Are you a therapist looking to grow your private practice? Therapists, like all business owners, need to understand marketing if they want to attract clients. The problem is, for most of us, there was little or NO marketing or business education in graduate school.
With everyone online and Google as the Yellow Pages of this generation, learning the ins and outs of marketing is crucial for therapists who want to stay in private practice. So if you need marketing help, here is the comprehensive list of 21 marketing strategies that can help you attract more clients and increase your income. And 3 to avoid.
Why Do Therapists Need Marketing?
In today’s digital world, it’s essential for therapists to have an online presence. Not only does this help potential clients find you, but it also allows you to showcase your expertise and build trust with potential clients. Also, if you ever intend to develop alternative revenue streams like courses, books, or products, your website and your marketing strategies are directly connected to your results.
The Following 21 Marketing Strategies are Explained and Adapted for Therapists.
See which ones you have and create plans to develop the ones that resonate with your future business plans.
1. Identify Your Niche and Ideal Client
Before you do any marketing, you must understand your audience. Who do you want to serve as a therapist? What is your niche and where do your professional credentials lend you an expertise that is distinguishable between you and your fellow therapists?
Once you know your ideal client profile, your website needs an update.
2. Create a Professional Website
Having a professional website is key for any therapist looking to attract new clients. Your website should include information about your services, contact information, and any other relevant details that potential clients might need to know.
The look and feel (from the font to the colors) should represent you to potential clients so they get a “sense” of what its like to be in your presence. Even if you only see clients remotely, your website should serve as an extension of your personality.
3. Write Blogs, Lots & Lots of Blogs
Writing a blog is a great way to showcase your expertise and attract potential clients. Blogs should act as stand-alone content that cover one idea at a time. Overtime, you can develop categories of content such that on a topic relevant to your niche, you offer helpful content, answer common questions, and provide valuable insights to prospective clients.
Blogs are also one of the main ways your website connects with Google. So the more content you have to share that is thoughtfully organized around a topic like “highly sensitive people” or “treatment resistant anxiety” the more your readers (current and prospective therapy clients) will get that “sense” of what it’s like to work with you. Overtime, this body of work can be leveraged into a course, book, e-book, presentation, webinar, podcast, talk and more.
Need help getting started? Here’s how to accelerate your blog writing.
4. Utilize Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is a powerful tool for therapists looking to increase their online visibility. By optimizing your website and content for relevant keywords, you can make sure that potential clients are able to find you when they search for related terms.
And because search has changed dramatically over the years from “search terms” to searching on full questions, you can write highly niched content that answers questions your client’s search for online when they are ready to find the right therapist. Over time, ranking for key terms becomes easier as you practice steps 3 and 4 together.
Need help with SEO for your therapy practice? Here are SEO insights for therapists. And reach out to chat if you want some personal support!
5. Leverage Social Media
Most therapists I talk with are leery of social media and unsure how to use it to help market their private practice. The truth is that social media is a great way to reach potential clients and build relationships with them. You can use social media to share helpful content, engage with followers, and promote your services.
If you’re unsure about where to post on social media, the safest bet is LinkedIn. There you can share with colleagues and even join private groups to network (see #14 below for more).
You do not need to put your practice on Facebook if you don’t want to. Nor do you need to become the next therapist on TikTok if that’s not your style. There is a social media option for everyone. The goal is to get your content out into the bigger world so it is discoverable both by potential clients, colleagues and search engines like Google. And social media helps with SEO too, here’s how.
6. Create/Update Your Google My Business Profile
Google My Business is a free service that connects your local business address with Google’s map service to share business listings when a person searches for a location or service in their area. This includes searches that are specific in nature like “counselor Chicago” as well as searches like “therapist near me.”
Google My Business listings include many smart marketing add-ons that are free to everyone to use:
- business events
- reposting blog articles
- sharing contact information
- photos of your office
- working and holiday hours
- map and direction features
- and reviews – a feature you may want to leverage for events, webinars or groups
7. List Your Practice on Psychology Today
Listing on Psychology Today is a must-do for most therapists who are seeking clients. They rank highly in search engines for most cities across the US for searches for “therapist/counselor + city or zip code.”
As you build up your marketing strategies, the cost of listing should pay for itself in one client. And you can discontinue when your private practice is full.
8. Advertising: Google Ads and Pay-per-click Ads on Social Media Platforms
Advertising is another creative way to reach potential clients, just make sure you’ve identified your ideal client correctly so you can properly target your ads. You can also advertise on Facebook and Instagram to reach potential clients in your area.
9. Email Marketing
Email marketing centers around building your mailing list on your website. You can capture emails from potential clients and/or existing clients and then stay in touch with them regularly by sending out newsletters and sharing your blog posts.
There are many email carriers and they all have rules for building lists, creating forms and sending out newsletters. Several of our clients are on MailChimp and Constant Contact, but there are many others and it’s wise to compare prices and services before investing. It should not cost a lot to get started and many are free until you reach a certain number of subscribers.
10. Podcasts (As the Host and Guest)
Most people love a good podcast and creating one is a great extension of your blog content. You can host a show as just yourself or you can invite guests to join you. Either way, podcasts are a great way to showcase your expertise and reach potential clients.
Usually podcasting includes several steps: finding the right platform to host, recording your shows, and distributing your episodes. As you explore options, be sure to inquire about all three steps to find the right service for you. There’s nothing worse than having a great podcast that no one can find or discovering you have a hidden marketing expense because your podcast host doesn’t distribute the shows.
11. Speak at Conferences and Webinars
There are many professional events for therapists ranging from conferences to CEUs and tons in-between. Where can you speak or showcase your expertise? Speaking at events is a great way to put your practice in the hands of other clinicians who can refer you to clients. It’s also a great way to build your list (#9 and get new prospective clients reading your blogs).
