Launching and running a private practice isn't exactly cheap. Between overhead expenses and assets like rent, liability insurance, and business licensing fees, you may not have much wiggle room in your marketing budget (or you might not have a marketing budget at all!).
Luckily, there's a few private practices marketing tactics you can experiment with – without going a dime over your budget. We've outlined 10 of our top-recommended free marketing strategies below. They're all relatively easy, super effective, and best of all, the only thing they’ll cost you is time.
1. Set up your Google My Business
One of the simplest, most effective marketing strategies you can use for your private practice is Google My Business. This free tool, also known as Google Business Listing, allows you to manage how your business appears on Google’s search engine and maps.
Here’s how to set up your business profile:
- Log into the Google account that you want associated with your business (or create one if you don’t otherwise use Google).
- Go to google.com/business, and select “start now” in the top right-hand corner.
- Fill out your practice’s details, such as your phone number and personal website (or Zencare profile).
- Tip: In addition to your name, include "therapist" or your license title so that you show up in Google's results for "therapist near me."
- Verify your contact information.
- You may be eligible to do this via phone, email, or a physical postcard. Regardless of the method, once you verify the confirmation code, you should be good to go.
After you’ve created your business profile, you’ll have greater potential to show up when therapy seekers in your area search queries like “therapists near me.” (Example below!)
2. Position yourself as an expert to journalists with HARO
You can get quoted on sites ranging from CNN to Bustle to Huffington Post, thanks to a free service called Help A Reporter Out (HARO).
Here’s how it works: Journalists send a request (called a “query”) for the type of quote or expert they need. Those queries are then included in a bulk email listserv to anyone who signs up as a source.
Tips for using HARO:
- Only sign up for the sections that you think will be relevant. We recommend “Lifestyle & Fitness” or “General.”
- Save yourself the headache of wading through all the queries by doing a quick search (command or control + F) for “therapy,” “therapist,” “mental health,” or any other search terms applicable to your practice.
- The writers who reach out to HARO often have a quick turnaround time, so it’s helpful to open the emails when you can (they arrive via email Mon-Fri at 5:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m., and 5:35 p.m., ET).
You’ll be able to reach out with a “pitch” to writers directly through their auto-generated HARO email. Be sure to include your phone number, as well as your personal website, since they’ll likely link to it if they use you as a source.
3. Join a few closed, local therapist groups on Facebook and LinkedIn
Joining a local group comprised of other therapists in your area is a great way to keep a pulse on what’s happening near you! Therapists often turn to these groups for updates and general inquiries on topics like:
- Upcoming trainings
- Health insurance questions
- Openings in group practices
These groups are often closed, and you’ll have to fill out information about your practice (including details like your license number) before the admin grant you access. Doing so helps keep the groups authentic and therapist-centric.
4. Test out free trials to see what tools might benefit your practice
You may be curious how different tools can help you boost your practice. But you don’t want to invest before you’re sure which platform is right for you!
Enter the free trial: a no-risk way to see if a tool is “worth it.” If you’re a Zencare member, you already have access to the following perks:
Practice management software:
Business card discount (*not free, but discounted)
- Receive 25% off your first order on Moo.com. These polished cards are perfect to bring to networking events!
We recommend you place your business card around different therapy hubs, such as waiting areas in shared buildings. Make sure your card says something about your specialties, ideally in language clients can understand and quickly grasp with a glance while they're waiting for an appointment.
Other free trials that could benefit your practice include:
Esther Perel’s Sessions:
- The renowned couples therapist hosts a monthly, online salon where she interviews experts on a hand-picked, monthly topic. Membership runs upwards of $70/mo, but you can sign up for a free two-week trial here.
- Expand your office hours without increasing your rent by offering video sessions from the comfort of your home! Doxy.me is HIPAA-secure platform for teletherapy.
5. Make sure your email signature robust and accurate
You’re probably sending out dozens (if not hundreds!) of emails every week. With each note you send, make sure your signature reflects your business in an accurate and polished manner.
If you don’t already have these in your signature, consider including them:
- Your name and degree (e.g., Jane Doe, LCSW)
- Title (e.g., Adult, Adolescent, and Couples Counselor in Midtown Manhattan)
- Phone (office), linked
- Phone (professional mobile), linked
- Your email address, linked
- Your website, linked
- Your office address, linked to your location on Google maps
- A confidentiality notice
As a bonus, this makes it easier for current clients to contact you and locate your phone number if they need it; otherwise, they’ll have to search through their inbox for the original message where you sent your contact info.
6. Attend (or host!) lunch and learns near you
Look at sites like EventBrite or MeetUp for informal lunch & learns in your area each week.
Attending events (even if they seem only distantly related to your field!) is a great way to build your professional network, and learn about speaking opportunities, too! If you’re a wiz at public speaking, you could host your own lunch and learn, perhaps at for free at local library.
7. Get to know the needs of local referring bodies
Reaching out to the communities that you cherish is an authentic approach to networking. To get started, think about the clientele that you most enjoy working with, and then brainstorm ways they might get connected to care.
- New parents: Search for midwives, doulas, and OB/GYNs near you to see if they are looking for therapists for their clients. You might offer a one-sheet on the signs of postpartum depression with your contact information, or share an upcoming support group.
- College students: Send an informational email to the referral coordinator at an on-campus counseling center to learn about the needs of their community. You might find they're seeking a niche you're uniquely qualified to fill!
- LGBTQ+ community: Volunteer at a local LGBTQ+ community center to build your competency assess if and how your knowledge or network can be an asset to their members.
8. Add a press or media page to your personal site
A page linking to places you’ve been featured is a great way to confirm your expertise in various subjects. You may prefer to add all the placements to a dedicated press page, or add each feature as a blog post.
Consider adding features like articles you’ve been featured in, podcasts where you’ve been interviewed, or workshops you’ve hosted. Rather than having to create new content yourself, this is a sustainable way to capitalize on the SEO of reputable sites that are featuring you as an expert!
If you’ve contributed to the Zencare blog, for example, we encourage you to link to it and upload the articles in their entirety.
9. Make it easy for site visitors to locate your contact info
Let’s say you’ve done the legwork to position yourself as an expert in your specialty – your website looks snazzy; you’ve landed an online article or two; you may even be regularly scheduling blog posts.
Make sure that if a potential journalists searching for your specialty comes across your site, they don’t have to hunt for your contact info. Journalists are notoriously strapped for time, and they will move onto contacting someone easier to reach.
The same goes for clients, too. As we’ve covered before, it’s important to make it seamless for potential clients to get started while they’re at their most motivated. So add these contact elements to your “about” or “contact” page (and, if possible, in your header or footer as well):
- Your phone number
- Your email address
- Your office address
10. If you’re a Zencare therapist, take advantage of built-in promo opportunities
Zencare is designed to set the unique aspects of your practice apart, so you can attract clients who are a wonderful fit! If you’re already in our network, take advantage of the following marketing and promotional opportunities – none of them will cost you any extra:
- Therapist interview features: Introduce yourself to the Zencare user community with an interview. This is a great way to share more about your specialties and approach, as well as your professional background and personal hobbies.
- Harness the power of your local provider community with the Zencare listserv! If you’ve opened a new practice or are looking for more clients to join a therapy group, we encourage you to share those details.
- Post your therapy groups on the Zencare site to widen their reach and find more clients who would benefit from attending.
At the end of the day, no two marketing strategies look the same. Experimenting with a few of these free options is a low-risk way to determine the right strategy for you. Play around with your strengths and see which marketing methodology works best for your practice!