Psychotherapists and counselors are among a noble type of health care professionals that see themselves as the antithesis of marketing and sales. The altruistic nature of these professions is certainly distant for the idea of the pushy salesperson or manipulative marketer – to their credit.
However, therapists trying to get their private practices started today are finding that their distaste for marketing is a major problem. They need to announce their presence in the market and create a compelling value proposition – just like any other business.
Attracting new clients doesn’t happen automatically. This is in part because the market for therapy clients isn’t what it used to be. Insurance covers fewer sessions than they used to, and more people gravitate to medication alone as a replacement for talk therapy.
It’s also part of the instant gratification, fast-paced digital world we live in. People want instant results, not the drawn-out process involved with traditional therapy. They also tend to look for direct solutions to their problem instead of seeking out specific therapy services.
All this equates into a different situation for therapy marketing. People still need your services, but you have to connect that need to how you can help. This means you have to be visible and promote yourself.
Here’s what you need to do to keep your schedule book full.
#1. Create An Effective Therapy Practice Website
The face of your business online is your website. It introduces your practice, provides vital information, and persuades prospective patients to take next steps.
Consider a couple of things. First is that for most of your prospective patients, your website content will be their first impression of your practice. Most people research services online, and therapists should expect people to take a serious look at their web content.
This means your website represents you. It needs to be professional in appearance and clear in communication. It needs to guide people, in this case towards making initial contact.
Here’s an example therapy website design mockup from Marketing 360:
Notice this isn’t text-heavy. Your homepage just needs to provide an overview of what you do, with links to back pages that offer more detail.
You do want to introduce staff and use professional head-shots. Link back to pages with bios.
Your website must orient visitors. Be clear about what areas of treatment are, and make sure your location and contact info are easy to find.
Last, you’ll want to have a call to action so visitors will know what to do. Be explicit about telling them to call, schedule an appointment, or access more content.
#2. Specialize (Develop A Unique Value Proposition)
After finishing school and embarking on professional work, many therapists figure they’ll practice “therapy”.
It’s been said that thinking of your offering as just therapy is akin to a restaurant saying it serves “food”.
The internet ushered in the era of the specialist. With the power of online search, people prefer to find specific solutions to their problems.
So when it comes to finding a therapist, people don’t want a general practitioner. They want someone who specializes in dealing with their problem.
Because of this, it’s far easier to find an advertising niche and to brand your practice when you specialize in a particular type of treatment.
To discover your niche, consider:
- Specific demographics such as teens, couples, veterans or seniors.
- Particular mental health issues like drug addiction, depression, PTSD, perfectionism, or anger management.
- Non-traditional treatment methods like meditation or mindfulness therapy.
Also, ask yourself:
- What age groups and genders do you like to work with?
- What mental health issues are your strongest for dealing with?
- How affluent is your client base? What can you expect to charge?
For example, this Chicago-based practice shows in their website headline that they specialize in relationship therapy:
Consider the area you’re serving when developing a niche. Some areas are more prevalent with certain groups. For example, if you’re near a university, you could tailor your content towards college students and/or therapy such as alcohol addiction.
Dialing in your services helps you create a unique value proposition, which is content that describes the specific service you offer, how you solve your client’s problem, and what distinguishes you from the competition.
#3. Content Marketing
Content marketing is a broad term for using content to make a connection with potential patients. The channels you’ll use the most are your blog, social media, and YouTube.
In the past, you might have hoped to display your expertise by writing an article for a major publication. But today, you use these channels to become your own publisher.
Many people looking for a therapist or counselor will go through a research-heavy period online. It’s important that you connect with people during this phase of the decision-making process. Offer your expertise so people can get baseline questions answered and assess whether or not they need to come in for a scheduled session.
There are, in fact, few business verticals where connecting with online researchers is more important than with therapists.
You use your website, blog, social media, and other PR efforts to address the issues your patients face, discuss treatment options, and give people a fair gauge as to how much help they need.
At the same time, you are encouraging those who need to see a therapist to reach out to you and get a personalized consultation.
As a professional therapist, be sure you and your staff contribute to your blog. Write useful articles that demonstrate your expertise and give a preliminary sense of how you solve problems. Prospective patients are likely to peruse your blog so they can get feel for your voice and approach.
