5 Essential Marketing Tips for Therapists
As a therapist, your main focus is to help your clients. In order to do that, clients need to be able to find you. That’s where marketing comes in.
Marketing is how you attract clients and grow your practice. While there are many ways to approach marketing, experts agree that there are five broad approaches that can have greater-than-average payoff for therapists. These use a mix of social proof, search marketing, content marketing, and social media.
1. Showcase your successes
When marketing your therapy business, focus on selling results. This means promoting the benefits of working with you. Think about the positive impact therapy can have, and let that inspire your marketing efforts. Highlighting the impact of your work in this way can provide a framework with which to attract clients, according to best-selling author Jane Baker:
A great marketing hack for therapists is to sell what the therapy is going to help someone change or achieve. By selling the destination of the therapy rather than the therapy itself they'll be able to market to people who need therapy but aren't actually aware of it.
In other words, focus on how the client will benefit during and after his or her journey more than on how you deliver those benefits. Make your marketing message about the customer, not you. You will need to include some of the details about your approach and your practice in your marketing material, but keep the client as the main character or “hero” of the story while you are the supporting character or “guide” who helps them reach their goals.
Another way to showcase your successes as a therapist is to seek and share positive client testimonials. These help you illustrate the results you’ve helped people achieve. Testimonials also can give potential clients insight into what it's like to work with you.
This angle is emphasized by Logan Rae of Argon Agency, who stresses that “whether you’re a solo practitioner or a facility, you want your future patients to be able to define if you are the right place for them to seek treatment.” Doing so further encourages potential clients for whom your style might be a good fit to choose you over other therapists; it also discourages potential clients who might be a bad fit for your practice from trying to work with you, which also ultimately is to your benefit.
Showcasing your best client testimonials in strategic places not only establishes trust between your therapy brand and your potential clients, but also instantly increases conversions.
For example, therapists use the Profi platform to auto-generate landing pages for their therapy sessions with quotes from existing clients in just a few clicks and get new patient bookings.
(In this profi.io blog, we’ve covered similar topics in the past from a coaching angle, including how to use intake forms to ensure a good fit and aligned expectations as well as whether and how to fix a coaching relationship that has become contentious).
Focusing your marketing on the end results of your therapy and sharing proof of your impact can be a powerful way to encourage interested individuals to take the next step and work with you.
2. Make search engines work for you
Having a good online presence is key for any business. One way to do this is by understanding how search engines work and using them to your benefit.
You want to make sure that your practice is visible in search results when someone types - or, increasingly, speaks - a relevant query into Google or another search engine. To this end, Jon Rhodes of HypnoBusters suggests signing up for Google and Bing Places and adding as much information about yourself to your listing as you can in order to reach a large volume of prospective clients searching for a local therapist. “When someone searches for your service, you're likely to rank highly once on Google Places,” Rhodes says, noting that “ranking high in your local searches is important for local businesses.”
Ensuring that your website is structured around the right keywords also is important. The right keywords are ones that reflect what your ideal clients are searching for when looking for your services, and which people search in sufficient volume worth organizing your website around. This is part of what is known as search engine optimization (SEO) in digital marketing. While SEO generally is best handled by a professional in the field, doing the above can give you a running start compared with your competition.
Marketing director of Gremlin Works Dylan Porter suggests the keyword “best therapy or therapist in [city name]” as an example of a phrase that usually has significant search volume and represents strong purchase intent on the part of prospective clients.
In sum, even a basic understanding of search engines will help you improve your website traffic and gain new clients, especially combined with tools like Google and Bing Places or Google My Business.
3. Be active on social media
In addition to SEO, therapists also can market themselves and gain clients on social media; in fact, a strong social media presence supports SEO.
(In truth, so many of these marketing techniques are interrelated; for example, effective use of social media can also drive the success of a strategy to “showcase your successes” discussed at the beginning of this article).
Whereas most of the SEO tactics discussed above will be most helpful in developing a local following, social media can help expand your reach beyond your immediate area. As creative producer Brook Bryand explains, “now that we have gotten used to experiencing therapy via video, the self-help audience is no longer just in a 25 mile radius of their office.”
