advertising for therapists: a simple guide to marketing your private practice with paid ads
In this post, I'll show you the best advertising channels for your private practice and teach you how to use your advertising dollars wisely. You'll learn about calculating costs to generate new clients and discover hidden advertising opportunities for your therapy business.
It's true that you don't always need to financially invest in attracting new clients to your therapy practice. Much of your marketing can be done by investing your time rather than your money.
Having said that, trying to attract clients through channels like social media or referrals may take more time than you can afford to spend on it. So if you need to attract clients as soon as possible, and without relying on building your reputation and brand, advertising is your best strategy.
calculate your advertising budget
But before you dive into advertising, you need to define how much you're willing to invest in attracting a new client. In other words, you need to calculate your "client acquisition" costs.
And even if you think that you know your comfort level with investing in ads, it helps to go through this exercise anyway. Plus, so many of us here have money issues. We think that being frugal and cautious about money is financially smart, while in reality, it often hinders us from growing and attaining financial success. That's why looking at numbers helps to put things into perspective. So let's dive in.
Calculate your client's lifetime value. Let's say that you charge a fee of $200 per session. That means that one weekly client yields $800 in 4 weeks. If we assume that you see your clients 4 times a month (to simplify, I chose a month with 4 weeks only) for an average of 6 months, this client will bring in $4,800 to your practice. Now, let's calculate the non-billable time you spend on this client by taking notes, communicating with them, etc. I will estimate that you spend $50 for every $200 of your hourly fee which totals $1,200 over 6 months. So 1 client can bring in $4,800 of total revenue minus $1,200 of service cost which equals $3,600. And that's the lifetime value of your client.
Calculate your budget for Google ads. Whether you decide to advertise on google or not, having this benchmark will help you gain perspective on other digital ads you may also consider. With Google, you pay each time a person clicks on your ad. Our goal here is to calculate how much you can and should pay for each click. Here, we will calculate our cost-per-click (CPC). So assuming your ad links to a page with a contact form that people can fill out to schedule an appointment with you, you can estimate that about 10% of the people landing on your web page will fill out this form. Roughly, if 100 people will land on your form and 10% of them will fill it out, you can expect 10 people to contact you. That's your conversion rate. Now, let's assume that 20% of your conversion rate (the people who contact you) will become your clients, which equals 2 people. Simple, right? OK, so now let's work backward. Let's divide those 2 new clients by the lead-to-customer rate of 20%. This will show you the number of people who fill out your contact form: 2 ÷ 0.2 = 10 people. We knew that already, but this also tells us that to generate 1 client, you'll need 5 people to fill out your contact form. We know that our conversion rate is 10%. Now we want to know how many people you'll need to click on your ad. For this, we divide 5 (the people we need to fill out the form) by your 10% conversion rate. 5 ÷ 0.1 = 50 clicks on your ad to generate 1 client. So to break even on acquiring a new client for your private practice, you can do the following calculation and estimate the maximum you should pay for a click. $3,600 (your client's lifetime value) ÷ 50 clicks on your ad = $72 cost per click to break even. It's an incredibly expensive investment, especially for Google Adds. But in some cases, it may be well worth the investment to break even because that client can refer others by word-of-mouth. If you decide that you only want to spend half of your revenue on a client, you can set your budget to no more than $36 per click. Depending on the keywords you will choose, you might spend as low as 20% on generating a new client for your practice.
Now that you know your client's lifetime value and your break-even costs, you can apply the same principles to other ads. Both digital and traditional.
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List all your advertising options
Advertising on Google is not the only way to attract clients to your practice. There are many advertising channels you can use, ranging from ads in your local paper to TV. Of course, a TV ad may not be in your budget, but it's also not necessary for you to attract new therapy clients. Still, knowing your options will help you make better choices and stretch your advertising budget.
Google ads. Google is the go-to place for most people when they're looking for services. Almost 80% of people surveyed in 2022 go online to look for healthcare-related information. And since Google dominates the search market, it's the obvious place for you to place an ad. Having said that, the google ads interface is not very easy to understand and requires a learning curve and some trial and error. If you have the time and the patience, you can learn on your own. Otherwise, you can hire an expert to help you.
Social Media ads. Advertising on social media can be significantly cheaper than advertising on Google. That said, the people who use social media platforms are there to socialize and learn, not shop. If you're trying to promote a webinar, an event, a newsletter, or a free lead magnet (guide, ebook, etc.), social media is a good place to advertise. But if your goal is to attract clients as soon as possible, it's not the best option for a service business.
Podcast ads. The podcast ad market is growing fast. In 2022 it's projected to reach $1.73 billion. And it can still be surprisingly affordable to advertise on a relatively niched podcast.
Local ads. Advertising online is not the only way to attract new clients. Many places have their own publications that are supported by ads. If the town you live in has a newspaper or a magazine, it can be worth your while to check out their ad costs. Additionally, you can sponsor local events by advertising your practice. Local ads can take time to gain traction, but they're a great way to reach your community and conserve your advertising budget.
Email and Newsletter ads. Email newsletters are gaining popularity again. With people feeling fatigued from social media pushing paid content to them, folks want to see more personalized quality information. Newsletter creators and organizations with large audiences offer sponsorship opportunities for businesses in their emails. Some sponsorships can be very affordable and will allow you to reach the people that fit your ideal client's description.
There're many other ways to advertise your private practice. You can pay influencers, buy conference sponsorships, explore radio advertising, and more. But the options I listed here are more than enough for you to start attracting new clients to your practice.
CHOOSE THE BEST OPTION FOR YOUR PRACTICE
Despite dedicating a good portion of this post to budget calculations, money is not the only factor in considering your advertising options.
You first need to figure out what's the easiest way to attract your clients. When you have a deep understanding of your ideal clients, you also gain insight into their lives and habits. You can estimate their behavior online learn what they listen to and where they shop. If you want to attract clients quickly and have a big advertising budget, you can choose a more aggressive strategy that uses more than one advertising channel. But if you're just starting out, have limited funds, and want to reach a small number of people without the stress of overspending, you might want to consider a more cautious approach that newsletters and podcasts offer.
Advertising allows you to fill out your practice quickly, without taking the time to build your brand and establish your reputation. These things are important, but they require the time you might not have if you need to pay immediate bills.
Avoiding advertising altogether can stagnate your business growth, force you to charge lower fees, or worse, push you to close your private practice completely. Yes, ads do require a financial investment, but so does your education and everything else that helps you grow professionally and personally. Is there something else you wanted to know about advertising your private practice that I didn't cover here?