When an individual goes into formal training to get their license and certification as a therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or counsellor, their goal is to get certified and then immediately start practising. However, most overlook a few crucial skills required in running and growing a service-based business.
Most certifying bodies and organisations have a very focused curriculum that is designed to help individuals become practising professionals, not businesspersons. Running a business requires a whole different skillset that a service provider such as a therapist, counsellor, coach, consultant, or trainer needs to acquire in their journey…think marketing, sales, and so on.
In this article, we are attempting to provide a few basic yet effective marketing strategies (or tools) that serve as a 101 in marketing for therapists and counsellors.
But before we begin, the following three aspects are going to be vital for the rest of your journey. Take time figuring this out and once you have these sorted out, you can start tackling the relevant marketing strategies for your service.
a. Identify your niche: What kind of therapist are you going to be? Will you specialise as a child therapist, de-addiction specialist perhaps? Figure out what niche you want to carve under the general umbrella of ‘therapist’.
b. Identify your target audience: Whom are you planning to serve? Who is the ideal client you want to work with? Are they new mothers, teenagers, or those diagnosed with depression? Zero in on one and then expand it slightly to cover a few adjacent groups.
c. Research your target audience: Once you know your target audience, bring in tools and surveys that will help you collect relevant information on that audience in the most objective possible manner.
Once you have enough to go on from above, you can move on to the marketing strategy:
1. Create a website
This is going to be the single meeting point from which all other marketing strategies eventually branch off. It is a verified web page that is solely in your hands and control. All your efforts can either branch off from here or meet here from other channels.
The first thing to do is to buy a domain name. After that, you can start with creating your homepage,’ about us/me’ page, ‘services’ page and ‘contact us/me’ page and then take it from there.
2. Content optimisation
This strategy presumes that you have a blog page as a part of your website structure. A blog is a great way to attract people from all over the internet whose interests/queries overlap with your knowledge.
So how do you know what type of content to create? The blog needs to speak directly to your target audience, nobody else. By running each idea through this filter, you can ensure always stay on the right track.
When it’s time for content creation, adding another layer of search engine optimisation will help you be more visible on the internet. Employing a keyword strategy, backlinking, and adding call-to-actions are some basic ways to help you become visible on Google and reach your target audience.
Podcasting is an increasingly popular marketing choice amongst many service providers. It is a great way to create rich, relevant content that requires minimal monetary investment. A recording device, a laptop, an account in a podcast streaming software and some concrete content ideas are all you need to get started.
If you’re not camera shy, YouTube is one of the best places to market your service. This platform combines the genius of video (the fastest-growing content medium in recent times) with a search engine. YouTube requires a similar approach as blogging when it comes to building a strategy – think of answers your target audience is looking for and create content that speaks directly to them.
YouTube can, just like a blog, act as an excellent top sales funnel for your business. You can even lead each video to specific sections of your website, like a page that offers free resources (in exchange for contact details) or a discovery call booking link.
An organic and feel-good way of marketing your therapy practice is by doing some volunteer therapy work. As busy working professionals it may get difficult to spare time to do volunteer work, but doing so in the context of your own field can prove to be not just fulfilling but also profitable in the long run. How? When people have taken a first-hand experience of your services and feel they may benefit by investing in them beyond the scope of the volunteer sessions, they will have the least amount of resistance to signing up. On top of that, it will even help bring in more clients through word-of-mouth.
This is a two-fold strategy that involves a) networking with peers and b) networking with doctors.
Consider joining a professional group to get to know other practitioners in your field with whom you can share referrals when your plate is too full, or you are not equipped to work with a certain client. And vice versa.
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The other aspect of this is networking with doctors. Usually, if someone is referred by their primary care physician or paediatrician, they will almost always follow through with making an appointment, because people tend to take their doctor’s recommendations very seriously.
7. Social media
There is no dearth of effective and popular social media platforms that you can use to market your therapy practice. LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok…you can make use of one or all platforms depending on your niche, overall marketing objectives and target audience.
Often, service professionals like counsellors, psychologists, or coaches are reluctant to use social media platforms for marketing. However, these platforms can be used in alignment with one’s brand and work ethos, without needing to give in to trends that diminish the seriousness of the work one is doing.
A simple way to stay in alignment with your brand is to simply repurpose content from your blog or YouTube or podcast or newsletters into a digestible, social-media-platform-friendly format. This will also help save you from having to constantly reinvent the wheel when it comes to content creation.
8. Email marketing
Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective and successful ways of retaining existing customers and leveraging them to find new ones. There are a few ways you can use the email marketing tool:
- Send monthly or bi-monthly newsletters to customers and subscribers sharing personal insights into your work and business or interesting stories (without disclosing confidential information) that readers can relate to and apply in their own lives
- Send a curation of published blog posts based on a specific period or theme
- Talk about the services you offer and how readers can get in touch with you
- Share your favourite books and quotes
- Important updates in the mental health realm
This list is by no means exhaustive, you can use the email marketing tool in a variety of ways. If you find the process effort-intensive, consider subscribing to an email marketing software to automate the process.
An easy and effective way of marketing your therapy business is to get yourself included in directories for therapists where potential clients are looking for their perfect match in terms of services and prices. This allows you to gain new leads without needing to put in a lot of money or work into it. Such website directories gather a lot of traffic by acting as a middleman between an individual looking for a therapist and vice versa!
It’s important to note that the strategies covered here are a mere curation of the most effective ones in this day & age. You needn’t pick and work on every single one of these – just start with one or two at most that you feel inclined toward and that don’t require you to invest a whole lot in the initial stages. Once you have a couple of strategies working for you for a considerable period, you can dive deeper into each or pick up a couple of new areas in which to experiment.
1. How important is it for therapists to have a website?
A website is a vital element when putting together marketing strategies for therapists. A website can become the single meeting point for all the other strategies to eventually branch off from or meet via different channels. On its own, it is a verified landing page for all your business and practice-related communication.
2. What are some effective ways for therapists to use social media for marketing?
Social media is a dynamic tool that lets one do both inbound and outbound forms of marketing. A therapist can use repurpose their existing content to appeal to a different audience that is on social media.
3. How can therapists build a strong referral network to support their marketing efforts?
The easiest way to build a strong referral network is by initiating and maintaining a growing professional relationship with other peers and doctors.
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