Sunday, January 16, 2011

9 Ways to Market Effectively Your Private Practice

Here are 9 ways to improve your marketing that you can start today:

1. Start conversations with people in your community

Whether or not they are ideal clients or referral sources. We build our practices through relationships. You can do this formally through workshops, consultation with community groups, volunteer opportunities, or informally via networking or just chatting with people around town. No need to flash your business card wherever you go. People will remember you and your services better if they know you as a person.

2. Have a clear 2-3 sentence explanation of what you do, who you help

Here is mine, “I am a psychologist who helps kids diagnosed with ADHD and autism. And since their parents are on the ‘front lines’ supporting their children, I offer lots of support for parents, too.” Some people call this a “unique selling position” or an “elevator speech.” I don’t like those terms. They feel ‘salesy.’ I’m just tell people what I do in a way that makes them curious and ask more questions leading to a conversation where I can say more and maybe generate a referral. The referral is just the icing on the cake. Getting people curious and thinking of what I do is the point.

3. Provide top-notch client/customer service

The first place to start: Return phone calls within 24 hours, even if the caller is not an ideal client or you are not accepting new clients now. I am AMAZED how many people tell me they call therapists who never call them back. What kind of message does that send to your community if you do that over and over again? People talk and if your name comes up and they say, “Don’t call her, she never called me back,” you’re setting yourself up for a lack of clients in the very near future.

4. Start a blog

Not ready for a full blown website? A blog is a great way to start. Write posts about how to manage anxiety, child behavior, summarize research. A well-written blog is a great on-line business card. Current and potential clients can check out your expertise and begin to know, like and trust what you have to offer them in terms of support. A blog can be free to set up. You can also use your blog as your website.

5. Commit one hour a day to marketing activities.

If you don’t carve out the time, you will never do it.

6. Invest in learning about the art and science or marketing.

Yes, it will cost you some money. Start to think in terms of “How many client hours will pay for this investment?” I just bought a great marketing information package for $197. I will see 5 clients this afternoon, so I already paid for it after 2 client hours. No big deal.Then, if using a few ideas from this information I generate only 2 new referrals this month I have generated a 100% return on that investment. The old adage is true: you need to spend money to make money. But it doesn’t have to be a lot of money.

7. Find a “marketing buddy,” or group.

Just like with exercise or weight loss it will be easier to stick to your marketing goals if you have a buddy or a few others to check in with, bounce ideas off of and hold you accountable to your goals. This person does not have to be a mental health professional, just someone you like and trust who can support you and who you can support, in turn.

8. Keep track of your marketing outcomes.

As you start to connect with people in your community, provide talks, write articles it will be useful to track your progress. When someone calls your office or completes your intake paperwork, ask them how they heard about you. A simple spreadsheet can help you keep track of your most successful marketing endeavors. Once you have a sense of what works and what does not, do more of the good stuff and stop doing those activities that do not generate any return.

9. Start to market!

Send a letter of introduction, write an article for your local newspaper, send out a postcard or greeting card announcing a new service. Don’t over-think or over-analyze (we therapists are good at that!). It won’t be perfect. You’ll have successes and failures. You won’t hurt anyone by marketing to them. They are probably waiting to hear form someone who can help. The BEST marketers out there freely admit they use trial and error and test a lot of approaches before they find the right combination of marketing activities that are optimal to their business.

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