Marketing a Practice

Often I’m asked “why do I need to market my practice?” People new to running a private practice, usually get the impression from the training courses that all they have to do is open the doors and the clients will come. I’m not sure if that was ever the case.

This page and the connected articles below are about helping you understand what marketing is and is not, and give you some tried and tested ways of proceeding.

The need for marketing will only increase. To illustrate this, here in the United Kingdom, 20 years ago there were probably less than 30,000 people running their own practices whether psychotherapy, counselling, bodywork or whatever. Today the situation is there are probably in excess of 200,000 trying to make a living. Even though the number of people taking advantage of or understanding what is offered has increased, it has not increased by that much.

To use economics jargon, the market is becoming saturated. Or is it? There are probably more people who need your help today than ever before, you could probably write your own article on the reasons for this. What is needed are a range of marketing strategies for private practice.

Here we will explore some of the basic ideas as to how marketing relates to a private practice. Clearly, the relationship you have with your clients is based on trust and highly personal. Anything you do to market yourself has to be clearly honest, free of manipulation or any of the nasty things going on out there.

After all, it may be possible to manipulate a person into having a first session with you, but the reality is you want a loyal long-lasting client, happy to pay what you’re really worth.

Firstly, let’s look at marketing in a simple way; this diagram may illustrate it for you.

start a practice
Marketing 101 diagram.

The circle on the left is what people are willing to pay for; this certainly includes things you would never want to go near! The circle on the right represents things you are willing to do; however, some of them people will not pay for. For example, I am still looking for somebody who will pay me to be a test pilot in a mattress factory.

The area of overlap is what you are looking for: people who have needs that you are willing to meet at a fair price.

For a private practice, marketing is about communicating with people you could possibly help. It’s about getting in front of individuals, speaking their language, talking about their issues and how you can help them. You can get in front of people physically, in groups, on the telephone, on the Internet, in print, on radio and television. The list goes on, but the key to it all is their language and their issues.

Market research is about finding groups of people you can easily communicate with, identifying if they have issues you can help with and are they prepared to pay what you’re worth? This is why, in the strategy for a full practice, stage one and stage two are market research and market testing.

With all your marketing material I want you to ask the question who am I calling? You want somebody from your target audience to go and say that’s me! If you make your material general, or talk about what you do, very few will connect emotionally with it. If you talk to your audience about their issues, then more will connect.

Once you know who you are calling to be your clients, then marketing is about finding different ways of getting your message about how you can help them in front of these people.

I hope you find here many creative ways to market a new private practice.

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