15 Free Marketing Strategies For Your Private Practice
The truth is that when you are starting your own private practice, you have a very limited marketing budget. If you have one at all.
I didn’t, when I started my business. Luckily, there are several marketing tools that didn’t require me to make a financial investment, just my time. I also had the benefit of having a graphic design background so I didn’t need to invest in hiring anyone to create a visual representation of my brand.
But even if you don’t have a background in design, you can still get quality graphics at virtually no cost at all. I will get into this later in the post.
In short, you don’t need a marketing budget to start promoting your private practice. All you need to do is set aside time and use the free tools that are available to you right now.
Oh, and don’t worry, just because these marketing strategies are free they are not lesser in quality and will not reflect negatively on your professionalism.
Where should you begin?
When it comes to marketing it’s easy to get overwhelmed and intimidates so I suggest going back to basics. Start with a name. I write at length about the naming process in this article. Whatever name you choose, make sure to stay consistent with it in all your marketing materials.
Here is what to do next.
Get a Free Logo. Having designed many logos I can confidently say that a high quality logo is a great asset to your brand, but it’s not a necessity when you’re starting out. It is important to have a logo, because you will need it for your business cards, website, social media profiles, etc. but you can use free tools that are now available on your smartphone apps and online. Canva is a wonderful app that offers many templates that you can adjust and customize to your liking. The result will be a professional looking logo in less than a few hours. I recently created a logo for a new Instagram account in just one hour, using a free template and graphics. And so can you!
Design your business cards for free when you are ready to print. Vistaprint is a site that I usually use for the printing of most of my marketing materials. This site also offers free business card templates you can choose from that allow you to input your information. There are hundreds of templates to choose from so you might end up spending a day just testing different designs with your new logo, but this is actually a fun activity so you will likely enjoy it. The printing of the cards is also very affordable. As a new customer you can print 500 business cards for about $10. It’s a great value and a really small investment to have business cards that you can start giving away immediately.
Get listed on Google My Business. Almost half of online searches are local. Google my business is a free directory that will allow you to appear in local searches, show reviews and appear on the map. Your listing will also help your website rank higher, which means that when your clients search for you, your listing will appear on the first page of Google search. The important part is optimizing your profile with all the relevant information about your practice. Another cool thing about Google My Business is that you can post updates, specials, events and other content on your profile. These posts expire with time, but they allow you to speak directly to your audience through writing, photos and videos. Oh, and you can analyze the traffic you get to your listing as well. All in all it’s a great free tool to boost your online presence.
Take advantage of free website builders. There are many free website builders available right now. And I won’t lie, the free accounts are limiting, but they are still better than not having a website at all. From all the options available, I would recommend opting for the Google website builder. It’s a free platform and it will help you seamlessly integrate your information and posts on Google My Business, which will give you more visibility on Google and help you attract new clients in your area. The website is mobile optimized and requires a minimum of technical skill to set up. The drawback to it is being subjected to Google's ownership and whims, but you can invest in a professionally done website when your practice becomes more successful and leave this free website as a promotional tool for your google business directory.
Create and share original content. What does it mean exactly? Content can come in many forms like writing, video, audio and photography. There is a lot of content available on the web, just like the article you are reading now. But people are turning to the internet every second of every day to look for answers. So a major part of your marketing strategy is understanding and anticipating the questions that your potential clients might ask google. And you need to be able to provide the answers through your point of view in writing or another medium. Creating your own blog will help you build a reference library for your audience. But it's important to remember that just creating good content is not enough. You also need to share it and get other people share it as well. It will also help you with posting on social media, because coming up with something to post can be a real struggle sometimes. Your content is your voice and your point of view is what will set you apart from your competition.
Start using your email list. I have spoken with many clients that are shying away from email marketing, because they fear of being invasive. But the beauty of email marketing is that you can segment your audience and send them emails that would be relevant to them. For example, you can create a series of emails to people who have left your practice with your news, new services or hours. You can create a lead magnet on your website that would allow your website visitors download valuable information on a specific topic. They will give you their email address in exchange and with their permission to receive further emails, you can create a series of emails that encourage them to contact you. All of this can be done ethically and without compromising your professional integrity. And while most email marketing services are paid, Mail Chimp allows you to create a free account and use the service at no cost if you have less than 1,000 subscribers to your list.