That said, “social media marketing” can be a full-time job, and it’s unlikely that most therapists have time to market themselves effectively on multiple social media platforms. As such, Lindsey Wigfield of Sweet Home Marketing advises therapists to focus on a single channel in depth, using Instagram as an example:
For Instagram, post on the newsfeed and use Reels, IGTV, and Stories to amplify the message. The platform algorithms love it when you use all of the functionality that the platform offers. It shows that you are an active user and they reward you for it by showing your photos and videos to more people.
4. Share Your Content - And Your Story
In the previous two sections, we’ve discussed where and how therapists can promote themselves. This raises the question of what kind of material they should use in doing so, other than the ‘success showcases’ addressed at the beginning of this article.
The answer lies in your best content, your best techniques, and your most exciting breakthroughs. Don’t hold back or deliberately save some of your best insights for actual therapy sessions. Providing valuable content gives people a reason to want to follow you online and share your material with others. This can help create viral growth for your social media and/or website traffic, as Simon Elkjær, Chief Marketing Officer of avXperten, explains:
One of the best ways therapists can market their services and expand their reach is through creating quality content. Creating content about your expertise such as the benefits of therapy, myths about therapy that you’d like to break, etc., will not only put your audience’s concerns to rest, but will also let you expand your reach. The great thing about creating content is that it can take several forms such as blogs, videos, infographics, and the like which you can share on your website, social media accounts, and forums.
In addition to sharing your content, share yourself and your story. In 2021, consumers increasingly want to buy from companies with whom they feel a connection, and this dynamic is all the more important in a field as intimate as therapy. To gain the trust of your audience, it can be helpful to share a little bit about your own journey. Consider including personal stories in the content you produce. For example, copywriter Amanda Kostro Miller suggests that therapists use vulnerability to their advantage: “Many therapists have a hard time sharing their personal struggles. However, a personal story of hardship and growth is perfect for a therapist's ‘About Me’ page [on their website and/or on social media]. A transformation story can help more clients connect with you.”
As such, the most successful therapists market their skills by producing high-quality content while conveying authenticity and building trust by letting potential clients relate to their journey in a transparent or even vulnerable way. This makes them more likely to seek you out when they’re ready to work with a therapist.
5. Use Email Marketing
Once you have built a following to your website and/or social media by combining quality content, personal stories, and success showcases, it’s important to preserve and nurture that following. Not everyone who wants therapy will be ready to take the plunge on Day 1.
Too many therapists make the mistake of relying on social media to keep their followers up-to-date and engaged. As Anelisa Nokoyo of CodeCrew points out, this can be a mistake, especially when better alternatives, such as email, are available: “Unlike social media platforms with algorithms you can't control, email marketing empowers you to take charge of the way you communicate with your audience.”
Social media obviously is very important, but it’s a mistake to rely on it completely. Not only are you limited by the platform’s rules in terms of how you can communicate with your audience, but you also are at its mercy in terms of whether and to what extent it will even deliver your communications to them. As such, your most engaged followers there should be encouraged to join your email list, as a channel that you control.
Just like in any business, a good marketing plan is crucial for creating and sustaining a successful therapy practice. In general, a successful therapy marketing strategy can be built around showcasing successes, providing valuable (and personal) content, optimizing your website for search traffic and your social media for virality, while also creating an email list for your most engaged followers.
That said, this overview would not be complete without a note about networking. While networking doesn’t create scale in the same way as the activities discussed above, they can be a valuable source of clients and referrals, on- and off-line. Allstair Dodds, co-founder of Ever Increasing Circles, stresses the importance of networking as part of your outreach plan:
Never underestimate the importance of personal and professional networks. This could be social media, networking events, or even a conversation in passing. The business you’re in is all about connections and communication. Always have your business goals in the back of your mind. It doesn’t have to be inauthentic or sales-y but word-of-mouth still has its place.
If you’re looking to get more clients and organize your whole therapy practice (patients, services, video conferencing, billing, and more) in one place, learn more about Profi.io’s HIPAA compliant telemedicine platform used by thousands of other therapists and try it free for 30 days.