Marketing for therapists: the three essential success factors
In many ways marketing for therapists is no different to marketing any other service that is based on close personal relationships. This means you can take advantage of the detailed and extensive research that has been done by others and then apply this to you and your business.
Below are the three essential factors which, if you take account of them in all your marketing efforts, will significantly improve your returns. They are based on building trust between you and your potential clients.
Therapy marketing takes time and effort, so let’s make sure that effort is as productive as possible and is aligned with the values of you as a person and as a therapist.
You are selling you
Ultimately the clients will have a long-lasting relationship with you based on trust and respect. Make sure from the start they can identify you as an individual. For example, make sure you have a good picture of you on your website and other marketing materials. Make sure that photograph is sufficiently prominent for it to be obvious that it is you.
Let’s look at a few more factors, particularly some mistakes I have seen.
Generally you will be a sole trader, that is, you and your business are one and the same. Occasionally I see therapists running combined practices, unless access to other therapists is an important part of the service, the relationship is still one-to-one between the client and the therapist.
A mistake I often see, and more often with coaches, is when they want to appear as a massive international organisation. The language of their marketing material is all around we will do this, we are this, we are that and so on, when in reality there is just one person. I have even seen sites where there are lists of coaches – the implication being this is the coaching team. Well it’s not. Other coaches had probably been approached with a simple question such as “if we can find you well paid work are you interested?” And of course they say yes.
So the big takeaway from me is unless you have a very strong compelling business reason to do otherwise, it’s about you.
Now what do you say about you? The more you say about you the better they’ll get to know you; however, you don’t need to tell them everything you did on your fifth birthday. Write your story in a way that leads them through your decision-making to become a therapist and why you could be the right person for them. It’s still about you, but you’re just talking about the bits that are going to be relevant to your new clients.
It’s all about your clients
This may sound like it contradicts the first point about being about you. Let me explain.
People are looking for a therapist because they want to solve problems. They want to feel better, happier, more at peace.
For different people this will mean different things. Once you have identified the group of people you feel you can best serve, then your marketing material, flyers, adverts and websites, should be about the issues that this group has, and speaking to them in their language.
For example, somebody who has a chronic illness and has not worked for years would tend to use different language to a senior executive having relationship problems with their teenage children.
Sure, sometimes a person goes out to find a therapist, but more often people have problems and issues that they’re looking to solve. If the first thing they read when they come to your marketing material is about solving that problem then you will have their attention.
So let’s see what we should avoid saying. I have read so many websites where the therapist goes on about all their qualifications, all the different techniques they use and so forth. Yes, there’s a place for that buried deep within the website, however, upfront why should the client particularly care? Can you solve their problems, yes or no?
What is helpful to write about is how the particular skills and training you have will help you help them solve their problems.
And finally, consistency
I think most people have deep within their minds some form of lie detector that alerts them to inconsistency. You know, those little alarm bells go off deep inside us when we hear something that doesn’t sound quite right.
So first off with consistency is the message you’re putting out. Once you’ve decided on the group you intend to help, if you keep marketing to different groups then that will generate inconsistency in the minds of your audience. This inconsistency at best leads to confusion and at worst destroys trust.
Take the time to craft the words, sentences and paragraphs that convey your message well and use those throughout all your marketing materials.
The second aspect of consistency is frequency of putting the message out. So, for example, if you decide that business networking events are the right strategy for you, then make sure you go regularly. If you’re seen as one of those people that only come occasionally, it does start sowing the seeds of doubt about how consistent you are.
The same goes for all other marketing messages. For example, if you decide to use newspaper adverts, yes they still work, then you need to run the advert for many weeks before you start to see the real return on it. You yourself may have looked at adverts in the newspaper and followed the same advert for several weeks before deciding to take action. Is the advertiser a fly by night operator or are they here for the long haul?
Marketing is remarkably similar for therapists and other professionals who build long-term personal relationships. If all your learning about marketing comes from other therapists, you are limiting the amount you will know about successfully marketing your practice. Also, by looking outside the therapeutic community you will probably find strategies that other therapists don’t know about, which then gives you an advantage.