We often get questions on how to find the most effective modern marketing strategies for private practices in today’s world. From our perspective, it’s all about building lasting, valuable relationships (especially for local businesses). People do business with people they know and trust.
As therapists, counselors, and mental health professionals, we have valuable skills and tools that we utilize in session with our clients. We learned them in school and performed them in our internships so much that they became second nature. The problem is that most therapists don’t realize how to transfer these valuable tools into business skills when building their private practice. I’d like to let my colleagues, therapy interns, and private practice coaching clients in on a little secret… so you might want to listen closely too. You (if you are a mental health professional, counselor, therapist or psychologist) already have amazing skills!!! You usually use them in therapy when serving clients, but guess what? They aren’t exclusive to the therapy room, they are with you all the time.
As therapists, we learned that basic skills such as joining and building rapport are the most essential parts of building a therapeutic relationship. Joining and rapport building rapport are vital in order for therapy to be effective. The process of building a business and getting referrals is no different. Therapists join and build rapport by focusing on the client, asking open ended and intriguing questions, being curious, displaying non-verbal encouragers, showing empathy, etc. It’s all about relationship building, so guess what? You’re an expert in that area, which gives you a HUGE advantage over many other business owners!
Marketing Before the Internet
Let’s talk about marketing in days before Internet. A person would often become a client or customer after 5 points of contact. You’re probably thinking what do I mean by that, well let me explain. Five points of contact simply means that a person has had to have 5 touches, contacts, or introductions with your business before they became a customer or client. Let’s use Best Buy as an example. The 5 points of contact might be:
Seeing your circular in the newspaper
Watching your advertisement on TV
Receiving a flyer in the mail
Seeing your ad in the yellow pages (remember we’re talking pre-internet)
Driving by your store, walking in and seeing that you have a sale on TVs (this is what got us to buy our new HD TV, well that coupled with a quickly approaching superbowl party with 35 attendees and a malfunctioning TV)
Modern Marketing & Building Virtual Relationships
In today’s world, the consumer is far more educated than ever before. Google answers every question to the weight of the queen from how to find Bubble Tea in your area (I so love the Thai Tea, delish). We are also inundated with advertising on a daily basis, so much that many people don’t pay attention to advertising. We even have technology that removes unwanted advertising. Today, before someone becomes a client or customer, they need to have 8 to 12 contacts or introductions with your company. These 8 to 12 contacts are built over time and through relationships by offering things of value. Here are some examples for 8 to 12 contacts for building a private practice:
They do a Google Search.
Your ad pops up, they peruse your website, and find some things interesting.
They search you on facebook to see what you are like, get a feel for you. Are you offering things, tips, ideas, and stuff of value on your Facebook business page or are you ranting and raving about a certain topic, being opinated, etc.
They notice that a friend retweets a post written by you.
They decide to sign up on your eNewsletter because they see that you have something of value to offer.
They read your blog the one that you posted about in the newsletter.
They decide to contact you for further information but they’re not ready to become a client yet. They have an interaction with you. They are formulating judgments and opinions about you. They are asking themselves, is this person relatable, does he/she get me, do he/she understand my problems, are they friendly, easy going, etc.
They get another newsletter from you the next month and it speaks to something they’re dealing with.
A friend or colleague mentions your name.
They watch a video you did on YouTube talking about a certain issue and steps to solve their problem.
They come in to have a 15 minute complimentary consultation you had them a sheet, a “giveaway” on the “15 Tips to Have a Happier Marriage” and maybe then and only then do they decide to become a client.
If you think about your own relationships, does 1 point of contact make your relationship solid and in good standing? Of course not, good quality relationships are built over time, they’re reciprocal, you find value in them, and it takes time to build trust. Remember, business is no different! It takes time to build quality, trusting relationships. It’s important for private practice clinicians to have a clear marketing plan. A plan that incorporates 8 to 12 different types of contact with a potential client and referral sources.
For some words of wisdom, it takes time and consistent nurturing of these relationships.