If I had to condense my daily emails from therapists down to one main idea, it would be this:
“How do I get more therapy clients?”
There are as many answers to that question as there are grains of sand on beach, however it boils down to one simple requirement: marketing. We’ve discussed some of the basics of inbound marketing in our post How inbound marketing can help you get more clients. We also discussed the basics of social media marketing for therapists. With this article, we’re going to dive deeper how inbound marketing for therapists works by focusing on what should be the centerpiece of your inbound marketing efforts, your therapist blog.
Where do clients come from?
How can we convince more people to become your therapy client? The obvious answer is to talk to more people! For the analytically minded among you, let’s think percentages. Let’s assume that every 100th person that knows you’re an awesome therapist becomes your therapy client. So, a conversion rate of 1%. In real life, conversion rates are much lower, however for ease of calculation, let’s use the 1%.
Your goal is to have a full schedule. Perhaps for you that means 30 clients. If you’re starting from zero, that would mean you need to talk to 3000 people. If it takes you 10 minutes to talk to each person, then after just 500 hours of talking, you should have your thirty clients right? Even if you had 63 normal work days to dedicate to just talking, you have another problem. How are you going to find 3000 people? How will you schedule 3000 phone calls or personal visits? We’re bordering on the absurd because you also don’t know anything about these people, meaning you won’t have a 1% conversion rate from just random people. You might have to talk to 30,000 people or more to find 30 people who want to book a session with you.
Exhausting just thinking about it right?
How Sutton’s Law can help your therapy practice
Famous bank robber Willie Sutton robbed banks because “That’s where the money is.” While Sutton never actually uttered that sentence, the idea of “Sutton’s Law” is very relevant to in your quest to get more therapy clients.
When diagnosing, one should first consider the obvious.
In trying to get more clients, the problem that we’re “diagnosing” is simple: we need to find people that might be interested in therapy. How do we find those people? We’ve already made it pretty clear that just randomly talking to people has a rather low success rate. So where do people that want therapy go? Where do they hang out? What do they read? Where do they go to find a therapist?
Those questions sound reasonable, right? We need that information to be able to reach our audience, right?
Wrong. The problem isn’t with the information we need about our potential clients, it’s the assumptions we’re making about this audience. We’re assuming that these people want therapy. We’re assuming that it’s simply a question of putting your name and qualifications in front of as many people as possible and they’ll come to you. That assumption is the basis for every therapist that paid $360 per year to be listed in Psychology Today’s therapist directory. “If I just get my name out there, people will come.”
Therapy directories are only useful if a potential client wants therapy. They are useless unless a client is searching for a therapist!
How many clients have you received from a Psychology Today listing? For most of you, that number is likely in the single digits. It’s essential that you break out of the mindset that you need to promote yourself as a therapist! Sounds a little wacky doesn’t it? Are you still reading? If you are, I’m going to let you in on the secret.
People don’t want therapy. They want solutions to their problems.
A therapist is a problem solver.
You’re expecting this post to be about blogging right? We’re getting there. This preamble is important stuff because without understanding where clients come from, you will only get new clients through luck. Luck is no way to build a business. What you need is a strategy.
Where do potential clients get their information?
Where do most people this day and age get their information? The internet. Where do they find that information? Generally Google, sometimes from shares on social media and occasionally from links they find when reading some other piece of content. Where do potential therapy clients go to get information? The same places everyone else goes! They don’t go to Psychology Today or some other directory until they’ve figured out that their problem can only be solved with a qualified therapist. By the time they reach the point of searching a directory, it’s really up to luck if they happen to pick you and book a session.
You want to reach potential clients before they decide to find a therapist! This is where a blog is going to be a huge boost to your marketing. You want to provide valuable content to potential clients in order to ultimately lead them to buy your product: your awesome therapy skills! To do this correctly, you need to understand the Client’s Journey.
The Client’s Journey: how a client becomes a client
A potential client goes through three stages in their journey to booking a therapy session:
- Awareness. They develop an awareness that there is some problem they might need solving.
- Consideration. They consider various solutions to that problem.
- Decision. They decide on a solution to that problem.
It is absolutely vital that you understand these three stages and how you can get a person to move from stage to stage, ultimately deciding on booking with you and becoming your client. Most therapist marketing focuses on the very last part of the decision stage. You should focus on all three stages, with more emphasis on the awareness and consideration stage.
This is the stage where a person starts to become aware that maybe there’s a problem that needs solving. For example, maybe someone is having a lot of arguments at work and they get a lecture from their boss that they need to be more diplomatic with their coworkers. At this point, there’s no “diagnosis” of a problem that a therapist can help solve. There’s only an awareness that the person needs to work on “being more diplomatic at work.” Since they value their job, they want to make an effort to improve. As soon as they get home they Google “How to be more diplomatic with my coworkers.”
