, a sports physio clinic in [area].

Prime are really keen to reach out and support their local community, and are offering the opportunity for your members to get discounted physio treatment at no cost to you. We can also offer various other things like free advice or in-person sessions for your members, depending on what would help your club.

Could we talk to see if there might be a good fit? I have some time free later this week.

As you can see, we’re whetting their appetite without promising any concrete offers. We’ll sound them out and figure out the details once we get them on the phone.

People shaking hands
With our initial outreach we are just trying to start a conversation

Often when reaching out on behalf of a client we usually don’t name the clinic in the first instance but just say ‘a local physio/osteo/dental/etc clinic’. Our emails are signed off ‘Market Your Clinic Online’ so it’s obvious to the person we’re contacting they’re dealing with an agency. Again, we’re trying to open a conversation and get them to get in touch to find out the details. We’re also protecting our client’s reputation just in case anyone feels they’re being spammed.

Record the dates you send emails and record dates of any contact and what was said. It will come in useful later on.


The second email will simply copy the first, saying something like

I’m following up on the email below. Would you please let me know if there’s a good time to speak?

If we get any replies we go into negotiation (covered below). If not we start phoning. Phoning can be daunting at first but people are generally friendly and the worst you’re likely to face is someone saying they don’t really think it’s for them.

When you phone, keep it open-ended again and respect the fact that everyone is busy. Something like this:

Hi, I’m phoning from Prime Physio, a sports physio clinic in [area]. I’m following up on a couple of emails I sent regarding Prime’s partnership opportunities. There’s no cost to you but it enables your members to get discounted physio treatments and some other benefits for your club. Is that something you’d be interested in discussing at all?

Sometimes people will ask when the emails were sent, often you’ll find you were mailing the wrong person and once they check that you’ve already tried twice by mail they will put you in touch with the decision maker. Then you simply start again with the contact details they’ve provided. If you can get a phone number and skip the email step this time, so much the better.

Keep trying, phoning every 10-20 days, until you get a yes or a no. Gentle persistence pays off and it might also just be about getting someone in the right mood to talk. For that reason I prefer to phone towards the end of the week and in the afternoon. If someone says they’ll pass the message on and contact back if they’re interested, follow up with another email reiterating the offer, and follow that up with another phone call a week or so later.

Once someone is prepared to open a conversation and asks for more details or says that they could potentially be interested, then we’re into negotiation.


When we say negotiation, we think of tense exchanges to release hostages, settle a court case or close a high-powered business deal. Avoid this mindset at all costs.

You’re reaching out to another human being to see if there’s a fit between you to do something good that helps each other and the community at large. You’re good people doing a good thing. Be friendly and positive, listen to what they say and try to be creative in thinking about how you can help each other.

Don’t think of negotiating as stressful. Be positive, listen well, and think win-win.

Start by giving a bit more information – say a bit about the clinic and, without getting into specifics, say the kind of things you’re offering – discounted treatment, in-person events, newsletter articles and so on. Tell them you’re keen to support local sports clubs. Be up front and say that what we generally ask for in return is a link back from your site, maybe a guest post or promotion on your social media, that sort of thing. Ask them if there’s a potential fit there where we can help each other. Maybe ask them to tell you a bit about their club or some other open questions. Don’t be afraid to lead the conversation – it was you who reached out in the first place so they’ll be waiting for your exposition. At this point they’ll generally offer some more information back and you can start to understand where they are, what might be useful to them and so on.

Every negotiation is pie in the sky until someone proposes some numbers. Expect to be the one to do that, and have a proposal ready based on the size of the club and what you think the partnership is worth to you – you will offer more to a prestigious club with 10,000 members than you will one with 10. Give yourself room to go higher and don’t go in with your best possible offer, that way if they’re not sold on the initial offer you have room to manoeuvre. They will be pleased you moved to accommodate them, and try to find a way to move on their end too.

What we’re looking for in negotiation is to find things that both sides can give which are more valuable to the other side than they cost the side giving them. For example, 10% off appointments to their members might still mean you make a healthy profit whilst getting more business for your associates and growing your patient base. On their side, some links from their website and a monthly guest post on their blog will hopefully be a small price to pay for the kudos of having an official treatment partner and being able to offer an exclusive discount to their members. When everyone walks away feeling they got more than they gave, that’s a good deal.

In order to get to that point, you might want to ask open-ended questions like

‘Does that sound like something that could work for you?’ (following your initial offer)

‘If I go through some of the things we can offer, like member discounts, in-person events, free emergency treatment (etc.), is there anything there that you think would be really useful to your club?’

‘Do you have any ideas of ways we could potentially help? Is there anything your club needs that we could contribute to with our services?’

‘If you were to come off this phone call feeling you’d got the perfect deal for your club, what would that deal look like?’

Asking open-ended questions will help you understand what will be valuable to the other party

If you can provisionally come to an agreement that looks like it works for everyone, say you’ll put all the details in an email. That way it’s all clear on paper exactly what everyone is agreeing to. You might want to draw up a brief contract also. This will generally reassure the other party, as good contracts make for good relationships. Be clear on exactly what is expected from both sides, any limits or timeframes, and what happens if either party wants to quit or renegotiate. You may also want to build in a trial period.

You might also offer to follow-up on that initial email agreement in a week or so, so they have time to mull it over and come back if they think of anything else before then. Offering a ‘cooling off period’ in that way reassures the other party that you’re not trying to railroad them or take advantage of them.

Sometimes they will have to present your offer to the committee. You want to be proactive here. Send them a detailed email that they can forward to the committee about who you are, your clinic, what you’re offering and why you’re offering it, invite them to speak to you individually in person, or even better ask if you can present to the committee and answer questions either in person or by Zoom.

Promoting the partnership

This is a whole topic in itself, but you should also try and get some local press attention through your partnership. Create a press release with the club, preferably with some good photos of you with their players or shaking hands with your contact at the club – you in your professional outfit and them in their sports kit or holding their equipment. Send it to every local press outlet you can find. Phone them first to ask if they’d be interested in the release and who to send it to. Get straight to the point – press people have little time.

You may also consider using a press release service to get the news out. Many guarantee a certain amount of news outlets publishing it. Although your local story is unlikely to be read by many people on national newswires, they provide high-authority links to your website, and keeping your clinic in the news over time will have a huge boost to your SEO.

If you’re able to get local coverage, these links are brilliant, and also something you can use to promote your clinic with an ‘in the news’ section on your site, blog articles, social media and Google Business posts.