the Ultimate Beginner's Guide to marketing for therapists
As a therapist, having an effective marketing strategy is key to attracting new clients and growing your practice. Whether you're just starting out or looking for tips on how to grow your practice, this beginners' guide will show you the best practices and strategies for getting started with marketing your therapy services.
How to market yourself as a therapist
Deciding to open your own practice requires a good amount of courage, a desire to help people on your terms, and quite frankly a bit of cash stashed away in your savings account.
By the time you strike on your own, some of you have built a solid reputation so attracting clients is fairly easy. But most clinicians are not as lucky and they struggle to get people in the door after they've resigned from their full-time job and dedicated all their attention to their private practice.
And this is when it can get scary because having monthly expenses and bills to pay can feel very stressful without an income.
So how do you find new clients? How do you pay your bills and stay afloat?
Why marketing psychology practice is different
Marketing your private practice is a little more complex than marketing any other small business.
Therapists need to uphold an ethical code that can limit certain marketing and advertising tactics, like asking for testimonials for example. Being aware of the ethical limitations and not having any marketing training, often scares clinicians into avoiding promotion altogether.
In other cases, therapists start promoting their professional training, specialties, and degrees and often use professional jargon that people can't even understand, let alone connect with.
While this method can sometimes work, it leaves a therapist answering the same questions, responding to unqualified inquiries, and wasting time with clients who're not a good fit for their practices. All that adds unnecessary stress to the clinician.
But there's a better way to go about marketing your private practice.
having the right marketing mindset when starting a private practice?
First, I want to tell you where NOT to start. And that's advertising. While advertising on Facebook, Google, and different social platforms sounds tempting it can put a big dent in your marketing budget right away without much return on your investment.
Advertising is very effective when it's done right. Meaning, that when you know who specifically you're advertising to and what your message is.
But advertising just for the sake of letting people know that you're open for business can be a big waste of money.
Wondering what you need to get started?
Download a new practice checklist
So before you put an ad online, do this first:
Set your fees and write down how many clients a week you need to sustain your private practice. It's an obvious step that many therapists who are starting out skip. It's important not only for financial reasons but also because it'll help you organize your time and schedule in the future.
Spend time analyzing who you're most interested in working with. Think about your favorite past clients or if you don't have much experience, focus on the issues that excite you most. Contemplate these questions: • Who are these people? • What are they struggling with? • Why would I like to work with them? • Why would they want to work with me? When you know who you would like to attract to your new practice it becomes easier to work on the copy of your website, your SEO, and social media, because you can address the questions that these people are asking and connect with them through your marketing. Don't skip this step, otherwise, you'll end up attracting anyone who finds you and may not be a great fit for you. If you need more help understanding who you would like to work with, You can download the Ideal Client Profile Questionnaire. It's free and you can download it here.
List all the marketing resources that are available to you right now. You might be surprised by the resources you can start using immediately. The main ones of course are time, money, and energy. Determine how much time you can dedicate to marketing your private practice right now. Then, you can put your money or your energy into attracting new clients. Take advantage of the free marketing tactics that you can engage in right away: • Getting to know providers in your area. • Offering free workshops in different organizations. • Writing articles for high-traffic blogs and publications. • Pitching yourself to the media (local publications, etc.) If you'd rather invest money in your marketing, determine who you can hire to help you with website building, content writing, SEO, and social media. You can also use the Free Resource Library I created for private practice owners to help you get organized in the beginning.
Set your strategy. When you're just starting the goal is to get people in the door, because you need clients. So your strategy has to be about creating awareness about your services. People need to know about you first and it's your job to introduce yourself to the public. All your marketing efforts need to be directed to spreading awareness about who you are and how you can help. This is your brand strategy. If you want to level up and grow your practice, your strategy needs to be focused on your clients and sales. At this stage, your strategy can include paid advertising and promotion.
When you know who you would like to attract to your new practice it becomes easier to work on the copy of your website, your SEO, and social media.
What do I need right away when I start a therapy practice?
A name for your practice. It's basic but requires some thought and preparation. Here are a few tips on naming your private practice. I mention this step first because, as you're thinking about your name, you need to simultaneously start checking for domain name availability for your website.
A logo. I was a Graphic Designer for a long time and I've designed many logos for products and companies. So I am biased toward a professionally designed logo. That said, it can be costly and you don't necessarily need it right away. You can design a perfectly good logo for your private practice using Canva. Here is a quick tutorial on designing your own logo with Canva.
A website. Near 80% of people start their search for healthcare services online. Not having your own website is equivalent to relying on public transportation in a rural area. You can build a website on your own, using WordPress or Wix, or by hiring a company like Brightervision or an independent designer. The choice is yours, but make sure you approach this project seriously and dedicate a good chunk of time to it. In fact, here is the ultimate planning guide to building your website. (If you choose to build your website on WordPress, you will need to choose a hosting provider. Here's a comprehensive list of the best hosting providers for 2022.)
List your practice on Google. Google dominates the search engine world and it offers an opportunity to list your business on google maps. You can create a Google Business profile absolutely free and position yourself on the map. It will help you when someone is typing in "therapist near me" and it will help you bring traffic to your website to boost your SEO. >> Make sure to follow all the steps and verify your business per Google's request.
best tools for a tiny marketing budget
There are dozens of marketing tools available for any strategy you will decide to follow. All you need to do is decide which tool is the right one for you. But I will start with the basic ones.
Social Media. The first thing that you need to understand about social media is that it's a tool, not an asset. Your website is an asset, it belongs to you. Social media is a "rented" platform that you can use to connect with people. There are many "gurus" there that preach about not needing a website to build your business and that a Facebook page is enough. It's not. Facebook controls its algorithms and they can change, making your page or your group less discoverable. But, if you use social media to drive people to your website and your services, you can create awareness of your services quickly. The important thing is to choose the right platform for the type of people you're trying to reach and focus on it.
Email Marketing. How can you keep in contact with people who visit your website and leave? Through email. If your website is not set up to collect people's email addresses so you can keep in touch, chances are that you will never hear from those people again. It takes a lot of effort to attract people to your website and losing the ones who actually land there without an opportunity to introduce yourself, is a waste. Email allows you to not only stay connected with potential clients but also provide value to people who are not yet ready to book a session with you. This is an example of my own website and how I capture my visitors' emails. I do it by providing valuable information called a "lead magnet".
Practice management and EHR tools. Believe it or not, practice management is a huge part of your marketing. Marketing is all about the customer, their needs, and management. That's why I included them in the 7 friendly tools every therapy business needs article that helps clinicians get organized.
It takes a lot of effort to attract people to your website and losing the ones who actually land there without an opportunity to introduce yourself, is a waste.
As you can see, marketing your private practice should not be an afterthought or a knee-jerk reaction to not having clients. It's a consistent effort on your part to establish your brand, develop trust for your audience and attract new clients. Starting or growing your private practice will require you to be intentional about your marketing so you can create a sustainable business and not burn out in the process. Did you like this article? Comment with your thoughts and marketing experiences.