Let’s look at what Google brings up:
So our hypothetical person might read some of those articles. After reading them they realize that maybe they have a bigger issue than just getting along with coworkers. Perhaps they start to be aware that they have anger management issues. Notice that there isn’t a single therapist blog in the first results! Therapists aren’t doing inbound marketing, which is why is such a great opportunity for you!
They’ve moved from the Awareness stage to the Consideration stage. They realize that there is a problem and they know approximately what that problem is (thanks to your great blog post!)
Now, they’ll consider various ways to solve this problem. Maybe they’ll try out some of the suggestions in the articles. They’ll try the easy options out, then they’ll fail because the “real” problem is their anger management and not just “difficult coworkers.” If they had read your blog on the subject, they’d get some great information about why they’re having trouble with their coworkers, but your particular insight might prod them along to consider your solution: a therapy session. They’ll consider all sorts of solutions. Naturally, they’ll consider the easier solutions first. This is why it can be a great benefit to offer online therapy as a part of your therapy practice. You make it much easier for these clients who may not think they “need” therapy to consider it as a possible solution to their problem. An online therapist has a big advantage in this regard. Perhaps you prefer in-person therapy, however, an online counseling session could be a great way to get a client to book that first session. Then, if it’s appropriate, perhaps you’ll want to get them in your office later. Read our post “How to add online counseling to your therapy practice” if you want to learn more about adding online therapy to your repertoire.
The decision stage is when they’re ready to buy. They know they have a problem, they’ve considered various ways to solve it. Now, they’re going to deliberate on the best solution. If you’ve done your job on your blog, you’ve made it really simple. You’ve provided a link to your online schedule and perhaps you’ve linked to another article you’ve written about what to expect from therapy and how to get started. You should always connect your content. This way readers can click from within your blog to other relevant posts that help move them along the Client’s Journey. Once they’ve decided to book a therapy session with you, then you’ve successfully brought that person through the Client’s Journey. Of course, it’s up to you to actually retain them, but that’s another topic altogether!
What happens if you didn’t have a blog?
The potential client would get their information from somewhere. Perhaps they ended up understanding that therapy would help them. However, if they search various online therapy sites or therapist directories, then you’re competing against every other therapist. You might still get the client, but the conversion rate is going to be very low. That means that it’s going to be based on some element of luck. Imagine if you were the one to actually go to them before they were even aware that they needed therapy. You grab their hand and lead them through the Client’s Journey. Who do you think they’ll book with now?
How to start a therapy blog
Starting a blog is pretty easy. You can go to WordPress and get started right away. The key concern for you is what to write about! That’s always tough. However, you’re a therapist, you have plenty to talk about right?
Pick a niche
Don’t try to be SuperTherapist. Pick an area in which you are especially passionate. Perhaps you love helping couples with pre-marriage counseling. Then you should focus your posts loosely around that topic. Over time, Google will index your content, so when people search for pre-marriage counseling, eventually your awesome content will start to bubble to the top.
This is exceptionally important! At iCouch we publish several times per week, both on our Therapy. Simple. blog (that you’re reading now) and our Waiting Room blog (which targets the general public.) However, writing as much as we do isn’t always practical. So, I recommend publishing at least once per week. Even if you can’t do once per week, you need to be consistent! That is very important because fresh content “feeds” Google and ultimately will result in more people finding you.
After you publish your awesome blog post, share it on your social media channels. If you need a refresher about social media marketing for therapists, read our post. Share it will all of your social channels. If you tweet your article to us at @iCouchMe, we’ll definitely retweet it to our network!
Don’t expect overnight success
As I tell our iCouch therapists, finding new clients takes time. It’s a slow build. What happens though is that you’re putting money in the bank. That money earns interest and with compounding, it starts to grow much more quickly. Your blog posts are exactly like that. It starts as a slow trickle, but eventually, it starts paying substantial dividends. Stay the course. Don’t be discouraged!
A word about Ethics
The ethical use of social media and blogging is something you must keep in your mind at all times. However, with blogging, the ethics are simple:
Never write about a client, even if you change the names
Just remember to be yourself, provide quality content that isn’t just an advertisement for you. Be sure to have links in your blog layout to your online profile (for example, your iCouch profile.)
This was just a basic introduction on how to start a therapy blog. This didn’t cover everything, but hopefully enough for you to get started this weekend!
Also, please share and tweet your great articles with us! Also feel free to post links to your blog in the comments. We’d love to read what you come up with!