12. Network with Other Therapists
I know many people are happiest in their own space, but networking is a critical task for any new business. As a therapist, you want to build relationships with other professionals in the field so trust is nurtured between your business and your offers. Reach out to like-minded professionals who offer similar and related services so that the word gets out that you’re open and ready for business.
And get creative. Network with clinicians you would want to refer to because they offer adjacent services that you don’t have an expertise in. Consider niche subjects or highly urgent topics that you want a great referral at your fingertips for. Then, reach out to other therapists in your area and schedule a call or a coffee to get acquainted.
13. Become An Expert with HARO Reporters
HARO is free and a great way to connect with reporters who need a professional quote on topics you are an expert in. You can sign up for HARO’s email alerts and get daily digests that are curated to your expertise. Then, choose the quotes you want to respond to as a source and send them in.
Reporters who choose your quote will typically cite your name, credentials and link to your website as a thank you. Just be sure to watch that this happens and correct any instances where you are misquoted or something about your name/business/website are incorrect or left out.
14. Join Closed/Local Therapist Groups on Facebook, LinkedIn and List-Serves
On Facebook groups like TIPP (therapists in private practice) are great resources for connecting with other professionals and sourcing support. I can speak about TIPP having spoken there in the past, but there are others. A quick Google search will find a few of them but because they’re private, ask your colleagues for recommendations for the most active and highest integrity groups.
15. Update Your Signature Line
Your signature is an easy and sweet little way to share with the world your website and any social media you’re open to sharing with the public. You can create a formal signature in your email settings, just keep it to text and links. Avoid filling it with images because many email programs prevent the images from showing as a security measure. What does show is often a broken link which looks unprofessional.
16. Ask For Referrals
Word-of-mouth referrals are one of the most effective marketing strategies for therapists. Let your current clients know that you have openings in your practice if they know anyone who might benefit from your services. Just be careful to not offer incentives for referrals.
This is one area where marketing for therapists is different from other industries. If you have questions about the ethics of asking for referrals, call your licensing board to verify what is authorized and what is off limits based on your specific license.
17. Offer Free Consultations
Most therapists offer a form of free consultation in the form of an “on-boarding” experience for new clients. This is a smart way to build trust with potential clients and increase the likelihood that they’ll become paying clients. That said, it is best practice to limit the time and scope of your free consultation so you don’t waste time on clients that are outside of your expertise or skill set.
18. Get Featured in the Media
Research and identify the smallest hometown paper you can for your location and then, search for the journalist who covers mental health, wellness or health in general in that publication. Then, reach out to your local beat reporter and offer your assistance as a source for mental health stories.
Getting featured in stories like this will increase your visibility, links to your website and reach potential clients. Consider doing the same thing for local radio stations and podcasts to see if they’d be interested in featuring you as well.
19. Host a Workshop
Online workshops or webinars are easy extensions of your blog posts and can be offered at a cost or for free. You can develop a workshop from an article by expanding the content and/or changing how you offer your material. For example, “how to” articles can be transformed into experiential workshops or webinars.
Once the content is identified, many clients will create free workshops and promote them on places like Facebook. From there, interested clients can up-sell to #20, online courses!
20. Create an Online Course
Once you’re a regular blogger, it’s an easy bridge to becoming a course creator. Online courses are a great way to show the world your expertise and market to potential clients in a less direct way. Courses can be short or long form and can include tons of support material. Don’t worry that you have to create a deeply academic course. An easier idea is to develop courses that act as support material for therapy or courses that help shepherd people into therapy.
Platforms like Circles are on the rise and offer a ton of bells and whistles (including membership and community development). If you want help developing a Circle’s course, this is in my wheelhouse and I would be happy to share some of the courses/communities I have built with you.
21. Create an Online Community or Membership
And of course the next level up from creating an online course is to create an online community. Think of this as a community of fans who want to support one another in some private, yet cohesive way. As a therapist, this is a great step-down opportunity for clients who are ready to complete their therapy but want to stay connected with less expense. You will also find that in your online community, sometimes need arises and members need therapy once again. Because of the trust established, you’re likely to be asked to engage your services again.
Platforms like Circles offer online, private communities away from the marketing engines of social media and the pressures found on those sites. And if you need help with Circles, please do reach out for a consultation.
Traditional Online Marketing Strategies You Want To Avoid:
Marketing is not the same for therapists. The truth is, you have to avoid soliciting reviews, asking for referrals and other common marketing strategies out of privacy and respect for clients. Here are three marketing efforts you want to avoid.
1. Running Special Promotions:
Running special promotions is great when you offer “black Friday specials” but feels disingenuous for mental health issues. Steer away from this marketing technique.
2. Developing a Referral Program or Affiliate Incentives:
It’s against most state mental health license boards to offer incentives of any kind for referring therapy clients. Avoid this marketing strategy.
3. Finally, Running Contests or Promotions
This will work if you decide to develop items 19-21 above, but doesn’t work for marketing your therapy practice to prospective clients. Giveaways, photo contests on social media, or other incentives will attract new followers and generate leads and can work for your online webinars, courses and communities, but is a total no-go for therapy clients.
So there you have it, 21 marketing strategies for your practice and 3 to avoid. Our suggestion, print this out or bookmark this page to keep it close as you plan out your 2023 marketing plan. Your counseling practice will grow as your efforts do and this time next year, your business will be in a whole new place.
Need Support Marketing Your Private Therapy Practice?
Please contact us for a complimentary chat to discuss how we can help you on your journey.