If you’re a new therapist or you recently started your own private practice, you’re probably thinking a lot about acquiring clients and growing your counseling business. It’s something that a lot of small business owners think about.
But if you’ve never worked in digital marketing or had to worry about it, how do you even know where to start? What marketing channels do you worry about? And where to you spend your time, money, and resources?
You might be surprised to know there isn’t just one answer or approach. The right approach will depend on the nuances of the situation. Sounds a little like therapy, doesn’t it?
Marketing strategy and execution vary by industry, target market, and business model. It also should vary by the business owner’s experience, likes, and dislikes.
In today’s article, I’d like to review the most common channels for marketing your mental health practice, discuss how you can decide which ones to target and review how to not lose it while you multitask on marketing and working with your clients.
The Most Common Digital Marketing Channels
There are a lot of different digital marketing channels available, and it can be really difficult to know which ones to focus on. It’s important to remember that digital marketing only works if you love and nurture it. Marketing, and especially digital marketing, is not a set it and forget it activity. This means you must pick channels that work for you and your practice!
While you don’t have to use all digital marketing channels, you should utilize the ones that are most relevant to you and your target market. Let’s look at the most popular ones available:
- Website Design and Development – We start here because everything should route back to your website. It’s the hub of activity and the one thing you control. You may have a Facebook page, but make no mistake, Facebook owns it and controls it. The one thing you control is your website. Own your destiny and consider your website as an invaluable asset.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – SEO includes strategy and planning, technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO. It should also encompass reporting because an SEO plan won’t mean much if you can’t measure it, tweak it, and augment it over time.
- Local SEO – Google Business Profile, Bing Place, and other local directories have become an important outlet for marketers. Google My Business drives map listings that dominate Google search results for anything local, so it is a must-have for businesses of all sizes.
- Content Marketing – Content marketing can be attributed to many things, however, the most common forms include blog posts, eBooks, and white papers. Content marketing allows you to connect and build trust with people by providing them with valuable information that answers their questions and solves their problems.
- Visual Content – Images and infographics have become an important part of digital marketing. I can personally vouch that revenue can come directly from Google image searches. It is a part of the digital marketing puzzle that cannot be ignored.
- Social Media Marketing – Organic exposure on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, TikTok, and Pinterest is now mainstream. It’s part of our everyday lives and the fabric of society. While many will shy away from social networks because they don’t like them, this can be a massive mistake. If your customers are on social media, then you need to consider it as part of your plan.
- Pay Per Click Text Ads – PPC stands for pay-per-click, a model of internet marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. Essentially, it’s a way of buying visits to your website, rather than attempting to “earn” those visits organically. Paid text ads on Google or Bing have a powerful place in our digital world. While they are not for everyone, they do have a prime place for certain companies and/or users.
- Retargeting and Remarketing – Remarketing, also known as retargeting, is a very common and popular form of digital marketing in which marketers serve ads to users who have visited their website, or a specific web page, and who have or have not taken a specific action. It’s an effective way to target people who have already shown some interest in your business or brand. Retargeting is mostly about serving ads to potential customers based on cookies while remarketing is usually based on email. If you’ve ever seen the same ad popping up all over the website, you can attribute this to remarketing. It’s creepy and super effective all at once.
- Display Advertising – Display advertising is advertising on websites, apps, or social media through banners or other ad formats made of text, images, flash, video, and audio. The main purpose of display advertising is to deliver general advertisements and brand messages to site visitors.
- Social Media Advertising – Social media ads can use remarketing, lookalike audiences, or straight targeting based on criteria such as gender or age. It is mixed into regular organic content, so it feels much more like traditional content and much less like an actual PPC ad. The benefit of social media ads is it allows you to zero in on a specific target audience.
- Mobile Marketing – Mobile marketing is a multi-channel online marketing technique focused on reaching a specific audience on their smartphones, feature phones, tablets, or any other related devices through websites, E-mail, SMS and MMS, social media, or mobile applications.
- Email Marketing – Email marketing is the act of sending a commercial message, typically to a group of people, using email. The email message could deliver new content, an advertisement, an event announcement, a simple update, or it could be a request business or donation request. The intent is to generate a list (names and emails) that you can periodically email to build loyalty, trust, brand awareness, and sell goods and services to.
- Guest Blogging – Guest blogging is the act of writing content for another company’s website. Guest bloggers typically write for similar blogs within their industry to attract traffic back to their own website, boost their website authority, and increase their brand credibility. When done right, guest blogging is about building relationships with peers in your industry. It was a marvelous avenue when it was first created, however, in recent years it has degraded itself in success due to Google restrictions and overzealous posters.
- Online Public Relations – Good old fashion PR still exists and there is a place for it online. Online PR mimics that of traditional PR in many ways. It also serves as an excellent way to build safe backlinks.
- Influencer Marketing – Influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that uses paid endorsements and product mentions from influencers. An influencer is an individual who has a strong social following, a loyal audience, and is an expert within their niche.
- Podcasting – A podcast is a series of digital audio files that a user can download to listen. Alternatively, the word “podcast” may refer to the individual component of such a series or to the show itself. Podcasting has grown substantially over the years and people of all ages now listen to podcasts. You don’t have to start and manage your own podcast. Instead, you can be a guest on other people’s podcast. It offers great exposure and saves you a ton of time and work.