Do be careful about the type of content you create and the detail you go into. You want to provide some basic answers, not support someone’s self-diagnosis with info that leads to assumptions. Your call to action is “contact us for a free consultation”, which is what you want someone to do who really needs professional help.
This marketing strategy is based on the straightforward idea that you use your online content to answer people’s initial questions. It’s helpful, empathetic, and focuses on what the online researchers are looking for. As you gain exposure and earn trust, those who need you will reach out.
#4. Get Found On Search
To drive traffic to your website, you’ll want to show up for therapy-related searches in your area. There are three ways to dominate the search results.
The first is pay-per-click advertising. These ads are run through auction-based systems like Google Adwords and Bing Ads. The main advantage here is that you show in the top positions (reserved for paid ads) and that you can control the ad copy and landing page. For example, you might want to run an ad for people seeking couples counseling. Your ad and the page it goes to on your website can match that offer.
Next, you need to set-up and rank for Google My Business. This is the maps listing and review platform Google uses for geo-targeted searches. It’s a free listing you can optimize with your descriptions and by getting customer reviews.
Then you have the organic website listings. These are also free clicks, with ranking gained by optimizing your website for keywords, gaining links, getting social media traffic, and adding content to your blog.
Be sure to consider how you can target blog content so people searching for information on conditions can find your website. If you have a strong niche, you’ll have a better chance to rank.
If you do it right, you can show up in three spots on page one:
Search is your best chance to engage prospects as they first start looking for a therapist. Make sure you’re ranking on page one in at least one of these areas.
#5. Reviews and Testimonials
For business marketing in general, we speak a lot about the importance of online reviews and testimonials. The power of social proof plays a big role in how online consumers make decisions.
But getting this type of content for therapists is a different story because of the myriad of confidentiality and ethical issues involved.
This overlaps into social media use or any other digital media where a client’s identity could be revealed.
The ACA Code of Ethics outlines this in detail. Overall, the pitfalls of trying to solicit reviews outweigh the marketing benefits when you consider:
- Potential harm or disruption to the client when asking for a testimonial that is to be used in marketing materials.
- The legal responsibilities of informed consent when seeking this type of endorsement.
- That the testimonial is likely to have to be highly generic and anonymous so there is no chance the client can be identified (making it far less effective as marketing material).
- The problems of gaining consent in any type of group therapy; you have to obtain informed consent from all parties.
- The problem that a review from one patient may not accurately reflect results for other patients.
We opened this article talking about how most psychotherapy practices need to do more marketing. However, eliciting favorable comments from patients is, indeed, a practice that benefits your business.
However you approach this, keep their needs at the forefront.
#6. Social Media
Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer opportunities for you to do content marketing, but also have special considerations for therapy practices.
First is that, per the ACA Code of Ethics, you must keep your personal and business profiles separate. Also, similar to the issue with reviews, you have to be careful about commenting or sharing any content from patient profiles.
What you can mainly do is use your business social media profiles for content marketing. Publish general practice updates, useful tips from credible sources, and your own general tips and insights.
Mainly what you want to do is curate useful content from online and promote your content marketing material. This is a useful service you can recommend to anyone. Use these tools as an extension of your therapy where you provide insightful, useful info.
#7. Network Locally
There are some services businesses can market almost exclusively online and do well. Therapy and mental health services are not one of them.
Even as an online marketing agency, we must state that as a therapist you need to get into the community and network. Attend charity events, church functions, and local government meetings. Get involved with schools and local businesses.
Your networking efforts get your name into the community and can drive direct traffic to your website. Community connections are an excellent way to build out Facebook and other social media content.
While patients (who may not want to reveal they were even in therapy) may not give you direct referrals, your trusted name in the community can increase those opportunities.
Your job is helping people, and being public about how you do that within your local community is a huge marketing advantage.
The truth is, of course, you don’t really “sell” therapy services, like a plumber offering a $30 discount on the first service call.
Instead, your online presence is an extension of the therapeutic process itself. From the beginning, you are connecting with those in need and offering advice to help on a journey towards better mental health.
Use the digital marketing software of Marketing 360® so you can manage the ways you create awareness and connect with prospective patients online.
Beyond that, be yourself. Help people. Engender trust. Be proactive about what you offer.
Those who need your help the most will find you, which is to the benefit of everyone involved.
To learn more about how Marketing 360® works, contact us today. We offer free consultations on how to market your therapy practice, outline plans and pricing, and can give you a free demo of our marketing software.