How to Market Your Private Practice The Right Way – Digital Marketing for Therapists
You went to graduate school to learn how to be a therapist, but now you’re a business owner!
The truth is, the hardest parts of starting and growing a private practice are NOT:
…finding an office…
…getting on insurance panels (if you so choose)…
…setting your fees…
…printing business cards…
…setting up an EHR (Electronic Healthcare Records) system…
…managing your calendar, etc…
The hardest part is, by far, getting new therapy clients consistently.
I realized this when I started my first private practice in San Francisco in 2013, and again when I started consulting and teaching other therapists in private practice that same year.
I also realized early on that the “old school” methods of marketing a private practice were not only ineffective, but time-intensive and inconsistent. You know, things like:
- Networking with other therapists
- Asking primary doctors and psychiatrists for referrals
- Hosting open houses
- Putting on free trainings
In other words, “getting your name out there.” The list goes on.
If I wasn’t going to follow these conventional methods of marketing a private practice, what was I going to do?
I was going to build a really good website, and get it in front of as many people *actively searching for a therapist in my area* as humanly possible.
So over the next few months, that’s exactly what I did–and I did it with “gazelle-like” focus and intensity.
I was also working full-time at a non-profit, and driving Lyft and Uber on nights and weekends, so I really didn’t have time to do some of the more conventional marketing methods that I consider time-intensive.
So, I put together a plan and followed it.
Today, I’ve now taught over 400 therapists in private practice this exact plan, and put simply, it works.
Here’s the plan:
1. Be just niche enough.
This one may come as a surprise to you because there is a very strong emphasis on niching down very narrowly in our industry right now–especially by many other private practice consultants. They say “the more narrow your niche, the better,” and “the riches are the niches,” and “define your ideal client,” etc. etc. Well, this is true to an extent–but only to an extent. The surprising truth is: you just have to be niched down enough to get results.
In other words, if you live in a tiny rural town with only 10 other therapists in your market, then having a niche like EMDR for teen girls who are also struggling with eating disorders is going to be entirely too narrow. Not to mention, hardly anyone (if anyone at all) will be searching terms as specific as this. In a small town like this, it may actually be a better idea to be a generalist–let’s say, someone who treats anxiety, depression, and relationship issues in children, teens, and adults. Nothing wrong with that!
Your niche needs to be an intersection of what you’re interested in, and what people are searching for online. At the end of the day, your niche is you, and that’s the ultimate differentiating factor. A good way to start determining your niche is actually to do a bit of basic keyword research using the Google keyword planner tool, or Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest (my personal favorite). If you want to be extra thorough, use the Keywords Everywhere Chrome browser extension so that you can be on the lookout for strong keywords all the time.
2. Craft your message.
This is where many therapists also fall short–they build a decent-looking website, and maybe it even ranks well on Google and gets a healthy amount of traffic. But when potential clients arrive to the website, the therapist’s message, aka their copy, fails to compel the client to take action and get in touch or book a free consult.
Crafting your copy is, despite common belief, incredibly simple. Just imagine your ideal client (real or imagined) and make a list of what they are thinking, feeling, and doing before they start therapy with you. Put things in their words, as much as possible.
What keeps them up at night?
Can you identify their most troubling emotion?
Describe the difficult circumstances are they facing.
That’s the first part of your copy. Next, share just enough about yourself to start a relationship with this potential client (e.g., who you are, why you became a therapist, and why you care). Finally, create a list that is converse to the initial list you created. In other words, what will your client think, feel, and do after working with you? Boom. You have your copy, and know how to write like a professional copywriter. Now, in the middle and end of your web copy, you just need to call them to action and tell them what to do next to get started.
Don’t overcomplicate this!
3. Get Google’s attention.
If you’ve checked out any other content I’ve created on marketing and digital marketing, you’ll notice something very important: my entire marketing approach and methodology focuses heavily on Google, and not much else.
I teach therapists to skip right past ineffective and roundabout ways of reaching potential clients, like constantly posting to Facebook and Instagram, sharing your latest blog posts, etc. The reason? You should be obsessed with getting your now-compelling website in front of people searching for a therapist in your area right now. If you were looking for a therapist online right now, where would you go? Instagram? Facebook? Pinterest? You’d go to Google.
There are 3 “pillars” to Google, which often show in a Google search in this order: Google Ads (paid search, formerly Google AdWords), organic search (Search Engine Optimization, or SEO), and Google My Business (your local Google listing). Learn more about how all this stuff works:
Marketing your private practice online is no easy feat, but it’s doable and becomes so much easier when you have a plan, and you work with someone who’s done it before. If you’re interested in our help in going through this process and growing your private practice, check out the free training now:
About John: John Clarke, MA, EdS, LPCC, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor, entrepreneur and private practice consultant. He has started and grown 5 businesses since 2013, including his group counseling practice that he sold in April 2019. He’s also a drummer, Muay Thai martial arts practitioner and enthusiast, and currently lives in Paris, France for his wife’s job. He loves helping therapists get more clients and grow a better business.