When therapists launch a private practice, marketing is often the last thing on their minds. It’s not uncommon for therapists to 1) rent office space, 2) let colleagues know they’re available for new referrals, and 3) call it a day.
While this approach does work for some people, others are left praying for their phone to ring. To those in the latter camp (as well as anyone who’s curious), one effective way to increase the number of referrals and new clients is to brand your practice!
What, exactly, is branding? How can it help my private practice?
Branding is the ongoing process of establishing an image or impression of your practice in the minds of others.
Marketing isn’t why we most of us got into this business of being a therapist. And “Branding 101” isn’t exactly a required course in most graduate programs.
But surprise! Even if this sounds “sales-y" to you, if you have a private practice, you have a business. And your business needs to be profitable, so that you can continue offering essential services to those who'll benefit from your expertise.
Enter branding. If done correctly, branding can significantly increase your referral numbers month after month. Even if you are a solo practitioner, you should still consider creating a brand for your business. Having an identifiable brand will help you stand out in the field. You'll be found online more easily, and can become known as the go-to therapist in your specialty.
I had tried and failed at branding when I started out in private practice, but once I figured out the tips I'm about to share with you, my business started booming!
Here’s what every therapist should know about branding their private practice:
Tip #1: Place your ideal client at the center of your brand
Who do you work with best? Many therapists instinctively want to help everyone – but you'll have better success at receiving referrals if you focus on attracting your ideal client. You must know who you want to work with in order to appeal to their needs.
Be as specific as possible when thinking about your ideal client. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Who am I especially qualified to work with?
- What age is my ideal client?
- With what gender do they identify?
- What are their struggles? What are their strengths?
- Why are they seeking therapy?
- What are their thought processes and personality traits?
- What are their relationship status, hobbies, education?
- Do they spend time online, and if so, where?
Think of creating your ideal client as crafting a character in a story, one that should naturally arise from the course of your education and training experiences. Go as far as giving them a name. Having this client in mind will help you as you create your practice brand.
When making decisions related to attracting clients, you can think back and ask, “What would (name of ideal client) think of this?”
Of course, people outside of your perfect client profile will come along as well, but when creating a brand, it's best to appeal first to the population you most want to work with and have the expertise to excel at treating. Many general practitioners struggle at this stage – there’s nothing wrong with not having a diagnostic niche! However, there is a common thread in why clients seek you out specifically, amongst the thousands of therapists in the world. Identifying that reason early on will help your voice resonate with clients in any future marketing; they’ll hear their story – and the answer to their struggles – in your branding.
Tip #2: Give your practice a name (even if it’s your legal name!)
Some therapists choose to use their own legal names (e.g., “Jane Doe, LCSW”). Others prefer to create a new title that embodies their private practice.
If you decide to give your practice a new title, include keywords that potential clients will search for online when looking for a therapist. Make sure your business name aligns with the services you wish to provide to your ideal clientele. For example, do you have advanced training in working with the peripartum population? A name like “Mental Health for Moms” speaks directly to your target demographic. Be sure to use that name consistently throughout marketing materials so that it becomes associated with your practice online, and clients can readily recognize both your legal and business names.
Take it from me – the owner of the private practice formerly known as Om Therapy. A catchy name, sure, but it didn’t attract or appeal to my ideal clientele: members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Tip #3: Create a web presence for your practice
It’s a good idea to have a separate business website for your practice, so make sure the domain with your practice name is available! You can check whether a domain is available by plugging it into Name.com.
Ready to develop your web presence? You have options! You can:
- Create your own website: Even if you’re not particularly web-savvy, website hosts like SquareSpace are super user-friendly. You can expect to pay $18-$40 a month for hosting.
- Outsource web creation: Use a site like TherapySites or Brighter Vision to design and do all things tech-related for your site. You can expect to pay around $60-$80 a month.
- Streamline your web presence with Zencare: Many therapists use a Zencare profile as their primary website. You can include add the profile link (zencare.co/your-name) to business cards, your email signature, and more.
Tip #4: Create a logo and color palette
Choose a color palette as you create your brand. What colors represent you and your practice style? Incorporate these colors on your marketing materials and online platforms. You will want your new logo to include these colors as well.
Choosing a logo can be difficult. Pick something simple that's easy to recognize, whether in small print, color, or black and white. You can create logos through websites such as Free Logo Design. (Note: There’s a fee once you decide to download and use a logo.)
Not sure how to create a logo? Seek out a marketing student, or search online for graphic design freelancers (you can look on sites like Upwork) to do the job for you. Once you have your logo, make sure you include it as a favicon on your website!
Tip #5: Create unique business cards
You’ll need business cards to pass out at your next networking event!
Business cards should include:
- Your name and credentials
- Your private practice name
- Your contact info: Office address, website, email, and phone number
- The client population you serve
Use your chosen color palette and logo to influence the design of your business cards. You can outsource to a graphic designer, or design cards yourself on a site like Moo.
Tip #6: Brand consistently across marketing channels
If you are reaching clients through online channels such as Zencare or PsychologyToday, make sure your messaging and branding are consistent.
Small details, such as the order in which specialties are ranked, how many times keywords appear, the training experiences and treatment modalities you choose to include, and populations you indicate serving, all influence how prospective clients perceive your work.
Are you the “College student therapist of Providence, RI” or the “Postpartum expert of Manhattan?” Keep that in mind across every outlet you advertise and contribute to – though, note, it’s typically not recommended to use the same exact wording on multiple webpages.
Branding your private practice will take your business to the next level. The easier it is for people to find you, the more lives you can help change – and that’s the reason most of us became therapists in the first place!
Ready to start branding your private practice? Schedule a free call with our Therapist Success Team to learn more!