I have been running my Nuts and Bolts of Private Practice Workshop for the last few years. While participants love getting more information on the many details needed in order to start a private practice by far the most popular part of the workshop is when I talk about marketing. Therapists are scared to market, don’t know how to market, and often have a poverty mentality when it comes to marketing. This is not something we were ever taught in school. But if you want to have a successful private practice you have to learn how to sell your practice to your potential clients and the people that might be in contact with your potential clients.
There are a few obstacles to therapists defining a niche and then developing their marketing message
- We like helping people and it is easy for us to want to try and help everyone
- Poverty mentality-by this I mean we let fear make our business decisions. If we are in private practice and the clients are not coming we get fearful of failing and stop make marketing decisions that are best for the long term but rather focus on short term gains
- We aren’t really sure who we want to specialize in working with
- We like to do several different things
- Once we identify our niche we are not sure what to do with that information
Marketing for most of us pulls us out of our comfort zone. First we need to define our niche. And I believe you can have more then one. I do. I work both with people suffering from anxiety and with people that are transgender or gender non–conforming. So my marketing message has to be distinct for each group.
When you have your niche then you work on the messaging piece. I get tons of positive feedback from people when they call me after seeing my website. They typically say they understand what I do. Now this is not to say that some people don’t hate my website, but that is okay. I don’t care! I know that sounds scary but the reality is I want my ideal client to call me. I work exclusively with anxiety and gender. Of course people are complex and often have other things going on but the clients I want are clients that suffer from anxiety and/or are transgender or gender non–conforming. I do my best work with them. I am energized working with them which means I have a pretty high satisification rate with clients. They knew the therapist they were getting when they picked me and that is the type of therapist they want.
Because the other piece I address on my website and marketing is who I am as a therapist. I am interactive. I am not a psycho-dynamic therapist. If people want that therapist they should move away from my site and find someone that is a better fit for them.
So the reason I get the clients I work best with is because I speak to them. I speak to what they may be going through when they call me. I do it in a succinct manner. A lot of marketing professionals will say you should have a lot more content on your home page than I have for SEO. I have awesome SEO and to me it is important to speak to the clients quickly and effectively. Again that is what my clients want.
So you have to target your message specifically to speaking to symptoms and to how you are in the room. And you have to understand where your clients are when they are looking for a therapist. If they are deeply depressed my guess is that are not going to want to read a lot of information. It is overwhelming. However, if you are working with clients that are in therapy for more existential reasons then they probably want to read more about you.
There are a lot of aspects to develop your marketing message and it can take some time. I had a few bumps along the way. You will know you have it down when you starting getting mostly calls from your ideal clients and when they tell you that your website (or other marketing materials) spoke to them.