- Video Marketing – Video marketing integrates engaging video into your existing marketing campaigns and activity. Video marketing can be used for everything from building customer rapport, to promoting your brand or services. And given the fact that YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google, video marketing is powerful! Don’t think your video needs to be professionally prepared. Today’s internet user wants authenticity and this far outweighs a professionally prepared video.
- User-Generated Content – User-generated content (UGC), alternatively known as user-created content (UCC), is any form of content, such as images, videos, text and audio, that have been posted by users on online platforms such as social media and wikis. Examples of very popular UCG websites include support forums, Q & A sites like Quora, content submission sites like Reddit or Medium, or directory sites like Craigslist.
You cannot target all digital marketing channels at once. And honestly, you don’t want to. Different channels, and even different social networks, are better for certain audiences. The key is to know who you target, know where they spend time, and then determine if that channel fits with your strategy, budget, and available time.
Create Digital Marketing Focus
Deciding which channels to use, and for what purposes, is a critical element of creating a successful digital marketing strategy. When you get it right, you can reap the rewards of reaching new customers and retaining your existing customers. When you get it wrong, you’ll spend a whole lot of time, resources, and money trying to chase a market that isn’t there.
Not all channels apply to all industries or even age groups. There is a lot of data published on which marketing channels, and even which social media networks, work best for different audiences.
Here is an overview of how I would suggest you look at the top options for marketing your therapy practice:
|Website design and development||High||Occasional||High|
|Search Engine Optimization||Medium||Frequent||Low|
|Social Media Marketing||Medium||Frequent||None|
|Pay Per Click Text Ads (PPC)||Medium||Frequent||High|
|Retargeting and Remarketing||Medium||Occasional||High|
Now this table breaks down even further when looking at social networks:
- YouTube – Great for reaching all ages and used by 81% of adults in social media surveys.
- Facebook – Great for reaching Gen X, Xennials, and Boomers. Not as popular as YouTube, but still used by 69% of adults surveyed.
- Instagram – Used by 40% of adults and great for reaching Millennials and Gen Y.
- TikTok and Snapchat – Growing in popularity and great for reaching Millennials, and Gen Y.
As you start to explore digital marketing channels or social networks, you might find that you absolutely hate certain ones. That’s okay. You don’t have to be brilliant in all of them, you just need to become good at a few of them.
Over the years I discovered that I hate Pinterest, TikTok, and Snapchat. In more recent years I’ve realized I feel deflated with each LinkedIn interaction. And anything with “influencer” in it makes my skin crawl. Because I don’t like those social channels or influencer marketing, I know I probably won’t be successful with them. So instead of dwelling on what I’m not good at, I focus on what I am good at.
I’m good at Facebook, decent at Twitter, great at SEO, and okay on email marketing when my heart is part of the creation process. I fell into website design and development and found great success in this area as well. When my schedule allows for it, content marketing, podcasting, and webinars are my happy place and I can create great content that truly helps people. I love to help people.
But all that said, I also run multiple small businesses so I can’t allocate a lot of time to multiple digital marketing channels. So, I pick and choose which ones really matter to my businesses and I make sure I stay well away from the ones that make me sad or anxious.
I highly encourage you to do the same.
Since this will most likely be foreign to you, as you start to learn about a specific channel or social network, you’ll find some to be intuitive and straightforward, while others feel like they are a visit to the planet Mars. Listen to your gut and pay attention to your emotional reactions.
You will not be successful at something you hate or find confusing. Stay focused on the channels that work for you and your practice. If budget allows, outsource the ones that don’t.
Keeping Yourself Together
Time is precious and you have to use economy of scale to make digital marketing work. Don’t force yourself into reinventing every time. Reuse, repurpose, and recycle will help you create some great content without a lot of time.
Let’s walk through it step by step:
- Start by thinking about problems your clients have before they start therapy or as they begin working with a therapist. What questions do they have? What fears to they have? What is most confusing about the process?
- Now ask yourself what you’d tell them if you were sitting across from them in real life. Take that answer and craft It into a written piece of content. That piece of content can be a blog post on your website.
- Now take snippets of that blog post and create some mini posts for social media. You can reuse the same content for Facebook to Instagram to save yourself time.
- Now if you’re really ambitious, take this same information and create a little video for YouTube. Simply present the problem or fear and provide a genuine answer to it. Your video doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to be authentic.
With the above plan you’ve created content for four different digital marketing channels, and what I believe is more important, you’ve helped people and you’ve made their lives a little bit better.
If you’re horrible at creating good visual content to support these efforts, I’d encourage you to use Canva.com. It has lots of free stuff readily available and you can upgrade to the premium license for a fairly low annual payment.
Let’s Get Started
Now it’s time for you to put the work in. Sounds familiar right?
Don’t let your imposter syndrome or any excuse stop you from starting. Just do it. You’ll see results and you’ll be so glad you stepped outside your comfort zone to create change for you, your business, and those you help!
I’ll be back with more helpful marketing tips, so circle back for more helpful tips and tricks.