There are more marketing strategies in existence than any clinician could possibly do in a lifetime of private practice. Once therapists in private practice realize they need to market their practice to get the phone ringing, many of the go-getters decide to take on way more strategies than I’d recommend.
The truth is, you only have so much time and energy, and each strategy comes with a learning curve. Many of the strategies also require ongoing maintenance. Few are “set it and forget it.” And even if you have the money to pay a pro to do some of it for you, you have to make darn sure that that person knows what they’re doing when it comes to marketing in our industry.
Let me alleviate some of the guesswork. In my (very strong, not very humble) opinion, you should be focusing on no more than five marketing strategies. I rarely, if ever, see anyone execute more than that well. I see folks veer into shiny object syndrome, meaning one of the most important principles in marketing—consistency—gets tossed aside for a fancy bot that you either fail to set up right or stop using after 3 weeks.
Of those five strategies, I believe there are two that every single one of you should commit to. The first is having a great website, and the cornerstone of having a great website is having ideal potential clients view your website as a relief. We want them to see their situation reflected on our sites so clearly that they have immediate faith that you can help them.
It’s not just what you write on your site but the general design as well. An outdated or overly busy site will have most clients heading for the hills. It doesn’t reflect how they view themselves (unless they see themselves as an unironic, early-aughts version of AOL). It also makes you look like you’re letting your business languish, even if the reason it looks so bad is because you’re packed with clients.
The other marketing strategy I want you to consider is networking. Again, niche is important here, as discussed in the Networking and Your Niche. I have built successful practices in three different states because of networking. When done right, it provides referrals for years and years and allows you to relax your marketing to pretty much nothing.
So that’s two of five. Deciding what your other three strategies should be depends on what you’ll enjoy, what you'll feel motivated to do, and what will reach your ideal clients. Most require your time rather than your money. Of the strategies that involve paying a professional, I highly recommend you interview other therapists they’ve worked with in the past to find out what their experience was like.
Some top options to consider:
- Online listings (like Psychology Today, Being Seen, TherapyDen)
- Search engine optimization (being Googleable – hire a pro)
- Public speaking to other professionals (CEU events, local trainings)
- Workshops with potential clients
- Google AdWords (hire a pro)
- Social media (but start by focusing on one platform to get it right)
- Sending warm letters
- Having an open house
I’ve seen each of these in different combinations catapult practices into success. What matters is that the strategy is aligned with what you want to do and that you are using best practices with them.
If you aren’t sure which is for you or what those best practices are, the Marketing Fundamentals Course in the Abundance Party walks you through each of those questions with all of the options I just talked about. It also provides Resources and Action Plans for each.
In the next blog post, we’ll talk about how marketing is mostly a time-limited venture in your practice, and at some point it’ll get to a place where you basically just see clients and do notes.* The content of this post is intended to serve as general advice and information. It is not to be taken as legal advice and may not account for all rules and regulations in every jurisdiction. For legal advice, please contact an attorney.