For many therapists launching a new private practice, online marketing isn’t exactly top of mind. But when it comes to getting that first client through the front door, virtual impressions matter.
Online marketing is an effective way to jumpstart your caseload – and if done well, it can attract new clients seeking a therapist with your specific expertise.
The key is to cultivate an identifiable brand that helps you stand out in the field. Below are six tips to inspire you, and help you kickstart your own strategic online marketing push – and connect with clients who are a great fit for your unique skills.
1. Clearly highlight your areas of expertise, in a way that resonates with potential clients
Both clients and search engines respond to specificity. So when you're building out your online presence, highlight a few areas where you have the most experience, rather than trying to cover all the bases.
No therapist can have deep expertise in every possible diagnosis, modality, and client population – not to mention, appeal to all those different clients simultaneously.
Take some time to reflect on your most rewarding cases. Even for general practitioners, or therapists with experience across diverse settings, there are often common threads that will tie together your best-fitting clients. Consider, why did your favorite clients initially seek you out? Was there a particular moment in life, headspace, or dilemma they were facing?
If you’re really lost, consult with a few trusted colleagues. Ask how they conceptualize your work; how it might be different from their own; and who they would refer to you for therapy.
From this point, you can begin to tell a story. Clearly illustrate who your clients are, what challenges they’re facing, and how you’ll address them together.
Steer away from clinical jargon, especially around modalities – most people do not know what technical terms mean. Focus instead on what a session with you looks like and what clients can expect to gain from working with you. End on a hopeful note that instills prospective clients with the confidence that you can help solve the specific challenge they’re facing.
2. Avoid going too niche, though (especially if you're just starting your private practice)
While you want to avoid a laundry list of every client you’ve ever seen, for most clinicians who are new to private practice, it’s equally important to not go overly-niche and exclude clients unnecessarily.
Do your research to make sure there’s enough demand for your specialty, and that your area isn’t already saturated with specialists.
Be prepared to back your expertise up, too – ideally, you want to find a symbiotic process where your training and ongoing education paints a compelling picture of why you are the therapist to serve a given population.
3. Use warm, up-to-date professional photos
Humans are visually-driven creatures and rush to judgement quickly. The first impression any potential client will make of you is from your profile photograph.
Keep it professional – do you really want to introduce yourself through a grainy selfie or a cropped wedding photo? (Or worse, no photo at all?)
Wear bright clothing and a warm smile. Consider using your office as the background, so clients know what to expect when they walk in your door.
Update the photo every five years or so, to help your site stand out as relevant and active.
4. Draw from real-life examples to inspire potential clients to reach out
Instead of relying on cliche, hypothetical questions – such as “Are you feeling stuck?” – get specific. Remember, you aren’t trying to convince someone that they need to start therapy. You’re trying to illustrate why they need to start therapy with you.
Here are some examples to inspire the copy on your own site:
- “I most enjoy working with parents throughout the lifespan, whether you’re a new parent, have teenagers, or are about to become a grandparent! I practice respectful and connection-based conversation regarding parenting skills and experiences. I believe in firm limits for children, but also giving them space to be themselves and express their own positive and negative emotions. Together, we will work on finding coping skills that are healthy and that work for you, as no two people are alike. Parenting standards are high; I would be honored to work with you in reducing the pressure to meet each one!”
- “I specialize in the treatment of anxiety disorder in teenage clients, including generalized anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). My background includes a certificate program in evidence-based treatment for working with adolescents. Together, we will build concrete anxiety management skills and find ways to de-escalate feelings of distress.”
- “A traumatic brain injury changes every aspect of a person’s life – my goal in working with you is to help you adjust post-injury. As a proud advocate for reducing stigma over TBIs, I would gladly support you through the use of mindfulness and behavioral techniques, building an unconditionally supportive relationship.”
Because each of these examples contains a specific population, your profile may appear in more keyword-based searches. These examples also convey positivity and passion – which can translate as hope for the potential client!
5. Simplify the initial contact process for new clients
Your potential client found your site through the use of specific keywords, read your profile, and decided to schedule an intake appointment.
Now, they’re ready to reach out! Make it seamless for them to get started while they’re most motivated.
So instead of asking a potential client to call and leave a voicemail, set up the option to schedule online or send a message through your website or profile.
If there are too many steps to set up an intake, or a long phone tag delay, the potential client may give up altogether or go with another therapist who’s less of a fit, but easier to contact.
6. Ensure all information is up to date
It’s frustrating for both you and your would-be clients to find each other, connect, and set up a first appointment – only to find out it’s not feasible to work together from a logistics standpoint.
Keep the communication channels flowing freely by ensuring the following details are accurate on your personal website or listing:
- Insurance: The logistics of health insurance are complicated enough. Make sure you avoid frustration by keeping your in-network insurance list current. If you’re out-of-network, include step-by-step directions on how clients might access out-of-network benefits.
- Availability: It’s helpful to potential clients if you indicate that you’re accepting new clients (consider formatting as “Accepting new clients as of June 2019,” so clients know it’s frequently updated). It’s equally important to state when you’re a full practice; if you maintain a waitlist, set a reasonable timeframe for when they might be seen.
- Office hours: Do you see clients on weekends? Are lunchtime appointments possible? Let clients know when they can generally expect to see you, so they know in advance if it works with their typical schedule.
- Fees: Listing an accurate representation of your fees will save you and your new clients a wallet headache. If you offer a sliding scale, provide a basic fee range to ensure clients reach out with an accurate idea of what therapy with you costs, and if it’s in their current budget.
Opt for hassle-free online marketing with Zencare
Marketing is constantly evolving, revealing more exciting potentials for therapists to connect with the right clients for them.
At Zencare, we’ll help you build your ideal private practice through onsite photography, a professional profile, and modern booking platform. Our mission-driven team is ready to jumpstart your online presence and drive motivated clients to you.