Therapists have spent years learning how to tackle thorny and complex issues like depression, anxiety, fraught family dynamics, and much more.
It can seem like a bit of a tall order to also expect therapists to be marketing experts.
Unfortunately, the therapists that don’t make a significant effort to get the word out about their practices may find themselves falling behind. This is especially important for therapists who are running solo practices.
The good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money or earn an MBA to market your practice effectively. You just have to start with a smart strategy and leverage free tactics to make sure your practice is reaching the right audience.
First, Get Clear About Your Goals
Any good marketing strategy starts with some clarity. How, exactly, will you define the success of your marketing efforts? If you jump into marketing tactics without considering exactly who you’re trying to reach and what action you want them to take, you’ll risk wasting your time and budget.
For most therapists, the end goal of marketing is to get more paying clients, or more booked appointments.
To measure success, you might look at:
- Number of new clients who register online with your scheduling system
- Number of total appointments booked each week or month
- Number of new appointments booked
- Total number of active clients
- Total monthly revenue from appointments
Those aren’t the only ways to measure success, but you should identify your own key performance indicators ahead of time.
Once you have a better idea of your ultimate goals, you’ll have to choose the tactics that will get you there. There are a ton to choose from, and we’ll discuss some of the most effective tactics shortly.
However, the best thing you can do to start out is use a tool that therapists are well acquainted with: Empathy. Picture what type of client you’re trying to reach and put yourself in their shoes.
Then, keep them in mind as you choose which marketing tactics to use to attract more of these clients to your practice.
Seek Strategic Partnerships and Speaking Engagements
Unless you’re investing heavily in a teletherapy approach (related: 6 Amazing Software Tools for Therapists), most of your clients will live in your local area.
That’s why one of the most effective marketing practices for therapists is to personally get out into the community. Meeting new people and forming new partnerships are some of the best ways to make people aware of your practice.
Volunteering your services for group events or sharing your expertise through speaking engagements does more than introduce clients to your practice. It can also give potential clients a clear sense of what you’re all about. Seeing you in person and hearing you speak may make potential clients much more comfortable with the idea of actually booking an appointment with you.
Once you’ve given some thought to who your ideal client is and where you might reach them, you can be more more selective about which organizations can give you access to the type of client you want to attract. Volunteering your services for the sake of the community can be a good thing in and of itself. But you should still be selective and metrics-focused, setting reasonable goals for each potential avenue before you commit to it.
Don’t overextend yourself. Make engagements strategically. You won’t be able to keep helping people with your skills if you can’t make your practice work financially (which is why marketing is so important).
Boost Your Search Engine Visibility
You don’t need us to tell you just how heavily people rely on their smartphones these days.
Even if most of your new clients currently come from referrals from other clients or other professionals in the healthcare field, it’s reasonable to assume that many more clients could be finding your practice online.
The best ways to boost search engine visibility for local businesses are
- An optimized website filled with content that addresses the questions your clients are using to search for your services
- Updated and optimized listings on maps sites, review sites, and directories
- A fresh and vibrant social media presence
For more on these online visibility tactics, check out a recent post we wrote for another health-focused local business type: Rehab centers. The tactics detailed there can also work really well for therapists.
Leverage the Power of Social Media
We already mentioned that social media can boost your search engine visibility. However, smart use of social media can also get the attention of potential clients as they’re using the app.
Social media marketing has no cash cost, is relatively simple figure out, and can significantly extend your reach and connections. Posting to social media regularly can also be a great way to keep your practice top-of-mind for existing or potential clients, and remind past clients that you’re still there to help them if they need it.
Therapy practices may be especially well-suited to Instagram, whose users are generally seeking the aesthetically pleasing and emotionally inspiring ideals that mental health professionals like to deliver. However, you can leverage the power of any social media outlet you think is a good fit for your practice — as long as you can keep it updated.
Here are a few ideas of what to post:
- Use tools like Canva to create beautifully designed, on-brand quotes.
- Use inspirational stock photos to illustrate your messages.
- Post photos of the events you’re participating in and tag your community partners.
- Share links to new psychology research or breakthroughs.
Although these accounts should be for your business and not your personal life, try to inject a healthy dose of vulnerability into what you share. Everyone has struggles, including therapists. If potential patients get a sense of your own humanity, they’ll be more likely to connect with you on an emotional level. This connection can be important in establishing the kind of trust that paves the way for a good therapist/client relationship. Tactful therapists find the perfect balance that keeps their messages helpful for others and occasionally references personal experiences without oversharing.If potential patients get a sense of your own humanity, they’ll be more likely to connect with you on an emotional level. Click To Tweet
Finally, we have to mention that you should steer clear of posting about clients or client experiences without their permission. And never use social media to communicate with your clients directly about your work with them; it’s not secure enough.
Don’t Neglect The Role of Your Office
Although your physical office doesn’t play a key role in attracting new patient (although a nice “accepting new patients” sign on your door can certainly help), it definitely plays a key role in keeping your clients coming back.
Making a special effort to make all visitors feel welcomed and comfortable can make a big difference in patient retention.
For more on how to create a space that values privacy and puts patients at ease, check out our full post on the topic: 6 Best Visitor Management Practices for Therapy Clinics.
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