Boost your social media presence. Social media can be extremely effective if you use the right platform and create engaging and shareable content. But the most important part that you have to keep in mind is that it’s an incredible tool to build new relationships online and offline. Setting the right strategy for social media will prevent you from getting confused about the things that you should be doing there and who you are really talking to. Besides attracting new clients, social media is a great tool for networking, sharing ideas and creating a community of professionals and like minded people.
Engage in networking to build authority and get referrals. If you know who your ideal client is, you can create a strong referral network from other professionals (and not necessarily in the medical field) that service this type of client. You can network with lawyers, realtors, gym owners and nutritionists to create a strong referral network.
Book speaking engagements. You can service your community by offering free talks and workshops on the topic of your expertise. Speak to local businesses, community centers and schools to offer these events. And if you don’t like talking in front of an audience, you can always pitch your topic for an interview on a podcast or a video blog. Make sure that you can either ask for email addresses for your email marketing list or advertise a special offer for your practice that would encourage the listeners to contact you.
Take advantage of the free Online Directories. While there are great paid directories geared specifically towards therapists, there are many other small business directories that offer free listings. Make sure that you list your practice so you can boost your SEO and take advantage of the traffic these directories get. List your practice on Google, Bing, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Angie’s List and Chamber of Commerce among others. Make sure to include as much as you can about yourself and your practice.
Scout Ubersuggest. It’s an amazing free keyword tool. And seeing how digital marketing strategy needs to be a huge portion of your Marketing Plan, this will give you an invaluable insight into your online presence as well as your competition’s. By spending some time on Ubersuggest, you will be able to see which terms and keywords people search for. You will also see the search volume for your keywords and get suggestions on other competitive keywords. Look at yours and your competition’s website performance, see which content gets the most interest and backlinks.
Help A Reporter Out. Journalists are always looking for sources and new stories. Networking and creating a relationship with a journalist can be valuable, but it will take time. Honestly, you will probably not spend time doing it. But by registering to HARO, you will be receiving inquiries directly to your inbox. Make sure you scan these emails as soon as they arrive so you can email your pitch quickly. You’d be surprised by how many reporters are looking for a quote or an opinion from mental health providers.
Do go on Podcasts. Actually, actively seek them out. While creating visual content is still important, audio has been experiencing a huge growth. The popularity of smart speakers, wireless headphones and bluetooth connectivity at home and in cars makes it easy for people to listen to a lot of new content. I can tell you for myself that I never do any boring housework without listening to a podcast or a book. There is a low barrier to creating your own podcast, but you need the time and the desire to do that consistently. That's why reaching out to the podcasts that already have the audiences you would like to reach will help you create awareness and spread your message much faster. And you can promote your practice or a specific service as an added bonus.
Don’t shy away from videos. Video has become an important part of content strategy, because they are usually more engaging than text or a photo. Video is being consumed more and more on social media platforms and allows you to show who you really are to your audience. Consider this, 1200% more shares are generated by social videos than text and images combined. Making videos on specific topics will increase the likelihood of them being shared to a wider audience.
Look into creating strategic partnerships. Usually a strategic partnership in a business world means creating an alliance between businesses that share the same goals. It can also look like sharing a space with another type of practice that has the same ideal client as you do, or creating combined courses and workshops. A strategic partnership is not a legal entity and your practice will stay independent. The idea behind it is to expose yourself to a wider audience and create a mutually beneficial referral system with another practice.
Just because you are starting out and have limited resources to invest in marketing now, doesn’t mean that you should ignore marketing and promotion all together. Taking advantage of all free resources available to you will help you attract new clients faster and fill your schedule so you can avoid prolonged periods of financial anxiety.
These strategies will evolve and develop and become more complex, which you will have to pay for eventually, but that’s ok because as your practice grows, you will be able to set aside a marketing budget.