Do you want more therapy clients?
Of course! Nearly every therapist entrepreneur is in a constant battle to keep their appointment books full and get more therapy clients. However, the common approach to sustaining your therapy practice (or getting one started,) is more advertising. The problem with advertising is that once the money is spent, the advantages stop. You have to continue spending money in order to maintain the benefits.
Marketing for Therapists isn’t a course I’ve ever heard of taught by any of the psychological training programs; much of it is learned by trial and error. The following three ideas are proven (and free!) ways to boost your practice:
- Offer a free wellness seminar at a local community group
- Make friends with a yoga studio to cross-promote each other
- Find popular blogs and offer to write a guest post on your area of interest
A brief refresher on Therapist Branding
Branding is one of the most powerful ways to help your practice stand out from the competition. If you haven’t read any of our posts on therapist marketing, do it! Therapist branding is simply creating your own personal brand of therapy practice. A brand helps distinguish you from the hundreds of other therapists in your area. If you’re known as “The best meditation instructor” or an “expert on alcohol addition,” you’re more likely to build a sustainable business versus those that attempt to be everything to everyone. There’s a reason the best defense lawyers, corporate litigators or intellectual property lawyers make so much more money than your general all-purpose attorney. People like to seek out the best for their specific problem. Keep that in mind as you implement the following ideas.
1. Wellness seminars can build your business
To receive everything, one must open one’s hands and give. — Taisen Deshimaru
Imagine if everyone in town knew your name and that you were a great therapist (or coach.) You would be constantly booked, right? How can you make that happen? You could spend thousands (or hundreds of thousands) in advertising, but even then, it’s advertising; who trusts advertising anyway right? Why is Dr. Phil (or Dr. Ruth) so famous? Because they provided useful content to people. Dr. Phil isn’t an infomercial guru. He’s not selling you anything, yet I’m willing to bet that given the chance, millions of people would love a therapy session with him.
Starting a TV show isn’t practical for most of you, but one thing you can do is give a free seminar on wellness (or some other area related to your specialty that would attract a broad audience.) You could offer a 45 minute, interactive presentation. By interactive it would be similar to a classroom environment. You would have an outline of what you wanted to cover, but you’d welcome (and invite) participants to ask questions and make comments as if you were a college professor teaching a course. You could provide copies of your Keynote/Powerpoint slides (with plenty of space for notes) to the participants. After the presentation, you could post your slides on SlideShare and then share the URL across your social channels. You could encourage your participants to tweet about the event as well.
For example, have everyone use a twitter hashtag in their tweets such as #awesomeWellness or #winAnxietyNow or whatever you come up with. Be sure you get all the participants’ email addresses, use a sign in sheet at the event. Get them to visit your blog. (You DO have a blog, don’t you? No? Then read this.)
Be sure you staple a business card to the packet. At the end of the seminar, you can do a Q&A session as well as reminding participants that you’re available for private sessions. If you’re an iCouch therapist, be sure the link to your schedule is on your business card. This will get you bookings. After the seminar, at least one participant is going to want to book with you. Still, others will keep your card and refer you to others. However, getting an appointment booking from that seminar isn’t the main goal. The goal is to build your brand and establish yourself as an expert in the community. That will reap huge benefits over the long term, especially if you make a habit of doing monthly or every few month seminars.
Where do you have a seminar and how do you get people to come?
Getting a venue and participants is actually pretty easy. You just have to think of places within your community where your message would not only be tolerated but encouraged and welcomed! I would start with a local health club. Talk to the manager and offer to conduct a monthly wellness/stress relief seminar for free. Emphasize that you aren’t selling anything but you want the practice of speaking in front of groups. You’re also interested in doing community outreach because, “As a mental health professional, this is a way I can give back to the community.” The health club manager (especially if it’s an independent, non-chain club,) would love it! They get to offer an extra perk for their members for free. You get free marketing. It’s a win-win. You could even informally partner with them to have a few flyers from the club in your waiting room and they could then have some of your business cards in their lobby.
If there aren’t any suitable health clubs in your area, you could reach out to any number of businesses, even a sporting good store could be a great place. You could tailor the presentation to encompass mental “fitness” to accompany physical fitness. Be creative! Don’t be shy. You’re the expert; people want to hear your message. Just be sure to milk it!
- Get emails from participants.
- Create a hashtag for the event.
- Get participants to share on social media.
- Invite readers to your blog.
- Have a link to your online schedule on all materials.
After the seminar, when you’ve had a chance to decompress and reflect, you should then create a simple email newsletter to send out to those participants. We’ll talk more about email newsletters in another post, but the basic idea is to send a short email each month to the members of the list with some great content loosely related to your specialty and/or seminar topic. That plants a seed that will pay off later. You could use a service such as Campaign Monitor to do it cheaply and easily.
2. Partner with a Yoga studio
Much like I described working with a health club to present seminars, you can apply a similar tactic to your local yoga studios. Go talk to the owner and see if she might allow you to place some of your business cards in the lobby in exchange for her having some materials in your waiting room. This is a win-win for both and it’s cheap and easy. You could also offer to do a seminar at the yoga studio just as you did with the health club. If you are a specialist in meditation or mindfulness, the yoga studio partnership could be a super symbiotic relationship!
3. Offer to write guest posts for popular blogs
Writing a guest blog post is an easy way to get more traffic to your own blog and your online presence. It also builds your credibility as an expert in your particular area of focus. The real benefit is that you also get a link back to your own site, so you build up authority with the search engines. Guest blogging is simple:
- Find a few blogs you like and seem suitable for your content.
- Contact the blog owner to see if they’re interested.
- Write the post, keeping in mind the audience of that blog.
If you’re an expert in children’s issues, perhaps mom (or dad) blogs would be a great place to submit. If you’re an expert in mindfulness, then blog relating to simple living, organic foods, etc. might be a great place to submit. Be creative and don’t look for obvious blogs directly related to your specialty. For example, don’t look for “psychology” or “mental health” blogs. The only people that read those are already interested in the topic. While any publication is better than no publication, your goal should be to expand your presence outside of the “typical” psychology-related blogs.
If you offer online therapy, this strategy can be even more valuable. Since blogs have a worldwide reach, being able to conduct online counseling sessions would expand the potential payoff for you. Read our article on how to add online therapy to your practice if you’re interested.
Now get started!
This list could have been 100 items long! Hopefully, your creative and entrepreneurial juices are flowing and perhaps you’ve thought of some great ideas yourself. Feel free to share them in the comments; we’d love to hear what you come up with! The important thing to remember that by giving, you will receive; don’t make your content a sales pitch! If you haven’t noticed, at iCouch, we practice what we preach. We don’t use our blogs to constantly talk about how great our product is or why you should sign up. After all, you probably have barely heard of iCouch, yet here you are, reading our blog! See how that works?
If you want a case study of how to use a blog or content giveaways to boost your own therapy practice, study us! See how we write our content on both this blog (Therapy. Simple.) We love to help our readers and we get a lot of joy from it. I especially love helping therapists improve their therapy practices. Of course, we certainly hope that some of you will eventually become customers, but our philosophy is that if you build an audience and provide useful content, everything else will follow. You should have a similar attitude in your own marketing because it will pay off! Not everyone will become customers, but the intrinsic benefit of helping others is also a valuable reward.