How to Market Yourself as a Therapist - A Beginners Guide
Marketing your private practice is a little more complex than marketing any other small business. Besides upholding an ethical code, there is often also a moral dilemma of reducing the marketing of your services to questionable salesmanship tactics. It's often a mindset barrier that needs to be overcome. Although it's a separate conversation it is worth mentioning it here to reiterate the necessity of marketing for any clinician with a private practice.
So after you finally overcome this barrier, where do you actually begin?
First, I want to tell you where not to begin. And that is advertising. While advertising on Facebook, Google and different social platforms can sound tempting it can put a big dent in your marketing budget right away. Advertising is very effective when it is done right. Meaning, when you know who specifically you are advertising to and what your message is. Advertising for awareness is less effective.
Here are the steps that I recommend you to take when you start planning your marketing:
Define who you are most interested in working with. It seems like an unnecessary and a trivial thing, but defining who you want to work with will help you create an ongoing conversation throughout all your marketing efforts. I created a Free worksheet that will help you define your ideal client. You can download it here.
Analyze all the marketing resources that are available to you. You might be surprised by how many resources are free and often overlooked. We tend to think that marketing is this very expensive thing that we need to do when we have no choice. In reality, you need to market and promote all the time. Your private practice is a business and unless you are being proactive in letting the world know about yourself, you are bound to rely on external factors to bring clients in the door. Use the Free Resource Library to download a Marketing Checklist or a Marketing Plan Template.
Plan your marketing budget. It is not enough to identify your resources and plan your tactics. You also need to know how much your marketing will cost you. Do you know, for example, how much you will have to pay for your website design and maintenance? How much you will have to invest in networking and memberships? You might have a general idea, but using a budget will help you see what you can afford and how much you could stretch your dollar. Download your marketing budget template. I designed it especially for clinicians in private practices.
Work on creating your core message. This is what you and your practice need to be known for. It is not enough to be a provider who helps with an array of mental health issues. You need to be an expert that solves specific problems. There's a big difference. Because the first scenario positions you as a drop in a sea of competitors and the other as a thought leader in your realm.
Provide a good experience. By that, I mean not only a quality service, but a good overall experience. Easy scheduling, a pleasant atmosphere in your office, prompt billing and everything that would make your new clients come back. When I was at the Mental Health Marketing conference in July 2018, one of the presenters said that getting a person to sit in your office doesn't make them your client yet. It's the relationship that you will develop in the next meetings that will convert them to your client. So make sure that you make it an easy decision for them.